Each year, the State of the School is a time for me to share the many great accomplishments of the past year at the SSW with the entire campus community. It is a privilege and honor to enjoy the opportunity to reflect and showcase a sample of the outstanding work taking place here.
As I’ve prepared my address this year, and discussed the current state and culture of the School with many members of the SSW community, I have become clear that listening and discussing is more important than one-directional talking, as is the norm for the State of the School. Reflection, examination, and dialogue are more urgent than PowerPoint slides and videos.
There are too many in the School who feel we have not made enough progress toward developing an anti-racist, equitable and fully inclusive culture, and while many efforts are underway, a more consolidated and coordinated effort is needed to ensure its success moving forward. I will not be giving the State of the School address on Thursday. Rather, I will dedicate my time to work with a task force to accelerate our work in this area. Since the fall, this task force has been working on the development of an Action Plan aimed at addressing structural racism and increasing equity, inclusion, and diversity at our School of Social Work. This task force is chaired by Jeffrey Ash, PhD, and comprised of faculty, staff, students, and administrators. More communications will be coming soon about possible opportunities for participation in the process.
I fervently hope that this collective effort will strengthen the School’s ability to move important conversations forward, deepen the excellence that exists in our School and in the communities with which we work, and lead to greater strength undergirding our future success.
Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW
Dean, University of Maryland School of Social Work