USF Faculty Members Present at National Teaching and Learning Conference

Joliet, Ill. –University of St. Francis (USF) educators Joyce Kraus, DSW, and Karen Blaha, Ed.D., served as presenters at the annual Lilly Conference in San Diego, Cal., in early January. Kraus and Blaha’s presentation, “Creating a Classroom Culture: Engaging with the Diverse Learning Environment,” offered their perspectives on practices that support a diverse, engaging, and equitable environment that, in turn, supports the learning and social needs of higher education students.

Kraus and Blaha’s intended participant outcomes for their presentation included reflecting on how a cultural frame of reference might impact communication and interaction with students, identifying cultural and familial factors that contribute to one’s own intersectionality to enhance one’s understanding of students’ intersectionality, and exploring instructional practices that engage multiple perspectives and intersectionalities and support an equitable learning environment.

For Kraus, the director of field education and assistant professor for USF’s social work department, the opportunity to present with Blaha offered an opportunity to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to higher education.

“Working with Karen using an interdisciplinary approach toward the common goal of introducing diversity and equity in the classroom has been very enriching. The opportunity to present to a multi-disciplinary audience at the Lilly Conference, San Diego left me believing our frameworks and approaches are indeed universally applicable to any classroom when faculty are supported and given effective tools to facilitate brave spaces in their classrooms,” Kraus said.

Blaha, a program coordinator and assistant professor in the USF College of Education, echoed her co-presenter’s remarks and added that opportunities such as the Lilly Conference offer important learning opportunities for higher education instructors.

“The opportunity to present with Joyce at the Lilly Conference to an audience of higher education instructors, of various contents, showed me that educators are interested in learning how to create an inclusive environment for their classrooms. The conference showed me that our frameworks can be applied to any classroom to create an optimal learning environment,” Blaha said.

Kraus and Blaha’s were also invited to write up their presentation into a manuscript format for publication consideration in The Scholarly Teacher.

About the Lilly Conference

For 40 years, Lilly Conferences have provided opportunities for the presentation of the scholarship of teaching and learning. Conference participants are made up of faculty and administrators at various stages in their academic careers that come from across the world representing nearly every discipline found in higher education. For more information, visit lillyconferences.com.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 53,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Assistant Professors Present on Partnership with Will County Problem Solving Courts

Joliet, Ill. – University of St. Francis instructors Stacy Dewald, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal and social justice, and Laura Honegger, Ph.D., LCSW, assistant professor of social work, presented at the Illinois Association of Problem-Solving Courts Conference on Friday October 21, at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott in Normal, Ill. The presentation, which included Dr. Scott DuBois and Mitch Crandall from the Will County State’s Attorney’s office, was titled, “Demystifying the Research Process: Collaborating with Universities.”

The session discussed the three-year researcher-practitioner relationship between the Will County Problem-Solving Courts (PSC) and the USF Social Work and Criminal & Social Justice Departments. This session also explained how to forge a relationship with a university and discussed the opportunities and benefits of doing so.

“This partnership has been mutually beneficial. Universities have professors with the expertise, resources, and desire to conduct research, which can benefit a PSC that lacks the financial means or ability to conduct such research. At the same time, universities can benefit from partnering with PSCs, which can offer internships, service-learning projects, and opportunities for students to connect with the local community. Conducting research not only contributes to improving a Problem-Solving Court but opens up the opportunities for innovative ideas and grant funding,” said Dewald.

Visit stfrancis.edu/arts-sciences for more information on USF’s criminal and social justice program, and social work program.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 53,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Department of Social Work to Host Licensure Exam Prep Online Workshop

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Department of Social Work will host a two-session, eight-hour (total) LSW/LCSW licensure exam prep workshop on Saturday, May 14, and Saturday, May 21, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. via Zoom (online).

This intensive, eight-hour, preparatory review workshop will be taught by USF social work instructors Kyung-Mee Choi, Ph.D., MSW; Laura Honegger, Ph.D., LCSW; Althia Gayle, Ed.D., LCSW, and; Audrey Davis Ed.D., MSW, LCSW, PEL. Relevant examination content will be covered, including:

  • social work practice theories;
  • therapeutic strategies and terminology;
  • assessment and diagnosis;
  • practice techniques;
  • professional ethics, and;
  • diversity sensitive practice.

This workshop includes eight hours of CEUs and will also include test-taking strategies, sample test questions, and a course manual review.

Workshop registration costs are as follows:

  • Community attendees without study package ($60)
  • Current USF field instructors/supervisors ($30)
  • USF Social Work Alumna/Alumni FREE

To register, visit https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=YQxK2D (registration is necessary). Participants in last year’s workshop are eligible for a discount and should contact Laura Honegger at lhonegger@stfrancis.edu for details.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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New USF Online MSW Degree Open Nationally

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is now offering an online master’s degree in social work (MSW) that prepares students for advanced, leadership-oriented, social work positions. Open to graduates from any Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, the new degree format is aimed at expanding options for social work graduates across the country who need a master’s degree in the field.

With an MSW, graduates can pursue licensure, become an advanced social work practitioner, and hold leadership positions across the public or private sectors. USF is also keeping the price of the graduate degree program frozen for the third year in a row at $599 per credit hour.

“USF already accepts graduates of social work programs from across the Chicago region for our on-campus MSW program, but this is an opportunity to support bachelor’s level social work graduates across the country,” said USF vice president for admissions Eric Wignall.

The new online MSW program is designed to fill a gap for graduates of social work programs at any of the country’s accredited colleges or universities. “Social workers work with many different populations and types of people, particularly focusing on those who are vulnerable and living in poverty,” Wignall said.

“USF has a long tradition of educating highly trained social workers, but we need more of them. Social workers are practitioners who help people and families in need. The MSW program provides advanced clinical skills required for specialized practice, while developing the confidence to address challenging, and constantly changing, situations in the field,” said USF provost Beth Roth, Ph.D.

Roth, who leads USF’s academic program quality and development efforts, feels the online degree offers flexibility that BSW graduates need in order to take the next professional step.

“As a Catholic, Franciscan university with a fully online master’s degree program in social work, the University of St. Francis can extend its mission to more students, reaching more communities if we make the program more affordable. With rising inflation and higher tuition rates, many master’s degree-seekers are looking for affordable MSW options,” Roth said.

USF will continue to offer on-campus undergraduate and graduate degree programs in social work.

“USF’s nationally-accredited MSW program focuses on advanced practitioner skills, leadership development, and evidence-based practice guidelines to improve and expand the effectiveness of social service programs. They also support clients and communities who are living with disabilities, substance abuse problems, or experience domestic conflicts,” Roth said.

“Social workers are trained to address many different barriers to a given client’s overall wellbeing. Some of these barriers include poverty, unemployment, discrimination, or a lack of housing,” Wignall added.

“USF will help graduate students continue their educational journeys by providing high quality, interactive online learning in the online MSW program. We are also being flexible in response to COVID-19 closures and disruptions. USF will accept GRE scores, but they are not required for admission,” Wignall said.

Students can use the free online application to the USF online social work master’s degree program at stfrancis.edu/apply and applications for classes beginning January 10th and next fall are still being accepted. Visit stfrancis.edu/social-work-msw/ for more information.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Dan Knapp Talks Social Work

dan knapp headshotVisiting professor Dan Knapp, Ph.D., LSW, USF’s Bachelor of Social Work program director, was recently interviewed recently by an online social work resource called “MSW Online.” Read his expert advice about pursuing a BSW (and consider USF for yours!)

What are the most important factors for students deciding on a BSW program?
Many students have a strong passion for what they want to learn in addition to how they want to apply that learning. One of the most important factors for deciding on a BSW program is to follow that passion. For example, many people who enter the helping profession have a strong desire to improve the lives of others or advance some process or policy that influences others. A social work degree effectively prepares students to become these change agents.

What kinds of hands-on or fieldwork experiences are available to your BSW students?
Students are offered very diverse opportunities. These opportunities can include, but are not limited to, experiences in healthcare (i.e., hospitals or nursing home-related), child welfare agencies, county services, schools, advocacy centers, and crisis centers to name a few. Students will have opportunities to work with a wide range of populations throughout the developmental periods (i.e., adolescents through late states of life), veterans, homelessness, people of varying cultural or racial backgrounds, and those with mental illness as examples.

Can students take electives, or customize their BSW experience?
Students are required to enroll in specific foundational courses that effectively prepare them to work with diverse populations. In addition, students have opportunities to register for additional elective courses that can provide added experiences to specific areas of social work practice.

What does it take to be successful as a BSW student?
A strong desire to learn and help others. As a part of any clinical practice, students must have a desire to improve themselves first. This means taking the time to learn and assess their strengths and talents. Then, students can apply the skills and knowledge learned to help others.

What types of jobs are BSW graduates finding?
Students are finding jobs within hospitals, nursing home facilities, advocacy centers, and activity directors for mentorship programs to name a few. Many students elect to enroll in the one-year MSW program to obtain their master’s in social work degree which effectively opens opportunities for jobs such as other areas of healthcare, schools, private practice, etc.

If you had to choose one or two books, articles, documentaries, podcasts, etc. to be included on a required reading list for social work students, what would it be?
This is a great question, and I would always recommend students to invest time into recently published materials found on the scholarly databases. For example, what is currently literature saying about people’s mental health given COVID-19 and how does this compare to prior decades? How are different cultures or racial groups being impacted? Now, if I have to truly provide one resource, I have always enjoyed the video called The Secret Life of the Brain which helps students understand the power of the brain on human functioning.