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Suzanne Sankar
School of Social Work

Suzanne Sankar, Interim Dean of the School of Social Work, espouses theories of positive leadership, which emphasize strengths, connections, and meaningfulness. She believes the SSW offers an innovative and disruptive approach to education, exemplified most recently by the new Socialwork@Simmons MSW degree.

  • » 20 years of experience at Simmons in various positions from professor of practice, to assistant dean of student affairs
  • » A Founder of the Welcome Project, an immigrant rights organization
  • » Executive Editor Field Educator
  • » B.A., University of Michigan
  • » MSW, Simmons School of Social Work

WHAT LEADER DO YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?

Martin Luther King is the leader I most admire. Dr. King spoke at my high school near Detroit during my senior year, one month before he was murdered. His presence in our community inspired me and my friends to fight against injustice on a local and national level. Dr. King understood that he needed to inspire those who shared his vision to take action themselves. Individuals could not change racist discriminatory laws and practices; however collectively, through the Civil Rights Movement, change could occur. Right before he died, Dr. King was about to launch a war on poverty and joblessness, I often wonder how this country would have evolved if Dr. King had lived and remained a national leader.

DESCRIBE A MEMORALBE PLACE YOU'VE TRAVELED.

Recently, we took a family trip to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and thoroughly enjoyed the region. Remnants of Mayan life and Spanish colonization are evident in a thriving contemporary Mexican culture. The food, flowers, and simple aesthetics of everyday life, along with gracious, friendly people make it a wonderful destination.  The beaches are beautiful, too!

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES YOU SEE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION?

Change, disruptive change, describes higher education in 2014. The School of Social Work is adopting an innovative, and disruptive approach to social work education with its new Socialwork@simmons MSW degree offering. The new program will make available Simmons' unique clinical MSW to students across the United States and eventually it will be a global degree. Our challenge will be to ensure that online students enjoy the same connections and community as our "on the ground" students. At the same time, we'll also be challenged to import lessons learned from the online educational model to our on-campus program.

IF YOU HAD A DAY TO GO ANYWHERE OR DO ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND WHOM WOULD YOU BRING?

My husband is a wonderful sailor; we enjoy taking daytrips out to the islands of mid coast Maine, meandering from island to island, choosing one island where we can drop anchor, row ashore for lunch, take a short hike, and then head back to the harbor before sunset. I'd pick any August afternoon to take one of these day trips with him. (It all goes a lot better if an afternoon fog doesn't roll in!)

HOW WOULD YOU DESRIBE SIMMONS IN THREE WORDS OR LESS?

Community, energy, and engagement.

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