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Source: Jacque Gibbons, 785-532-4976,
Pronouncer: Jacque is Jack.
Photos available. Contact or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-2535,

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010


MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's Jacque Gibbons has been named the social worker of the year in Kansas.

Gibbons, an associate professor of social work, was selected for the honor by the Kansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The chapter cited Gibbons' commitment to the values and ethics of the profession; his volunteer service, particularly with the American Red Cross as a certified mental health responder; and his work to train future social workers.

"Jacque Gibbons embodies what the practice of social work is all about," said Betsy Cauble, head of K-State's department of sociology, anthropology and social work. "Not only does he educate students to follow in his footsteps, but he lives his values through his work with the Red Cross and his support of other social service organizations. It has been a rare privilege to have Dr. Gibbons as a colleague. He makes us all better."

Social work wasn't Gibbons' first choice for a career.

"I started college in 1963 as a physics and biochem major," he said. "I got caught up in the civil rights struggle, and realized that as much as I liked science and math, it really didn't seem to relate to what was going on in the streets. I found social work as an undergraduate major, took some classes, and stuck with it through a master of social work, a Ph.D and a clinical social work license."

His service to his profession includes being chair of the Kansas chapter's ethics committee since 2001, and serving on the Manhattan and Riley County Hospice and Homecare Ethics Committee.

He also has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for nearly 40 years.

"My earliest involvement with the Red Cross was when I was in graduate school in the summer 1972. I stayed involved, mostly from a distance, until the 9/11 attack," he said. "The social work faculty at K-State discussed how we might put our skills to work in service of the community, state and nation. I decided to put my clinical social work knowledge to work as a disaster mental health specialist for the American Red Cross."

He completed his certification training in spring 2002 and has been providing disaster mental health services as a Red Cross volunteer ever since.

"Disaster mental health specialists help the whole disaster operation stay on an even keel, and that is a challenge when there are crises all around," Gibbons said. "Volunteers work to ensure the mental health of other volunteer staff, to assess the needs of disaster survivors for mental health services, and to help with the work of disaster relief."

His work includes assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina who relocated to Kansas, people affected by the 2007 ice storm and 2008 tornado in Riley County, and victims of other disasters like floods and fires.

"I find the work challenging and rewarding," Gibbons said. "I particularly enjoy working with the Disaster Action Team here in the Riley County area. They all serve as volunteers who try to be there when needed; they are a neat group of people."

"Jacque's volunteer work and service to the profession of social work are demonstrations of his devotion to helping others, and to his belief in doing his part to ensure the best services possible for the citizens of Kansas," said Janice Dinkel, an associate professor of social work at K-State who helped nominate her colleague for the honor.

Gibbons' dedication to his profession may be most evident in the classroom. Dinkel said he helps K-State social work majors develop a passion for the career and the skills they need to work with communities.

"His students are involved as much outside the classroom as they are in it because of the projects he assigns them to address specific community needs. He teaches students to address problems through grass roots organizational methods, and serves as a role model through his own exemplary volunteer community service efforts," she said.

"In the 40-plus years that I have been a social worker, it has certainly evolved into profession that requires much more knowledge and many more skills than was the case in the late 1960s," Gibbons said. "Students today face a much more rigorous and challenging set of courses to complete a social work major."

Gibbons said social work has found it way into nearly all facets of daily life. "Social work services are available from the prenatal period to the end of life. Social workers are needed in nearly any institution you might name," he said. "Social work students at the undergraduate level are much better prepared today than at any time in the past. They get large doses of theory, practice and research to complete the degree. They are prepared to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities."

Prior to joining K-State in 1982 Gibbons worked as a social worker in San Joaquin County, Calif.; Jefferson County, Kan.; and as a section supervisor in the Kansas City area office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. He also serves as a consultant on the state and local level. He earned a bachelor's in social work from the University of Kansas, and a master's and doctorate in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

"I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a professional social worker. In all my years of practice, I don't recall ever wishing I had chosen another career," he said.