When Dr. Joel Carr was named director of the social work program at the University of Arkansas at Monticello last summer, he was given one task – rebuild the program from the ground up.
In Carr’s office in the Memorial Classroom Building is a stack of new textbooks. Carr is redesigning every course, replacing every textbook, and changing the program’s format.
“A social work degree, by definition, is a professional degree and the institution wants to insure that our graduates not only meet, but surpass the standards of the profession,” says Carr. “We will do that by increasing the academic rigor of the program, by recruiting and retaining academically strong students, and by recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty. Those things are the heart and soul of any professional degree granting program.”
Carr is one of three faculty added to the social work program since January 2010. The others are Marie Walker, assistant professor and field education director, and Donna Taylor, assistant professor. Carr is a licensed clinical social worker and board certified by the National Association of Social Work; both Walker and Taylor are also licensed social workers.
“Social work is a growing profession and it’s important that UAM provide the educational foundation necessary for our graduates to succeed in a high-demand field,” says R. David Ray, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Dr. Carr understands the institution’s goals for the program and I believe he will provide the leadership and vision needed to build an outstanding program.”
Part of the process of rebuilding the program included establishing a separate Department of Social Work under the umbrella of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, giving the program the autonomy required for maintaining national accreditation. Carr has already begun the process of having the social work program reaffirmed by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE is scheduled to visit the campus in 2013.
A Louisiana native, Carr holds two Ph.D’s – one in social organization-disorganization from the University of North Texas, and a second doctorate in psychology from Capella University. He also holds a master of social work degree from Louisiana State University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Louisiana Tech.
According to Carr, the public sometimes has the wrong idea about social work as a profession. “Social work provides 60 percent of all mental health services in the U.S.” says Carr. “Some people have the notion that the only thing social workers do is take babies away from unfit parents and hand out food stamps, when in fact, licensed social workers are mental health experts.”
Carr’s background includes serving as a psychiatric technician in the Department of Psychiatry and Chemical Dependency at the West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans and the Community Psychiatric Unit in Baton Rouge. He has also worked at Glen Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in Greenville, Tex., Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services of Texoma in Denison, Tex., and in the Department of Psychiatry and Addictions at the Methodist-Richardson Medical Center in Richardson, Tex. Carr was director of the social work program at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Tex., from 2007-11 and also served in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps.
Members of the Department of Social Work faculty and staff are pictured above (from left) Marie Walker, assistant professor and field education director, Dr. Joel Carr, assistant professor and director of the Department of Social Work, Donna Taylor, assistant professor, and office staff student worker Audrey Hunter of Star City.