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University of Phoenix College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Leadership joins 2024 Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors Conference

By Sharla Hooper

Associate Dean Dr. Samantha Dutton led session on role of skills-aligned curriculum in enhancing employability of baccalaureate social work graduates

University of Phoenix College of Social and Behavioral Sciences shares that Samantha Dutton, PhD, LCSW(r), Lt Col(Ret), associate dean of Social Sciences, joined the 41st Annual Conference of the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, held March 6-10, 2024, in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she led a workshop titled, “Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Employability of Baccalaureate Social Work Graduates through Skills-Based Education.”

“Participating in this conference enriches program directors’ knowledge and enhances our commitment to the excellence of our programs for our students and their communities,” stated Dutton. “Baccalaureate social work graduates have much to offer their potential employers, clients and communities, and I was honored to share with my colleagues how University of Phoenix is working to increase students’ awareness and understanding of how the skills they’ve gained through coursework can contribute to career planning.”

The 41st Annual Conference of the Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors was themed “Infusing Resilience, Diversity and Inclusion in the Big Easy,” convenes program directors in an event supporting the association mission to representing the interests of undergraduate education and practice in social work and focused on excellence in education and practice to help communities thrive.

The workshop, titled “Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Employability of Baccalaureate Social Work Graduates through Skills-Based Education,” examined the importance of skills-based education for baccalaureate social work students. During the workshop, Dutton highlighted the need for students to understand and communicate their competencies and skills effectively to potential employers, and shared how, by aligning curriculum with sought-after skills, students can track their progress using a dashboard tool. This dashboard assists students in crafting resumes that highlight acquired skills, enhancing graduates' employability. This approach helps ensure graduates are better prepared to meet the demands of the social work profession, fostering socially aware and proficient professionals for the future job market.

University of Phoenix has implemented an innovative skills-aligned curriculum with 100 percent of associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs open for new enrollment being fully skills-mapped.

With an emphasis on knowledge, skills, character and lifelong learning, programs in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences prepare students to positively influence their organizations and communities. The College’s programs help students address communities’ mental, psychological, emotional, social and case management needs in counseling; social work; psychology and human services; and criminal justice and public administration.

As associate dean and the director of the Social Work Program in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences with the University of Phoenix, Dutton presides over the Bachelor of Science Social Work program, which was accredited by the Council of Social Work Education in June 2023. Dutton’s military experience spans 27 years where she held leadership positions of Deputy Commander of Medical Operations at Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center, Nevada, as well as the Medical Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and she also commanded the Mental Health Clinic at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. She has been the recipient of numerous Air Force level awards and was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom where she was the sole mental health practitioner for 2,500 personnel. Dutton earned her doctorate in Social Work and Social Research at Portland State University, and her MSW and BSW at New Mexico Highlands University. She currently serves as President of National Association of Social Workers, Tennessee Chapter (NASW-TN) and NASW-TN PACE Chair. She has authored a University of Phoenix white paper on how social work educators can help students understand and differentiate between competencies and skills.

Learn more here about the conference.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit