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History|Division of Social Work

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Division of Social Work
(mailing address)
1000 E. University Avenue
Department 3632
College of Health Sciences
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: 307-766-6112
Fax: 307-766-6839
(physical address)
Ninth and Clark Streets
College of Health Sciences
Room 310
Laramie, WY 82071
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Old campus photo

History of the Division of Social Work

Social work courses were first offered through the Sociology Department in 1967.  In its very earliest days, Social Work existed as a small part of, and then a program within, the Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.  The Department of Social Work was created in 1975 and was among the first baccalaureate programs in the country to earn accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.  While many things have changed over the years, Social Work's core values and educational mission have remained constant and enduring.

Throughout all these years, the Division has had a statewide mission and reach.  In the early days faculty drove to distant towns or flew in the University's airplanes as part of UW's cadre of "Flying Professors" leaving the Laramie airport in late afternoon dropping faculty off, for example, in Casper, then on to Sheridan for another drop, to Rock Springs, and finally a return trip home to Laramie in the wee hours of the morning.  Currently, the digital "flights" are a bit more streamlined but still reach out to our students in all those Wyoming towns so far away from Laramie.

Soon after the department was founded, the BSW became the first academic departmental degree program offered fully on-site in Casper at what was then UW-Casper (now the UW/CC Center) allowing students from central Wyoming and beyond to earn the BSW degree without having to come to Laramie.  Social Work has always had a state-wide program and that hasn't changed.

Dr. Jim Wiebler was hired as Social Work's first Director in 1975.  Taking the reins of the then baccalaureate-only department, he was already dreaming of establishing an MSW program, but the realization of that dream would not happen until a few short years after his death in 1994.  Approved in 1996, the MSW program had its first cohort graduate in 1999.  As a tribute to Dr. Wiebler's early work in establishing the Social Work degree program at UW, the Division developed a scholarship fund in his name to help deserving students earn a degree in social work.

Brief Chronology of the Division of Social Work

1967: UW Trustees approved an undergraduate program for Social Work in the Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences.  The first faculty member assigned to the Social Work program was hired.

1969: A second faculty member assigned to the Social Work program in Sociology was hired.

1975: The Social Work program in Sociology was approved to become a stand-alone department in the College of Arts and Sciences and the first Director was hired.

1976: The Wyoming State Legislature mandated the University and Casper College to develop a way to offer UW degree programs on-site in Casper.  The model that they developed had Casper College offering the freshmen and sophomoreGroup of people coursework and UW offering the upper division and graduate coursework.  All UW programs were offered on the Casper College campus during the years 1976-77.  In 1978 UW moved its programs and staff to another location in Casper - the old Wilson School building on the grounds of what was then the State Children's Home where the operation became known as "UW-Casper."

1977: Two full-time Social Work faculty members were assigned to the Casper campus and Social Work became the first department degree to be fully available in Casper.

1976-83: This was a period of rapid growth in the Department of Social Work with many faculty hired mainly on grant funding.  At its height, the Department had 18 faculty serving both the Laramie and Casper campuses.  The student body consisted of approximately 100 BSW majors on each of the two campuses.

1984: The Department of Social Work was moved from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Health Sciences.

1986: The College of Health Sciences was reorganized and the Department of Social Work was re-designated as the Division of Social Work.

1996-99: The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree was approved by UW in 1996 and was placed into Accreditation Candidacy by the Council on Social Work Education in 1998.  The first MSW class graduated in 1999.

2008: Social Work's national accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education, changed its accreditation standards to add a focus on "10 Core Competencies" as the outcome for student achievement in social work educational programs.  The Division of Social Work has since received reaccreditation under these new standards.

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