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Ashley Curry, PhD, LCSW spent her first eight years at Erikson as a member of the social work faculty. She launched and directed the Online MSW Program, conducted research, chaired several committees, and taught a variety of clinical practice classes and reflective practice supervision seminars. She always stressed to her students the importance of reflective practice, a core component of the Erikson experience. At Erikson, students learn to examine themselves — their own assumptions, biases, and experiences — in order to best help children and families. In fact, Dr. Curry launched a study to examine this process at the institution, along with her colleague Dr. Pamela Epley. Their findings show that principles of reflective practice and reflective supervision, as institutionalized at Erikson, impact the personal and professional development of students and alumni in a variety of meaningful ways. Her other research, which was conducted during her doctoral studies at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, explores how relationships between young people and their child welfare professionals support their emotional and relational development. As well as the ways in which organizational dynamics, such as turnover, disrupt those relationships, and ultimately impact young peoples’ emotional and relational development in problematic ways. Her published work can be found in Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Journal of Social Work Education, Children and Youth Services Review, and Journal of the Society for Social Work.

Dr. Curry was promoted to the Dean of Students in 2022. In that role, she is responsible for designing, implementing, and cultivating systems and strategies to enhance student well-being. She brings a track record of prioritizing building a sense of community and belonging among her students as well as paying careful attention to inequities and social justice. “I am honored to have the opportunity to develop a network of student-centered supports that help to build community among our student body, both on-campus and online. It is important to me that students feel supported, connected, and included throughout their educational experience at Erikson,” says Dr. Curry. She brings not only extensive experience working in higher education but also in clinical mental health settings. Prior to becoming an educator, she worked for a decade as a mental health clinician in the ER and medical floors of a Level 1 Trauma Center. She takes a holistic approach to student wellness, stating “Creating systems and supports that enhance the social, emotional, and academic well-being of our students is a top priority of mine.”

When Stripe Gandara arrived at Erikson in 2016 after teaching for more than a decade at the University of Nebraska, the ASC had one part-time staff person and nine tutors. Today she is the full-time director with more than 20 tutors ready to support Erikson students with a variety of course assignments at all stages of the writing process. In the past five years, Stripe moved all ASC supports online, and has collected data to assess trends in ASC usage and students’ needs. Before Stripe arrived, students were assigned to the ASC, characterizing the department as strictly remedial in nature. Stripe worked to create an inviting and voluntary program, which has resulted in more students using ASC services. In the 2016-2017 academic year ASC provided 743 hours of service, and by 2020-2021, that figure had risen to 1,336 hours—a nearly 80 percent increase.

Director of Student Experience and Support, Whitney Mittons, MOL, has a pivotal role in both listening to students’ concerns and working to enhance their experience. She engages students in a collaborative partnership to determine their interests and needs. She also espouses and demonstrates a commitment to the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, & Justice (DEIBJ) and integrates those into the work she carries out with students. Whitney also partners with students to create, plan, and execute student-focused activities and supports that enhance the student experience, including their sense of community and belonging within Erikson.