NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Barbara Wenstrom Shank, MSW, PhD
Dr. Shank has made significant contributions to social work not only in her leadership as Dean of the School of Social Work at Saint Catherine University/University of Saint Thomas but thru her committee leadership in a wide range of social work organizations including NASW, the Council on Social Work Education, the International Association of Schools of Social Work, and the International Consortium of Social Development. Dr. Shank has supported excellence in the profession at the local, regional, national and international level.
For over four decades, Dr. Shank has successful negotiated the complex relationship between two affiliated institutions with distinct missions, cultures, academic structures and administrative systems. Although the School's social work faculty members are housed in both institutions, Dr. Shank has been able to ensure the students receive coherent and integrated undergraduate and graduate programs by offering them a rich experience, drawing on the facilities of both schools. The programs are well respected in the Upper Midwest and nationally. The programs offer access to social work programs through full, part-time, weekend and on-line formats.
Dr. Shank has continued to nurture the relationship between her university and the social work community, recognizing the importance of strong links with practitioners and agencies to the educational endeavor; a recognition exemplified by her commitment to NASW as a member and leader. She is the major institutional supporter of the annual NASW-Minnesota conference, expects her faculty to be NASW members and strongly encourages her faculty to participate actively in the organization. Her encouragement is exemplified by the number of SCU/UST faculty, current students and graduates who participate regularly at the annual conference as presenters. Dr. Shank encourages and supports her faculty and students to assume elected or appointed positions in NASW.
As an educational leader, Dr. Shank has explored innovations that will provide access to professional social work education, including pioneering efforts in defining and implementing generalist social work education and practice at the baccalaureate level. She has spearheaded weekend and part-time evening programs, established out-reach programs in underserved rural areas of the state, and demonstrated her willingness to institute an innovative hybrid on-line doctoral program focused on teaching. The doctoral program, now in its second year, has attracted students from Alaska to California to Kentucky to Minnesota.
Dr. Shank works closely with her faculty to develop and hone their skills in teaching and research and created a series of professional development institutes as a venue supporting faculty research interests and publications. The institutes provide low-cost access to professional development seminars in a variety of fields of study. She inspires by her own actions and her wide world view that recognizes social work's role in advocating for human rights and social development on the national and international stage.
Significant Achievements and Awards