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Released Februrary 2, 2004


LONG BEACH - The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast will offer classes leading to a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree for the first time at its Gulf Park campus in the fall of 2004.

According to Dr. Tim Rehner, assistant director of the Southern Miss School of Social Work and coordinator of the BSW program, the demand for the program on the coast has been building steadily for years.

"We get two or three calls a month from potential students on the coast, especially from students at the two-year colleges who want to continue their studies," Rehner said. "Until now, we could only invite them to come to Hattiesburg for their BSW degree."

A shortage of qualified social workers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has emerged as a major problem for employers such as the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

The course of study will be the same at the two campuses. Eligible students must already have close to two years of college credits, and will take three "pre-social work" courses before applying for formal admission to the program. Once admitted, they will complete another 12 required and elective social work courses in such subjects as human behavior, social work practice, social welfare policy and social work research. Students in the program must also complete a semester-long internship in an agency setting, where they are taught to apply classroom learning to real people and situations.

"Our BSW program is designed to prepare professionals with the solid knowledge and experience foundation they need to work successfully with individuals, families, groups and communities on a broad range of problems," said Dr. Michael Forster, director of the Southern Miss School of Social Work. "There's a growing need for social workers on the coast, and we want to be there to help meet that need."

Southern Miss has been offering the master of social work (MSW) program at its Gulf Park campus since 1996. New classes of MSW students are admitted every other year. Applications for the fall 2004 class are now being accepted.

Two social work faculty members are already based at the Gulf Park campus. A third faculty member will be added this fall to help launch the new BSW program. As the program expands, additional faculty will be added.

For further information about the Southern Miss Gulf Coast BSW or MSW programs, call 228-867-8797.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM