CHHS Faculty Join Centers of Excellence

This year SDSU initiated a new strategic plan. A key component of the plan is to create links between different de- partments and colleges and combine the knowledge and research of faculty members and focus them on a particular area. Each of these areas of excellence builds on existing faculty strengths to solve complex problems with new research approaches and cutting-edge technology. CHHS faculty will be involved in two of these areas. New faculty will also be hired.

“Much of this research ties into our nation’s economic, human and social health,” said Stephen Welter, vice president for research and graduate affairs. “Not only will our science be of the highest caliber from an intellectual perspective, but it is also expected to have the highest level of impact for positive change in society.”

Over the next several years, SDSU will invest in these four areas of excellence:

  • Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age
  • The Viral Information Institute
  • Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Center
  • The Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies

CHHS professor Dr. John Elder will be part of the Human Dynamics in the Mobil Age team, led by Dr. Ming Tsou of the Geography department, as they seek to become the leading national research institute in the area of human dynamics, public behavioral health, spatial science, big data, and social behavioral science. Dr. Elder is a distinguished professor of public health specializing in health promotion and behavioral sciences. He has consulted on health promotion, disease prevention and behavioral epidemiology for international organizations involved in child survival, HIV/AIDS, and malaria research.

“This campus is very good at overcoming challenges and find- ing creative ways to be successful. With strong commitment from our faculty, we can lead the way toward a new model of higher learning—one that involves a true sharing of ideas between faculty, staff and students, where undergraduates are valued as part of the academic conversation, and where the entrepreneurial spirit plays out in our teaching and our research.”

Dr. Stephen Welter, Vice President of Research



According to Dr. Elder, “Tracking social media affords us the opportunity to see what information and misinformation is being communicated about a specific health issue and gives us insight on how best to communicate with individuals and neighborhoods in the community most at risk. This cluster creates a synergy among geography, public health, communication and sociology that has few counterparts in the nation’s universities.”

Professor Karen Emmorey will be a key faculty member in the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience team. Dr. Emmorey is a distinguished professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She is internationally recognized for her research on what sign languages reveal about the nature of human language, cognition and the brain. She is director of SDSU’s Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience. Dr. Em- morey says, “Our hope is that the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Center will allow SDSU to emerge as a leader in the brain bases of cognitive disorders and how the brain responds to interventions. This area of excellence will provide a framework for faculty and students to study brain-based disorders. The Center focuses on issues within the rapidly developing field of cognitive neuroscience and tackles questions that are essential to understanding human behavior.”

The Cognitive Neuroscience team’s work is aligned with the White House BRAIN initia- tive and advances SDSU’s contributions to the understanding and treatment of brain- based disorders such as autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. To better serve San Diego’s large veteran population, researchers in this area of excellence hope to include a new faculty member with expertise in traumatic brain injuries.

CHHS Dean Marilyn Newhoff is also excited about the potential for these areas of excel- lence to allow top researchers from CHHS to expand their involvement with these key areas and increase their ability to provide insights that can be translated into practical techniques and treatments to help the wider community.

Development Office

That “Back to School” Feeling

Rebecca Williamson
Rebecca Williamson
Development Officer
(619) 594-2868

Do you remember that “back to school” feeling?  I do, even though it has been many years since I was a student.  The excitement of seeing your friends again.  The anxiety of trying to find new classrooms.  The fear of not getting the class that you really needed to stay on track for your de- gree. And the overwhelming question of, “How am I going to pay for all of my books? For tuition?  For everything?”

Even though the students at SDSU have settled into the fall semester by now, it was only a couple of months ago that they were all feeling this as well. And for some of them, the anxiety of paying for their education continues. The average SDSU undergraduate student accumulates over $17,000 in student-loan debt and more than half of students have at least some debt at graduation.  For many CHHS students, they want to go into the helping fields they are preparing for, but they know this means low starting salaries and that increases the anxiety they feel.  In addition, there are myriad costs that CHHS students experience that students in other programs do not; things like nursing uniforms, stethoscopes, physical therapy white coats, specialized software and other equipment can all add extra costs for CHHS students. At the same time, the need to complete internships can make it difficult to hold an outside job.

Luckily, many students are able to get some relief from this anxiety through private scholarships. CHHS students can access a wide variety of scholarships that have been provided by generous donors.  Each of the five schools has scholarships directed to its students. There are also scholarship funds for international experiences and specialty programs.

Naturally, with the increasing cost of a college education, there is an increased need for student scholarships and students rely on the generosity of donors to provide this help. Small donations can be added to an existing scholarship account to increase the number or amount of scholarships. Donors who commit to give at least $15,000 over three years have the opportunity to create a named scholarship and determining the criteria for its award. Very generous donors who can offer at least $50,000 can create an endowed scholarship that will continue to provide assistance in perpetuity.

So, please remember “back to school” anxiety and consider if you can help to alleviate it for a current student.  If you can help, please contact me or send in the form on the back to this newsletter. Our students will be grateful, and less anxious, as a result.


SDSU students need your help to achieve student success.

Letter from the Dean

Marilyn NewhoffDear Friends,

Over the summer months SDSU completed a new strategic plan to take the university into the future – Building On Excellence.  Town hall-style meetings, working committees and a high-level steering committee worked to ensure that students, faculty and staff voices were all heard.  This pro- cess made it clear that there were many areas where momen- tum was already building and the university community took great pride in their efforts. I look forward to working with the CHHS faculty and staff to ensure that our college follows through with implementing the plan’s goals.

Building On Excellence focuses on three broad goals:

  •  Student Success.  This includes ensuring that there is sufficient faculty to teach the classes our students need and that we work to increase the four-year graduation rate. It also includes encouraging every student to engage in a “transformational experience” during their SDSU career, whether that is international study or participating in research activities.  Since the CHHS already requires undergraduates to participate in an international experience, our college is a leader in this area.
  • Research and Creative Endeavors.  SDSU continues to be recognized as a top research university and this goal seeks to support that through the creation of Centers of Excel- lence, enhancing support for creative efforts in the arts and reinforcing the value of involvement in research for student success.
  • Community and Communication.  We also want to make sure we are good neighbors to the San Diego community and that alumni want to continue their involvement with SDSU. New efforts in alumni engagement as well as communications with our surrounding community will be added.  CHHS is a leader in this area as well since so many of our students and alumni are involved with community health and human service organization through internships and careers.


If you are interested in more detail, the entire strategic plan is available on the SDSU website (  I am excited that CHHS programs and efforts already support the campus-wide strategic plan and will serve as examples for other colleges to follow and I look forward to seeing new programs and initiatives come out of the planning efforts.

Warmest Wishes,


Outstanding Aztecs

CHHS College Council Leaders Shine

CHHS College Council President Allie Raimondo
CHHS College Council President Allie Raimondo

Allie Raimondo, a senior public health major, is taking student life at SDSU by storm. As the new president of the College Council for CHHS, Allie is transforming the council into an organization for broader student involvement in the college.

Allie’s aspiration to attend SDSU began when she was young. A Las Vegas native, she looked forward to visiting her uncle, an SDSU staff member.  She would walk around campus with its busy students and faculty and imagine the day she would attend her dream school.

Once her dream became a reality she decided to pursue a degree in public health so she could use her skills and knowl- edge to help others by promoting healthy lifestyles.  She also found herself to be a talented leader. This past year she was honored as the 2012-2013 CHHS Undergraduate of the Year.

Allie’s leadership roles include president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and a QPR Gatekeeper, enabling her to spot signs of suicidal individuals and help them find the appro- priate resources. She serves on the Student Heath Advisory Board and gives presentations about Student Health Services. Allie believes that her leadership role as the Associated Students representative for CHHS ignited her interest in getting more students connected and involved in the college. As a representative for the college, she saw all of the differ- ent services and activities that were available for students and wanted to make them more widely known.  With her vision and passion for improving student life, Allie decided she could help make the changes needed by serving as president of the CHHS College Council.

CHHS College Council Members
CHHS College Council members Tasnim El Mezin, Assistant Dean Donna Daly, Kristina Morales,
Marya Edgar, Kelly Greenville, Jennifer Ericson (top) and Brittany Herrin, Allie Raimondo (bottom).

The CHHS College Council is made up of members from over 20 CHHS student organizations. It acts as a voice and advocate for students on various issues, organizes and coordinates information between the different organizations, and promotes pride in CHHS.

Allie’s vision for the council is to improve the council’s identity by promoting pride and unity between the different organizations that it’s composed of. She sees it as a home of familiar faces with similar academic interests that can come together on a large campus and work toward common goals. By strengthening the council’s identity and increasing on-campus involvement she hopes that more freshmen and upperclassmen will become a part of these student organizations.

This year Allie has led the council to form its very first homecoming team to participate in homecoming activities.  The council is taking an active role in Aztecs Rock Hunger by having its organizations compete with one another to give CHHS a leg up in philanthropy. Allie also plans to increase participation in the Find Your Dream Job workshop, which endourages students to speak with, and listen to, professionals in the health and human services fields.

“The experiences I have received from being a part of this makes me want to give back, to make it possible for other students. Our college is one that is made up of people who want to help, that is not something you can find everywhere,” Allie describes.

Paul Contreras
Paul Contreras

She saw another CHHS student, Paul Contreras, as a mentor and inspiration for her involvement.  Paul spent fifteen years in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. After being stationed in Japan and San Diego and two deployments to Iraq he decided he wanted to further his education and was accepted into the Medical Enlisted Commission Program and into the School of Nursing.  He became involved as the Associated Students representative for CHHS for two terms. Like Allie, he saw the vast number of activities and services that were available to students but realized that only a small minority of students received this information. As a conduit for this information, he made it his goal to ensure that more students became involved.

Paul currently serves as President of the Student Vet- eran Organization at SDSU and continues to work for the success of other CHHS students as well as the student veteran population on campus. He is continuously searching for new opportunities for students that will help them better their future.  He strongly believes in the value of mentorship and would love to see every student have an academic or professional mentor. His dedication and hard work in student life won him the President’s Leadership Award in 2012.

Paul will be graduating this December with a dual degree in nursing and psychology. He will return to the military as a Nurse Corps Officer. Allie will graduate this spring with a degree in public health and a minor in psychology and plans on staying in San Diego. She hopes for a career where she can help people and pro- mote healthy lifestyles. Allie also wants to pursue the possibility of investing even more in SDSU by joining the staff.

The legacy these two leaders will leave behind will be that of dedication, hard work and a love for helping others.  With selfless devotion to helping their fellow students, there is no doubt that they are changing the caliber of student life and success at SDSU.

School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences

Dr. Roger Simmons Receives CHHS Faculty “Monty Award”

Professor Emeritus Roger Simmons is the CHHS recipient of the Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Faculty Contributions.  More commonly recognized as the “Mon- ty,” Dr. Simmons was recognized at the annual All-University Convocation on August 22. One faculty member from each college was recognized for their excellence in teaching, re- search and contribution to SDSU. This year ’s awards also went to: Dr. Seth Mallios (Arts and Letters); Dr. Gerald Whittenburg (Business Administration); Dr. Diane Lapp (Educa- tion); Dr. Khaled Morsi (Engineering); Dr. Lawrence Beck (Professional Studies and Fine Arts); and Dr. Stephen Roeder (Sciences).

Dr. Simmons in class
Dr. Simmons working with students in the classroom.

Dr. Simmons retired two years ago but continues on a part-time basis to complete his research and to teach an undergraduate course called Motor Learning and Performance. Students offer high praise of Simmons’ teaching as he is able to engage students in discussions, even in classes of 150 students. Typical comments are that Dr. Simmons is “one of the best professors I’ve had. Really engages the class and keeps our attention.” and “He was funny, encouraged discussion, and made the class more interesting and dynamic for learning.”

Dr. Simmons has been equally successful in the lab with significant contributions to the field of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD). Children with FASD experience delays and difficulties in a range of cognitive, intellectual and motor skills. The syndrome is thought to be the leading cause of mental retardation in the world.  However, the prevalence of FASD is difficult to measure since the symptoms can be varied in degree and mothers are often reluctant to report their alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Dr. Simmons with a research subject.
Dr. Simmons with a research subject.

For the past 17 years, Dr. Simmons has been working with Dr. Edward P. Riley the Director of the Center for Behavioral Teratology at SDSU, and Dr. Jennifer D. Thomas, also of the CBT, to understand how FASD impacts the development of motor skills. Together they are currently  investigating gait and writing skills in children with FASD. Dr. Sim- mons also collaborates with Dr. Ashkan Ashrafi, a faculty member in the College of Engineering. They have used sophisticated signal processing techniques to demonstrate basic differences in force control between typically developing children and children with FASD. Dr. Riley commented that Dr. Simmons “has brought an entirely new line of research into our work on cognitive and behavioral changes in children exposed to alcohol prenatally.  His work on motor control is somewhat unique in the FASD field and has had a major impact on assessing the disorder.  His work has far surpassed what was previously done in the field, so much so, that motor issues were added to the criteria for a diagnosis of “Neurobehavioral disorder – alcohol exposed” that has been proposed for the Diag- nostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association.”  Dr. Simmons notes that, now that he has helped to identify and quantify the problem, the next generation of researchers can work on developing rehabilitative therapies.

As he prepares to enter into full retirement, Dr. Simmons looks back over his time at SDSU with pride. Since beginning teaching in 1976 he has observed many changes in student’s interests.  He notes that students today are much more focused on the science of exercise. Fewer students are working toward careers as physical education teachers and more are looking to careers as therapists or researchers. At the same time, the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences has put an increasing emphasis on research, which provides greater opportunity for students to become involved in research projects.

Concussion Diagnostic Device Moves Forward

ENS professor Daniel Goble has developed an innovative device to identify concussions and reduce the possibility of irreparable neurological damage in athletes.  This device, called B-trackS, accurately measures an athlete’s ability to maintain balance. As balance is effected in individuals with concussions, B-trackS would help determine if an athlete could be suffering from a concussion.  B-trackS is an objective device that could be used on the sidelines by anyone. After a head injury, B-trackS would measure the athlete’s balance and compare it to a normal balance database.  To determine what their normal balance data would be, Dr. Goble is measuring the balance of the SDSU Rugby team before their season starts.  He aims to make B-trackS an objective and affordable way to measure possible head injuries that could be on all sidelines of high impact games.  With Dr. Goble’s cutting-edge device and ground breaking research, the risk of harmful poten- tially dangerous secondary concussions could be greatly reduced.

Dr. Goble is currently working on a prototype device in the SDSU Zahn Innovation Center, a business incubator that helps entraupenuers develop ideas into companies. Dr. Goble has paired up with Zachary Stratton, a recent SDSU MBA graduate to move forward to a commercially-viable product.

Graduate School of Public Health

The Importance of Global Health and Public Service

In 2006, SDSU’s Graduate School of Public Health partnered with UCSD to establish one of the first PhD programs in global health in the nation.  The Joint Doctoral Program in Global Health began in 2007 with four students and has since grown to include 26 students. Eight students have now graduated and moved on to careers in global health. Two have joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four are post-doctoral scholars, and two have become faculty members of other universities.

Global health relates to health issues and concerns that transcend national borders, class, race, ethnicity and culture; stresses the commonality of health issues; and calls for collective, partnership-based actions to resolve these issues. Accordingly, the program’s emphasis is on preparing graduates with the fundamental knowledge, understanding, and specific skills necessary to become public health researchers and leaders in international organizations.  The SDSU program focuses on non-communicable diseases aswell as infectious diseases such as HIV and TB, and especially on the health of migrant populations.  Students take required overview courses in global health, as well as in maternal/child health, program planning and evaluation, and a professional development seminar. Skills in quantitative, qualitative and spatial research methodologies are developed and applied to address health problems of global significance.

Dr. Vanessa Kerry
Dr. Vanessa Kerry, founder and CEO of Seed Global Health.

In September, the Global Health program sponsored a public lecture by Dr. Vanessa Kerry, the founder and CEO of Seed Global Health and the Director of the Global Public Policy and Social Change Program at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kerry has been called a “global healthcare revolutionary,” and she shared her exciting new global health venture with the San Diego community in a lecture titled “A New Health Diplomacy.”

“The Seed Global Health Program is a great idea and this was a fantastic opportunity for the SDSU community to learn about the importance of public service in global health,” said Dr. Thomas Novotny, faculty organizer of the event and co-director of the Global Health program. Dr. Kerry founded Seed Global Health and forged a partnership with the Peace Corps to create a program where U.S. health professionals interested in global  health spend a year or two in a host country serving as educators and faculty in these countries to build a pipeline of in-country providers. The program is cultivating the next generation of health professionals for work in resource-limited countries while building a pipeline of providers, expanding and retaining faculty, and strengthening health systems. “Good health changes lives, societies and even countries. By send-ing doctors and nurses abroad to work as medical educators alongside local faculty, our program is helping address the gaps to access in quality healthcare that exist in so many countries,” said Kerry.  The program is currently in operation in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda and works closely with the government in each country to ensure the program meets local needs and culture.  There are currently 30 doctors, nurses and midwives participating in the program, which is entering its second year of operation.

In addition to providing high- quality education for healthcare professionals in the host countries, the Seed program also establishes a relationship between the U.S. and the host country.  “Invest- ments in health can help change how the U.S. is thus viewed by the world. Seed Global Health is a simple solution we believe is transformative in how the U.S. engages in health and the world,” noted Kerry.

Novotny, Kerry, panel members
Dr. Tom Novotny and Dr. Vanessa Kerry with panel members Amber Lung of the Peace Corps and Dr. Janice Kurth of Rotary International.

In addition to an introduction by President Hirshman and an address by Dr. Kerry, the SDSU event also included a panel discussion with Dr. Kerry and Dr. Janice Kurth, district governor-elect of the Rotary Clubs of Southern California; Amber Lung, SDSU’s campus Peace Corps recruiter; and Thomas Novotny, SDSU professor of global health. The panel answered questions from the audience about how the program worked, why Seed chose the countries it did for the program’s introduction and why the program was concentrating on training local healthcare professionals rather than delivering health- care directly.  Kerry pointed out that there were severe shortages of medical services in these countries and, in order to meet ongoing health care needs, there needed to be more doctors and nurses who understood the local culture, would remain for many years, and who could undertake both medical care and research in the diseases that were most important in that part of the world.  There are many organizations that of- fer temporary medical care but the Seed program is the only one that is concentrating on educating local health professionals. The panel also noted that, like all Peace Corp programs, the experience had a profound effect on its participants, many of whom may choose to practice medicine in underserved areas of the U.S. or continue in inter- national settings for their careers.

School of Nursing

Reaching Out to Nurses in the Imperial Valley

The Imperial Valley Campus of SDSU offers a special nursing program targeted to help- ing nurses who are registered nurses but have not received a Bachelor ’s of Science degree in nursing (BSN).  Hospitals are putting a greater emphasis on having the BSN degree and many nurses wish to further their career with this degree.  Like nursing graduates from the main campus SDSU program, graduates of the Imperial Valley program hold excellent reputations in the extended medical community. Students are provided opportunities to acquire knowledge covering concepts in professionalism, assessment, evidence-based practice, leadership, community health, and the ability to expand their nursing practice.

nursing studentsBecause these nurses are already working, they need a flexible program that will allow them to continue with their current jobs.  The nursing program in Imperial Valley was spe- cially designed to meet this need. The class schedules are flexible and less expensive than other local and online programs. The pro- gram provides individualized plans of study, coaching support, and hybrid coursework to help provide opportunities for students to in- tegrate their lives and their studies. As of July 1, students have a choice of two programs: a traditional two-year program with advanced nursing and upper division general education courses or a new “fast track” program that provides a pathway to the BS degree in a single year.

The fast track program is possible thanks to a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With this grant, the school of can bring together organiza- tions from around Imperial County to provide an opportunity for up to 70 nursing students, many of whom come from a minority background, to get a BS degree in nursing. “This grant funding is critical to increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared RNs in Impe- rial County. It provides support for these nurses and encourages them to continue their education,” said Philip Greiner, DNSc, RN, the program’s director. This project is 100% federally funded, with more than 70 percent going directly to the students — including $375,000 for scholar- ships and stipends. Program coordinator Helina Hoyt says, “SDSU is committed to provide a pathway for professional nursing development in Imperial County. The Imperial Valley Consortium-Nursing Workforce Development (IVC-NWD) will provide students with much needed financial support to accomplish a bachelor’s degree in a year. The program provides crucial support such as coaching in writing, evidence based practice and leadership. The grant will continue to showcase the need for nurses to further devel- op themselves professionally to ensure that this rural, border region has educated provid- ers, engaged in the community, with an ability to lead changes in promoting better health. Since the RN-BS Program began in 2007, SDSU has worked collaboratively with its associ- ate degree partner, Imperial Valley College. The current program provides a solution for those educated at an associate degree level to enter at the bachelor’s degree level in a timely, streamlined fashion.

nursing faculty
Dr. Phil Greiner, Director of the School of Nursing; with Dr. David Pearson, Dean, SDSU-IV Campus; Congressman Juan Vargas; and Helina Hoyt, SDSU-IV Campus RN-BS Program Coordinator.

The Imperial Valley nursing program works hard to prepare nursing students to provide care specific to the needs of Imperial Valley. Students engage with local partners through the IVC-NWD to address health-related concerns and increase awareness of cultural, ethnic, social, economic and political variables that influence health. “Community partnerships are how we best tailor healthcare to meet the needs of the people we serve. In preparation for the Affordable Care Act, every community needs nurses who understand the communities in which they work,” said Greiner. Participating organizations include health care institutions such as Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, El Centro Regional Medical Center, Pioneers Memorial Hospital and other local and state partners, from Holtville Rotary to the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission.

Since the program’s start in 2007, 62 graduates have completed the program. There are currently 17 students in the two-year traditional program and 16 students enrolled in the fast-track program.


School of Social Work

School of Social Work Celebrates “50 Years of Serving San Diego…and Beyond”

Swainand Nguyen
Barton Swain, one of the first graduates from the School of Social Work, and Anna Nguyen, a current student, give away raffle prizes at the celebration.

On November 9th the School of Social Work celebrated its 50th anniversary with an all- day institute to “explore the best practices in Social Work now and the future in the fields of aging, children and youth, health, behavioral health, and more”. The day featured opening remarks by Janlee Wong, Executive Director of the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and panelists: Pat Volland, Visiting Distinguished Lecturer and the Director of the Social Work Leadership Institute at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter Colleges NY; Alfredo  Aguirre, Director, San Diego County Department of Behavioral Health; Charles Wilson, Executive Director of The Chadwich Center for Children and Families, Rady’s Children’s Hospital, San Diego; Mack Jenkins, Chief Probation Officer, San Diego County; and Dr. Thom Reilly, Director, SDSU School of Social Work.  The day culminated with a gala reception allowing alumni from across the decades to meet each other and exchange stories of their student days and current careers.

The School of Social Work was established in 1963 with Dr. Witte as the first dean.  The first 45 students were admitted in September l964 and received their  Master ’s of Social Work degrees (MSW) in 1966  as the school received its accreditation.  The curriculum for the MSW program had a generalist orientation with concentrations in: Health; Mental Health; Children, Youth and Families; and Aging.  Other initiatives during that era included emphasis on minority issues, continuing education and establishing a research center.

Harbert, Elson, Philips
Dr. Anita Harbert (center), with planning committee
members Candy Elson (Director of Field Education, Mental
Health Training Program Coordinator) and Walter Philips
(CEO of San Diego Youth Services).

The school’s undergraduate Bachelor ’s of Social Work program received accreditation in 1974. Dr. Joe Kelly, acting dean, lead the school’s effort to assist in the development of a License in Social Work Program at the Universidad Autonomo de Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico, the school’s  first venture into international endeavors.

The College of Health and Health Services was created in 1978. This college housed clinical programs including: the School of Nursing, the Department of Speech Pathology, the School of Social Work, the Department of Health Sciences, the Center on Aging and a newly created Graduate School of Public Health.  Dr. Anita Harbert was appointed the new Director of the School of Social Work in 1979 and served until 2008.

In 1983 the school was invited to host visiting international social workers. The visitors stayed in San Diego for fifteen weeks and were assigned to agency field experiences, resided with host American families and were given an education program on American culture. The program was discontinued in 2007 but was an early lesson on the impor- tance of international experiences and exposures to different cultures. Between 1988 and 1992 the school’s international efforts also included a summer in-service training program in child welfare for social workers from the Taiwan Chinese Children Fund.  The School’s Center on Substance Abuse was created in 1987. After evolving for over a decade and with a much greater emphasis on research, the center became the Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies in 2004.

In the mid 1990’s, California decided to fund Public Child Welfare Training Academies. Their purpose was to develop core curriculum and deliver training to social workers employed in the public child welfare agencies throughout the State. The School received an Academy grant in 1995 to serve the six counties in Southern California. It was renamed The Academy for Professional Excellence in 2001. The Academy’s activities were extended to include: curriculum development, training, technical assistance, organizational devel- opment and research; its service base was extended to the eight counties in Southern California; and it’s expertise was expanded to Aging, Tribal Issues, Mental Health and other human service fields. Currently, approximately 4,000 individu- als are trained by the Academy each year.

group photo at SSW Anniversary
Some of the more than 100 people who came to celebrate the School of Social Work’s 50th Anniversary.

The school developed the first of its joint degree programs in 1987. The program was a collaboration with the SDSU Graduate School of Public Health. After four years of study, students are awarded joint degrees in Social Work and Public Health (MSW/MPH).  In 1998, the school collaborated with California Western School of Law and initiated the dual MSW/JD degree program. The MSW and JD degrees are awarded upon completion of four years of study.

The School created the Consensus Organizing Center in 1999.  It was funded by Price Charities with Mike Eichler as the Center ’s Director. The Center promoted the concept of consensus organizing as a new paradigm for community organizing.  Over time the Center has developed several innovative programs such as the Step Up, Community Builders, and the Alex Smith Scholarship program, all aimed at assisting at-risk diverse and foster youth prepare for and succeed in achieving a college degree.

Another international effort was initiated in 2002 with the Thailand International Program. Graduate students spend six weeks in the summer in Thailand, studying social policy and services delivery.  Dr. David Engstrom is the lead faculty in this effort, which celebrated it’s 10th anniversary last year with a gala dinner party.

Dr. Thom Reilly was appointed director of the school in 2009.  That year the school cre- ated the opportunity for undergraduate students to matriculate into the second year of the MSW program, allowing them to receive both a BSW and MSW in five years.

The School has trained more than 4,500 social workers to carry professional leadership responsibilities in the social service arena in California and around the world. Many of its graduates remain in the San Diego area and alumni can be found at most of the social service agencies in the county. Others move on to careers all over the globe, help- ing to fulfill the school’s mission to “provide superior education to undergraduate and graduate students; produce competent and effective practitioners, leaders and scholars grounded in evidence-based practice; deliver quality training and organizational sup- port to the health and human services community; and disseminate quality research with practical applications that impact diverse communities, particularly with the vulnerable populations in the Southern California border region.”

School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Clinics Benefit Students and Community

The School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences operates two community clinics on campus – one for speech and language and one for hearing.  These clinics are located on the first floor of the school’s building and provide students with an opportunity to work with clients and for community members to receive therapy sessions that they might not otherwise have access to.  In both clinics, graduate student therapists operate under the supervision of licensed professionals and community members receive care on a cash- pay basis with a sliding fee scale. The Speech-Language clinic also provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to observe therapy sessions.

Charlotte Lopes is the director of the Speech-Language clinic.  She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from SDSU, then worked for Grossmont Hospital before returning to be the clinic director 20 years ago.  She says that the clinic’s work is extremely rewarding.  She is able to see and hear the progress made by the clients and she loves watching the students learn and grow.  There are currently 38 students working with 68 clients. They have more demand for their services than they can meet. They have never advertised and all of their clients come to them through referrals or word-of-mouth. The clinic is one of only two in the local area that offer low cost services.

Clinician with childClients divide into three broad age ranges – preschool-aged children, school-aged children and adults. Students work with the San Diego Regional Center for Developmental Disabilities to assess very young children for potential speech and language difficulties and provide parents with tools to help their children learn.  School-aged children come to the clinic if they do not have access to services at their school or they need more services than the school can provide. These children frequently have speech or language delays due to an underlying dis- ability such as autism, Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy.  Clinicians help them with articulation and specific language impairments. In addition to the on-campus clinic, students also work with children at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center.  The Scottish Rite’s main philanthropy focus is speech and language deficits and the speech-language center director, Jim Achenbach, is also an SDSU alumnus.

Clinician with adultAdult clients are younger adults who have had strokes or brain injuries or older adults recovering from a stroke.  The program for older adults is growing as clients initially come for one-on-one therapy sessions but often form bonds with fellow clients and remain as part of a group session that fulfills a social need as well as a therapeutic one.

In order to complete their graduate studies, speech-language pathologists spend two years in the program.  During the first year, they participate in the clinic’s activities of providing evaluations and therapy sessions for clients on-campus. During the second year, they work in internships in local schools, hospitals or other community settings. Graduates of the SDSU Speech-Language program are known for their comprehensive generalist education.

The Audiology Clinic also offers students a hands-on opportunity to first observe and then engage in client services.  The Audiology clinic provides hearing tests, hearing aid fitting and adjusting, and help with  hearing and communication needs.

SDSU’s degree program is the only one in California and students follow a four-year path to a Doctor of Audiology degree.  The school only accepts about 10 applicants per year, from more than 100 applications.  The first year of the program is spent at SDSU, including time in the Audiology clinic. The second year students are at the UCSD School of Medicine learning about such things as cochlear implants, tinnitus management and intraop- erative monitoring.  The third year is spent working in the community and the fourth is a 12-month clinical externship.  The time the students spend in the SDSU Audiology clinic is especially important as it provides the base for learning how to interact with clients as well as how to complete clinic tasks.

Clinicians with childClients for the clinic come from the faculty, staff and students at SDSU, alumni and refer- rals from the Department of Rehabilitation Services and the San Diego Lion’s Club. Approximately 10-15 clients per week visit the clinic. Many of these clients have long-term relationships with the clinic for their hearing aids, returning each time the aid needs adjustments or to be fit with a new model. Modern hearing aids are highly customized for each patient, requiring an initial impression of the ear and careful fitting of the device.  The audiologist can then adjust the hearing aid to compensate for specific hearing losses at specific frequencies.

Clinic director Dr. Jacque Georgeson predicts there will be an increase in the need for audi- ologists due to the aging baby boomer genera- tion and the increase in headphone and ear bud usage amongst younger people.  This will result in increased clients for the clinic as well as an increased need for trained audiologists. Unfortunately the clinic lacks the resources needed to expand its services as there are only two clinical faculty at the moment and each faculty member teaches, supervises clinic visits and provides independent student direction for clinical skills.