Month: October 2009

Social work scholar’s book on ACORN draws media attention

After the recent release of  the book “The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice,” Professor Robert Fisher has been in the news.  A distinguished scholar and professor of community organization at the University of Connecticut, Fisher shares a critical analysis on the contributions and challenges of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the nation’s largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families in the nation.

National and local media have sought Professor Fisher’s expertise about ACORN since Vanderbilt University Press released his book. Fisher’s specializations and research interests include community organizing, urban policy, social movements and theory, and social welfare history.  He is widely published on issues of urban policy, privatization and social service delivery, community organization and neighborhoods, and urban social movements. Fisher’s works include the well regarded book, Let the People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in America, and more recently co-author of Settlement Houses Under Siege: The Struggle to Sustain Community Organizations in New York City.

Excerpts and links to full articles follow.

As ACORN grew, so did its clout and its problems

By Barbara Barrett | McClatchy Newspapers, Posted on Friday, September 18, 2009. The story was reprinted in several national and local newspapers and internet news sites.

“Robert Fisher, a professor of community organization at the University of Connecticut, said ACORN and its budget grew significantly during the second Bush administration as society became more stratified.

“ACORN was being a force for progressive change,” said Fisher, editor of an upcoming book, “The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice,” due out next month from Vanderbilt University Press.

ACORN succeeded in part, he said, because it worked as a blend of local activists backed by a national structure.

“In their campaign against H&R Block, they were able to hold demonstrations at Block offices at 55 different sites around the nation simultaneously, so they could get the attention of a Fortune 500 company,” Fisher said.

“All of a sudden they had this infusion of money,” Fisher said. “They became much more of a national force. … They needed to become more formalized and more careful about what was going on, and they made errors.”

Read the complete article at:

ACORN scandal: How much federal funding does it get?

By Michael B. Farrell | The Christian Science Monitor, September 19, 2009 edition

The group’s dual local and national focus is considered unique in the world of community organizing, says Robert Fisher, professor of community organization at the University of Connecticut in Hartford and editor of a book on ACORN.

Professor Fisher says the scorn directed at ACORN “comes with the turf” because the group has become a significant player in US politics.

But, he adds, in the current debate about ACORN, “it seems that only one side is being heard.”

Read the complete article at: .

For more information regarding Professor Fisher’s book and its content,

Social Work Dean Spurs Gifts

Dean Salome Raheim is leading by example by matching gifts from faculty and staff. When Salome Raheim arrived as the new dean of the School of Social Work in 2008, she made fundraising an immediate priority.Our Moment logo

“Achieving excellence in social work education requires resources in addition to state funding,” says Raheim. “Private gifts help us attract and support talented students and offer innovative programs.”

One of her goals is to provide greater support for students in the master’s degree and Ph.D. programs.

“We’d like to develop more resources to help our students in the form of scholarships, sources for graduate assistantships, and opportunities for research,” she says. “In this economy, it’s challenging for students to keep up with their financial commitments to education. Since their direct work with disadvantaged populations is so critical and their contributions to the social work community so invaluable, it’s important that the University assist them with the resources to succeed.”

<p>Salome Raheim, dean of social work. Photo by Peter Morenus</p>
Salome Raheim, Dean of Social Work. Photo by Peter Morenus
Raheim is leading by example and helping to inspire giving. She has offered to personally match gifts to the School of Social Work made by faculty and staff members through the Close to Home campaign, up to $10,000.

“When faculty and staff give to the school, they show a deep level of commitment to our mission,” she says. “I offered to match their gifts to build a sense of excitement about giving, as well as to lead by example.”

Raheim says the generosity of faculty and staff members can make a significant difference. She points to a recent major planned bequest from Professor Emeritus Archibald Stuart, an internationally known expert on social welfare policy. The Archibald Stuart Fund for Excellence in Social Work will support professional development for faculty members, student scholarships, and student-faculty activities. Stuart, who taught from 1961 to 1991, remains involved with the school and is currently writing a comprehensive book on social policy to leave as his legacy to the field.

“Professor Stuart’s bequest intention is most welcome, as we set about creating greater opportunities and resources for our students,” says Raheim. “It’s wonderful to see the devotion of faculty emeriti and their interest in determining the future course of the school.”

Article Credits to UConn Today, 15, Oct., 2009

Social Work Dean Spurs Gifts

News by Topic: Faculty & Staff, Fundraising & Gifts
Written By: Jennifer Huber


Louise Simmons is Recipient of 2009 Maria Miller Stewart Award

Louise Simmons, Ph.D. is the recipient of a 2009 Maria Miller Stewart Award “One Women Makes A Difference” from the CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF).  The Maria Miller Stewart Awards are awarded to women who are role models in their efforts to advance the cause of equality in Connecticut and who have a demonstrated history of commitment to issues affecting women and their families.

Louise Simmons with Alice Pritchard

and Dan Livingston

Dr. Simmons and four other recipients of the award were honored and celebrated for their achievements at an event on Tuesday, October 8, 2009 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell.

“CWEALF is one of the leading advocacy organizations for women and girls and so getting an award from them is a huge honor for me,” says Professor Simmons. “All of the other awardees remind me of how important our collective work is for this community.”

CWEALF’s announcement of the “One Women Makes A Difference” awards cited that Louise’s scholarship, organizing and advocacy efforts in the Greater Hartford community and in Connecticut is a testament to the exemplary standards of working for equity, social and economic justice, especially directed to vulnerable populations, women and girls. She has been a strong supporter of CWEALF and its mission. She has served as advisor and an informal mentor for many women students at UCONN School of Social Work, many of which have interned or worked at CWEALF over the years.

Dr. Simmons is an Associate Professor of Community Organization and the Director of the University of Connecticut, Urban Semester Program. She teaches courses in community organization, labor and social work, political advocacy, and theory and practice of social movements for community organization. Her areas of specialization include community organization, urban social movements, community-labor alliances, urban politics and policy issues, progressive political movements, and welfare policy.

“Dr. Simmons’ work embodies our mission to promote social and economic justice and human rights,” says School of Social Work Dean Salome Raheim.  “Her outstanding career achievements as an educator, advocate and activist make her an exceptional role model for social work students.  I am proud to be among her colleagues.”

Her research interests are in urban politics and policy; community organization; welfare policy economic rights and labor; collaborative research on the impact of welfare policy changes; labor and social work; and community-labor partnerships.

Dr. Simmons recently co-edited a book with Social Work Professor Scott Harding, Economic Justice, Labor and Community Practice. This was based on a special Issue of the Journal of Community Practice, an  interdisciplinary journal designed to provide a forum for community practice, including community organizing, planning, social administration, organizational development, community development and social change.  Dr. Simmons is among the team of editors of that journal.   She is on the editorial boards of the Labor Studies Journal; Journal of Urban Affairs, and Working USA.


UCONN School of Social Work and Community Mental Health Affiliates partner on SAMSHA grant to support homeless

Cheryl A. Parks, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, has received a 5 year program evaluation contract with Community Mental Health Affiliates (CMHA) of New Britain. Funded by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program will serve homeless persons living in supportive housing who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or both, and whose symptoms jeopardize their housing stability. CMHA will work with partnering agencies, housing units, and local shelters to provide treatment in the New Britain and Bristol areas. Barris Malcolm, named as Evaluator on the project, will work with CMHA staff to evaluate PSH program development and measure program outcomes. Funding will begin in early October and the program is expected to be operational by January 2010.

Professor Alex Gitterman named the 2008 Recipient of the Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Award

Professor Alex Gitterman, Ed.D., was named the 2008 Recipient of the Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Award from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This award recognizes a social work educator’s achievements over his or her entire career.

Professor Gitterman received this award for his advancement of resiliency theory, group work, the Life Model Approach to practice, his transformative teaching, and his long time leadership in social work education. The award was received at the CSWE Annual Program Meeting in Philadelphia.

“I am very humbled by the Life Time Achievement Award.” Professor Gitterman says. “Many people in my life journey walked by my side: some even walked in front to protect me from harsh environments; while others walked behind me and pushed me to take on challenges and to view them as professional opportunities rather than as threats. When I accept this award, I will be standing on the shoulders of my parents, and senior mentors. I carry their wise counsel and support with me every day. I look forward to expressing my deep abiding appreciation to them as well as to my immediate family.”

Professor Gitterman, Director of the Ph.D. Program and Zachs Professor, joined the University of Connecticut School of Social Work as a Professor in 1999 teaching in both the M.S.W. and Ph.D. programs. Prior to his academic appointment at our School, he was a Professor and former Associate Dean at the Columbia University School of Social Work.

“When I accepted Kay Davidson’s invitation to become a visiting professor in the fall of 1999,” Professor Gitterman says, “I found an administration and faculty totally committed to providing students with a quality education in a supportive environment. I found a faculty totally committed to balancing teaching, scholarship and service. On a personal level,I found colleagues who extended themselves to make me feel welcomed. I also found superior students who appreciated being challenged and who I was proud to have become social workers.” He continues, “The UConn community has provided the stimulation and support for me to continue my efforts to contribute to teaching, scholarship and service. I have been and continue to be most appreciative.”

“We are delighted,” says Dean Salome Raheim, “that Professor Gitterman has been named the 2008 Recipient of the Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Award.” “The University of Connecticut School of Social Work is so very fortunate to have Dr. Gitterman on our faculty. As we commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the School this year, it is with great pleasure,” Dean Raheim says, “that we also celebrate Dr. Gitterman’s “lifetime” achievements and contributions to social work and social work education.”

Professor Gitterman’s specializations and research interests include health and mental health, social work practice, and group work. He teaches courses in casework, micro foundation method, and comparative social work practice.

His publications include: Mutual Aid Groups, Vulnerable and Resilient Populations, and the Life Cycle (co-editor 2005); The Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable Populations and Resilient Populations (2001) which has won the Robert Wood Johnson Award for excellence; The Life Model of Social Work Practice: Advances in Theory and Practice (co-author, 1996); Mutual Aid Groups, Vulnerable Populations, and the Life Cycle (co-editor 1994); The Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable Populations (editor, 1991); Mutual Aid Groups and the Life Cycle (co-editor, 1986); Public Health Social Work in Maternal and Child Health: A Forward Plan (co-editor 1986); and The Life Model of Social Work Practice (co-author, 1980) which is on the Columbia University Press all-time best-seller list in social work. He has published articles on social work practice, social work with groups, field instruction, supervision, organizational behavior and teaching.

Professor Gitterman is the Editor of a series for Columbia University Press on the subject of Helping Empower the Powerless. He is on the editorial board of the following journals: Clinical Journal of Supervision; Families in Society; Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment; Social Work with Groups; Social Work in Health Care; Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, and Teaching in Social Work. He recently served for two terms as the President of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups, an international professional organization and currently serves on its Board of Directors.