The Social Innovator
gssw enters new era with strategic commitment
The Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) marks its 75th anniversary this year, but leaders of the highly regarded school are just as focused on targeting future achievements as celebrating past successes.
"Our mission is to transform lives," says GSSW Dean Alberto Godenzi. "Students will experience unique opportunities to develop their hearts and minds—learning how to empower people to meet their own needs and also to uplift their entire community."
The school has remained innovative since its founding in 1936 to train social workers during the Great Depression. Currently 14th in the latest U.S.News & World Report social work survey, GSSW is the University's highest-ranked academic program as well as the top-ranked Catholic school of social work in the nation.
INSPIRING NEW VENTURES
At the Sept. 14 anniversary event, keynoted by attorney and family advocate Victoria Reggie Kennedy, P'05, widow of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, H'66, GSSW faculty showcased one of the centerpieces of the school's evolution—the Social Innovation Program and Collaborative.
Through specialized coursework and field placement opportunities, this pioneering initiative provides tomorrow's leaders with the entrepreneurial skills needed to better establish and manage human service organizations worldwide. The corresponding Social Innovation LAB enables students and faculty to partner with mission-driven agencies to help solve pressing social problems. For example, LAB participants are assisting a health care firm in creating new patient-based responses to early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
"Social work must be on the front line of research and at the table for discussions of innovative ways to address social issues," says Assistant Professor and Program Co-director Stephanie Berzin.
This commitment to innovation builds on the school's expertise in examining key societal concerns, among them matters related to healthy aging and global relief and development, to which GSSW has devoted significant resources in recent years. Social Work faculty are leading contributors to the University Institute on Aging, and the school has partnered with Jesuit and Catholic organizations to address the relationship between plights like hunger and poverty and their local impact.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Godenzi's vision for the school is deeply rooted in BC's distinctive heritage and continues to evolve. "The Jesuit tradition makes it possible that rational thought and faith, logical inquiry and belief, are seen as complementary and synergistic," he explains. "We are a rigorous, research-intensive school, but we also know that there is more to the world than just science."
GSSW currently enrolls more than 500 students in its master's and doctoral programs. To remain both competitive and a leader, the school needs the continued support of the BC community. In particular, further investments in financial aid and additional endowed professorships would place GSSW more on par with its peers. Donors who answer this call will better enable the school to recruit and retain top faculty and attract talented students, who can choose BC without concern for incurring burdensome debt.
"The Graduate School of Social Work has had a profound effect in helping those in need by providing social workers and policy makers with the skills necessary to make a difference in the world," says Eileen M. Ahearn Connors '66, MSW'95, P'93, '94, co-chair of the GSSW Advisory Board. "Those who enrich the school through their generosity play a leading role in this mission."
For more on GSSW's mission and 75th anniversary, visit www.bc.edu/gssw.