MSU-Meridian gains social work accreditation, honor society

By Staff
Special to The Star
March 29, 2001
The strength of the program's components has earned initial accreditation for the baccalaureate degree program in social work at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus.
The six-year process culminated in an announcement Monday by Dean Bev R. Norment. He said the Council on Social Work Education's Commission on Accreditation granted initial accreditation until February 2005, retroactive to the graduating class of January 1998.
The commission sited strengths of the program, including "good support from the institution's administration, a strong advisory board, a motivated and articulate group of students and a well developed field practicum program," Norment said.
During the ceremony, he introduced Marian Swindell, a medical social worker and Ph.D. candidate from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, who will be joining the social work faculty beginning fall semester.
In referring to the long accreditation process that began in 1995, Social Work Program Director Sandra Vaughn, said, "A human takes nine months to deliver a baby, an elephant delivers in two years. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to birth anything."
Vaughn thanked former and current administrators, faculty, students, associates, a hard working Social Work Advisory Board and others who gave of their time and resources to help secure the prestigious status for the program. Special recognition went to Professors Emeritus E. Harold Keyes, Henry Daum and Margo Swain, whom she said were instrumental in securing approval from the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for MSU-Meridian to offer the BSW degree. Keyes formerly served as interim chair of the Arts and Sciences Division and program director of social work at MSU-Meridian. During part of his tenure on the Meridian Campus, Daum also filled the role as social work program director, while Swain led the social work program on the Starkville campus prior to her retirement.
A second milestone for the social work program was announced by Rhonda Carr, coordinator of field education, who introduced the first inductees into Phi Alpha, a national honor society which fosters high standards of education for social workers.
The following MSU-Meridian students were inducted as the first members of Phi Alpha Honor Society: Stephen Clay, Joy Clayton, and Gene Coleman, all of Meridian; Robbie Lawson of Collinsville; and Annette Marie Lewis and Amanda Lee McCarty, both of Philadelphia.
Vaughn also recognized that March is "National Professional Social Work Month."
Vaughn said that some graduates choose to work in traditional social work roles, while others, such as Rev. Eddie Lee Jones (who received his BSW degree in 1996, went on to complete seminary, and now serves as pastor of a church in DeKalb) use social work as foundation knowledge in preparation for other careers.
Vaughn also pointed to Stephen Clay, a current student who will graduate in May. Clay won the Frank Egan Award for his paper on "Improving Race Relations," which he will present to the Alabama/Mississippi Social Work Education Conference. He is now serving an internship with the National Association of Social Work-Mississippi Chapter in Jackson, working on social work licensure bills before the state Legislature.
Ceremony festivities also included the introduction, by Dr. Dennis Mitchell, chair of the Arts and Sciences Division, of the 2001 spring degree candidates in social work. These students, the first who will walk in graduation under the new accreditation. were also recognized for their academic attainment.
They include: Lori Bielefeld, Stephen Clay, Joy Clayton, Gene Coleman, Edna Jenkins, Mia W. McDonald, and Crystal Nix, all of Meridian; Quanta Hill, Annette Marie Lewis, and Amanda Lee McCarty of Philadelphia; Robbie Lawson of Collinsville; and Theresa I. Thompson of Pachuta.
For additional information about the social work profession, contact Sandra Vaughn at 484-0140.

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