Newman University is adding a program to its more than 70 degrees — a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW).
The new program will have a “soft start” during the spring 2019 semester and will take on full speed in the fall of 2019 for both the Wichita and Colorado locations.
It all started in 2017 when the counseling program director suggested adding the BSW program. The university already offers a Master of Social Work, so adding the bachelor’s degree would give students a package deal.
The BSW program will prepare students to be generalist social work practitioners with a substance abuse concentration or social services with diverse populations, concentration.
Newman has offered a Bachelor of Science in Counseling in the past, but with the social work bachelor’s degree, graduates will be eligible to sit for the state social work licensure exam (LSW) and the state addictions counselor exam (LAC). Students will have a broader range of social service career options working with clients in settings such as homelessness, health, aging, domestic violence, corrections, vocational and disability, discrimination, advocacy, foster care, teen pregnancy and family dysfunction, according to Yelando Johnson, BSW program director.
“Employment in social work is expected to increase commensurately with the needs of a growing and diverse population,” explained Johnson. “There are more options, which results in more sustainable careers. The jobs in social work are considered to be some of the fastest growing career opportunities, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting growth rates exceeding 20 percent in specific areas such as behavioral or mental health.”
In addition, the BSW program will go through a three- to four-year accreditation process with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Earning a BSW from an accredited program means that students will be receiving a quality social work education that complies with nationally recognized standards.
An accredited BSW degree is required for employment in the state of Kansas and for acceptance into Advanced Standing MSW programs. Students graduating from an accredited program are considered more marketable in terms of employment and graduate school. In the interim, since the program was granted candidacy status, students entering the program will graduate with an accredited degree, said Johnson.
“We were just approved for the accreditation candidacy status by the CSWE,” said Johnson. “They look at our mission, goals and objectives, curriculum, content, field education, and the relationship with the university and larger community.
“Dr. Natalie Grant, field education director, came aboard last April with more than 17 years of higher education experience and she has been through a BSW accreditation process. Her expertise will be really valuable to the process,” explained Johnson.
Johnson said the coursework will include some of the core classes already offered at Newman, such as human behavior, research and general practice, but looks forward to some of the newer courses that will be developed.
“We’re going to offer more diversity courses since one of the concentrations focuses on diverse populations in the social service field,” Johnson said. “We have also incorporated a faith and spirituality in social work in our curriculum. The inclusion of spirituality is not only a demonstration of one’s cultural competence but a part of one’s ethical responsibility as a social work practitioner.
“We want the students to be grounded in the whole person. It’s important we talk about that Catholic identity and spirituality in social work. The course — it’s not really about religion, per se, but more about the core values of social work and mission and goals of the program and the university. Our goal is to incorporate Catholic social teaching in the curriculum. We want the students that come into our program to be open-minded.”
She also explained that the program will focus on preparing students for real-world careers both professionally and spiritually, with the goal to get out there and transform society.
Johnson said, “We also want to be sure we’re involved in the community more. Once a student enters their field practicum at the start of their senior year, we want them to already have involvement in the community and familiar with the opportunities there.
“We want them to experience service learning, and not just talk about it, but to experience working with the under-served population,” she added. “We want them to be change agents. When they graduate, we want them to be ready to go into an agency with a macro-mind, knowing change is possible and it’s bigger than the agency they end up at. Incorporating service learning opportunities combines learning goals and community service in ways that can enhance both student growth and the common good.”
Johnson brings more than 20 years of experience in diverse communities into the classroom to help prepare the students for that future. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Southern University in New Orleans and both her Master of Social Work and Master of Business Administration Leadership at Newman University. She received her doctorate in educational leadership from Wichita State University. She has been teaching at Newman since 2013 and said she is excited to be taking on this new endeavor for the university.
“I really enjoy working with undergrads and helping develop their transformation from student to professional. When I first started teaching in higher education, I worked with undergrads in a BSW program,” said Johnson. “It’s when I realized I really love teaching. Academia and teaching are where I wanted to be. I love it at Newman. I feel like I have been a part of this family since I received my first master’s degree in social work from here. It’s family, it’s community, it’s the spirituality — all that combined. I feel so at home and at ease here.”