Social Work

Helping refugees understand a new homeland

January 22, 2016

What happens when refugees arrive in the U.S.? What sort of education and training do they receive about their new country? Currently, very little scholarly literature exists on the topic, but Caren Frost, director of Global Social Work at the College of Social Work and chair of the university’s Refugee Women’s Health Committee, is hoping to change that. With help from colleagues at the Division of Public Health (along with state government and nonprofit agencies), Frost and others are holding monthly workshops with a number of refugee women’s communities to help address questions they have about their new home. The group participants direct the discussion/training topics, and Frost and her colleagues respond by facilitating discussions with community experts. Frost is available to discuss the ongoing project and what its outcomes may offer the community. Besides the aforementioned project, Frost will also take part in a panel discussion at the Salt Lake City Public Library tilted “Solidarity: Salt Lake City’s Impact on the Refugee Crisis” on Jan.28 that will be guided by the TED Talk “Refugees have the right to be protected.”  The event will take place on the main level of the library in the level four conference room from 7-8:30 p.m. (210 East, 400 South).
Caren Frost Phone: 801-581-5287 | Email:

Grief and the holidays

December 17, 2015

The holidays are upon us, bringing family and friends together to join in festivities, fun and traditions. As a popular holiday song declares, “Tis the season to be jolly.” For some the holidays don’t feel jolly and heighten feelings of anxiety, sadness and depression, especially for those dealing with the death of a loved one. People experience and deal with death in various ways. How you pick up the pieces, heal and move forward, especially while in school and focusing on your studies, can be extremely difficult. That’s why Becky Ablad and Annalise John, graduate students in the College of Social Work specializing in mental health, established the University of Utah chapter of Actively Moving Forward. Both took an elective grief and loss class this past summer after people close to them and embarked on a mission to find a way to help other college students going through similar situations. AMF is a free student-led support group dedicated to helping other students grieving the illness or death of a loved one. University Counseling Center also offers a grief support group to students called Sharing is Caring and consists of semester-long sessions held once a week on Wednesdays from 12-12:50 p.m. in room 344 of the Student Services Building. For $20 a semester, UCC Licensed Psychologist and Group Coordinator Karen Cone-Uemura, offers a place for those who have experienced loss to come together, talk and connect. Representatives from either group are available to talk about resources for coping with grief during the holidays.
University of Utah AMF Chapter |
University Counseling Center | 801-581-6826

University of Utah College of Social Work brings message of leadership to girls at area schools

December 11, 2015

The University of Utah College of Social Work has been traveling to local schools to administer a program that helps girls build confidence in themselves. Called the Dixon Girls Forums, the school-based programs help girls in grades 3-12 learn about and develop a range of leadership skills. The curriculum was developed based on the findings from the Leadership Skills Inventory by researchers Frances Karnes and Jane Chauvin, who classified the skills necessary for leadership development into nine categories: written communication, speech communication, character building, decision making, group dynamics, problem solving, personal and planning. The Dixon Girls Forums bring together young women with leadership potential at a school, including those elected to student government, girls who ran for an office and were not elected, girls appointed to or elected to head social or activity clubs, captains of sports teams and more informal leaders as identified by school administration. The Forums provoke ongoing discussion by the girls, heighten their awareness of what type of leaders they are, and help them identify which skills need improvement. (Learn more here.) Media is invited to observe the program and interview participants by attending a Dixon Girls Forum at Hillcrest High School on the afternoon of Friday. Dec. 18 from  8 to 9:30 a.m. Check in at the office of the school, 7350 South 900 East, Midvale.
*For questions, contact Jennifer Nozawa, public relations specialist, University of Utah College of Social Work, 801-585-9303,

Context from Campus: Nov.9 -13

November 6, 2015

Trending Topics:

How toxic is social media?
This past week, a 19-year-old Instagram model Essena O’Neill with over 800,000 followers made international headlines when she announced that she would quit social media. O’Neill has since re-captioned many of her old photos to reveal the amount of effort and sponsorship that went into seemingly effortless and spontaneous moments. She also spoke out on the toxic effects social media had on her self-esteem and perceptions of reality. It’s undeniable that social media is an unavoidable aspect of Americans’ lives and have many benefits such as keeping distant friends and family members connected. However, there are many negative effects too, such as unrealistic expectations and unhealthy comparisons. Avery Holton, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah, is available to comment on O’Neill’s recent actions, motivations and social media’s impacts in general.
Avery Holton Phone: 801-585-1067| Email:

Utah Legislative Preview: What will be the hot issues in 2016?
Medicaid expansion, LGBT rights versus religious freedoms, the right to use medical marijuana and a host of other issues took center stage during the 2015 Utah legislative session.
What’s on deck for 2016?  Jason Perry, interim director of the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah, is available to offer commentary on the notable political events of 2015 as well as predictions for what’s to come in 2016.
*To schedule an interview with Jason Perry, contact Natalie Tippets, Phone: 801-581-8514 | Email:

Link between family history of Alzheimer’s disease and financial planning
A new study from University of Utah researchers asserts that the people most likely to see expert financial advice and to delay retirement are those whose families People whose families have a history of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, by U researchers Cathleen Zick, Robert Mayer and Ken Smith, suggests that people who may be prone to Alzheimer’s are perhaps more in tune to the costs of institutionalized care and therefore plan more. The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, found people whose families had a history of Alzheimer’s were 86 percent more likely to have visited with a wealth management professional and 40 percent less likely to retire before age 65 in comparison to people without a history of Alzheimer’s in their families. The study has been submitted to American Journal of Alzheimer’s disease & Other Dementias and will be published in coming weeks. Researchers are happy to discuss their findings.
Cathleen Zick Phone: 801-581-3147 | Email:

Nice guys can finish first
Do nice people have a greater ability to motivate others to cooperate? Or is competence the most important factor at play when it comes to organizing cooperation? Those questions are at the forefront of new research published by University of Utah anthropologist Shane Macfarlan and co-author co-author Henry F. Lyle of the University of Washington in the journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. After spending several months studying the dynamics of people in Dominica and Peru, Macfarlan and Lyle uncovered new information about how people respond to different characteristics among leaders. “The gist is this: do competent or “nice” folks have a greater ability to motivate others to cooperate? While nice guys are nice and everyone likes them, we may not believe they are capable of getting the job done and therefore they may have difficulty getting others to contribute to collective endeavors,” said Macfarlan. “It might feel good to help Forrest Gump because he’s a nice guy; however, he’s not the guy you want to organize cooperation because he doesn’t seem so competent. The information is relevant to ongoing debates over what makes a strong leader, said Macfarlan. He noted that society continually debates whether they prefer leaders who can get the job done, —or who are cooperative. Macfarlan is available to speak to media about the findings of his study.
Shane Macfarlan | Phone: 510-295-9282 | Email:

New York Mets star and U alum George Theodore remembers
He was nicknamed “The Stork.” At 6 feet 5 inches tall, George Theodore stood out among the 1973 New York Mets. He moved well on his long legs, making him a dynamite first baseman and a quick outfielder. Today, as a school social worker, he towers above the elementary students with whom he works, yet his warm demeanor, quirky sense of humor, and terrific baseball stories make him easily accessible to both kids and parents. During his senior year of college – upon the recommendation of his aunt – Theodore applied to the U’s Master of Social Work (MSW) Program. Shortly after being accepted, he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 31st round of the amateur draft. He eventually returned to the U in 1976 and finished his degree, embarking on a lifelong career in social work. Theodore recently shared his story with the College of Social Work and is happy to speak about the role the U played in shaping who he is today.
Jennifer Nozawa, public relations specialist, University of Utah College of Social Work | Phone: 801-585-9303 | Email:


Saturday, Nov. 7
Religious freedom in a changing world

Religious freedom: it’s a topic that has received intense national attention in recent months, following the actions of Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis —who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because of her religious beliefs. Davis spent five days in jail after ignoring a court order that she issue marriage licenses to all couples, following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 that legalized gay marriage. Her actions drew both ire and support, and the high profile case is one example of many cases before legislatures and courts that have addressed conflicts between civil rights and religious liberties. In Utah, other issues of religious freedom have also made headlines, including this week’s announcement by the LDS Church on membership of same-sex couples and their children. Continued attention on the topic is one reason students at the S.J. Quinney College of Law are helping to organize a symposium discussing the issue. Sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, the event will feature discussion by attorneys, faith community leaders and a legislator on various topics related to religious freedom. Cost is $10 for the general public and $5 for students.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 9
Evidence-based decisions for policy: The case for eyewitness identification

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law on will host a symposium dedicated to better understanding eye witness identification through the use of science for decision-making about public policy. The event at the law school takes place at the Flynn Faculty Scholarship Room (6500) on the sixth floor of the law building. “Evidence-Based Decisions for Policy: The Case for Eyewitness Identification,” will feature a lecture by Joanne Yaffe, a professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work. In late 2013, the National Academies asked Yaffe to help with a fast-track study examining eyewitness identification.  For 11 intensive months, she collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of well-known experts from across the country, examining the issue through the lenses of law enforcement, the judiciary, and social sciences.  The National Academies later released the group’s report, which urged caution in handling and relying upon eyewitness identifications in criminal cases. The group also recommended best practices for law enforcement and courts.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 10
The authors and illustrator of “March,” the best-selling graphic novel series that narrates U.S. Rep. John Lewis’s account of the civil rights movement, will speak at the U Nov. 10. Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell will discuss the books and their goal to educate and inspire young people to understand the power of nonviolence. They will participate in a book signing immediately following the event.
Libby Gardner Hall, 1375 Presidents Circle, 11 a.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 11
The U will honor 11 Utah veterans, including Chris Haley, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost a leg while trying to aid another injured solider, at its 18th annual Veterans Day commemoration ceremony. The tribute includes a panel discussion, “Forgotten and Abandoned Vietnam Veterans,” a 21-cannon solute, an awards ceremony and a concert.
Union Building, Ballroom, 200 S. Central Campus Drive, 8:30 a.m.-Noon

Thursday, Nov. 12
“The Case Against 8”

The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah will host a public screening of the Sundance film, “The Case Against 8” draws back the curtain on one of the most contentious legal cases of recent years that paved the way for the ultimate Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage. The film will give audiences the opportunity to experience this historical journey in an in-depth and intimate way. The director Ryan White will lead a Q&A session immediately following the screening.
Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. Broadway, 7 p.m. 

Thursday, Nov. 12
Reflections on the 2015 UK parliamentary election
You may know all about how election day shook out in the U.S. this month, but do you know how the 2015 UK parliamentary election changed the political landscape across the pond? Here’s your chance to find out: The Hinckley Institute of Politics hosts “Reflections on the 2015 UK parliamentary election.” John Francis, a professor of political science, will host a panel exploring the recent election.
Orson Spencer Hall, Room 255, 260 Central Campus Drive, 9:10 to 10:10 a.m.

Breast cancer awareness

October 22, 2015

October has become synonymous with pink ribbons, as breast cancer awareness month reaches a fever pitch. Caren Frost, director of global social work at the College of Social Work, can speak to the issue of breast cancer awareness from a global perspective. Frost, who is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, is engaged in developing topic-specific workshops with women’s group for women with refugee status.  In addition, she is involved in interdisciplinary research across the University of Utah campus, as well as with colleagues from other universities in the U.S. and globally.

Phone: 801-581-5287 | Email:

October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month

October 9, 2015

This October marks the second annual National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, which aims to encourage prevention strategies and ensure the health of teens and young adults. Eric Garland from the College of Social Work is available to talk about what’s new in the field of substance abuse and dependence.
Phone: 801-581-6192 | Email:  

YWCA honors College of Social Work professor integral to new refugee camp program

September 25, 2015

This month, the University of Utah College of Social work will see the first cohort of students living in refugee camps graduate from a new online Case Management Certificate program after nine months of intensive online classes, learning skills to better serve refugee populations. The new graduates are the first cohort who’ve lived in camp communities to receive their training –and all came into the social work program after already living in camps for years and wanting to forge a new career path to helping refugees and the many issues they face as a community, according to Rosey Hunter, an associate professor in the College of Social Work who oversees the program. Dr. Hunter joined the College of Social Work faculty in 1995, but has been a social worker for close to 30 years.  In that time, she has taught and mentored countless students, worked to help refugees and immigrants navigate new systems, supported higher-education opportunities for first-generation students, encouraged and built numerous community partnerships. For most of the last decade, Dr. Hunter served as special assistant to the president for campus-community partnerships, and director of University Neighborhood Partners (UNP). Located on Salt Lake City’s west side, UNP values community knowledge and the lived experiences of resident partners and organizations that represent and serve youth and families.  Under Dr. Hunter’s leadership, UNP fostered partnerships across four institutions of higher education and 51 community organizations and schools in 25 community locations.  Additionally, west side University enrollment dramatically increased during Dr. Hunter’s tenure as director.  In 2001, fewer than a dozen individuals residing in west side neighborhoods were enrolled at the U.  Since Spring 2012, over 475 west side residents — including 120 Spanish-speakers — have registered as U students through their involvement with UNP partnerships. Dr. Hunter’s social work teaching, research and practice areas are focused on developing mutually beneficial relationships – connecting people to resources and shared power in ways that expand opportunities and build on existing strengths.  Her community-based research with local leaders of refugee backgrounds led to the development of the College of Social Work’s Case Management Certificate program.  The nine-month certificate program began in the fall of 2013 with a cohort of 27 Salt Lake City-based community leaders (most of immigrant and refugee backgrounds) representing 14 different countries of origin.  In the spring of 2015, the second cohort of 22 students, representing 11 countries of origin, graduated with their certificates. Dr. Hunter was honored today by the YWCA for her leadership. She is available to speak to reporters about the new certificate program.

Phone: 801-608-9888 (Melinda Rogers can arrange interviews with Dr. Hunter)  |  Email:

Religion and social justice

September 21, 2015

The LDS Church this week examined the question of how to provide assistance to refugees in need and how to galvanize its church members to do the same. The question brings up a broader issue across all belief systems: how do different religions intersect with social justice issues? Christina Gringeri, a professor at the U’s College of Social Work, has researched the topic of social justice and religion. She is available for commentary on the subject.
Phone: 801-581-4864 | Email:  

Mind-Body Bridging now available at the U

August 7, 2015

The U College of Social Work was recently awarded exclusive licensure within the U.S. and Canada to certify eligible health and mental health professionals in the clinical practice of Mind-Body Bridging, a short-term psychotherapy employing mind-body and cognitive behavioral interventions. What exactly is the technique and why is it beneficial? Dorann Mitchell, director of Professional and Community Education in the College of Social Work, is available to talk about the therapeutic intervention and how it works.
Phone: 801-585-9202 | Email:

Research spotlight: Assessing soldiers’ suicide risk

July 27, 2015

There’s no shortage of interesting research going on at the University of Utah every day. Brian Baucom and Craig Bryan, assistant professors in the Department of Psychology, and Eric Garland, associate dean for research in the College of Social Work, were recently awarded a $2.4 million Department of Defense grant for a three-year study on “Technologies for Assessing Behavioral and Cognitive Markers of Suicide Risk.” The primary objectives of the research are to determine behavioral and cognitive markers of suicide risk among National Guard service members and their spouses, to improve the neurocognitive measurement of undetected suicidal tendencies, and to improve the feasibility and practicality of assessing suicide risk by using advanced technology solutions. Baucom and Garland are available to talk about what the team’s research aims to achieve.
Brian Baucom | Phone: 801-581-6425 | Email:
Eric Garland | Phone: 801-581-3826 | Email: