Department of Social Work

  • I am Arts and Sciences: Lisa Higginbotham

    Many Blazers donate to and engage with the Benevolent Fund, a charitable giving campaign that supports health and human service agencies, selected health-related charities, and University of Alabama at Birmingham employees through the Employee Emergency Assistance Program.

    Lisa HigginbothamMany Blazers donate to and engage with the Benevolent Fund, a charitable giving campaign that supports health and human service agencies, selected health-related charities, and University of Alabama at Birmingham employees through the Employee Emergency Assistance Program. Through the Benevolent Fund, UAB has distributed over $43 million to local nonprofit organizations and to UAB employees. The work changes lives, and it is a model of charitable excellence.

    One of the key people behind the Benevolent Fund is Lisa Higginbotham, a two-time graduate of UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences. Higginbotham earned both her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Public Administration in the early 1990s, and, afterwards, she navigated a prolific career in nonprofit management across Alabama.

    “I fondly reflect on my time in CAS,” said Higginbotham. “From the friends I made who are now colleagues to working alongside Dr. Norm Eggleston researching discrimination in the workplace against people living with HIV or exploring ethical decision making with Dr. Mary Guy, it was all instrumental in me becoming the person I am today.”

    During her time in the nonprofit sector, Higginbotham worked for Childcare Resources; Girls, Inc.; and the Children’s Trust Fund. Often, she improved processes and structures to ensure the organizations and institutions could do their best work and maximize impact—a skillset she gleaned from her time in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

    When it came time to expand her family, Higginbotham decided to seek a part-time position, so she could achieve her desired work-life balance. Thankfully, at that time, UAB needed a new team member to support the Employee Emergency Assistance program—a perfect fit for Higginbotham.

    Higginbotham accepted the role, and, eventually, she became the fund manager for the Benevolent Fund. She deployed a systems leadership approach to her work and uncovered opportunities to do more than provide funding to local nonprofits. For example, under Higginbotham’s leadership, the Benevolent Fund expanded service-learning opportunities for UAB students, developed new systems for Employee Emergency Assistance, and launched Blazer Kitchen (UAB’s campus food pantry which has provided 400,000 meals in just over four years).

    “I launched Blazer Kitchen with a lot of help and support from our council and the UAB administration,” said Higginbotham. “We knew there were employees who needed help through our Employee Emergency Assistance program… and they could [also] benefit from access to healthy food.”

    Every step of the way, Higginbotham has leveraged data, best practices, and her past experiences and knowledge to ensure her work is people-focused and impact-driven.

    Over the past two years, the pandemic created numerous challenges for the Benevolent Fund, including limitations on grant-making and a pause on house builds with Habitat for Humanity, a long-standing nonprofit partner. That said, Higginbotham still encounters individual stories that illustrate the impact of her work—even during the pandemic. Recently, she worked closely with a UAB employee who experienced trauma and loss due to COVID-19. By highlighting UAB’s sick leave bank and counseling services offered by local nonprofits, Higginbotham was able to support the employee and help them navigate a heart wrenching moment.

    As Higginbotham reflects on her experiences during her 18 years at UAB, she notes her passion for connecting employees to resources in the community.

    “When I listen to nonprofits talk about the programs they have in the community, I think, ‘How can this help our UAB employees,’” said Higginbotham.

    Now that she is back on campus (and in a new building), she sees endless opportunities to continue pursuing that passion and to deepen partnerships with nonprofit organizations. She also aims to expand Blazer Kitchen’s operating hours and further engage with the Department of Social Work and its students. Moving forward, the horizon is bright as the Benevolent Fund steers through the pandemic and continues its life-changing work.

    “I encourage everyone—students, alumni, and employees—to reflect on where you are today, thank those who have helped you achieve your success, offer mentorship to the next generation of leaders, engage with your community to contribute to the public good, and stay connected to UAB,” said Higginbotham.

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  • Three UAB students awarded fellowships from the Council on Social Work Education

    Three social work master’s students have secured prestigious fellowships with the Council on Social Work Education.

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  • Two CAS faculty receive Fulbright-Nehru Scholar awards for work in India

    Colleen Fisher, Ph.D., will examine microfinance to alleviate poverty among vulnerable women in low-resource countries, and Cathleen Cummings, Ph.D., will study and map temples from the Bhosle dynasty of Nagpur, India.

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  • Pitner selected to lead UAB Department of Social Work

    Ronald Pitner, Ph.D., ACSW, has been named the chair of the Department of Social Work in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences.

    Ronald Pitner, Ph.D., ACSW, has been named the chair of the Department of Social Work in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences.

    Dr. Pitner received a Master of Social Work and a Ph.D. in Social Work and (Social) Psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He also earned an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

    He currently serves as the interim dean in the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina, where he is also the I. DeQuincey Newman Endowed Chair for Peace and Social Justice and the director of the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute in the College of Social Work. Dr. Pitner previously served as the associate dean for curriculum in the College of Social Work.

    Prior to joining the College of Social Work, Dr. Pitner worked at a global market research firm where he managed research projects focused on consumer health care practices and pharmaceutical brand perceptions and attitudes. Moreover, prior to his industry experience, Dr. Pitner was on faculty at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

    “The College is very fortunate to attract a candidate with Dr. Pitner’s academic profile and significant leadership experience,” said Kecia M. Thomas, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I am confident that under his leadership, the Department of Social Work will continue to experience growth in its undergraduate and graduate programs while extending the department’s reach throughout the community, the state, and the world. Dr. Pitner’s career is a model of engaged scholarship for the College as well as for the university community.”  

    Dr. Pitner’s research interests are broadly defined in terms of social cognition, stereotypes, prejudice, stigma, social cognitive aspects of interpersonal forms of violence, and youth and community based civic engagement. His primary area of research focuses on residents’ understanding of neighborhood violence and safety, as well as how neighborhood civic engagement can be used to help make such neighborhoods safer for residents who live there. His secondary area of research is focused on diversity, social justice, and multicultural and anti-oppressive social work practices. Dr. Pitner currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.

    “The Department of Social Work at UAB is one of the few health social work programs in the nation, and it is well-positioned to become one of the preeminent programs,” said Dr. Pitner. “I am very excited to work with the faculty to make this one of the strongest programs in the nation.”

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  • 2 CAS faculty receive Fulbright-Nehru Scholar awards for work in India

    Social Work’s Colleen Fisher will examine microfinance as a way to alleviate poverty among vulnerable women in low-resource countries, and Art and Art History Associate Professor Cathleen Cummings will study and map temples from the Bhosle dynasty of Nagpur, India.

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  • Blazers honored for promoting mental health awareness

    Seven individuals and two registered student organizations were named Mental Health Champions by Student Counseling Services for their efforts during this past year.

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  • UAB professor receives research grant for HIV suppression study

    Scott Batey received his second NIH R01 award in the past six months — a five-year, $2.98 million award that will help examine the social support networks of young Black men living with HIV.

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  • UAB student, donors honored with national Collegiate Recovery awards

    Maysa Mohmoud was named Collegiate Recovery Student of the Year Award, and Kathy and Ray Hayes were chosen for the Collegiate Recovery Philanthropist of the Year Award.

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  • CAS grants spur interdisciplinary research

    Pilot funds enable cross-campus collaborations focused on mobility with disabilities and older caregivers with HIV.

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  • Give on March 4 and help UAB care for our community

    Donations for Giving Day will make an impact on UAB’s efforts to fight COVID-19, care for pediatric trafficking survivors, support students, provide dental, medical and eye care to those in need, and more.

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  • UAB professor receives $2.97 million for program aimed at improving access to treatment for those with HIV

    The new program, co-led by Scott Batey, Ph.D., MSW, will give study participants living with HIV individualized, strengths-based case management from a community health worker.

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  • Honors College students volunteer following Fultondale tornado

    Fifteen students helped sort and prep donated items and distribute them at the Gardendale Civic Center drive-thru.

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  • Winners of the 2020-2021 “Building a Multicultural Curriculum” grants

    Congratulations to the winning proposals for the 2020-2021 academic year.

    This fall, all tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-earning College of Arts and Sciences faculty were invited to submit proposals for a new grant titled, “Building a Multicultural Curriculum.” The goal of these awards is to support faculty in developing new courses or revising existing classes in order to expand the College’s offerings that will support students’ diversity awareness and build their multicultural competence.

    Congratulations to the winning proposals for the 2020-2021 academic year.

    • Dr. Erin Borry, Department of Political Science and Public Administration: “Isms in Public Administration”
    • Dr. Olivio J. Clay, Department of Psychology: “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research and the Workplace”
    • Prof. Michele Forman, Department of History: “Our Histories: Documentary Film and Public History in Birmingham”
    • Dr. Reginald Jackson, Department of Music: “African American Music from 1619-Present”
    • Dr. Dione Moultrie King, Department of Social Work: “The Health and Well-being of Black Americans: A Social Work Approach”
    • Dr. Angela Lewis-Maddox, Department of Political Science and Public Administration: “Social Justice and Pop Culture”
    • Dr. Samiksha Raut, Department of Biology: “Building a Multicultural Curriculum”
    • Prof. Ana Maria Santiago, Department of English: “Themes in Lit with a Latina-o-x American Identity Focus”

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  • Faculty fellows to foster education-abroad experiences for students

    Nine faculty and staff selected for the 2020-21 Faculty Fellows in Education Abroad program will develop courses to promote active and ethical citizenship, cultural immersion and community engagement.

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  • The Lavender Awards virtually celebrate LGBTQ students and faculty

     

    The Office of Student Multicultural & Diversity Programs hosted the fourth annual Lavender Celebration Awards on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

     
     

    The Office of Student Multicultural & Diversity Programs hosted the fourth annual Lavender Celebration Awards on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. This annual spring event recognizes LGBTQ undergraduate, graduate and professional students for both their contribution to campus and their success in graduating.

    The awards were presented virtually on the SMDP SafeZone Instagram page (@safezoneuab) and the five award recipients represent some of the most dedicated individuals working to make UAB a more LGBTQ-inclusive and welcoming space.

    Award categories and recipients were as follows:

    [widgetkit id="77" name="Lavender Awards 2020 recipients"]

     
     
     

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  • Congratulations 2020 BSW and MSW Graduates!

     

    Please take a moment to watch the video of congratulation and well wishes from the Department of Social Work.

     
     
     
     

    While this is not what we had in mind for Pomp and Circumstance, the faculty and staff of the Department of Social Work wanted to let you know how proud we are of all your accomplishments. We know that completing a degree in a professional program is no small feat. Many of your faculty members wanted to let you just how important you are and how honored they are to have participated in your achievement. Please take a moment to watch the video below of congratulation and well wishes from the Department of Social Work.

    Again we commend you and wish you well!!!

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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  • All Girls Deserve an Education

    A student project supports Kenyan girls by targeting menstrual health
    Story by Brett Bralley • Photos courtesy of Morgan Rozek

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  • Catch up on your reading with one of these 13 books authored by CAS faculty

    Do you have more time on your hands while social-distancing? Faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences published 13 books in 2019 on subjects ranging from lifestyles and aging to advancements in satellite archaeology.

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  • SSWO Serve at Project Homeless Connect 2020

    On February 29th the Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) members had the opportunity to work with One Roof, located at 1704 5th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203, on the Project Homeless Connect 2020 as Smiling Face Client Guides.

    Student Social Work Organization membersOn February 29th the Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) members had the opportunity to work with One Roof, located at 1704 5th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203, on the Project Homeless Connect 2020 as Smiling Face Client Guides. As Smiling Face Client Guides the students were paired with a client for this one-day collaborative event to help navigate them through the many stations set up to assist with the unmet needs of the homeless in our city. This events hosts around 1,000 volunteers and is made possible by several charitable organizations around Birmingham such as, the United Way and Hands On the City of Birmingham.

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  • Self-discovery and addiction recovery lead two UAB students to pursue careers in psychology, lands them a unique fellowship

    Two psychology students have been invited to a unique fellowship highlighting addiction recovery and cultivating leaders on college campuses across the United States.

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