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UNC School of Social Work faculty celebrate, socialize at SSWR reception

by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle and Matthew Smith

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work hosted a reception with food, drinks and music on Friday, Jan. 12, for colleagues, friends and family to socialize and celebrate the School of Social Work’s achievements during the 28th annual Society for Social Work and Research.

School of Social Work faculty were joined by current and former students and friends from other universities during the two-hour reception.

This is one of the most important weeks that we spend together in our annual academic calendar. SSWR provides an opportunity to join with our peers and dialogue with researchers and scholars who are producers of knowledge. The science shared here really impacts intractable problems. Getting to see these innovative ideas and rich research findings; and then processing that together by talking about what it means for our profession, is so important.

Ramona Denby-Brinson, Dean

Guests were treated to an excellent array of entree and dessert options including beef tenderloin and cheesecake.

Leading into the reception room was a sign celebrating the achievements of Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development Sheryl Zimmerman and John A. Tate Distinguished Professor for Children in Need Emily Putnam-Hornstein. Zimmerman received the 2024 SSWR Distinguished Career Achievement Award on Saturday, Jan. 13, while Putnam-Hornstein was inducted as a 2024 AASWSW Fellow on Sunday, Jan. 14.

What this experience has been like is exactly what I hoped it would be. Seeing these social work researchers come together, who are actively adding to the pool of knowledge of how to do social work, is very inspiring. I talked with some of our alumni; we talked about how social work research offers us a chance to take a step back from the practice of social work and learn how to do it better, how to support our social workers and students, and how to support the populations they serve. You can feel the energy of the knowledge being added.

Joseph Petrizzi, Associate Director of Development 
Joseph Petrizzi, Associate Director of Development
Andrea Murray-Lichtman, Clinical Associate Professor

It has been very exciting. I’ve learned a lot and have had a chance to see a lot of our UNC faculty members present. I’ve really enjoyed the experience.

Andrea Murray-Lichtman, Director of Practicum Education

I’ve never been to a SSWR Conference. My mentor suggested that SSWR would be a nice opportunity to experience how other students, faculty and schools of social work interact and present. It’s been a very enlightening experience for me. It’s been a great experience and I’m really looking forward to my presentation.

Solomon Achulo, Doctoral Student
Solomon Achulo, Doctoral Student

Guests made sure to grab some Chapel Hill Toffee on their way out the door.

UNC School of Social Work community members conducted more than 40 presentations, received multiple accolades and connected with social workers around the country during SSWR. We look forward to seeing you in Seattle in 2025.