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Social Work dean to speak at Graduate Commencement

Dean of the St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas School of Social Work Barbara Shank gives the Graduate Commencement Ceremony address on May 23.
Dean of the St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas School of Social Work Barbara Shank gives the Graduate Commencement Ceremony address on May 23.
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Barbara Shank, dean of the joint St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas School of Social Work, will give the address at St. Catherine University’s Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 23, at 7:30 p.m.

Shank has been actively engaged in social work education for 36 years. She started her career as an undergraduate educator, and has since gained renowned as a leading advocate of social work education and opportunities.

Under her leadership, the joint St. Kate’s–St. Thomas School of Social Work has grown in program offerings (including a new DSW program), student enrollment (50 to 600) and faculty size (4 to 30). It currently ranks in the top 25 percent of schools of social work nationally. In 2010, the School of Social Work received a Centennial Medal from Catholic Charities USA for “valuable contributions of individuals and organizations to the reduction of poverty in the United States.”

Raised in Ely, Minn. Shank holds a B.A. in sociology from Macalester College and an M.S.W. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Her research interests include sexual harassment, boundary issues and ethics, curriculum and program development, and outcome assessment. In September she was tapped to moderate a panel on mental heath with White House and federal agency officials in Washington, DC. 

Shank has lead or been a member of countless national social work organizations. She currently serves as chair of the Council on Social Work Education’s Board of Directors, president of the International Consortium for Social Development and as a board member of the International Association of School of Social Work. She is also co-chair of the international task force for the National Association of Dean and Directors of Schools of Social Work; chairs the Catholic Deans Collaborative and serves on the Catholic Charities USA Board of Trustees.

In 1993, the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Social Workers named her Social Worker of the Year. In 2009, she was named one of the 125 most Interesting and Influential People in the 125 Years of the University of St. Thomas.


Related stories:
Associate Commencement Ceremony speaker: Toby Pearson

Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony speaker: Rebecca Bergman

May 19, 2014 by Pauline Oo

See also: Education, Faculty, Healthcare, Liberal Arts, Students