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About the School of Social Work

The School of Social Work offers bachelor of science (B.S.S.W.) in social work and master of social work (M.S.W.) degrees. An undergraduate minor in gerontology is also open to all SU students.

Students learn from coursework in five professional foundation areas: social welfare policy and services, human behavior in the social environment, research, social work practice and field practicum.

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*(Program funding for 2010-2011 dependent upon NYS budget)

Phi Alpha Honor Society Ceremony

Social work students inducted into Phi Alpha Honor Society

On April 14, the School of Social Work held its Phi Alpha Honor Society, Zeta Gamma Chapter, induction ceremony at Maxwell Auditorium. Nineteen undergraduate and 17 graduate social work students joined Phi Alpha this academic year. Professor of practice, Tracey Marchese, was the keynote speaker. Awards were presented by Bette Brown Thoreck, director, Baccalaureate social work program. The concept of a National Social Work Honor Society came from a group of undergraduates at Michigan State University. In November, 1960, a National honor Society Committee was formed and in 1961 the society came into being. The Syracuse University Zeta Gamma Chapter was founded in 1996 as part of the School of Social work’s 40th Year Anniversary Celebration. The charge and purposes of the Phi Alpha Honor Society are:

  1. To recognize and encourage scholastic achievement among the students who are majoring in social work.
  2. To improve and further the goals and objectives of social work by encouraging objectivity and awareness of current developments and practices in the various fields of social work.
  3. To improve and further the goals and objectives of social work by stimulating research in preparation for a career in social work.

ASI hosted event attendees

ASI hosts "Changing Face of Aging in New York State"

The Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute (ASI) hosted, "The Changing Face of Aging in New York State: Education & Networking Opportunities for Students and Practitioners" on April 10. The event included a keynote presentation by Greg Olsen, executive deputy director, New York State Office for the Aging entitled, "New York State of the State in Aging." A panel presentation followed, including panelists Maria Brown, assistant research professor, Aging Studies Institute, Cynthia Stevenson, Caregiver Services, Onondaga County Adult & Long Term Care Services, Gwendalyn Minton, Syracuse VA Medical Center, Amanda Norton, quality improvement consultant, and Chari Mayer, Constituent Services, Representative Dan Maffei, NY-24.

(photos courtesy of Prof. Alejandro Garcia, School of Social Work).

A collection of Social Work related images relating to veterans, children and elderly

March is National Professional Social Work Month

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the School of Social Work in the Falk College at SU, began its annual commemoration of National Professional Social Work Month on March 1. The NASW designated March as National Social Work Month in the 1960s to provide recognition and voice for social workers who represent one of the largest professions in the country. SU’s School of Social Work has been recognized nationally for community organization and activism, clinical training in family systems, gerontology, and concentrations in health and occupational social work. SU’s School of Social Work has educated generations of social workers for more than 50 years, offering a bachelor of science in social work and a master of social work. In 2013, it announced the offering of the nation’s first dual master’s degree program in social work and marriage and family therapy.

As part of National Professional Social Work Month, SU social work students and faculty attended Lobby Day on March 4 in Albany, a collaborative project of NASW and the New York Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work. The legislative issue was “Loan Forgiveness.” Later this month, members of the NASW New York State Central Division will sponsor lunch for social work students, which includes a meal of soup and bread to remind students of the profession's history in advocating for the poor.

Group of Students posing for Mirken NYC Trip

Mirken gift expands New York City social work immersion program

For many years, generous support from Mr. Alan B. Mirken has made possible a three-day New York City educational immersion program for students in the Falk College’s School of Social Work. This recent gift from Mr. Mirken will expand programming this year—and in future years—in the annual “Roots of American Social Work” program.

This unique and innovative three-day educational opportunity brings students face-to-face with sites of significance to the history of social work, giving them a close-up view of contemporary practice. This social welfare history tour to such sites as the NY Tenement Museum helps students to learn how U.S. social welfare developed. The tour includes visits to Mount Sinai Hospital, the Goddard Community Center (which began as one of the first Settlement Houses in NYC), and the Ellis Island Museum, among other opportunities.

This year’s program will take place April 2-4.

Keith Alford Portrait

Alford Featured Columnist on Cultural Diversity

The Daily Inspiration feature in The Syracuse Post-Standard and its online companion,, presents the expertise of community thought leaders on topics of interest locally for personal reflection and enrichment. In addition to his faculty role in the Falk College’s School of Social Work, Dr. Keith Alford is a member of the InterFaith Works Board of Directors and was the featured author of the Daily Inspiration column for a week in February 2014. The inspirations are connected to Prof. Alford’s research focus, which includes cultural diversity, mental health service delivery, contemporary rites of passage programming, and loss/grief reactions.

Dean Diane Murphy, William Core, Janet Wilmoth

"Social Support and Service Provision to Older Adults: Marjorie Cantor’s Legacy to Gerontology” hosted by Aging Studies Institute

The Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute—the collaborative initiative of the Falk College and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs—held a conference on “Social Support and Service Provision to Older Adults: Marjorie Cantor’s Legacy to Gerontology” in New York City in January. The event recognized the pioneering scholarship of the late Professor Marjorie Cantor that advanced understanding of the lifestyles of older persons, the importance of caregiver support systems, and needs of elders across class and culture.

The event featured a full-day agenda of aging-related topics and speakers with expertise in those areas, including faculty from the Falk College and Maxwell School and other invited experts. Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services William Corr was the featured speaker. During his address titled “A New Day for Older Americans: Addressing the Needs of Our Aging Population,” he discussed the promise of the Affordable Care Act to meet longstanding needs for our aging population, particularly caregiving and health care disparities among minorities. While the ACA has received plenty of political feedback, Corr said the federal agencies particularly welcome input from scholars that can help expand the health policy community’s knowledge base.

HRSA-funded field placements

Unique Opportunity for Advanced Standing MSW students

The SU School of Social Work is partnering with the Veterans Administration to support four HRSA-funded field placements annually for students committed to working with veterans and their families and participating in consortium program activities.

Deborah Ducett

Deborah Ducett named director of field education

Deborah Ducett joined the Field Office in the School of Social Work in January as the new director of field education. She received her MSW and BSW from Syracuse University. Her clinical, administrative and academic career has included psychotherapy, case management administration, and teaching in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida (USF), where she also oversaw student placements and served as advisor and liaison to students in their internship settings. She initiated the first part-time MSW program and a BSW program on the Sarasota-Manatee satellite campus of USF. An active member of NASW, she chaired the Manatee County Homeless Coalition and was the driving force behind the initiative to create a one-stop center for homeless adults and children in Manatee County. She has facilitated support groups for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and led a task force that created a buddy system partnership for people living with HIV and AIDS. In addition to her community activism, Deborah is also interested in healthcare literacy, evidence-based practice and patient-centered medical homes. She can be reached at x-5586 and at Her office is located at 300 Sims Hall.

Social Work Students Explore Corrections System, Mental Health Policies, Services at 15th Annual Stone Legislative Policy Symposium

Jails and prisons have become the nation’s largest psychiatric institutions, especially for low-income persons and persons of color. The National Sheriffs’ Association reports that in virtually every county across the country, county jails hold more people with severe psychiatric illness than any psychiatric facility in that county. More often than not, these facilities are under-equipped to address mental health and related substance abuse problems.

The intersection of New York’s state and local corrections systems and mental health policies and services with respect to incarcerated persons who are seriously mentally ill was explored during the Syracuse University School of Social Work’s 15th Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium on Monday, October 21. The event, co-sponsored by the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, was organized around the theme, “Criminalizing New York’s Severely Mental Ill: Where is Dorothea Dix When We Need Her?”

New dual master’s degree program in social work, marriage & family therapy

The Falk College now offers a dual master’s degree program in social work and marriage & family therapy. This interdisciplinary program allows students to complete the master’s degree in two distinct professions—the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Master of Arts (MA) in Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT). The first dual MSW-MFT master’s degree program in the country, it combines the generalist practice orientation of the MSW foundation and the advanced theory, practice and skills content of the MSW curriculum with the intensive relational clinical training of the MFT degree. The dual MSW-MFT degree will allow students to seek licensure in social work and/or marriage and family therapy in any state in the country to assume a very competitive position for employment opportunities. For more information, contact the Falk College Office of Admissions at 443-5555 or

Welcome to the School of Social Work

Carrie Jefferson Smith
Carrie Jefferson Smith, DSW, ACSW serves as the director of the School of Social Work

Read a Message from the Chair

Department News

SWK Newsletter Spring 2013

Read the latest issue of Field News!

A publication to keep field instructors informed about events, deadlines and resources.

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College Events

The Changing Face of Aging in NYS: Education & Networking Opportunities for Students & Practitioners

A presentation by the SU Aging Studies Institute & the State Society on Aging of New York.

Date: Thur. April 10
Times: 4:00-7:00pm
Location: 312 Lyman Hall

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5th Annual Mini-Conference on Play, Development, and Early Education

Sponsored by Syracuse University, Penn State and Bloomsburg University

Date: April 10-11
Location: Bloomsburg University

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CFS Information Meeting

Passionate about working with children & families? Learn about the benefits of earning a degree in Child & Family Studies.

Date: Fri. April 11
Time: 1:00-3:00 pm
Location: Lyman Hall Lobby

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Chancellor Syverud Inauguration

Date: Fri. April 11

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Inaugural Falk Scholar & Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Award Ceremony

Inaugural Falk Scholar Amy Dworsky, Ph.D. will present Foster Care Issues in Child Welfare & Implications for Homeless Youth.

Date: Thur. April 17
10:45-11:45am - Coffee Hour
2-5pm - Presentation/Award Ceremony
Location: 312 Lyman Hall

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“Changing Sports, Changing Lives” Documentary World Premiere

Falk College tradition of sports research documentaries continues with new film focused on athletes with disabilities

Date: Mon. April 28
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: Watson Theater

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