Strengthening our Impact Through Community, Scholarship and Pedagogy

The UB School of Social Work's 2024-28 Strategic Plan

Parker Hall.

For every change agent, educator, researcher, field supervisor, innovator, staffer and student in the School of Social Work, our strategic plan is a call to action.

Today, social work is more important than ever. As our world undergoes profound sociocultural shifts, social workers must help humanity to navigate these challenges and move toward a trauma-informed, equitable future. 

Join us as we build on the School of Social Work's legacy of excellence, scholarship and service and expand our profound impact on the diverse communities we serve.

Explore our strategic vision

As we continue to educate social workers who will lead the profession forward, this plan provides a blueprint for us to expand our reach through community engagement, scholarship and curricular innovation. By working together and maintaining a strengths-based outlook, we will build on our school’s stellar reputation and embolden our commitment to racial and social justice and trauma-informed care, all while deepening our impact locally and globally.” 

— Keith A. Alford, Dean and Professor, UB School of Social Work

How We Got Here

UB School of Social Work students, faculty and staff.

To build on our 90-year legacy, we embarked on a yearlong strategic planning process in 2023. We started by gathering insights to uncover trends in our enrollment, research, philanthropy and community dynamics.

To be as inclusive as possible, we spoke with stakeholders from across the school, including students, full- and part-time faculty, staff, alumni, practitioners and field educators, supervisors and liaisons. In addition, we held focused conversations with members of diverse communities, including our LGBTQ+ students and the UB Association of Black Social Workers.

For perspective, we also looked outward to benchmark our school against peer institutions and to examine societal trends and consider how our work could make a bigger difference in the communities we serve. 

These exercises helped us to define the School of Social Work's strengths that we will build upon over the next five years, including our trauma-informed and human rights focus; commitment to high ideals and passion for social work; impactful and varied research; collegiality across differing viewpoints; student support, flexibility and mentoring programs; innovative technology; and the depth and breadth of our academic programs.

In addition, we ensured that our vision aligns with UB’s strategic goals of achieving greater societal impact; providing students with transformative and research-grounded educational experiences; promoting a culture of equity and inclusion; and deepening our community engagement. 

In the end, five strategic areas of focus, or pillars, emerged that capture our highest aspirations and will guide our work over the next five years. At the core of this plan — and our school's mission — is a commitment to elevating trauma-informed care and human rights and to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in a society where such assurance is needed more than ever.

Core Principles

Our mission is to prepare compassionate, culturally competent and socially conscious social workers who will be advocates for change, champions for justice and catalysts for healing in a diverse and interconnected world.

While doing so, we maintain an unwavering commitment to trauma-informed and human rights perspectives and the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) and racial equity. These principles are critical to everything we do as a school and serve as the foundation for this strategic plan. Therefore, before proceeding, we wish to establish a shared understanding of what these terms mean within our community:

Strategic Pillars

Clara Bradizza and Paul Stasiewicz.

Research and Scholarship

Accelerate social work research and scholarly eminence for a trauma-informed, equitable future. The School of Social Work recognizes that research and scholarship are processes that use multiple methods to build knowledge within and across content areas that reflect the school’s mission to promote trauma-informed approaches integrated with social and racial justice to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Patrick Rosenberger works with Khalidah Sabir on a virtual reality simulation.

Dynamic Learning Environment

Create a dynamic learning environment that prepares leaders, practitioners and scholars to solve diverse 21st century challenges through culturally responsive, trauma-informed, antiracist and equity-based curriculum and field experiences that are consistent with a fast-changing and turbulent social environment. 

UB School of Social Work graduate.

Recruitment and Retention

Increase the diversity and success of our full- and part-time faculty and staff, administration and students to reflect the City of Buffalo and other communities we serve. In the pursuit of this objective, we define diversity broadly and inclusively and place special emphasis on increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of our workforce and student body.

A group of incoming students smiling at orientation.

Culture, Belonging, Inclusion and Accessibility

Foster a culture of community, belonging, inclusion and accessibility that empowers every member of our community to achieve their full potential, values their uniqueness and defines our ability to deliver our teaching, learning, research and service mission.

School of Social Work community members help with a neighborhood clean-up.

Community Engagement

Deepen our engagement with communities to foster mutually beneficial relationships.