A new Masters of Social Work degree program for western Kansas was officially launched in Hays on Saturday. Representatives of the KU Alumni Association and University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little were in Hays at Robbins Center, Eagle Communications Hall, at Fort Hays State University to celebrate the new program.
The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare is now offering its Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program, titled Western Kansas MSW Program, in western Kansas. The program is made possible through a partnership between Fort Hays State University and KU and in cooperation with Garden City Community College. In its first year being offered, 15 students have enrolled for the degree program.
The KU School of Social Welfare, through its partnerships with frontier and rural stakeholders, has long recognized the need for more prepared social workers in western Kansas in order to meet the gaps in service provision that human service agencies have experienced. Currently, all Master of Social Work degree programs are offered in far eastern Kansas, making it difficult for social workers in the west to advance their education without moving or commuting out of state. After KU developed and piloted a successful blended option in its MSW program, it became feasible to think about strategies to bring the program to western Kansas. The blended option combines the value of in-class instruction alternating with online instruction.
“Fortunately, the School found a partner in Fort Hays State University’s director of the social work baccalaureate program, Dr. Tim Davis. Davis, too, had long been concerned about the identified service gaps in western and southwestern Kansas. And we agreed that together we could do something to benefit the people and communities of western Kansas,” said Mary Ellen Kondrat, dean of KU’s School of Social Welfare.