Text title treatment: Dialogue with the Deans

Diana R. Garland School of Social Work

Jon Singletary, Interim Dean


What is the greatest challenge or opportunity that students in Baylor's Diana R. Garland School of Social Work will face, and how is Baylor preparing them to face/address it?

Social work students have so many opportunities at the beginning of the 21st century. The profession is growing--there are more social work positions available and there are more diverse opportunities for social workers than ever before. Social work is the largest provider of mental health care in the nation, and it's a growing field.

The greatest struggle social workers face comes with the fact that they help people overcome some of life's most difficult challenges: poverty, family conflict, addiction, divorce, unemployment, disability and mental illness.

This work is not easy and the decision to enter the profession cannot be taken lightly. Most of our students say they are called to be social workers, and we help them to nurture that. We teach the knowledge and skills they will need, and we also help them to discern the meaning of vocation in their lives. Once our students know this is the path they are to take, it is much easier for us to walk alongside them equipping them for the journey.

What do you hope students in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work gain during their time at Baylor?

Our school focuses on producing alumni who are prepared for effective and meaningful service and leadership and are able to ethically integrate faith in their practice. Every course measures their competence as developing professionals. Every faculty member engages our students in such a way that their education is rooted in a meaningful understanding of personal virtue and vocation. Our hope is for students not only to know what to do in any given situation and when it is theirs to do, but also how to do it well and why their doing it really matters.

What is the most significant thing Baylor graduates from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work offer to the world?

For years, the tag line of our school was believing, caring and serving. Those words resonate with what our graduates are able to offer a hurting world. Social work is one of the helping professions, but social work as a believing, caring and serving profession is less about what our alumni do for others and more about how our alumni work with others in transformative ways.

What is the most exciting/meaningful thing about being dean of Baylor's Diana R. Garland School of Social Work?

One of the most exciting characteristics of our school is that we are a community. One of the resources we use in several classes talks about the "sense of community" that enriches peoples lives. Community can be a hard to define buzzword, but our faculty and staff, our students and our Board of Advocates know the spirit of belonging, the passion for service and the depth of relationships that they experience in this place. I am serving as an interim dean this year, and leading this community as we fulfill our mission of preparing professionals to carry out their calling is the best interim job in the world.

Do you have a mentor/memory or experience from your time at Baylor (or elsewhere) that deeply influenced who/where you are today?

Diana--the "Diana" of the Diana R. Garland School--has been a mentor to many of us here and this is absolutely true for me. As my mentor for 12 years, she taught me leadership lessons that will shape me and our school for years to come. She led in a way that that reflects what we expect of our students--rooted in mutuality, respect and openness. We never felt like we were here to implement Diana's vision of the school, but to develop and implement what is best for our students and the people they serve. I will emphasize different things than Diana did, and I feel the freedom to be the leader I feel called to be; however, I will continue to make decisions that are rooted in and guided by our community and the communities we engage.

Is there anything you want alumni or parents to know about you or your plans for the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work? Please explain.

My plans are focused on this interim period. We are in a time of transition, but it is a transition with lots of focus and energy on continuing to fulfill the mission of our school. We miss Diana and will value her legacy for years to come, but we are not worried about a transition away from Diana's leadership. We are committed to the continued shared leadership with our constituents in support of our mission and goals. That will not change. We want others to know our commitment to the same future Baylor envisions--for transformational education, compelling scholarship and informed engagement. We want others to know our passion for education, research and service that build on others' strengths and seeks to overcome needs. We want others to know that our mission is to participate in God’s mission in a hurting world. And, we want to invite others to join us as we seek to make a difference in the lives of others.