Alumnae Bulletin November 2009

Connecting the Dots . . .

Darlyne Bailey, Bryn Mawr's new dean of the graduate school of social work and social research and special assistant to the president for community partnerships, says the School and the College together have a rare opportunity to look at national and global dilemmas from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Darlyne Bailey believes we no longer have problems facing us.

"We have dilemmas - tightly bundled issues that are actually competing needs and often wrapped around an ethical issue," says the new dean of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and special assistant for community partnerships to President Jane McAuliffe.

"Looking at the challenges facing us these days from a simplistic either-or perspective - 'yes', 'no', 'right', 'wrong' - won't move the conversation even one syllable forward," Bailey told the Bulletin and the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association this fall."Problems usually have right or wrong answers, but dilemmas must first be unpacked to be managed. That's why life has felt so complicated now and why leadership roles have felt so messy.We don't have the certitude upon which to base a decision and we can't begin to fully understand the issues unless we go outside our comfort zone and explore other ways of looking at them. The good news is that here at Bryn Mawr the GSSWSR is part of a community of highly talented people with whom we can take even just one issue and look at it - almost as if it were a diamond - from multifaceted perspectives that come from crossing disciplines."

Bailey moved to campus from the Midwest at the beginning of August and has been putting in 12-hour days meeting with her new colleagues at the School and the College and key members of the greater Philadelphia area communities. She comes from the University of Minnesota, where she was assistant to the president and a professor in the School of Social Work and the Department of Work and Human Resource Education, both within the multidisciplinary College of Education and Human Development, for which she was the first dean.

"Darlyne brings a rare mix of academic accomplishment and visionary leadership to the College that will serve the entire community well as she takes on the role of dean and the newly created role of heading up our community partnership programs," said Jane McAuliffe.

"I believe I have truly the best job in the world!" said Bailey. "My life has taken me to a point where everything I have ever done has prepared me for joining this incredible Bryn Mawr community.Who knew? I just followed the path as it unfolded, trusting that the ground would be there to meet my feet. It's been my journey here that connects all the dots.

"One of the reasons I left Teachers College and my birth place of Harlem, New York, to go to Minnesota was the opportunity to align multiple disciplines," Bailey said. "We had more than 5,000 students, close to 200 faculty, hundreds of staff, and nine buildings in two cities. It was huge. Coming here, I thought at first, 'It's so tiny!' But it turns out that, yes, size matters but it's how you use your size that matters more. Our School has the opportunity to be a leader in nimbly responding to issues facing our incredibly complex and rapidly changing world, in which we sit as a community. I can say this with great confidence because we also sit in a worldrenowned liberal arts college, where we can join our expertise with the perspectives of colleagues in physics, psychology, sociology, and many other disciplines, and we can just literally walk down the road to do so."

Bailey received her bachelor of arts degree in psychology and secondary-education certification from Lafayette College; a master's degree in psychiatric social work from Columbia University, where she was later to become vice president for academic affairs and dean of Teachers College (2002–06); and earned a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, where she was six years later appointed dean at Case's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (1994–2002).

Broken systems

Asked to comment on the healthcare crisis from the perspective of social work, Bailey discussed the connection between education and health care.

"They are both systems that are broken and represent the two most important issues facing the country in terms of urgency and greatest impact on the largest number of people," she said."Neurobiological research shows us that even our very youngest are able to learn new languages, new skills.Moreover, when we move our children through the education system based on their own competencies and not because of 'social' or 'age' promotions, we minimize, filling the other largest broken, yet fastest growing, industry...our prison system.

"It follows, then, that if we pay attention to peoples' education, both formal and informal, these same folks will become engaged citizens who know the best ways of taking care of themselves and caring for others. They'll be able to contribute to a society that knows the emphasis should be on wellness rather than disease management, which unfortunately has been our preferred model for way too long. For example, people who are financially challenged tend to use emergency rooms for their primary care.While we have good doctors and nurses and social workers rotating through our ERs, these systems were not structured to address illness prevention and continuity of care. Frankly, attempting to use ERs for those reasons costs everybody a lot of money and a lot of time. Education and healthcare both require the highest of quality rather than the bare minimum, as well as affordability, and availability to everyone. Education and healthcare should not be seen as a luxury and a privilege, but a mandate and a right.

"The bad news is that more people than ever before are being affected by the fact that both systems are broken. The good news is that now everybody is awake and paying attention. This is similar to our "war on drugs." The street drugs of cocaine and crack had been around a long time in some of our socio-economically challenged urban communities, but as long as they were confined there, it was 'those peoples' issues and others didn't have to worry about it. Once addictions and all the things that come with them started to spill over and affect more people, then it became something we needed to deal with as a nation, and I would say as a world. Similarly, once HIV/AIDS went outside of a particular lifestyle group and became a pandemic, then we said, 'Okay, we've got to pay attention'.

'Start where the client is'

"Social work fits into this beautifully, because as students go into our professional programs of study, they are exposed to not only all of the 'ills' of society, but also the strengths and the multitude of possibilities that can be drawn upon in first understanding and then dealing with these issues. In our School, we have community advocacy and policy opportunities for study.We also have our law and social policy program, through which students can get an M.L.S.P. degree along with the preparation to work with individuals, families, organizations, and communities found in our M.S.S. degree. And that's just at the master's level! We also offer a Ph.D. in social work education and research. Graduates from all of our programs are not only working in health care and education, they are everywhere. The reality is that you can do just about anything with a foundational degree in social work.

"One of the axioms of social work is 'to start where the client is.' That saying speaks to the potential of forging mutually beneficial partnerships and has served me well in all areas of my life. If you're starting in a new relationship, pay attention to where that person is coming from. If you're starting in a new work environment, pay attention to what has existed before you and what the desires and needs are right now. In all interactions after you pay attention to others you can then together envision the future."

Going out to the world

As special assistant for community partnerships, Bailey will spearhead efforts to forge connections with local and national civic groups, government agencies, and non-profit faith-based and social service and private sector organizations.

"Our College's Office of Civic Engagement has very talented people working there who have already forged some strong connections to the outside, like our relationships with those in Norristown," she said. "Thanks to this appointment by Jane, I am able to join them to extend this work and discover anew.Where I go, the School goes, the College goes, and our students, faculty, and staff go. As I learn more about my colleagues' interests and talents and the needs beyond our 'walls', I will be doing my part to 'connect the dots'. I don't have all the specifics carved out yet, just lots of ideas as I every day meet more and more incredible people!"

Bailey's counterpart in community outreach is Peter Magee, associate professor of classical and Near Eastern archaeology, who has been appointed special assistant to the president for international educational initiatives.Magee will be working with McAuliffe to create campus forums on the globalization of higher education and to investigate opportunities for international partnerships.

Bailey is already involved in helping to start a school in India that goes beyond the traditional teacher education curricula. "If the idea for this new college catches the interest and curiosity of folks here, at a minimum, it is something our School can get involved in and, ideally, has the potential to become a College-wide initiative.

"People may ask why the social work dean is thinking about education, but we're all in the business of education. I believe the curriculum of the future is less discipline constrained and much more focused on how people learn, particularly in groups.What some people call 'problemsolving,' I would call dilemma management. In all of our schools and colleges of the future very important contentspecific information will still need to be included yet we can't stop there. If we can think about education in the broadest sense, then we can prepare our students not just to go out and respond, but to have the peripheral vision to see around the corner, to anticipate, forecast, and lead the way in knowing how to manage those societal dilemmas that challenge the welfare of many. In the Buddhist metaphor of Indra's necklace, when one diamond is touched, it reverberates throughout every other gem in the net. That's why communities are so important to me - it's about appreciating that we are all connected. Yet I know that as human beings we can be most comfortable with what we know and fearful of the unknown. Daring to reach out and acknowledge and work from our connections requires confidence, courage, and faith.

"There's a parable that goes something like this: 'Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.' Faith and fear have a very hard time coexisting. Fear has you pull in yet paradoxically, it's contagious.We can choose to say 'Yes, these are very real fearful times with some dangerous people out there' but if we have faith to move through the fear, to reach out to another, an academic, someone in the corporate sector or someone in the government sector, for example, and risk having our perspectives enhanced, changed just a little with new information - to me, this is really what living a full and meaning filled life is all about.

I feel so blessed - I know that I have come here at the most perfect time for myself to continue to learn and grow and I honestly believe that I'm at the most perfect place for me to make my contribution.We're living in an incredible time; we have new presidents, of the college and the country, a whole movement built on the words 'hope' and 'change.' If we don't grab onto all of this now and move with it, shame on us. But then that wouldn't be the Bryn Mawr of which I've now become a part.

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