October 22, 2013
The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver opened its Western Colorado Master of Social Work (MSW) Program in Glenwood Springs in September. Operated in partnership with Colorado Mountain College (CMC), and supported by numerous local and regional human service programs, DU's MSW program is designed to support local workforce development, address community concerns and the special needs of rural communities, and strengthen the professional social work infrastructure of surrounding communities.
Forty-five people attended the program's October 4 grand opening celebration. In addition to Program Director Rachel Forbes and other GSSW faculty and staff, attendees included local agency representatives, CMC Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Brad Tyndall, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey, and Deputy Director of Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Office of Children, Youth and Family Services Robert Werthwein.
Speaking to the group via a pre-recorded video presentation, CDHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha commended the agencies in the development of the MSW program in western Colorado and emphasized the benefits of educating MSW graduates for residents of the local communities.
Also in attendance was Garfield County Department of Human Services Director, Mary Baydarian, who received an award from GSSW Dean James Herbert Williams for her support of the Western Colorado Program.
"It's hard for me to imagine a greater honor than the GSSW Dean's Award from this esteemed university where I became a social worker," said Baydarian. "This award, to me, is a symbol of the difference that can be made in our communities through genuine public/private collaboration."
The University of Denver, Colorado Mountain College, Garfield County, Colorado Department of Human Services, and private funders worked together to bring this program, one that is already active and thriving in southern Colorado, to this region. "Our students are involved in making a positive contribution in their respective field placements," continued Baydarian. "Plans for current and future community endeavors have begun. This is what social work is about. We are fortunate to have the University of Denver GSSW as a vital partner to our work in western Colorado."
The Western Colorado Program is modeled after the highly successful Four Corners MSW Program that DU has operated in Durango, Colorado, for more than a decade. The 19 students currently will earn the MSW degree in two years. The students come from five different counties (Mesa, Grand, Pitkin, Summit and Garfield) and range in age from 23 to 54.
Classes meet on Friday evenings and Saturday to accommodate the schedules of working adults, and the tuition cost is significantly discounted from the amount paid by MSW students on DU's main campus in Denver. Internships completed by the Western Colorado students will provide some 24,000 hours of service to area communities over the next two years.
Applications are now being accepted from Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) graduates who will join the Western Colorado MSW Program in the summer of 2014. These students are admitted with "advanced standing" and will complete the MSW program in one calendar year, graduating at the same time as the 19 two-year students currently enrolled.
View photos of the grand opening celebration.