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UW-Eau Claire Social Work Professor
Maintains Ties with Slovakian University

RELEASED: July 14, 2006

Nicholas Smiar
Nicholas Smiar

EAU CLAIRE — Nicholas Smiar, professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recently returned from Bratislava, Slovakia, where he presented a keynote address at "New Trends in Education and Practice of Social Workers," a conference celebrating the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the department of social work in the pedagogical faculty at Bratislava's Comenius University.

Smiar presented his talk, "Ethics in Social Work: Credibility and Accountability of the Profession," on June 29 to faculty and graduates of schools of social work in the Slovak and Czech Republics, social workers in practice and other professionals in related fields.

The link between the two universities was established when two faculty members from Comenius visited UW-Eau Claire to learn about its social work program and review curriculum and policies in preparation for the establishment of a department of social work at Comenius University. According to Smiar, in the intervening years he has visited Bratislava four times and maintained contact with Dr. Vladimir LaBath, providing him with program information, curriculum reviews and recommendations and information about American universities.

"Bratislava has changed dramatically since the first time I visited," said Smiar. "Under the Communist regime, the old city had been allowed to deteriorate. This was a Communist policy, to de-emphasize history as irrelevant to the state ... I took a tour of the old city on my first visit and noted the poor condition of streets and buildings. On this most recent visit, I took the same tour. All of the streets and buildings have been restored; the houses and buildings have been restored and re-stuccoed or re-painted. The old city is very much a tourist attraction today," Smiar said.

Recently Smiar began a project of exploration of and review of social work ethics in the curriculum of the Comenius' faculty of social work with Dr. Peter Brnula and Dr. Ladislav Vasko.

"It is an informal exchange, but an interesting one," said Smiar, noting that it would also be interesting to arrange a student exchange between the two universities, but at this time the cost is probably prohibitive for students from that part of the world.

-30-

NW

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