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SWT social work graduate program bears fruit

Date released: 04/15/03

SAN MARCOS — The seeds of a distance education program planted in January of 2000 by the Southwest Texas State University School of Social Work are now bearing fruit.

This May, 18 graduate students participating in a unique cooperative arrangement between SWT and University of Houston-Victoria will receive their master’s in social work (MSW) degrees.

“This will almost double the number of professional social workers in the Victoria region,” said Jim Mickelson, Distance Education Coordinator for the School of Social Work. “Even with these new graduates, Victoria will still have a critical shortage of professional social workers to meet the demands of the community.”

Dave Henton, LMSW-ACP, instructs graduate students in the joint master of social work degree program between Southwest Texas State University and the University of Houston-Victoria.

Dave Henton, LMSW-ACP, instructs graduate students in the joint master of social work degree program between Southwest Texas State University and the University of Houston-Victoria. —Photo by Jim Mickelson

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 1998 and 2008 the demand for social workers will increase by 36 percent, or 3.1 percent annually, versus 1.2 percent for the entire labor force. This demand will be even higher in Texas because the state has seen a tremendous growth in the last decade, dramatically increasing the demand for social services. Texas is the second most populous state, with 29 percent of its population under the age of 18, compared to the national average of 26 percent. Because of this demographic reality, Texas will require more child welfare services in coming years.

“Historically, Texas has lagged behind in providing social services and will have to play catch-up in order to meet the increasing demands of the population changes in the state,” said the incoming director of the school, Dorinda Noble. The SWT School of Social Work is out to change that by expanding its successful MSW programs to under-served areas of the state.

The School of Social Work has also developed plans to implement the Non-location Specific Distance Education Program (NSDEP), an education initiative that will be primarily Internet-based.

“This program when finished will allow the School of Social Work to reach many students who are in rural areas and unable to travel to San Marco,” Noble said. “We cannot remain the same and meet the growing demand for social workers.”

A new cohort of social work students will start in Victoria this fall and SWT will offer BSW and MSW programs at the Round Rock Higher Educational Center starting in January 2004.

Contact: Jim Mickelson at (361) 649-7372