By Adrienne Redman | Reporter
The Diana R. Garland School of Social Work’s Global Mission Leadership Program (GML) received a $2 million gift to help further the program’s interests while ensuring a lasting place within the department.
According to the dean of social work, Jon Singletary, the gift will primarily go towards the creation of an endowed chair, which recognizes the distinction of outstanding faculty while providing support in research, teaching and service activities. The endowed chair will serve as the director of the program.
Dr. Jennifer Dickey, the current director of GML, has been named as the inaugural chair holder and will begin serving June 1st.
“It’s really been her vision that has made this program come alive,” Singletary said. “Her passion for global social work and service, her connection with global leaders both as they’re coming into our program and then as they go back out to serve their country—she’s absolutely the best person for this.”
Through connections to various organizations around the globe, the program identifies leaders that would be interested in pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Baylor. Following admittance, the program selects a small number of GML scholars from the admitted pool to complete the two-year concentration.
The gift will also provide operational support that will assist with scholarship funding and staffing needs.
The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, are parents of a current Baylor student. During a conversation with the Office of Advancement, the donors expressed their “interest in missions and supporting Christian leaders around the world,” according to Dean Singletary. It was then that they were directed to the GML program.
“We jumped at the chance and had a great conversation. It was so exciting to hear their passion for different parts of the world where they had served,” Singletary said. “They saw it as something where they had already participated in and witnessed the value of what this kind of program has to offer.”
According to Dean Singletary and Dickey, different departments at Baylor as well as other universities are looking at launching similar initiatives modeled after the GLM program.
“A university in California similar to Baylor has reached out to us,” Dickey said.
The influence of this program in creating others like it may be due in part to the successful alumni it has produced. According to Dickey, one alumna went back to her native country of Myanmar and instituted the nation’s first child protection law.
According to Dean Singletary, many graduates of the program are effecting lasting change in their countries through efforts to create child protection systems, adoption policies, human trafficking laws and prevention programs. Some are even working as social work educators where the field is not widely practiced.
“The alumni are doing amazing work. It is phenomenal to see the ways that they are truly changing the landscape of their native countries,” Singletary said. “They just step right into those roles right after graduating. It’s remarkable the way that they are able to use this to serve.”