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Partnership keeps students in western KS





Fort Hays State University and the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare are looking to close the gap of available social work services between eastern and western Kansas.

Beginning next summer, KU will offer its Western Kansas MSW (Master of Social Work) Program to FHSU and Garden City Community College.

Tim Davis, director and associate professor of social work at FHSU, said the partnership has been a work in progress, and it will be a huge benefit.

"They have just bent over backwards to try to make this work," Davis said of KU's work throughout the planning process.

He said it took approximately two years to lay the groundwork, which included feasibility studies, focus groups and the mechanics of how the full-time program would work.

The program offered will be a blend of online and classroom learning. The in-class attendance will be scheduled for Saturdays and alternate with the online portion. The in-class portion will be at FHSU and will be relayed as a teleconference to students and an on-site instructor at GCCC.

Davis said this is a benefit for those who are taking the class because it limits the time in a classroom and also doesn't require relocating.

"A lot of times, we have those who want to go on to get a master's degree, and they have to go east to do that," Davis said. "Most of the time, if they go east, they don't come back."

The program takes one year if a person has completed a bachelor's degree in social work.

Davis also said the program is available to those who do not have a bachelor's degree in social work, but the program includes a foundations year, followed by the MSW program. Davis said this would take two years.

He said the program will help organizations or businesses get qualified people into unfilled positions.

"Now, we are going to have more qualified, better trained professionals close to people in western Kansas and their services will be more accessible for those that need them," Davis said.

Those who participate in the program will pay KU graduate tuition rates.

The application period for the Western Kansas MSW program is open now and will close Jan. 15.

For more information, email program coordinator Kendal Carswell at kendalj@ku.edu.