Trevecca Nazarene University’s social work program has become one of the key ways the University fulfills its mission to send servant leaders into the world. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) recently affirmed that goal by reaffirming the program’s accreditation last month.
“The collaborative nature of social work showed up in this experience,” said Elizabeth Nunley, assistant professor of social work and the director of field experience for the program. Nunley served as the interim director of the social work program during the reaffirmation and transition. “It feels really good.”
CSWE is the only accrediting organization in the United States for social work programs. Trevecca’s social work program first began working toward accreditation in 2010, receiving official accreditation in 2014. All accredited programs must be reaffirmed five years after the initial accreditation and then every eight years after that.
The accreditation and reaffirmation process includes self-studies, site visits and reviews, a process Nunley shepherded the program through, including rewriting the self-study after a change of leadership at the program’s helm.
“Our program director at the time, Sarah Bollinger, wrote the self-study before she left, which is about halfway through the process,” Nunley recalled, explaining that the self-study includes a section detailing the qualifications of the program’s faculty members. “So, right before the site visit, we learned much of the study wasn’t applicable anymore because we were in transition and down a faculty member, so they wanted about half the self-study rewritten. I spent a ton of time writing that.”
Though the reaffirmation process was grueling and involved a lot of work, Nunley says the fall semester was a “sweet time” of camaraderie.
“It was all hands on deck,” she said. “And that was one of the biggest blessings of the process. I felt like I could have asked anybody for anything at any point, and they would have done their best to help. I had the support of colleagues and students. They were so appreciative and, especially for the site visit, more than happy to help.”
To be accredited, a social program is evaluated to ensure that the curriculum teaches students the knowledge and skills to work in the field as well as measuring the students’ competency in those areas and proficiency in the field.
“Social work is considered a professional degree, like a nursing or education degree,” Nunley said. “When students graduate, they have jobs waiting. Agencies are beginning to say they want people with social work degrees rather than a related field. Without accreditation, it’s a social work program in name only.”
Graduates of CSWE-accredited social work programs also have the benefit of receiving “advanced standing” when applied to master’s degree programs in social work. This allows students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited program to complete a master’s degree in a shorter timeframe.
That’s appealing to students like Callie Fuller, a junior social work major who served on the social work advisory council and was involved in Trevecca’s site visit during the reaffirmation process.
“[The accreditation] attracted me to Trevecca’s social work program because I’m confident that I am being thoroughly prepared for this work,” Fuller said. “On top of that, accreditation is important at the undergraduate level because it will enable me to apply to an advanced standing program at the master’s level, meaning I’ll be able to get my master’s in one year instead of two or three.”
Nunley and Allison Buzard, Trevecca’s newly appointed social work program director, are excited by the achievement, and the site visitor’s report, which they say was “very affirming” of the program.
But Fuller says the reaffirmation is a testament to the quality of the social work faculty members.
“One of the biggest strengths of Trevecca’s social work program is the professors, who go out of their way to make sure all of the needs of their students are being met,” she said. “On top of this, the classes themselves have really forced me to challenge my old ways of thinking as we grapple with the issues of the world.
“Through practicums, internships, assignments that require work outside the classroom and in-class practice of the skills that we are learning, we’re given the chance to really test things out,” Fuller continued. “Instead of just talking about social work, we are getting the chance to do it and this is what will prepare us most for our future careers.”
About Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca Nazarene University is a Christian university in the heart of Nashville focused on preparing students for lives of leadership and service. Founded in 1901, Trevecca is committed to holistic education, encouraging students to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. U.S. News & World Report ranked Trevecca as a national university in the annual “2019 America’s Guide to Colleges,” making the University the only Nazarene institution to receive the national ranking. In 2016, the Carnegie Foundation classified Trevecca as a doctoral university, ranking it among the top 7 percent of schools nationwide. Located just one mile from thriving downtown Nashville, Trevecca offers classes at the main campus as well as four other locations across the Southeast and online classes offered worldwide. With students from 47 states and 25 countries, Trevecca offers 15 associate degrees, 83 undergraduate majors, 20 master’s programs, and two doctoral programs, as well as specialist and certificate programs.