In Alumni, School of Social Work

In the May alumni email, we asked which school you most wanted an update on. Cairn’s School of Social Work had the highest number of responses. Here is an update from Dr. Lloyd Gestoso, dean of the School of Social Work:

Summer 2017 has been an eventful one for us here at Cairn’s School of Social Work. Our school is up for reaffirmation with the Council on Social Work Education with a self-study document due and site visit for late fall 2017. We have been working toward these moments for quite some time.

As you know, however, God often has different plans than we do. In May, God led one of our dear professors, Cheryl Nitz, to announce her family’s move to Virginia and her resignation from Cairn. Because Cheryl has been a central contributor to our accreditation processes, we went from secure in our plans to again looking to God for His plans. We posted a faculty opening and prayerfully considered which direction to go.

While on social media one evening, I messaged Dr. Rick Chamiec-Case, the executive director of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work, asking whether he knew of anyone available to join our faculty. He replied that he thought Lawrence was looking to get back into teaching. I thought, “Lawrence? You mean Lawrence Ressler, who has significantly influenced Christian social work education over the past few decades?” This recommendation began the process of exploring whether Lawrence was the right fit for Cairn and whether Cairn was the right fit for Lawrence and his family. Starting July 1, Dr. Lawrence Ressler joined the full-time faculty of Cairn’s School of Social Work.

We are thankful for Cheryl Nitz and her deep contribution to our students over the last seven years. She will always be part of our Cairn social work community, and we pray for the best for her and her family in Virginia. We are also excited by what God has in store as Dr. Ressler joins our team. Please pray for him and his family’s transition to Cairn. Also please pray for our reaffirmation process with the Council on Social Work Education. Our world is rapidly changing, and we seek to honor God in how we represent His work here.

Below is a brief biography about Dr. Ressler:

Dr. Lawrence Ressler has a BSW from Eastern Mennonite University, an MSW from Temple University, and a PhD in Social Welfare from Case Western Reserve University. He has had an extensive career in Christian higher education with a focus on social work. His accomplishments including leading two undergraduate programs and one MSW program to initial CSWE accreditation. He also helped develop a government-approved curriculum for a social work program at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition to teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, he has served in academic administration as a program director, department chair, academic dean, provost, director of institutional assessment, and interim president. Dr. Ressler has served as a faculty member or administrator at seven Christian colleges, including East Texas Baptist University, Taylor University, Tabor College, Roberts Wesleyan College, Messiah College, Malone University, and Eastern Mennonite University. He worked for shorter periods at the Carver School of Church Social Work (associated with The Southern Baptist Theological University); Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya; and the Russian-American Christian University in Moscow, Russia. Dr. Ressler has training and experience as a community organizer,  as an individual and family therapist, and in conflict management. He has presented frequently at conferences and has published many works, including a co-edited book on conflict management (Making Peace with Conflict) and an edited devotional (Hearts Strangely Warmed). Areas of interest include spirituality and religion, conflict management, administration, and research. He has been active professionally in CSWE, NASW, and NACSW. Dr. Ressler currently serves as the chair of the National Social Work Professional Accreditation Advisory Council recently initiated by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Hope to connect with you all soon, maybe even at Homecoming on September 29–30, 2017.

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