November 19, 2005

School of Social Work earns re-accreditation

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Social Work once again earned the stamp of approval of the lone governing body that accredits social work education programs in the United States.

The Council on Social Work Education last month re-accredited the University's master's and baccalaureate programs for the maximum eight-year cycle to June 2010, said professor Mizanur R. Miah, director of the School of Social Work. The re-accreditation dates to 2002 because that was the beginning of the review process.

"I am proud we could do it and get the program through 2010," Miah said. "This is great news for the School of Social Work."

Chancellor Walter V. Wendler applauded the efforts of the school's faculty and staff.

"The School of Social Work's tradition of training students to provide highly skilled professionals throughout not only Southern Illinois but on a national and international level cannot be understated," said Wendler.

Provost and Vice Chancellor John M. Dnnn said re-accreditation is a testament to the commitment of faculty and staff to providing a quality education and significant community services. In September, the School of Social Work received a $2.93 million grant from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to provide expanded mental health and behavioral health services in all but the 18-northernmost counties in Illinois.

"We are very pleased. Dr. Miah and his faculty are to be congratulated for not only meeting the re-accreditation standards, but for also undertaking new initiatives to be of even greater service to the region, state and nation," said Dunn.

"We look for this unit to continue to acquire grant funds, develop and share new and innovative ideas, and produce excellent social workers who enhance the lives of children and families," he said.

R. Keith Hillkirk, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, said, "The re-accreditation of Social Work is very positive and speaks to the quality and hard work of Dr. Miah and the Social Work faculty and staff.

"The Social Work program has extensive linkages with agencies throughout the region and state, and the program's re-accreditation affirms the important work the school does for children, families and communities."

A non-profit national organization, the Council on Social Work Education represents more than 3,000 individual members as well as undergraduate and graduate programs of professional social work education. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes it as the lone accrediting agency for social work education in the United States. There are 442 baccalaureate and 168 master's accredited programs in the nation.

The social work program first earned accreditation in 1974. The graduate program, which started in 1985, first became accredited in 1988.

Miah became director in late April 2002 and began working on re-accreditation almost immediately.

The four-volume application stood about one foot high. CSWE personnel visited the campus in late March and early April 2003. Standards examined include the School of Social Work's mission, goals and objectives; program administration; curriculum; faculty and student diversity; faculty qualifications; and student development, which includes graduation rates, overall program involvement and community outreach.

The review process is rigorous, and accredidation standards are very strict, Miah said. The re-accreditation strengthens the College of Education and Human Services and SIUC in the sense of maintaining quality education consistent with Southern@150, Miah said.

"It is a very thorough and rigorous process," he added, crediting the program's faculty, staff and students for their diligent efforts in the application process.

CSWE recognized many strengths in its visit, including a core of "hard-working, skilled educators teaching in both programs," high student demand, strong support for the school within the community, and high level of interest and commitment by students, Miah said.

There are currently nine tenure and tenure-track faculty, three full-time clinical faculty and eight adjunct professors in the program, which has 250 undergraduate students and 80 graduate students.

Promoting excellence in undergraduate academics and offering progressive graduate education is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information, contact School of Social Work Director Mizanur R. Miah at 618/453-2243.