Pam Saylor, clinical assistant professor and director of the PNW Social Work program, has always had a passion for helping others in her community. This is just one reason the recent accreditation of the program by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) was especially rewarding.
“When I was a child, my family had to have a social worker while my brother was in hospice care, and I remember those social workers I knew in the ‘70s – those memories stay with you,” Saylor said. “After getting a degree in business, I wanted to go back to school, and I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. I love everything about social work.”
Saylor credits the strong faculty and teamwork within the program, and an ability to see the bigger picture, with the successful completion of the arduous accreditation process that began in 2016 and was completed this year. Saylor also credits encouragement and support from PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon and Elaine Carey, dean of PNW’s College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences.
“You need the right faculty members who can work together as a team to develop the curriculum,” said Saylor, who won the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Engagement Award. She noted that Hayley Stokar, assistant professor of Social Work, and Robin Miller, field education director and continuing lecturer, worked with her to develop a rigorous program for students and engage community partners.
The accreditation means students graduating from the Westville-based program will be able to be licensed social workers upon graduation and can go on to a master’s degree program with advanced standing. With enrollment for the program up 58 percent since 2018, the successes of the program’s growth are seeing dividends.
“Purdue Northwest’s CSWE accreditation is a testament to the achievements of the faculty and field education partners who have worked tirelessly to provide an excellent education to PNW students while enhancing the lives of the citizens of Northwest Indiana. We look forward to continuing to promote student success in the field and to improve the well-being of the community,” Carey said.
The program takes innovative approaches to student education, integrating different areas of social work and current topics, while emphasizing diversity, service opportunities at global and local levels, a wide array of internship opportunities, community partnerships with over 40 local entities, conferences bringing light to important issues like the opioid crisis and human trafficking, and interdisciplinary study abroad programs.