Social Work in the Public Eye (July 2009)

Nancy J. SmythNancy J. Smyth, dean of the University of Buffalo School of Social Work, was quoted in a story in the UB News about how she is helping the school of social work become a national leader in using digital technology to teach the profession and to use as a recruitment tool.

“Our strategy is to go more digital,” Smyth was quoted as saying. “Recruitment of students is shifting more and more to online strategies. Go electronic. That’s certainly true for trying to recruit new students. The need to develop an electronic cyberspace presence is a given.”

The article noted that U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the school in the top 20 percent of social work colleges in the country — 10 positions higher than in the magazine’s previous survey.

The school has four distinct and comprehensive cyberspace initiatives, the article pointed out.

Smyth has pushed hard for the School of Social Work to go digital, often leading by example. The effort includes, “Living Proof,” the School of Social Work’s podcast series, which has grown into a regular biweekly feature. “All of the podcasts have slightly different audiences,” Smyth said. “And you have to create something of substance. The podcasts have become a major vehicle for us to expand ourselves to an international community and to reach students at other schools by providing a needed service.”

The story noted the school’s other digital forays include utilizing the popular networking Web site Facebook. It “is a way to connect to alumni, and to help students connect with alumni prior to graduation,” Smyth said.

The dean has encouraged an expanded menu of online courses as well, the story noted. “For our students who live farther away, these courses have to do with travel and accessibility,” said Denise Krause, clinical associate professor and associate dean for community engagement, who teaches two online courses for the School of Social Work. “For others, who don’t have a lot of travel, they want flexibility, which is attractive if they’ve got a lot going on in their lives.”

Charles D. Syms, clinical associate professor of social work, has been investigating how the school can use the online world of Second Life as well, the story said. “We would hope someday to use Second Life to extend the classroom so you can set up scenarios where people can relate to one another in situations that are much more real than talking about it in the classroom,” Syms said. “There’s a lot of potential for learning over a long distance.”


Carlton CornettCarlton Cornett was quoted in the Hattiesburg American in a story about how the poor economy is affecting the number of people seeking therapy treatment.

Eighty percent of Americans named the economy as a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a September survey by the American Psychological Association, the story stated.

Until recently, it seemed that more people were canceling therapy sessions, viewing counseling as a luxury they couldn’t afford, said Cornett, a Nashville-based licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. Now, with stress levels rising, more patients seem to see therapy and counseling as a near-necessity, the story stated.

“They’re just feeling so bad, whether it’s a luxury or not, they had to do it,” Cornett said in the article.

For Cornett, the downturn is an opportunity to help people see that there is more to life than where they work and what they earn.

Therapy “gives them a place to come and talk about their sense of failure, their sense that they are not of value to anybody if they can’t provide for their families,” Cornett said. “For a long time, there’s been a sense in our society that your only value is how much you work, how much you make.”

Cornett continued, “There are a lot of things more important than work. There are the people we love, there’s staying engaged, there’s having a support network of friends and people who are important to us.”


David L. LevineDavid L. Levine was recognized by the Georgia General Assembly and Georgia Council on Aging as the 2009 Distinguished Older Georgian. In a state Senate ceremony, he was welcomed with a standing ovation and he used his time at the podium to advocate for funding for aging services.

Susan Fort, executive director of the Georgia Chapter, said Levine is passionate about social work and has a special interest in ethical issues. “He has been a major force in the profession in Georgia for decades,” she said.

Levine, 89, was recognized by the University of Georgia as a professor emeritus of social work in 1990 and has advanced the field of social work through his teaching at the University of Minnesota, Florida State University, Syracuse University, and the last 40 years of his career a the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Georgia, said Kathryn Fowler, executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging.


More than 180 experts and professionals from around the world met in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss the latest methods and treatments for torture victims at the Second Annual International Rehabilitation Center for Torture (RCT) Conference. President/CEO of Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services Michael Bernstein (no photo) was one of the invitees representing the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture. RCT is an independent, international health professional organization, which promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide.

For more than 35 years, Bernstein has been an advocate of human rights championing the causes of the disadvantaged including survivors of torture who have sought refuge in the U.S.

The Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, in partnership with the Harvard University Program in Refugee Trauma, and the Marjorie Kovler Center in Chicago is the first and only center of its kind in Florida. The center provides comprehensive health, psychiatric, psychological, social services and legal assistance for torture survivors living in the Tampa Bay region and Miami-Dade County. Since its inception, the Center has served hundreds of victims of torture and genocide from 43 countries.


The New York Nonprofit Press noted that Joel Levy (no photo), the longtime CEO of the YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network will retire in June after 40 years with the organization. Following his retirement, Levy will remain a consultant. His brother, Phillip Levy, will become the new CEO. The article noted that Joel Levy helped lead the organization to be a pioneer in the creation of community-based programs and services for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. “An organization is defined by its values, philosophy, culture and the commitment of its staff,” said Joel Levy. “I feel privileged to be associated with so many colleagues and staff whose values personify the best that our nation has to offer.”