College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

From the Department Chair: Closing Remarks from Dr. Karen Rotabi

Dr. Karen Rotabi

As I wrap up my time as the Chair of the Department of Social Work, I reflect on the past as well as the future. We have now completed our reaffirmation of accreditation process. As a faculty team we were quite contemplative during this process, focusing on our strengths and looking for opportunities to improve our curriculum. We revamped our practice course sequence as we listened to student wishes and considered the Council on Social Work Education’s competencies. We added a major assignment on macro and social justice issues to focus on environmental justice—looking at the intersectionality of race, poverty, privilege, and policy as related to the Flint, Michigan water crisis and the civil rights abuses. This particular assignment, in our diversity and social justice class, builds upon summer reading for all incoming students and underscores critical human rights concepts. Other assignments were also improved, to include greater attention to assessment and evaluation of social interventions. Also, we developed a new research approach focused on evidenced based practice that is streamlined with the culminating project experience.

In the midst of all this activity, we hired three new tenure line faculty members. Dr. Maria Gurrola joins us as our new Department Chair. Additionally, Dr. Kamilah Majied, and Dr. Kai Medina-Martinez join us in our Full and Assistant Professor positions, respectively. Also, we have a new Field Education Coordinator, Dr. Renie Rondon-Jackson. This is truly transformative change and the future of the department is exciting with so much new energy and ideas for the classroom.

Next steps for me are related to a research leave beginning in mid-August 2019. During this leave, I will be focusing on continuing my work on strengthening the social service workforce in several international settings. This work will have me wrapping up my work assisting with curriculum development for social work education at six universities in Somalia. Other consultations include an emphasis on Islam and social services, including my knowledge of Arab Gulf. Already this summer I have traveled to the Arabian Gulf for assessment. Having an opportunity to participate in the development of social service systems, in this rapidly changing region, is not only exciting but also deeply satisfying. I look forward to sharing some of that which I have learned when I return to the classroom in 2020.

I welcome Dr. Gurrola as she steps into the role as Department Chair. She comes to us from New Mexico State University with a wealth of experience and fresh ideas. I look forward to supporting Dr. Gurrola as she moves forward in this leadership role.

Thanks to all for your support and enthusiasm during my term as Department Chair.

Dr. Maria Gurrola
Dr. Kamilah Majied
Dr. Kai Medina-Martinez
Dr. Renie Rondon-Jackson