December 2014

Summer Issue

SSW responds to grand jury decision not to indict in Eric Garner's death. Add your signature or comments to the response.
SSW Continuing Education certificate programs provide intensive training and highlight research and
practice innovations on the social work forefront. Many of the certificate programs are web-based and do not require you to travel to campus to participate.
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Board of Governors
(1/14 - 12/15)
Hazelette Crosby-Robinson '08



Randy Ross, '94

Vice President


Jonathan Stern, '84



Debbie Cohl, '08

Stephanie Francois, '07

Norm Lancit, '98

Tina Louise, '10

Alan McBroom, '77

Joseph Mole, '01

Mary Ortega, '86

Vicki Poleni, '91

Nan Richter, '09

Will Sherry, '07

MeShon Watkins, '08

Jamila Weathers, '04

(734) 763-9534   

Read about SSW alumni in the news.
SW Receives Grant from Health Resources and Services Administration for Student Scholarships

SSW has received a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to increase the number of MSW behavioral health workers. This project prepares MSW students to work with impoverished racial and ethnic minority children, adolescents, and transitional age youth living with behavioral health conditions. SSW, in collaboration with the Detroit/Wayne County Mental Health Authority, will provide a specialized inter-professional behavioral health education and training program to 33 MSW students per year (a total of 99 over three years).

The Vivian A. and James L. Curtis School of Social Work Research and Training Center was renovated this summer. 
Letter from the Dean
Day of Service

The School of Social Work has a proud tradition of service. Our students and faculty give back each year through SSW's organizations and activities, and through the hours of skills-based volunteer service they provide. This is one of the many ways we have responded to the challenge to "change the world." Many of you, our alums, continue this tradition by serving on boards or as elected officials or by offering your expertise and creative energy to community projects or volunteering at your favorite nonprofit agency. 

Each year we start with our tradition of service. During orientation, incoming Master of Social Work students volunteered at human service agencies and non-profits in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit. The 150 students who volunteered for Community Service Day this year were given the opportunity to meet other students, work with field agencies that host MSW students and become more familiar with the communities surrounding the University of Michigan campus. 


I am proud of this tradition and the impact our students make in our community through their volunteer and field efforts. This annual event builds upon the great service performed throughout the year by SSW students, alumni, faculty and staff and exists as a special way to put our ideals "Reach Out Raise Hope Change Society" into action.


Laura Lein

Dean, School of Social Work


View our photos on flickr  Check out all the photos on Flickr

The Blavin Scholars Program


There are more than one half million children in the foster care system in the United States. As a whole, this group is statistically an extremely underserved population, however at the University of Michigan those statistics are improving thanks to the couple behind the Blavin Scholars Program.


The Blavin MSW Scholarship Award provides support to social work students as they gain the theoretical foundation, the clinical and policy perspective and the field experience to make a meaningful change in the lives of vulnerable people.  "By investing in a MSW degree, Paul and Amy Blavin not only changed Corey's future but also transformed the trajectory of the foster children he works with and advocates for," says Dean Laura Lein.


 "I am committed to improving the lives and educational outcomes of youth in the foster care system.

Thanks to the Blavin MSW Scholarship, I can combine my personal experience in the foster care system with an MSW and truly make a difference. We're talking about saving children's lives. What could be more rewarding than that?"

The Blavin Scholars Program and School of Social Work Blavin MSW Scholarship Award are designed to promote success for University of Michigan students who grew up in the foster care system. This year the program celebrates its first graduate school scholarship recipient, MSW student, Corey O'Neill.

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Boundaries and Balance Lead to Understanding

 Adriana Aldana, MSW '07, grew up in southern California with plenty of sunshine and a strong sense of civic accountability. In fact, Aldana took her responsibility of social change involvement so seriously, she pursued a doctoral degree to research and better understand the relationship between racism awareness and civic engagement among young people. 


"Adolescents are at an age of exploration; it's important to reach kids when they're younger because this is a time in their lives when they're most open to an inclusive way of thinking," Aldana explained.  "Our research shows thinking critically and working across differences is the key to working collaboratively, and that begins with an early understanding of those differences."

read more (page 6-7)

Read more about how you can participate and make a difference to the School of Social Work.


Anxiety Disorder Treatment leads to NIH/NIMH Multisite RO-1 Grant


Congratulations to Principal Investigator and Curtis Center Director Joseph Himle, Ph.D. '95, and his team on their newly funded NIMH RO-1 grant, "A Multi-site Systems Intervention for Unemployed Persons with Social Anxiety."   This work began more than five years ago when investigators at the School of Social Work conducted research revealing that social anxiety disorder is the largest mental health-related impediment to moving women off of public assistance and into a job...more of an impediment than depression...and more than substance abuse.


Himle worked closely with Jewish Vocational Service in Detroit (JVS) to obtain an initial NIH/NIMH intervention development grant to design and pilot test an intervention targeting unemployed persons suffering from social anxiety disorder. Together, they successfully designed and developed a treatment targeting social anxiety in the workplace and incorporated it within a usual day of vocational services provided by JVS.


"Those with social anxiety disorder avoid job interviews, and even if they manage to land a job, they may have difficulty sustaining relationships that are often required to retain a job," Himle explained.  "The unemployment cycle becomes a downward spiral and together with JVS, we obtained our first grant to develop a unique intervention to stop that cycle because we're interested in getting people back to work...and to help them maintain that work."


The initial project involved an underserved Detroit-based study population that was 90 percent African American and a large number of participants were homeless with poor work histories and co-occurring mental health issues.


"We had excellent results with those who participated in the four-week program," Himle said.  "As the social anxiety improved, their job search activities, social anxiety, generalized anxiety and depression improved."


"Our success led to an application for a second grant to conduct even more work with social anxiety disorder and expand our work to a second site, the JVS in Los Angeles," Himle said.


The two-site grant allows increased diversity with more Latinos in Los Angeles, which is a joint study with the Department of Psychology at UCLA (Michelle Craske, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, UCLA site).  The multi-site program brings regional differences to the research, increases the total number of people receiving treatment and extends the follow-up period allowing researchers to judge the effects of the intervention over time. 


The newly funded multi-site RO-1 grant provides five years of funding for a total of 300 participants and includes the development of computer assisted modules to deliver the cognitive behavioral treatment and train those implementing the program.  


Thank you for all you do to support our students and strengthen our school.