Generating New Programs, Projects, and Investment

March 14, 2008

“If only everyone knew all the things that are going on here — if they learned what I learned during the past few days — the reaction would be tremendous,” said Mary Baldwin Trustee Joanne Ingalls, barely containing her enthusiasm after her first Board meeting in early February.

The event that prompted Ingalls’ extraordinary response to an ordinary question about her first impression of Mary Baldwin University: two days packed with presentations by faculty, staff, and students who bubbled over with anticipation of new programs and projects in the works. A nationally accredited social work program. The college’s first academic sequence that streamlines study from an undergraduate program to a master’s degree. A new major in international economics and business. Designing a biology emphasis tailored to premedical training. All ideas springing from the collective creativity of the Mary Baldwin community. All coming to the forefront in response to a call from Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox to “initiate a new cycle of innovation to seize the urgency of opportunities before us” in her opening state-of-the-college address mere months ago.

“The call for proposals to use the resources of the Innovation Fund did not work as I had planned it,” said President Fox. “It worked better. It amazes me how quickly ideas are coming to fruition.”

The tag line attached to the college’s recent momentum is “invest and innovate,” and both pieces of that phrase are being realized in tandem. Former Alumnae/i Association director and Board of Trustees member Sue Whitlock ’67 was thrilled to share with other Board members the creativity and intensity of Mary Baldwin faculty that she often sees as part of the Board’s academic affairs committee. “The faculty were as eager as they have always been, and with new energy that comes from realizing they are being given a powerful opportunity,” she said.

“Our fundraising campaign goals are alive in the work and the words of the people who are making things happen,” Dr. Fox said. “The results have been swift and significant.”

Social Work Earns Credit
the Sociology Club volunteers and Virginia School for the Deaf and the BlindIn spring 2007, 148 students signed a petition for an accredited social work program and presented it to college leadership. By fall 2008, their request will be answered with the enrollment of the first students in what will be a nationally accredited bachelor of social work program. As the department’s compelling proposal for the new academic major suggests, “Social work is at the heart of a liberal arts endeavor.”

Sociology and social work have long been strong components of the Mary Baldwin curriculum. In fall 2007, 151 current students had declared sociology or social work as a major or minor. A recent gift from a generous alumna and Board of Trustees member who wishes to remain anonymous will help the department begin a bona fide major in social work and to become a nationally accredited program. Social work and sociology faculty members Kathy McCleaf, Gauri Rai, Dan Sthulsatz, Carey Usher, and John Wells drafted the proposal that was approved by faculty February 1.

To become accredited, like programs at 11 other institutions in Virginia, the Mary Baldwin social work program must have at least two full-time faculty and develop a major course of study. The Trustee’s gift will provide next year for a second faculty member to join Associate Professor of Social Work Gauri Rai, who has enhanced the program tremendously in his three and a half years at Mary Baldwin. Accreditation will allow students to enjoy full membership in the National Association of Social Workers and mean that graduates will need only one year of additional study instead of two to earn a master’s degree in the field, Rai said. Mary Baldwin will be eligible to apply for accreditation in fall 2009, and Rai and his colleagues designed the program to meet all requirements prior to that so accreditation will cover students who begin in social work in fall 2008.

Sophomore Tempest Jones, one of several students who joined faculty in a presentation to the Board of Trustees in February, can already imagine how accreditation will bolster her degree and career. “Being able to earn a master’s faster will allow me to start on a career path sooner. I dream of opening an empowerment center for women that will promote teen programs, offer financial training, and help clients learn job and parenting skills,” she said. Jones is a member of the Sociology/ Social Work Club and chairwoman of Campus Crusade for Christ, and she has worked at Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, served at the college’s Hunger Banquet, and volunteered at Valley Mission homeless shelter and New Directions Center for the abused. The Social Work program complements the civic engagement mission of the college detailed in its strategic plan, and the field exposes students from across the disciplines to increased civic involvement and issues of social justice and human rights.

“The world needs people like you — people who care about children, the elderly, the disadvantaged