The social work department has begun the search for a director to lead the Master of Social Work (MSW) program Goshen College is developing in collaboration with Bluffton University. 

A search committee, made up of students and faculty in the social work department, is in the process of evaluating candidates. 

The MSW is being developed by the two universities as a response to years of interest by numerous parties. The program, which plans to have its first students in the fall of 2023, will satisfy local employers, alumni, students and faculty who have been hoping for a small, personal MSW program in the area. 

“One of the goals is to start a program that’s different because a lot of what’s offered here is big university programs,” said Elaina Youngberg, a social work major serving on the search committee for the program’s director. “It’s exciting to know that I have the choice of going to a small program.”

Another unique feature of the upcoming MSW program is that it will have a number of online classes due to its collaboration with Bluffton University. 

According to Jeanne Liechty, a social work professor, the collaborative nature of the program was necessary for the accreditation process: “The Council on Social Work Education accredits social work programs and has for a long time needed a minimum of six full-time professors, so we knew from the beginning that it was going to have to be collaborative.”

Those involved in the MSW creation process have carefully created a mission statement for the program that ties it into GC’s historic mission and vision. “Social work is very congruent with Goshen College,” Liechty emphasized. The program is intended to be a continuation of the current social work department’s values of social justice, service, the importance of human relationships, integrity, competence, and the dignity and worth of every human being. 

In addition, Liechty says that the program will provide some flexibility by offering a one-year track for students with advanced standing from an accredited social work program and a two-year track for those with other bachelor’s degrees. 

“We had three candidates this past week,” said Youngberg. She is looking for someone with “the ability to sit down and listen … and ask good questions.”


Suzanna Yoder, another social work major serving on the search committee, noted that she would like “someone who is personable and approachable and who is able to make community connections.”

According to academic dean and search committee chair Ann Vendrely, the MSW program will fit nicely into GC’s values and mission. “I think that the core values of the social work profession are very well aligned to the mission and vision of Goshen College. We have a strong undergraduate program that prepares professionals for the field, so it makes sense to build on that and grow into a master’s degree program.”

Vendrely noted that GC is also open to new graduate programs in other fields. “We will continue to offer mostly undergraduate degrees but are looking for programs that would allow our undergraduates to continue their studies here at GC to earn another degree if they want.”