Deborah Aden, MSW, CSW, will work to ensure a quality educational experience at each field assignment for students in the program. “We are happy that someone with a strong blend of academic and real-world experience has joined us to create a Master of Social Work program,” said Charles Schwartz, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Social Work.

The master’s degree is expected to be offered to students for the first time in the fall of 2010.

Aden received her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and her bachelor’s degree from University of Sioux Falls. She has been a licensed certified social worker in the state for more than 15 years.

Earlier this fall, Elizabeth Talbot, Ph.D., was named director of USD’s new Master of Social Work program. She served as the director of the Master of Social Work Program at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., for the past three years.

Brian Kaatz, PharmD, dean of the School of Health Sciences, said many people have already inquired about classes in the program for next fall. “We are excited to have two leaders who are widely respected in their field,” Kaatz said. “We know the demand is there. We’ve already received more than 100 inquiries for information.”

Efforts began in the 1980s to begin a Master of Social Work in South Dakota – the only state that does not currently offer the degree. This spring, the South Dakota Legislature approved the program. Twenty-five organizations around the state wrote letters of support to legislators advocating for the degree program, including Avera Behavioral Health Center, Regional Health, Sanford Health and AARP.

“We are so pleased to finally have a program in the state,” said Joan McMillin, ACSW, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers in South Dakota. She added that the degree program will bring dollars into the state because those with the degree who are licensed for private practice can bill Medicare and insurance companies for mental health services.

More information on the Master’s of Social Work is available at A photograph of Aden is available for download at

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