Dear Silver Community,
As we enter the Fall and Silver marks our 60th year, I wanted to send a very warm welcome to our new students and welcome back our continuing students across our four educational sites. I hope you all are getting acclimated in what has been an exceptionally challenging time, and are staying healthy, motivated, and energized in your social work journey.
The ongoing pandemic has required that the University take many steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and protect the health of all the members of the University community. I appreciate all that you are doing to observe these requirements, to adapt and be flexible at this time. Up-to-date information and resources are available at the NYU Returns Hub, and Silver also has a robust COVID-19 webpage for our community. I encourage you to reference and explore these important sets of information.
While we may not be fully in-person now, I know bonds will quickly develop and strengthen across this very special community of scholars who share a commitment to advancing the social work profession and our core values and practices. This focus and resolve are more important now than ever, as we continue to fight for racial justice in the midst of ongoing state sanctioned violence against communities of color. Social workers have a critically important role to play in promoting compassionate and humane practices, and in combatting all forms of hate, discrimination, and marginalization in our society, as well as in our own profession and School.
In early 2019, in shared partnership with my office, student activists, our School’s Senior Leadership Team, the Executive Committee of the faculty, and our Social Justice Praxis Committee, Silver adopted an Action Against Racism agenda to tackle racism, bias, and exclusion at our school in all its forms. We continue to make progress on the action steps identified at that time and to augment those commitments, and we will continue to keep you posted on this work. In June of this year, I announced a number of new additional initiatives on this agenda, so that our anti-racism actions continue and progressively expand. I encourage your engagement, feedback, and participation in these efforts, and appreciate your partnership in holding Silver accountable to become a more equitable and inclusive School. The School is now planning a new series of community conversations around Eliminating Racism. The first, which will take place tentatively in late October (date and details forthcoming), will feature a presentation of findings from a schoolwide assessment of our climate and culture that was conducted last fall by Dr. Kenneth V. Hardy.
Among the many other pressing areas in which social work has a key role to play is voting. As the Voting is Social Work national voter mobilization campaign states “Social justice is a core principle of social work practice and calls for ensuring meaningful participation in decision making for all people.” Members of the NYU Silver community are encouraged to integrate nonpartisan voter registration and engagement in their field work and practice and to participate in NYU Votes, a coordinated effort to ensure that all eligible voters in the NYU community are able to cast their vote either in-person or by mail. In the weeks ahead, you will be hearing from Silver’s NYU Votes Ambassadors Clinical Associate Professor Dina Rosenfeld, staff member Sita Goetschius, and students Claire Berkowitz, Jasmine Drew, Krystle Ramirez, and Naomi Sosa about how you can get involved. Also, this coming Monday, we are co-sponsoring a virtual VOTE 2020 Town Hall with NYU Wagner and other NYU schools.
Throughout the year, there will be a number of additional opportunities to virtually connect, including “Conversations with the Deans,” at which I and other Deans will address questions from students, as well as the new “Food from Home” series that features our many different cultures and perspectives. In addition, there are more informal and social events planned, as well as many opportunities to engage with each other via the range of student councils and identity-based and special interest groups, so please look out for newsletters and other notices from our Student Affairs colleagues.
Silver’s dedicated and experienced faculty are here to guide you through the engaging and sometimes challenging coursework that will help you develop as a social worker. Incoming MSW students heard from some of them during this year’s Orientation as they shared “What Matters Most” to them in their own personal journeys (there were two terrific sessions: Pathway A and Pathway B), and I encourage you to learn more about all of our faculty and their work on Silver’s website.
I look forward to connecting with you soon, and I hope you have a stimulating semester at Silver. I also want to extend my deepest appreciation to the many talented faculty and staff who continue to intensively work to support your success and well-being.
Neil B. Guterman