A Letter from Dean Heller

Dear SSW alumni colleagues,

I write to you from my home office where I am continuing to carry on the critical missions of the school. Like many of you, the SSW, our faculty, staff, and students are adjusting to a new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis. I am happy to report that the migration of our courses to a fully online format, has gone reasonably well, with the support of many of the departments at UConn. We made the difficult decision to withdraw our students from field education settings, due to our concern for their safety. Fortunately, we require a higher number of field education hours than our accrediting body, which means all students will be able to graduate on time. I am enormously grateful to our faculty, staff, and students who have made this transition with grace and hard work, supporting each other as a virtual community. We are planning a virtual commemoration for graduating students and will look forward to welcoming the class of 2020 back to campus in the fall, as alumni, for a celebratory event.

That said, I am aware of the economic and health challenges for our community, all of you, and importantly, the communities and people you serve. Many of you are on the front lines of this epidemic and I reach out to you in appreciation of all you are doing, while trying to stem the tide of the primary and secondary effects of this disease. As you are all painfully aware, the health disparities for many of our communities are staggering. While we were all aware these exist, this current crisis has put these in bold relief. This presents a moment for social work – a call to action – as we continue to identify, study and advocate for sweeping structural changes. In the meantime, we must reach out to others with kindness, help and professional expertise.

I wish each of you and your loved ones, good health, resiliency and sustaining social supports. Social workers have a vital role to play in this national emergency and its aftermath. We need you. So, please take good care of yourselves and each other. We look forward to engaging with you as we emerge from this crisis.

Best wishes,