January 21, 2021

With the support of a Social Justice Fund grant from Colonial Life and its parent company Unum, Columbia College President Dr. Tom Bogart announced the establishment of the Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices.

“Organizations are seeking innovative ways to address systemic racism, economic equity, criminal justice, and educational opportunity. For Columbia College, we have chosen to focus on building resilience through trauma-informed practices—an area of expertise for the past several years,” said Bogart

The goals of the Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices include:

  • Offering relevant and rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs in education, social work, criminal justice, nursing, health care, business and the arts
  • Providing training programs on building resilience through trauma-informed practices for business, industry, health care, and nonprofit organizations
  • Conducting research on the implementation of trauma-informed practices that build resilience and publishing the Journal of Trauma-Informed Practices
  • Serving as an advocate and resource for including trauma-informed training that builds resilience in schools, organizations and communities across the state and the nation.

Alana Stroker, Program Director for Corporate Responsibility at Unum and Colonial Life, complimented Columbia College. “We are excited to support this innovative new institute because it is addressing root causes of racism and racial inequality with a planning grant. We see tremendous potential for Columbia College and its Institute to train teachers and health care professionals to build resilience in our children through trauma-informed practices.”

Dean of the Education Division, Dr. Tracy West, added, “This fall, the College offered a M.Ed. in Trauma-Informed Education (TIE) to equip teachers, school administrators, school counselors and social workers with the knowledge and skills to address the pervasive problem of children from trauma-impacted families and neighborhoods, a problem dramatically exacerbated by the spread of COVID-19.”

The TIE program enrolled 50 students during its first cohort through word-of-mouth and social media advertising. This overwhelmingly positive response convinced the College that building resilience through trauma-informed practices holds great promise and was the catalyst for the creation of the Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices.

Dr. Shirley Huisman, assistant professor of social work, assumed the role of facilitator to develop the new Institute, and worked with President Emeritus, Dr. Peter T. Mitchell on the design of the Institute. “There is not an area of human life that is untouched by trauma. Trauma is underdiagnosed, undertreated and overrepresented in vulnerable populations. In K-12, higher education and in the workforce, lingering effects of trauma emerge as obstacles to success and worse, as reasons for failure. The Institute will help children and adults build resilience through applying proven trauma-informed practices,” Huisman noted.

President Emeritus Mitchell highlighted the ambitious vision for the Institute, “To serve as a national advocate, resource and model for applying trauma-informed practices to build resilience and thereby improve the quality of life for tens of millions of people who have experienced trauma.”

President Bogart concluded, “The Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices is a dynamic alignment of the strengths of Columbia College in this field with the importance of addressing the root causes of many problems facing our state and nation. We are grateful to Unum and Colonial Life for underwriting the planning for the Institute.”

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