Social work professor wins lifetime award from state association

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Linda Reeser.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Michigan chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is awarding a Western Michigan University professor a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Linda Reeser will be presented the award during the National Association of Social Workers-Michigan annual conference April 9-10 in Kalamazoo's Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites. The award is the most prestigious award given annually by the organization to social workers who have spent a career advocating for the profession and their clients. Nominees must demonstrate a continued commitment to the principles of social justice through leadership, education and advocacy.

Commitment to social justice

One nominator wrote that Reeser's career matches the criteria of continued commitment to social justice principles.

"I have been a colleague of Dr. Reeser's for the past 18 years," the nominator wrote. "I have intimate awareness of her important service work within and outside the University, have witnessed her in various leadership roles and observed her teaching and training. She is very hard working, driven even, to give her very best in all that she does, and social justice is the central focus of her teaching, research and service."

The nominator added that Reeser teaches critical thinking, maintains exceptionally high standards and knows her subjects extremely well and is passionate about them.

"She is masterful at engaging students to think critically by generating compelling question after question to take students from where they are at to two steps beyond what they say," the colleague wrote, adding that Reeser's activities extend far beyond the classroom. Those activities have included serving as director of field education for 18 years and coordinator of the bachelor of social work program. In the community, Reeser is credited with helping to found a massive, coordinated effort to register voters, particularly those living in poverty. She also has a long history of supporting recipient rights and has represented WMU on the Recipient Rights Committee of Kalamazoo County Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Board.

"Dr. Reeser has been an exceptional teacher, advisor and mentor of social work students," the nominator wrote. "Her leadership, service and scholarship have contributed to the competent and ethical delivery of services and enhanced education of social work practitioners and the stature of our profession."

Professional contributions

Another nominator noted Reeser's "extensive professional contributions through her teaching, research and service work to the University and greater community."

Reeser received the 2011-12 College of Health and Human Services Teaching Excellence Award, the nominator continued, adding, "she demonstrates exemplary and excellent teaching through her classroom teaching, guidance of students in their field placements, advisory activities and collaborative mentoring activities."

Current and former students and colleagues universally acknowledge Reeser's passion for her courses and her dynamic teaching style, the nominator continued.

"They know her to be a tough, challenging teacher who helps students learn valuable information that will benefit them as professionals," the nominator wrote. " … Her research, teaching and administrative abilities extend beyond the school, college and University to the social work profession and its outreach and impact."

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