Public Affairs

Passion for Compassion

August 18, 2011
By Stephanie Thara

The profession of social work is deeply committed to the relief of human distress and to meeting the social, psychological and economic needs of human beings. The CSU’s dedication to making a difference within the community and each professor’s devotion to helping others is what sets the CSU learning experience apart from other institutions. The CSU takes pride in providing students a well-rounded education through instructors that instill knowledge, offer opportunities to assist with their research/work and inspire passion for compassion.

Professor Pasztor uses turtles to teach students that social workers are soft on the inside and tough on the outside, and while their progress may be slow, they’ll only make progress when they’re advocates and stick their necks out for others. CSU faculty members in social work schools and programs are dedicated to quality teaching and to maintaining a high level of research and professional involvement. Faculty at Cal State Long Beach, for example, are involved in numerous activities including research, training, advocacy, service, advisory board membership and consultation.

As the former national program director for family foster care, adoption and kinship care at the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), CSULB Professor Eileen Mayers Pasztor utilizes their publications and legislative initiatives to bring cutting edge information to the classroom. In turn, she develops training programs that CWLA publishes for use by child welfare professionals nationally and overseas. In the classroom and the field, she emphasizes the six major principles of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics: being competent, having dignity, having integrity, believing in the importance of human relationships, providing service and advocating for social justice.

Professor Lam assisting one of his social work students with their assignment. In addition to being active in community service, CSU social work faculty are leaders in research. CSULB Associate Professor Brian Lam incorporates his research on the internal conflict that Vietnamese American adolescents face when assimilating into modern American culture into his curriculum. “In my teaching at Cal State Long Beach, I emphasize the strength of diversity, and how people cope and adjust to the environment,” says Lam.

Similarly, through CSULB Assistant Professor Ruth Chambers’ direct practice and research studies with at-risk youth and child welfare, she is able to make the theories she teaches in class come to life. “I am able to talk about public polices and give students real-life examples,” said Chambers. “I can tell students exactly how certain policies affect individuals, families and communities.”

Professor Chambers with CSULB social work students at the National Association of Social Workers’ Legislative Lobby Day. Like most professors in the CSU social work schools and programs, Pasztor, Lam and Chambers give students hands-on experience by offering them the opportunity to assist in their research. Over the years, students have assisted with the research process, participating in tasks such as data collection and analysis, literature review, interviewing clients and carrying out studies that are later published in major social work journals and presented at national conferences.

Additionally, CSU faculty are pioneers in the field through the innovative projects they execute. For example, Assistant Professor Lili Luo and Professor Peter Allen Lee from the San José State University School of Social Work partnered to evaluate San José Public Library’s Social Workers in the Library (SWITL) program. SWITL serves library patrons by providing consultations with social workers and sharing information regarding local social service programs. Through Luo and Lee’s suggestions, the SWITL acquired new community partnerships, enabling SWITL to serve new populations.