Statement from St. Thomas, St. Catherine Presidents on School of Social Work

University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan and St. Catherine University President ReBecca Koenig Roloff have issued the following statement regarding the School of Social Work:

In 1976, after decades of cooperation, the Bachelor of Social Work programs at St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas became a formally accredited joint program. The joint Master of Social Work followed in 1990 and the joint Doctorate in Social Work received approval in 2014.

During that same period, spanning almost 40 years of formal partnership, the two host universities also continued to develop and grow independently from each other. Both moved from colleges to universities, but both prioritized their resources into programs that fit their own mission. As a result, the two universities look quite different today than they did when the joint program was launched, and the two colleges were more alike.

We have engaged in a two-year process discerning what this means for the ongoing joint nature of the Social Work program. We have consulted with faculty, administrative leadership and outside consultants to see if we had the resources, both financial and human, to sustain the partnership as it was initially constructed. We have mutually come to the decision that it is the best interests of both universities to end the formal collaboration as originally configured. This change will take place no sooner than fall of 2019. While we know that this news may cause sadness for many of you, we do this in the best interests of our institutions and our students.

We will spend this next year working on the structures that will need to be put into place once the affiliation ends. Each institution will review resources and curriculum to decide how best to function within the strategic priorities of their university. We will engage in sustained dialogue with all stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, clinical partners, alumni, etc., in order to articulate new mission and vision statements. We will work with the Council on Social Work Education to make sure that new accreditation will be in place to provide our students a smooth transition.

We ask that you maintain patience as we go through this very long process. Current students will graduate from the program into which they matriculated. This gives us the time to do the careful and deliberate decisions that need to be made. Our goal is that the two programs will remain cooperative in spirit, so that we can maintain the friendships and partnerships that we have built up over these past 40 years.

We are sure that many of you will have questions at this time. Throughout this coming year of continued partnership, we will maintain our dialogues about the best next steps as we keep stakeholders informed of decisions as they are made. We appreciate your continued support of and interest in the School of Social Work as we look forward to the next stage of Social Work programs at the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University.