Letter from the Dean to Alumni

April 6, 2020

To SSA Alumni:

Today, we begin spring quarter in a dramatically changed world. The scale of disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. All of us are trying to work in new ways while dealing with interruptions to our daily lives and life plans. I want to thank you – our alumni – for the work you are doing and will be called to do in the coming weeks and months. I want to thank the many alumni who have contacted me to ask how they can help SSA during this public health crisis.

Our global pandemic underscores how SSA is needed more than ever. Our School always has been about reducing disparities, giving voice to the forgotten, and uplifting the most vulnerable and marginalized. The public health crisis intensifies our core values and presents an extraordinary moment in history.

SSA faculty, students, and staff are facing unforeseen challenges as we respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Students are providing field support remotely to agencies, including to many sites that are on the frontlines of this pandemic. Our entire team is working overtime to transition to remote learning and working. All these changes are testing us as we strive to uphold the profession's core values to serve the community in a strong, responsible, and proactive way.

As we change our usual routines for the greater good of the community, many of our students face difficult challenges and financial hardship. A number of students have lost jobs and sources of income. Some students are struggling as they provide needed financial support to extended family; other students have gone deeper into debt because they have had to move or so they can purchase the necessary technology to continue their studies remotely.

The SSA Fund is one source of critical support during these uncertain times. As the world changes in response to COVID-19, SSA students are receiving the training to respond to an array of social challenges, including ones caused by this pandemic. They will be the leaders in developing and providing the many services, policies, and programs that communities – here and around the world – continue to need.

Your gift to the SSA Fund will allow us to provide critically needed support to our students, and provide flexible funding so we can quickly respond to urgent student requests. Big or small, your gift will make a meaningful impact on the lives of our students and the future of SSA. Please contact Mari Philipsborn, Director of Development at mphilipsborn@uchicago.edu or at 773-702-1146.

I want to also thank you for considering this request. We are grateful and proud of your countless contributions to SSA, our profession, and our communities.

Please stay informed, safe, and well.

Deborah Gorman-Smith, Ph.D.
Dean
Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor
The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration