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Student Leadership

The Social Work Department believes in providing students with opportunities for professional networking and to develop leadership skills. This is achieved through a variety of informal (non-credit) and formal experiences that meet JMU’s engaged community and civic engagement visions. Examples of informal experiences are volunteering at the RAM Clinic (Remote Area Medical) when it is local, opportunities within the college when community middle or high school students come for career exposure, or community opportunities such as walking neighborhoods to answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccination or assist with student recruitment by sharing their experiences or explaining the curriculum to potential majors. Formal opportunities may include serving on college committees such as the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee, the CHBS Student Inclusive Excellence Committee, the CHBS Student Ambassadors, or the JMU End Sexual Assault Committee. Within the unit, students may serve on the Social Work Advisory Committee, the Social Work Advisory Group, or as a student organizational leader. Positions are often curated from the junior student body with faculty endorsement. Students must have time to meet the obligations of these committees or opportunities.  

Student Organizations

JMU promotes student involvement through 100+ campus organizations. Academic units promote professional development through student organizations. All student organizations must be in compliance with university guidelines, including attending the yearly Leadership Orientation & Responsibilities Training session. Student organizations must maintain required documents and accounts with the support of a faculty/staff advisors.  Social work maintains two student organizations. 

Social Work Organization (SWO)

Any social work major (declared or admitted) may become a member and leader of SWO. The leadership structure is dictated by legal requirements to maintain the bank account of a president, vice president, and treasurer, though previous groups have included a historian, community service coordinator, or fundraiser. SWO is responsible for the solicitation and selection of the Gregory R. Versen Honorary Social Work Award that recognizes non-social work degreed human service workers who illustrate the values and qualities of a social worker. The awardee receives it during Social Work Month (March), and is named for Greg Versen, faculty emeritus. The SWO faculty advisor is selected yearly at the May Summit for the following year. 

Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Workers

Phi Alpha is a national honor society whose purpose is to recognize and promote academic excellence among social work students. Membership in Phi Alpha is by invitation to students with a minimum of nine credit hours in social work courses, holding a SOWK Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.25 or above and a cumulative GPA at JMU of 3.0 or above. 

Phi Alpha Honor Society Officers and Membership Expectations: 

  1. In consultation with Faculty Adviser, officers issue a call for membership applications, review applications, and plan an Induction Ceremony each semester. This may include a speaker who focuses on academic achievement and scholarship.  
  2. Conduct a fundraiser of social work items (apparel and/or items) each fall semester. This may be repeated in the spring semester.  
  3. Plan and deliver at least one academically oriented “event” each semester for social work majors, including one for National Social Work month (ex: poster sessions, “Finding Your Fifty” pre-field service workshop, publishing relevant bulletin boards, hosting brown-bag lunches, etc.)  
  4. Plan and deliver at least one social event each semester for members, usually following the Induction Ceremony. 
  5. In April of each year, outgoing officers recruit and train new officers for the following year. 
  6. Assist department faculty and staff with planning and hosting the traditional Senior Send-off event to recognize graduating seniors at the conclusion of each semester Awards medallions and cords at Senior Send-off. 

The Phi Alpha faculty adviser is determined at the May faculty summit for the following year.   

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