KU News: KU launches Master of Social Work partnership with K-State Salina

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School of Social Welfare launches Master of Social Work partnership with Kansas State University Salina
LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare will begin offering a Master of Social Work degree at the Kansas State University Salina campus. The cooperative between KU and K-State Salina will increase the availability of graduate-level social work education in rural areas of Kansas while meeting the gaps in coverage that human service agencies in rural areas of Kansas have been experiencing.

Biography gives leading 20th-century Black writer Margaret Walker her due
LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas professor has written a biography of writer Margaret Walker, a major figure in the Black women’s literary renaissance whose notable contributions to literature were overshadowed later in life by her disputes with two of the leading Black male writers of her day, Richard Wright and Alex Haley.

More than 600 students attend KU’s Carnival of Chemistry
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Department of Chemistry recently hosted the annual Carnival of Chemistry, a free celebration with activities geared toward students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The Nov. 20 event was the first in-person Carnival of Chemistry since 2019.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Jason Matejkowski, School of Social Welfare, 785-864-5851, [email protected], @KUSocialWelfare
School of Social Welfare launches Master of Social Work partnership with Kansas State University Salina
LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare will begin offering a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at the Kansas State University Salina campus.
The cooperative between KU and K-State Salina will increase the availability of graduate-level social work education in rural areas of Kansas while meeting the gaps in coverage that human service agencies in rural areas of Kansas have been experiencing. The partnership will allow students to maintain their relationship with their community while learning valuable social work education skills.
“K-State Salina is committed to respond to the needs of our region by providing a trained workforce for our social service partners. Qualified, experienced social workers play an integral role in the success of any community by working with people to improve their circumstances in a variety of situations. This opportunity furthers our mission by training students to be leaders and make an impact on our state,” said Deb Marseline, K-State assistant dean for diversity and student success.
In summer 2023, students will be able to apply to the Advanced Standing MSW, which is the three-semester plan of study that requires applicants to already have their Bachelor of Social Work. These classes allow students to specialize in either clinical or macro practice and are taught in a blended format. This format combines online learning with in-person classes taught every other week on the Salina campus. Graduates of the program will receive their MSW degree from KU. Applications are open Oct. 1 to Feb. 1.
In fall 2024, the partnership will expand to offer both the Advanced Standing and the Traditional MSW plans of study. The Traditional MSW is a two-year plan of study that allows applicants who already have a non-social work bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university to pursue the MSW degree. For the Traditional plan of study, students will complete their first-year generalist coursework in-person on the K-State Salina campus. At the completion of generalist coursework, students enroll with KU for their specialist coursework, which is delivered at the K-State Salina campus and in the same blended format as the Advanced Standing plan of study.
“We are thrilled to expand our MSW partnership education in Salina. Social work is one of the fastest-growing career fields, and there is a particular need for rural social workers here in Kansas. This partnership with Kansas State will bridge the gap and meet students where they are, all while continuing to offer them one of the best social work educations in the country,” said Michelle Mohr Carney, KU School of Social Welfare dean.
The KU School of Social Welfare has an established MSW partnership with Pittsburg State University. That program, established in 2019, offers a similar curriculum and course structure.
Students can begin applying for admission to the KU and KSU Salina cooperative through the KU School of Social Welfare application process through Feb. 1, 2023, to begin Advanced Standing coursework in summer 2023 on the Salina campus.

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Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman
Biography gives leading 20th-century Black writer Margaret Walker her due

LAWRENCE – After her poem “For My People” propelled Margaret Walker to fame in 1937, while she was in her early 20s, she was considered a peer by nearly every important African American writer and thinker of the mid-20th century, from Langston Hughes to John Hope Franklin.
But Walker’s fame waned while she raised four children and toiled in academia at a historically black college in the South. Her later-in-life, headline-grabbing literary and legal disputes with two of the leading Black male writers of her day, Richard Wright and Alex Haley, only reinforced to her the intersectional disadvantage – Black and female – that she fought against her whole life.

So why does her biographer call Margaret Walker “the most important person that nobody knows,” and what can the first major biography of Walker do to enhance her legacy?

“Margaret Walker is every woman who is brilliant, who has ideas, but who is ahead of her time,” said Maryemma Graham, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Kansas and author of the new “The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker” (Oxford University Press). “She was a midwife for the Black women’s literary renaissance.”
Beyond recounting her triumphs, Graham hopes the previously unpublished journal entries and photographs she has brought to light will contextualize the later-life caricature of Walker – that of “an embittered old woman who was jilted” in love by Wright and who wrote an unflattering biography of him, which added to the humiliation of losing her plagiarism suit against Haley.
Connecting Walker to the present day, Graham reminds readers that in one of her last widely published essays, “Whose ‘Boy’ Is This?,” Walker excoriated both Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his former co-worker Anita Hill, whose accusation of past sexual harassment rocked Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearing, as “complicit in a process driven by racist and sexist standards. … Thomas had placed himself on the side of a system that abused and misused Black people. Hill became a victim by playing into the system and getting burned.” It was emblematic, Graham said, of Walker’s prickly intelligence and fearlessness.
Graham details Walker’s life as a preacher’s daughter in the Jim Crow Deep South and her initial fame as a poet. Walker had completed her education at Northwestern University and was living in Chicago and working for the WPA when she won the Yale University Series of Younger Poets Award in 1941 for her volume “For My People.”
Its fame soon spread.
“You couldn’t grow up in the segregated South and not know it,” said Graham, who recited the title poem herself as a young woman for church programs. “It is one of the most recited poems in the Black canon. A long poem, it stretches through the slavery and migration periods, on through urban America. It’s lyrical. It has actually been put to music. It rings in your ears so that when you hear it again, you remember the feeling you got the first time you heard it.”
Walker’s experiences in Wright’s influential Leftist writers’ group in pre-war Chicago are an important chapter of the biography. Walker and Wright fell out before his novel “Native Son” made him the man of the hour in 1940.
Walker then found love with the man she would marry, Firnist James Alexander, and a professional home on the faculty of historically Black Jackson State University. And despite the lull in her career that giving full attention to her husband and their four children caused, Walker forged on. Her career reached its zenith with the novel “Jubilee” in 1966.
“It is the first book written in the authentic voice of an enslaved Black woman in the modern period,” Graham said. “It’s a classic in that tradition. She was the precursor to an entire genre that Toni Morrison helped to consolidate in ‘Beloved,’ which today we call the neo-slave narrative. But when the book was published, there was nothing like it out there.”
Graham said “Jubliee” is “a family chronicle. It’s her great-grandmother’s story fictionalized.”
That’s why, Graham said, it hurt when Walker recognized elements of “Jubilee” in Haley’s 1976 novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.”
As it emerged later, Graham said, “Haley did, in fact, use her book and others, and she went ballistic when she recognized it. She took to her journals and spoke out publicly. What most people interpreted her to be saying was: Look at this Johnny-come-lately, stealing everybody else’s stuff and getting all the accolades.”
So Walker sued. And lost.
“He had stolen other people’s property, and when you steal that’s a cardinal sin,” Graham said of Walker’s thinking. “She wanted people to know it. But she didn’t have the kind of high-priced representation that she needed. That part of her life, I don’t think, ever got resolved. Her reputation suffered miserably.”
That was only exacerbated by her biography, “Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius,” which came out in 1988 after delays caused by a lawsuit (later dismissed) filed by Wright’s estate claiming copyright infringement for Walker’s use of their correspondence. Graham said Walker learned her legal lesson from the Haley suit, but perhaps not any larger ones.
“She was saying basically that Wright was brilliant, yes, but crazy,” Graham said. “Life in Mississippi, for a genius like him, does distort and can cause self-hatred as much as it can be a powerful motivator for creativity. It’s what segregation often did to the best and brightest of people. It represses … it suppresses … and the intensity of your experience can be beautiful. But it can also be ugly.”
Graham said Walker was an inspirational figure to a young scholar like herself when they first met in the early 1970s. By tracing the highs and lows of Walker’s life in “The House Where My Soul Lives,” Graham hopes to unravel a complicated story that can inspire a new generation.
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Contact: Angie Erdley, Department of Chemistry, 785-864-6749, [email protected], @KUChemistry
More than 600 students attend KU’s Carnival of Chemistry
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Department of Chemistry recently hosted the annual Carnival of Chemistry, a free celebration with activities geared toward students in kindergarten through eighth grade. This was the first in-person Carnival of Chemistry since 2019.
This year’s carnival, which took place Nov. 20 in Gray-Little Hall, offered more than 20 unique activities and demonstrations spanning three floors. The event had a focus on the Chemistry of Fabulous Fibers but also had a healthy mix of chemistry, physics, engineering and geological science activities. The department welcomed more than 600 attendees who enjoyed activities such as no-touch putt-putt (electrostatics), cereal flake races (magnetic properties) oobleck (non-Newtonian fluids), slime, CO2 bubbles and tie-dye butterflies.
“This carnival was one of the best I have ever seen. It was very special to have such a success in both activities and attendance after taking a two-year break due to the pandemic. We really brought it back in a grand way, and I hope we inspired some future chemists,” said Robert Dunn, professor and chair of the chemistry department.
The department recruited more than 100 volunteers for the event, sourcing from local high schools, its undergraduate and graduate student population, KU Medical Center respiratory therapist undergraduate students, faculty, staff and others.
This event was made possible by support from the following sponsors: KU’s chemistry department, KU Chem Club, Eileen’s Cookies, ACS Wakarusa Valley Local Section and Hy-Vee.
As a worldwide leader in training and research in chemistry, the KU Department of Chemistry is highly interdisciplinary in nature, spanning research in organometallic, materials, environmental, surface, bioinorganic, bioorganic, biophysical, bioanalytical, computational & theoretical, synthetic, combinatorial and “green” chemistry as well as photochemistry, NMR, laser spectroscopy and polymers. The department provides cutting-edge education and research opportunities, and the majority of faculty members have research collaborations that involve other departments at KU, around the country and abroad.
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