Following a nationwide search, the University of Nevada, Reno is pleased to welcome Goutham M. Menon as its new director of the School of Social Work.
Menon, who comes to Nevada from the University of Texas at San Antonio, said Nevada’s social work program has been doing well, with a stable student population and faculty, and will offer him the opportunity to build on that base.
Goutham Menon, the University of Nevada, Reno’s new director of the School of Social Work, stands near a whiteboard outlining milestones for the school’s upcoming accreditation cycle. Photo by Anne McMillin, APR.
“We are looking to expand access to students across the state, so this move is a good fit for me,” Menon said. “Our faculty is positive and willing to explore and develop these opportunities.”
According to Menon, the social work workforce has historically been low in Nevada. Working in consultation with faculty, he intends to grow that pool of new professionals by reaching out to prospective students through traditional classroom settings for the School of Social Work’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and expanding its offerings of on-line and hybrid degrees.
The undergraduate social work degree currently offers an online program that entails students doing three years at a Nevada community college, followed by a one-year distance online course at the University. “We’d like to translate this program to our master’s degree because there is a need for people with a masters’ degree in social work in the health and human services professional. And this will increase as our health care environment changes.”
As part of his recruitment process, Menon and his wife, Maureen Rubin, who also joins the faculty at the School of Social Work, visited agencies in Reno that provide social work services. “Those meetings, which were positive and welcoming, gave us the idea that we could strengthen our work by partnering with community partners.”
In addition to growing the student population within his school and reaching out to partner more with local agencies, Menon will immerse himself in his passion for research, which focuses on the use of technology in the field of health and human services. Distance education, or using technology to reach rural and underserved populations, will also be at the top of his list for projects to continue and further enhance while he is here. He will reach out to the University of Nevada School of Medicine to add his faculty’s social work expertise to its telemedicine and Project ECHO outreach services to rural patients and providers.
Menon has a passion for his students and has taken a special interest in mentoring non-traditional students, especially first-generation college students as they go through the process toward graduation and beyond.
“I want to help build collaborative relationships between our various programs across campus, especially within the Division of Health Sciences, and to help my faculty enhance their research. I want to be that catalyst to bridge across disciplines. The School of Social Work is a resource center for our community and we are planning to offer services like program development and evaluation, and we want to market that to our area and make them aware that we are here to serve.”