School of Social Work Receives Departmental Teaching Award

by | Apr 11, 2019 | Dean's Corner, Faculty Points of Pride

Sara Collie, left, Carly Franklin, Jim Coleman, Tracey Barnett and Kim Stauss.

School of Social Work in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences received this year’s Daniel E.& Ferritor Award for Departmental Excellence in Teaching at the University of Arkansas, recognizing the department’s collaboration, dedication to its students and commitment to the local community.

The accolade includes a $10,000 one-time monetary award to the department’s budget as well as a trophy. The department was also formally recognized at an April 11 reception as part of Faculty Appreciation Week.

The award was determined based on criteria including the department’s commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, faculty development and student success.

Specifically, the committee noted the department’s focus on its students, engagement efforts with local nonprofits and continuous efforts toward self-improvement. The program’s quality is also evidenced in its graduates having the highest pass rate among universities in Arkansas for the social work licensing exam.

For Kim, chair of the School of Social Work, the award is a confirmation of the department’s work.

“One thing we consistently hear is that we’re a small group of faculty in the school. But we are so dedicated in that we serve on numerous committees, conduct outreach in the community, and bring in expert speakers to present to our students,” Stauss said. “We don’t just teach social work, we try to walk the walk of what social workers should do and be.”

Alishia Ferguson, director of the school, cited their designation as a professional degree program and its emphasis on teaching practical concepts.

“We teach knowledge, techniques and theory of course, but we also teach critical thinking skills, problem solving and professionalism in the context of a specific role in the work place,” Ferguson said. “The content, skills and philosophy that we teach creates an environment where the teamwork of all faculty becomes a necessary element in developing strong professional social workers.”

“The Daniel E. Ferritor Award for Departmental Excellence in Teaching is a unique award recognizing outstanding departments who don’t just have superstar teachers, but who also come together as a unit to collaborate and advance unified efforts,” said Ro Di Brezzo, vice provost for faculty affairs. “The School of Social Work is a perfect example of a department collaborating for the betterment of its students.”

Even after winning the award, Stauss said the school is still looking toward the future and how they can better serve their students.

“It feels wonderful to win this award and it drives us to want to do more,” she said. “We’re always asking ourselves, ‘What else can we do to make our students and teaching a priority?'”

The accolade, which is given by the Office of the Provost and the Teaching Academy, was voted upon by a committee comprised of four members of the academy and three faculty appointed by the provost.

The award is named in honor of former U of A Chancellor Daniel E. Ferritor in recognition of his longstanding commitment to students and faculty and his consistent support for excellence in teaching and learning at the University of Arkansas. The Teaching Academy, which was organized by Ferritor in 1988 and co-sponsors the award with the Provost’s Office, seeks to advocate and represent teaching interests, promote and stimulate an environment of teaching and learning excellence, and encourage recognition and reward for exceptional teaching.

A version of this story also appeared in the U of A’s Newswire publication.

John Post

Director of Academic Communications, University Relations
479-575-2151 //