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A Message from Dean Martell Teasley

Photo of Dean Martell Teasley

On Monday, June 1, Dean Martell Teasley shared the following message with the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Utah College of Social Work. 


Dear Social Work Student Body,

It is clear that we are all personally bothered by the intolerable acts that have led to nationwide protests.  I write to you one week after the tragic killing of George Floyd, which along with the senseless killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, triggered massive anger, protests, rioting and even violence.

Many of our citizens realize that our country must turn back patterns of inequitable treatment and that we cannot be silent when inhuman acts happen to our citizens.  The challenge of achieving racial justice is one that has come a long way, but needs more attention.  Racial inequality is at the core of so many of the problems we face as a society, and requires not only vigilance, but actions to change policies that separate groups within our society, marginalizing some, and lead to deep mistrust, fear, and hatred.

There is something we can do once we, as a society, recognize that something is wrong, needs to be changed, and we have the will and resolve to do it.  I have already had one faculty conversation on this topic and there will be others.  Faculty have informed me that our College needs to plan events, engage in projects, and listen closely to the voices and input of our students.  Our pledge is to develop a plan of action that speaks directly to the issues involved, and we plan to involve your voices in the process.  We plan to hold town hall meetings in order to gain your opinions.  Please look for information on such meetings.

I will be personally working with the College’s Diversity and Social Justice Committee, comprised of staff, faculty, and student representatives, to plan events that deal with important issues related to social and racial justice.  At the national level, many social work organizations are planning to respond by working to develop action-oriented agendas examining the profession’s commitment and future activities in the promotion of racial justice.

We are all concerned about how we prepare students to be social work professionals for this critical time in our country, with a global pandemic, growing inequality, exacerbating problems with race and racial polarization, growing environmental degradation, and multiple challenges with our political and health care systems.  All of this will make teaching and learning in social work education programs challenging as we move forward, and the College plans to meet these challenges head on.  During class time, faculty will take time to discuss and process the challenging circumstances and events with students, but will attempt to achieve course objectives as much as possible.

In moving forward, let us all remember to remain healthy and safe.  Let us find ways to channel our energy into constructive resolve, with a commitment to social justice, while not burning our passion in the short run, but turning our energy into the long-term goal of change for the betterment of all and racial equality.  Finally, we must all continue to promote and embody fairness and equality in our lives and in our interactions with other people.  Kindness is not hard to find. 

As aspiring social work professionals, please remember that you are lifelong learners, and that your education is not only for earning a living, but also for living a life.


Martell Teasley, PhD, MSW
Dean and Professor
President of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work


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Last Updated: 12/12/23