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Diversity and the School of Social Work

Defining Diversity

Our School

At UNC's School of Social Work, we recognize and value the unique characteristics that exist across individuals, communities and cultures. Furthermore, our students, faculty and staff are committed to creating a learning and teaching environment where an individual’s age, gender, race, social class, disability, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or religion are viewed as vital strengths and assets that contribute to the overall educational fabric of our campus and to society as a whole.

Our Students

Our graduate students represent a host of nations around the world. Over the past five years, our students have come from:  Australia, Canada,  Chile, China, England, Ethiopia, France, India, Israel, Korea, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, S. Korea, Taiwan, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

News 2016

Meet our new Associate Dean for Advancement
Jackie Leach Pierce has joined the UNC School of Social Work as the Associate Dean for Advancement, bringing with her 18 years of experience as a fundraiser in the university and nonprofit sectors. For the last seven years, she served as a major gifts officer with UNC’s Office of University Advancement, working to galvanize select constituencies and encourage their involvement and support; and to develop and implement major gift strategies. Among her accomplishments, she led an effort to establish a national model for minority fundraising in higher education and developed creative ways to access and engage alumni for a long-term relationship with the University in order to establish and increase philanthropic giving.  Full story

News 2015

Update from University Leadership on Race Relations

Noted international researcher incorporates a creative and entrepreneurial spirit in his work
Lambert is considered a leading international researcher on the social, behavioral and emotional functioning of children, adults and families, particularly in the Caribbean. Moreover, he has spent much of his career developing culturally appropriate psychological measures and testing tools to help practitioners better identify behavioral and emotional functioning in children, adults, and families internationally, with a more recent focus on children and adults of the African Diaspora. Full story

  School celebrates culture and diversity with annual Harambee
Students, faculty and staff gathered on March 31 for the School of Social Work’s annual Harambee multicultural event, which celebrates ethnic, racial and cultural diversity through food, art and performances. Full story


UNC to launch Carolina Conversations on March 20
The broad initiative is designed to support, help facilitate and encourage  critical conversations around race, intellectual diversity, religion, identity and culture. The initiative will be hosted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and the intent is to include all students (undergraduate, graduate and professional), and all staff and faculty from all schools. See website for more details


School recruits outstanding minority students at diversity event
The 3rd annual on-campus Diversity Recruitment Event was hosted on February 23 at the UNC School of Social Work. Full story


Refugee mental health and wellness initiative receives grant
The UNC Global Transmigration – Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative (“Refugee Wellness”), a project of the UNC School of Social Work, has received a grant from the Triangle Community Foundation (TCF) Capacity Building Partnership.
Full story | UNC Global Transmigration Refugee Wellness Initiative website



Civil rights leader speaks at School of Social Work
In a room full of future social workers, civil rights activist Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis Jr. urged the audience to become freedom fighters and change the world around them.“I believe that the ultimate power of a social worker is to become a freedom-fighting social worker,” he said. “By definition, social workers work to improve the quality of life for others.” Chavis’ call to action was the resonating message of the second annual Bobby Boyd Leadership Lecture hosted by the University of North Carolina School of Social Work. The 90-minute lecture was part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s celebration of Black History Month.
Full story | Photo gallery


News 2014

UNC study: Discrimination puts African Americans and Caribbean blacks at greater risk for mental and substance use disorders
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that African Americans and Caribbean blacks who experience frequent or recurrent multiple forms of discrimination are at greater risk for developing major depressive disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, and for abusing drugs and alcohol. Full story

Scholarship helps student pursue her passion for working with Native Americans
Chelsea Kolander, MPH, was recently selected as the winner of a nationally-competitive $2,000 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to social work master’s degree candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations, or in public and voluntary nonprofit agency settings. Full story


MSW student Candice Locklear crowed Miss Lumbee, uses platform to help middle school students succeed
As the Miss Lumbee Ambassador, Locklear serves the Lumbee people and acts as a representative for the Lumbee Tribe. Locklear’s platform is on education and increasing college attendance rates of Lumbee students. She plans to work hands-on with middle school students to instill in them the importance of college, as well as teach skills and methods that will improve their outcomes and probability of attending college. Full story


MSW student recognized for important contributions to diversity
Whitney Sewell, a master’s student in social work, was among eight people or groups recently recognized for the 2014 University Diversity Awards for their accomplishments in diversity and inclusion. Sewell was selected for her "strong commitment to sexual health education and sexual and ethnic minority mental health disparities. An advocate for African-American and LGBTQ communities, Sewell received the graduate student award for her focus on social justice in social work practice and research, her commitment to diversity as the Diversity and Inclusive Collegiate Environments (DICE) adviser, and her community service as a board member for the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Council of North Carolina. She also is a member of Delta Sigma Theta and a troop leader for the Girl Scouts of North Carolina Coastal Pines." Sewell was accepted into the doctoral program at Washington University in St. Louis’ George Warren Brown School of Social Work. She will begin this fall and was awarded Washington University’s generous Chancellor’s Fellowship for Doctoral Studies.

UNC study: Resettled refugees eager to receive mental health services
A UNC pilot study has found that many newly arriving refugees who resettle in Durham and Orange counties are in need of mental health services and are eager to get that help. Those are the findings from the School of Social Work’s “Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative,” a collaborative project launched last year with the nonprofit Church World Service in Durham and
the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Full story

School signs collaboration agreement with institute in India
The School of Social Work is once again partnering with an international institution in an effort to increase opportunities for joint research and teaching. Full Story

Clark awarded $829,000 NIH grant to study drug abuse in biracial youth
Clark will use the funding to support research that few scholars have explored, specifically: Why black adolescents, who have been shown to use alcohol and drugs at substantially lower rates than their white peers, often catch up to and increasingly surpass the substance use rates of whites during young adulthood.
Full Story

News 2013

Panel Discussion: Managing and Supporting LGBTQ Identities in the Workplace
The LGBTQ Caucus, a student group at the UNC School of Social Work, in partnership with the School's Field Education Office, is hosting this noon event. See event poster

UNC Gillings School of Public Health to Host "Gen Silent" film screening/panel discussion on Oct. 28 in Tate-Turner-Kuralt Auditorium
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older people who fought the first battles of equality now face so much fear of discrimination, bullying and abuse, that many are hiding their lives to survive. See event poster


Incoming MSW Class Talented and Diverse
The UNC School of Social Work welcomed 140 new MSW students to the program this year. Our students possess a passion for social work practice, bring a wide spectrum of areas and populations of interest such as social work services for ethnically diverse populations, people with developmental disabilities, child welfare, domestic violence and sexual assault, health care for women and children, mental health, health disparities, military families, poverty, older adults, school social work, social and economic justice, homelessness, services and advocacy for LGBTQI populations, non-profits organizations, community organizing, international development, and immigration. Full story

Students Summer Work Spans the Globe
Full story


Social Workers March for Social Justice
For weeks, protesters have flocked to the state legislative building in Raleigh, eager to denounce new laws and policies that some argue will have a detrimental effect on women, children, minorities and low-income families.
Full story




Black Student Caucus wins University Diversity Award
The UNC School of Social Work's Black Student Caucus received a 2013 University Diversity Awards recognizing their significant contributions to the enhancement, support and furtherance of diversity on the Carolina campus and in the community. Full story


Students showcase talent, celebrate culture at Harambee event
Students, faculty and staff gathered on March 4 for the School of Social Work’s annual Harambee multicultural event, which celebrates ethnic, racial and cultural diversity through food, art and performances. Full story | photo gallery


Student fights for migrant farmworkers' rights
For Jennie Wilburn, a third-year student in the MSW/MDiv program, educating others about the living and working conditions of migrant farmworkers has become a full-time passion and nearly a full-time job. Thanks to an internship that developed from her field education at Duke, Wilburn is helping to bring attention to injustices in the agriculture industry through work with two North Carolina organizations: Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN), and Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF).
Full story

UNC faculty members see immigration reform on the horizon
Over the next few months, many around the country, including students, faculty and staff at UNC, will be watching closely to see what, if any, political progress develops over the one domestic issue that has long divided much of America: immigration reform. Full story

News 2012

The Intersection of Faith and Practice

Jimmy Creech, a civil rights activist, author, and former United Methodist pastor, and his wife Chris Weedy, an ’86 MSW graduate and practicing social worker, spoke to about 65 students, faculty, and staff on March 27 on “The Intersection of Faith and Practice.” Creech is the author of Adam’s Gift, a memoir of one pastor’s journey to re-evaluate his own beliefs about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Creech frequently speaks across the country to churches, colleges and universities as well as to community and national organizations about human and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Weedy, also an advocate for LGBT rights, is a senior practitioner with Wake County Human Services and a support group leader with the HIV/AIDS Support Group in Raleigh.

Watch the video


NEWS 2011

CSWE Launches Online Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice

The center is designed, among other things, to promote dialog and action through a clearinghouse of current resources for social work educators and students.

Link to webpage




Carolina Diversity Summit to Feature Presenters from School of Social Work

The 2011 Carolina Diversity Summit, "Intersectionality: Exploring Diversity from Varied Perspectives," will be held on Nov. 18.

Full Story


School Hosts Discussion on "DOMA" Amendment

About 45 people attended a discussion on the effects of the “Defense of Marriage Amendment” on Oct. 11 at the School of Social Work. The School's Diversity Committee hosted the event and invited UNC School of Law Professors Maxine Eichner and Holning Lau to lead the conversation on the proposed Constitutional amendment, which would make marriage between a man and a woman “the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” N.C. residents will vote on the amendment in May.

Eichner presentation | Lau presentation | Watch the Video



 NASW-NC Responds to Proposed Marriage Amendment

"Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability."

Read full position paper


UNC Law School Hosts Debate on Marriage Amendment
A week after N.C. state lawmakers agreed to place a proposed "Defense of Marriage Amendment" on voting ballots in May, Reps. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, and Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, appeared before a crowd of about 250 students, faculty, staff and others at UNC's School of Law to debate the measure, which if approved by voters would make marriage between a man and a woman the only domestic legal union recognized in the state.  View video of debate

Triangle Center for Japanese Studies:
UNC, Duke, N.C. State launch Japanese Studies Center | Website

Celebrating Carolina's Diversity:
The Newsletter of the Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity


Addressing the needs of LGBT Elders           

On Saturday, April 2, 2011, the School of Social Work hosted "Breaking Generation Silent: Facing the needs and challenges of LGBT Elders."

More than 225 people attended this free event, which included a viewing of the 1-hour documentary, “Gen Silent.” This 2010 award-winning film highlights the realities that many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors are facing, including discrimination, isolation, poverty, and inadequate access to health and long-term care services. A panel discussion followed the film screening to further explore the social, medical and financial needs of LGBT elders.

See previous story  | See photos from the event

Art helps social work students see the full picture

Associate Professor Mimi Chapman uses art to encourage her students to consider how political and religious beliefs, or personal characteristics, such as race, gender, age and sexual orientation, influence a social worker’s conclusions about a client and that client’s needs. Full story




Immigration Policy in North Carolina

On Feb. 23, 2010, the School of Social Work hosted a seminar that examined the leadership, legal and ethical considerations that social workers face in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform.

Speakers Deborah M. Weissman, UNC's Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Programs; Dr. Hannah Gill, Assistant Director for the Institute for the Study of the Americas and Director of the Latino Migration Project; and Ilana Dubester, an Immigrants' Rights Advocate, addressed the effects of the 287(g) Ice Access Program in North Carolina's counties, including whether these programs have impacted public safety, domestic violence protections, child welfare placements and racial profiling. Click on the links below for additional resources and information.

Immigration Policy in North Carolina: Legal and Ethical Consequences for Social Workers

The 287(g) Program: The Costs and Consequences of Local Immigration Enforcement
in North Carolina Communities

Immigration Policy Resources for Social Workers

Immigration Policy Center's Top 10 Resources



International Civil Rights Museum Opens

Fifty years ago, the F.W. Woolworth building in Greensboro, N.C., stood as a reminder of segregated life in the south. Today, the building stands as a monument to the power of human courage and its ability to bring about social change. The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is more than just a building designed to house historical exhibits and artifacts. It is a place to witness, to experience and to discuss how to affect social change in our own nation and around the world.


National News

March 2010

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health and the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health have released a report on the Latino Behavioral Health Workforce. This report examines the crisis affecting Latinos in need of behavioral health and the behavioral health workforce in the United States. While at over 15% of the overall population, not including the four million
residents of Puerto Rico, Latinos are visibly absent from all areas of the behavioral health professions including medicine, nursing, psychology and social work. Although a sizable population to be reckoned with, a critical mass cannot be found in positions of leadership, or on national board and advisory committees. Due to the shortage of Latino professionals in behavioral health, issues pertaining specifically to the Latino behavioral health agenda go widely unnoticed and unaddressed.
Full Report


Nov. 3, 2009

The Council on Social Work Education and Lambda Legal have issued a joint national study that examines how prepared students in social work programs are to work with individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, especially LGBT youth in out-of-home care. According to the CSWE, the "nationwide survey revealed that program directors and faculty need more resources to increase their knowledge on sexual orientation and gender expression and to further infuse content on LGBT individuals and youth throughout curricula areas." 
Executive summary |Full Report



Harambee: February 2010
Students, faculty and staff gathered on Feb. 2 for the School of Social Work’s annual Harambee multicultural event, which celebrates ethnic, racial and cultural diversity through food, writing and performances.
Participants in this year’s event shared poems, personal stories and songs. Harambee also featured roundtable discussions on culture and ethnicity. 

“Harambee is such an important experience,” said MSW student Alejandro Bidot, who organized this year’s event. “It is a forum for sharing cultures and talking about what makes us different. By exploring our differences, we find that we do have one thing in common: humanity.” 


Shining Students: January 2010 

Carynne Hardy has been chosen as an intern to the Office of the First Lady and will be working with Michelle Obama's staff at the White House from January to May. Hardy is a second year MSW student who came to us with an MPA degree, and who clearly has a promising future!



July 2009


crosbyNwabuzorCarmen Crosby was selected for a Minority Doctoral Fellowship by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Minority Fellowship Program. The national selection committee also recommended Ijeoma Nwabuzor as an alternate candidate. The fellowships are funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
"This is a very competitive fellowship program in an extremely competitive year," said Kathleen Rounds, doctoral program chair. "It is indeed an honor to be chosen."
MundadaJune 2009
When Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus came to UNC-Chapel Hill in February to talk about his New York Times bestseller, "Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism," one person in the audience took Dr. Yunus' call to action seriously. MSW student Darshan Mundada, a Rotary World Peace Fellow from India was in attendance at the talk and will be completing a summer internship in Bangladesh at the Yunus-founded Grameen Bank, which is widely credited as the world's foremost micro finance institution. School of Social Work faculty member Mat Despard will act as Mundada's field supervisor over the summer. Despard is also working with an organization in rural Haiti to develop a micro enterprise project.


More School Diversity News...


UNC Diversity Resources

Across campus, there are a host of university offices and student groups that provide leadership, advocacy and programs geared toward promoting and supporting diversity issues and diverse populations. We have included a sample of these diversity resources but you can also find a fuller listing of UNC sites as well as diversity resources outside the UNC campus, including links to agencies, organizations and nonprofits Web sites.