Dr. Kari Fletcher, beloved professor of social work in the Morrison Family College of Health, peacefully passed away on Feb. 13, 2023. A longtime clinical social worker in practice working with service members, military families and their children, and veterans in the Twin Cities, Fletcher joined the faculty at University of St. Thomas in 2010. A PhD graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Fletcher was a committed teacher, a productive and respected scholar, and a valued member of the School of Social Work, College of Health, and university communities.
Fletcher was an outstanding educator, mentoring and supporting many graduate social work students. She served as the program director for the Master of Social Work (MSW) program and led the efforts for the MSW accreditation. Clinical social work practice demands ongoing learning, intellectual flexibility and curiosity, self-reflection, and empathy, and Fletcher’s teaching incorporated all these attributes in abundance. She developed intentional relationships with students, and she taught from the heart.
Fletcher was a prolific scholar, writing numerous articles and chapters in textbooks and presenting her work at national and international conferences. She made important contributions to the field of social work practice with military-engaged individuals, families and communities. Her scholarship coalesced around the broad theme of military social work, and she has published on a wide array of perspectives and approaches within this theme (public health, clinical interventions and family interventions, to name a few). In 2015, she penned this moving piece reflecting on her practice in military social work.
Fletcher was deeply committed to working collaboratively with programs, departments and initiatives across the university centered on military work. Nationally recognized by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), social work’s national professional educational body, she chaired and co-chaired the military track for social work educators nationally and globally. She was a distinguished leader for the social work profession.
Fletcher was an integral part of the College of Health, the School of Social Work and the St. Thomas community. A kind, loving, generous, funny, and authentic human being, Fletcher reached out to all and made sure all were welcome. She built community and connection everywhere she went, and was always the first to celebrate success, plan a social gathering, or, in more challenging times, lend a helping hand or listening ear. She has left her mark on our St. Thomas and School of Social Work communities and will be deeply missed. We are indebted to the service, love and compassion she shared with her students and colleagues. Rest in peace, Kari.
A visitation and interfaith service in Kari’s honor will be held at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on the St. Paul campus of St. Thomas on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. Visitation will be from noon-1 p.m., immediately followed by the service.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the St. Thomas School of Social Work or to the Fight Colorectal Cancer Foundation.
Authors: Dr. Catherine Marrs Fuchsel, Dr. Katharine Hill, Dr. Ande Nesmith and Dr. David Roseborough