Dr. Barbara Wenstrom Shank, Dean of the School of Social Work
Barbara Shank was honored with the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors at its Annual Banquet on April 2. The Significant Lifetime Achievement in Baccalaureate Social Work Education Award acknowledges a baccalaureate social work educator's achievement over his or her entire career.
A native Minnesotan, Dr. Shank received her MSW (1973) and PhD (1993) from University of Minnesota. Dr. Barbara Wenstrom Shank emerged as an early pioneer in developing the principles of BSW generalist practice, defining the nature of the BSW curriculum, and emphasizing the person in environment construct underpinning social work practice. She is an advocate for accreditation standards on all levels of social work education. As an educational leader, Dr. Shank has constantly explored innovations that will provide access to professional social work education, including out-reach programs in underserved rural areas and an innovative on-line doctoral program focused on teaching which has attracted students from many states.
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 through 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. 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.
Awards and publications
Shank has been recognized with the Social Worker of the Year Award for the State of Minnesota by the National Association of Social Workers, Minnesota Chapter (1993); the Distinguished Citizen Citation, Macalester College (2000); the Presidential Award, Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors (2008). She has published numerous articles and book chapters throughout her career, including "Social Work for Social Justice: Strengthening Social Work Education through the Integration of Catholic Social Teaching" in Social Work & Christianity, and "Social Work for Social Justice: Extending Our Professional Commitment to Justice" for the Baccalaureate Program Directors Update Online, both with St. Catherine University Social Work Professor Mary Ann Brenden. Shank also wrote "The Call to Justice: Social Work in Catholic Higher Education" for Social Work & Christianity.