The M.A. in Human Services (HMS) will prepare you for management and leadership positions in the growing human and social services fields. You will develop an appreciation of contemporary and historic human characteristics, issues, and problems as the foundation for designing, delivering, and evaluating interventions and services to improve the quality of life for all people.
Fifteen years ago, Denise Bockmier-Sommers joined the Human Services Graduate program faculty as an adjunct instructor, moving into a fulltime position later that same year. Denise was a familiar face in Brookens, frequently talking to students in her office, and interacting with the faculty. Her expertise was widely known and highly regarded and students appreciated her calm and supportive approach. When we began working on the Child Advocacy Studies curriculum in 2013, Denise was the first person in HMS to whom I spoke, knowing her insight and guidance would be invaluable as we considered where CAST would find a home.
An early adopter of online teaching, Denise recognized the importance of students’ acquiring administrative skills in the HMS program. The Social Service Administration concentration became a very popular component of the HMS degree, preparing students to work in the nonprofit or public agency arenas. In addition to her commitment to students, Denise found numerous opportunities to grow the HMS program and contribute to the campus community in a variety of meaningful ways – through involvement with the Senate and chairing the Academic Integrity Council. Denise’s research interests magnified her approach in the classroom, fostering a space that emphasized empathy, kindness and genuine regard for student well-being.
Denise’s vision for HMS included new certificates that responded to industry growth in human services – the graduate certificate in Nursing Home Administration was approved this past Fall, offering students a curriculum that prepares them for the incredibly important work addressing challenges associated with service delivery for the aging population. In 2019, Denise was appointed the chair of the Human Services program, facilitating the reorganization of the Human Services degree and its transition to the new School of Public Management and Policy in the College of Public Affairs and Administration. Denise saw the reorganization as another opportunity to respond to student interests and skill-building by realigning the program with other public service initiatives and programs. Over this past year Denise, Younjin, and Lisa have become part of our program’s fabric, bringing new insight and opportunities for our students.
In just a few short weeks Denise will leave her Human Service home, looking forward to uninterrupted time in her garden and enjoying the meals she loves to prepare for family and friends. We will strive to care for her program and her students in the way she demonstrated, with the care and consideration she modeled for over 15 years. Denise embodied the HMS vision statement, improving the lives of everyone with whom she interacted. We wish you well Denise!
Dr. Betsy Goulet is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Child Advocacy Studies Coordinator in the UIS School of Public Managagement and Policy in the College of Public Affairs & Administration and the Director of the Alliance for Experiential and Problem-Based Learning at the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.