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New scholar series addresses cross-curricular topics
New scholar series addresses cross-curricular topicsNovember 04, 2002Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
When the School of Social Work, College of Nursing, and College for Human Development came under the umbrella of the College of Human Services and Health Professions (HSHP) two years ago, a faculty committee recommended the college initiate a series addressing broad topics that appealed to all the schools and departments. Based on the committee’s suggestion, the college will launch its first Interprofessional Visiting Scholar Series on Nov. 6. “The series will provide students and faculty with an opportunity to listen to and interact with scholars and practitioners who have exhibited leadership in interprofessional research and education,” says Interim Dean Bruce W. Lagay. “Invited guests will address topics of broad cross-professional interest around which students and faculty can come together in intellectual discourse. The series will help move the College of Human Services and Health Professions into the continually expanding network of interprofessional colleges emerging across the country, and assist us in refining our mission.”
The inaugural series will feature Fernando Torres-Gil, whose expertise includes such areas as disability, aging, diversity, and social policy. “We were looking for somebody of high stature, who is well-known, and who could inspire and provoke us in a number of areas,” says School of Social Work professor Alejandro Garcia, who served on the committee. “We thought Fernando Torres-Gil would be the right person to do that because of his extensive experience and list of accomplishments.”
The son of migrant farm workers in Northern California, Torres-Gil became the first assistant secretary for aging in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration. He organized the 1995 White House Conference on Aging and has served in several other governmental positions including staff director for the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging and member of the President’s Welfare Reform Working Group. Currently, Torres-Gil is a professor of social welfare and policy studies associate dean for academic affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles’s School of Public Policy and Social Research. He also serves as associate director of the school’s Center on Aging and director of its Center for Policy Research on Aging. “His visit is expected to engage faculty within HSHP in interesting discussions, expose students to a dynamic person whose interests cross all units of the college, and reach out to other colleges on campus and the larger social service and health care community,” says social work professor and event organizer Eric Kingson.
During his three-day stay, Torres-Gil will meet with small groups of faculty during informal luncheons and dinners. He will also make several formal presentations to faculty and students from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the Latino Studies program about social policies and issues of importance to Hispanic populations. Jonathan Sandberg, assistant professor of marriage and family therapy, has organized a University-wide gathering for students to hear Torres-Gil speak about multiculturalism and then discuss diversity issues in smaller groups. Students in the undergraduate and graduate social work programs will hear him speak on problems emerging from an increasingly multicultural and ethnically diverse aging population during the annual Legislative Policy Day conference. Healthcare providers from the Syracuse area community and local Hispanic leaders will also benefit from Torres-Gil’s expertise during a public forum. “He’s a dynamic and quite charismatic speaker who is at ease relating to the highest levels of intellectuals or speaking with people of a very modest socioeconomic backgrounds,” Garcia says. “He’s a powerful speaker and a very knowledgeable one that will enrich the intellectual climate on campus.”