Dean Patchner welcomes new BSW students

Looking out at the new BSW students attending a recent orientation session, Indiana University School of Social Work Dean Michael Patchner touched on one topic that hadn’t been addressed: what they needed to do to be successful.

While the students will have access great professors and have the city, state and world as a learning laboratory, the dean noted the one thing the School of Social Work couldn’t do is provide what each student must bring to the program – a commitment and willingness to make their studies a priority.

Dean Patchner welcomes new BSW studentsThe dean asked how many of them would have to work as well as go to school. A majority of the students raised their hands. When he asked how many of the students had family responsibilities, such as caring for children, a spouse or other relatives, a good number also raised their hands.

“Those things are demanding,” the dean told the students. “I can tell you I have been there myself.”

He talked of growing in Appalachian poverty, the son of a Croatian coal miner. His father repeatedly told him he had to study hard so he could escape the coal mines and go to college. The dean worked more than 30 hours a week at a supermarket to cover his college costs and spent his first year of college at a branch campus of a university that was housed in the basement of an elementary school. He couldn’t afford a car, so at times had to hitch-hike to get to campus during his undergraduate career.

“The point I am trying to make is I know how difficult it is going to school when you have all these responsibilities,” Patchner said. “I have been there. I have lived it ….even with a dad with Black Lung disease and a mother that was totally disabled,” the dean noted. “I had those responsibilities, but I made school a priority because it was so important. Maybe it was embedded in me since I was a child that I had to study hard…do good work in school. That was the ticket out of the coal mines.”

Study hard and make it a priority, the dean advised the students. “If you do, I will promise you this – you will get an education second to none. We have that kind of program and that kind of quality.”

Dean Patchner went on to welcome the students to the School. “One thing we have here is a family. People who care about one another and care about you as a student. We want to make sure you succeed. You do your part and we will do ours and you will be successful.”

Press Release Contact:
Rob Schneider
(317) 278-0303