Faculty, alumni, students celebrate Spalding University School of Social Work Day in Louisville

Steve Jones

A week before Thanksgiving Day, the Spalding University School of Social Work on Thursday earned its own exciting, memorable spot on the 2019 calendar.

Mayor Greg Fischer recognized the School of Social Work’s contributions to the community by proclaiming Nov. 21, 2019 as Spalding University School of Social Day in Louisville.

Joshua Watkins, Executive Administrator for the city’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, announced the proclamation and presented a certificate (see bottom of story) to School of Social Work Chair Dr. Shannon Cambron during a reception to honor Master of Social Work alumni.

The city-wide proclamation came on the day that the School of Social Work was celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first MSW graduating class, of which Cambron was also a member.

“It’s a little overwhelming, and looking at the proclamation, it’s kind of a weighty feeling to have a whole day that’s devoted to what we are doing here,” said Cambron, who oversees a Spalding social work school that began in the 1960s. “We are so grateful for the Office for Safe and Health Neighborhoods and to be able to support the incredible work that they do and that all of our partners do. To be recognized for the work that we support, it makes the 20th anniversary of the MSW even more special. People are acknowledging that for many years we have been out there working hard and doing good things, and now we have our own day.”

Learn More |  Master of Social Work Program

Spalding’s MSW has produced 508 graduates since 1999, with alumni moving on to work in a range of social work settings, including schools, nonprofit organizations, hospitals and government offices that impact individuals, communities and policy at large. At least seven Spalding MSW alumni, Cambron, currently serve as either a dean or chair of a university social work program.

The MSW is a growing program. Cambron said Spalding will have had a record 71 students admitted to the master’s program this year, including, for the first time, a January cohort set to start in 2020.

Additionally, from a community service perspective, the Spalding School of Social Work has been a sponsor since 2017 of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods’ One Love Louisville Ambassador program, a civic engagement initiative aimed at preventing violence and building community. The Ambassador program’s training sessions are held in the School of Social Work’s building.

Related | Social work course on compassion helps student connect with hospital patients

Members of the social work faculty have also made valuable civic contributions.

* Dr. Cynthia Conley, who serves as the School of Social Work’s Coordinator of Graduate Studies, recently developed a survey for the Louisville Metro Police Department to gather data on how residents who identify as LGBTQ perceive the police.

* Cambron, a 2018 Bingham Fellow, and Assistant Professor Dr. Laneshia Conner are working with Jefferson County Public Schools to develop cultural humility training for teachers.

*Assistant Professor Glynita Bell is crafting new diagnostic codes around racial trauma, Cambron said.

*Associate Professor and former Chair Dr. Kevin Borders is helping perform evaluations for nonprofit organizations, Cambron said.

Spalding Graduate Dean Dr. Kurt Jefferson said the School of Social Work aligns strongly with the mission of the university and the legacy of education, service and social justice left by Mother Catherine Spalding.

“The world needs more social workers,” Jefferson said. “There’s no question about that when you look at where we are as a culture and society. What you’re doing is important not only in academic sense of research and academics – which are hugely important – but there is a moral element to the work you are doing.”

Cambron said she had been feeling pride all day Thursday as she reflected on the accomplishments of the School of Social Work and the MSW program over the past two decades. She said she is thankful for the contributions and foresight of the late former Chair Jillian Johnson, who led the school at the time the MSW was introduced. ‘

“I think that if Jill could see the work that is going on and that this faculty group is doing, I think we would get a big thumbs up,” Cambron said.

“When you think about what would be the thumbprint of the Spalding University School of Social Work not only in this community but regionally with many of our graduates, it’s our brand of teaching social justice. It’s humbling, and it’s awe-inspiring. And I think this is just the start.”

**Two members of the original MSW faculty –  Patricia Cummings and Dr. Helen Deines – were honored Thursday by Cambron and the current faculty with Legacy Awards.