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Letter to the Editor: Support for SSW Director Joan Blakey

As director, Blakey is faced with resolving a difficult financial situation she inherited when she became the director five months ago.
Image by Morgan La Casse

Dear Minnesota Daily Community,

Recently, proposed budget cuts at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work (SSW) have received a great deal of attention, including a Minnesota Daily article published on Nov. 17. Budget issues impact the entire School of Social Work, which has four distinct degree programs, including an undergraduate program, two master’s degree programs and a doctoral program. While we do not claim to represent all voices within the SSW community, many of us are uncomfortable with and saddened by the portrayal of our SSW Director Joan Blakey. The purpose of this letter is not to comment on the SSW’s financial situation or the proposed cuts; rather, it is to center the support and respect we hold for Blakey as she begins her leadership position as the first African American female director in SSW’s history.

Blakey is an alumna of the undergraduate youth studies and master of social work programs as well as a respected social work educator with many years of experience. Blakey returned to SSW in a leadership role as director five months ago. She returned because she believes in SSW’s mission, is committed to delivering high-quality, anti-oppressive education to our students and wants to give back to her alma mater and the greater Twin Cities community. In her role, Blakey is faced with resolving a difficult financial situation, one she inherited and did not create. We stand committed to holding our community, including our leaders, with accountability while working toward a resolution of SSW’s fiscal deficit as well as toward Blakey’s vision of a collective “we.”

In times of challenge and uncertainty, we rely on our leaders to navigate difficult situations based on their best judgment and experience. Dr. Blakey was hired to lead the School of Social Work. We recognize that her role is not easy, and we have faith in her ability to build consensus and lead us through current challenges. We support her as our leader and in this process.

In solidarity,

Suzanne Shatila, SSW Associate Director and MSW Program Director
Heidi Presslein, Director of Practicum Education, MSW Graduate 1997
Beth Bayley, Director of Operations, School of Social Work
Katrina Cisneros, Senior Teaching Specialist
Joe Merighi, Associate Professor
Jessica Toft, Associate Professor
Jeff Waid, Associate Professor
Christina Haddad Gonzalez, Community Faculty, SSW Graduate 2001
John Bricout, Professor and Director of Research
Saida Abdi, Assistant Professor
ed morales, Community Faculty, SSW Graduate 2013
Jill Stiber, Senior Teaching Specialist
Priscilla A. Gibson, Professor
Jennifer Wiseman, Center for Practice Transformation
Michelle Englund, Senior Minn-LInK Researcher, CASCW
Ronald H. Rooney, Professor Emeritus
Jean K. Quam, Professor/Dean Emeritus
Hilal Isler, Communications Manager/Community Faculty (2014 – 2022)
Keely Vandre, CASCW Program Coordinator, MSW Graduate 2013
Mai Lor Moua, Community Faculty, SSW Graduate 2016
Ashley Aguy, MSW IV-E Practicum Coordinator, MSW Graduate 2014
Stacy Gehringer, Outreach Director, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
Lynette Renner, Professor
Amy Krentzman, Associate Professor
Wendy Haight, Professor
Mimi Choy-Brown, Assistant Professor
Josh Geiger, Curriculum Developer, CASCW/MNCWTA
Kate Walthour, Director of Professional Education, CASCW, MSW Graduate 2002
Bill O’Connor, Communications Director, MNCWTA
Stacy S. Remke, Senior Teaching Specialist
Liz Franklin, Community Faculty, MSW Graduate 2007
Andrea Stronghart, CASCW Director of Operations
Julie Rohovit, Director, Center for Practice Transformation, Community Faculty
Traci L. LaLiberte, Executive Director, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
Rosetta Chears, Field Program Coordinator
Nora M. Lee, Administrative Operations Professional, CASCW/MNCWTA
Kelley Leaf, MSW Practicum Liaison, MSW Graduate 2012
Denise M. Cooper, Outreach Coordinator, CASCW
Sandra Vega Carrero, Curriculum Developer, MNCWTA
Lolita Johnson, Curriculum Supervisor, MNCWTA
Liz Snyder, Co-Director, MNCWTA
Liz Fronsoe, Program Coordinator, CASCW
Lauren W. Nietz, Community Faculty, MSW Graduate 2002
Patricia Shannon, Associate Professor
Kristine Piescher, Director of Research & Evaluation, CASCW
MJ Gilbert, MSW, LICSW, Field Coordinator
Oliver Williams, Professor
Andy Le, Graduate Program Coordinator

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  • Grasenrack
    Dec 10, 2022 at 4:13 pm