The Department of Sociology and Social Work earned a national Academic Excellence Award from the American Public Human Services Association for its outstanding contributions to the field of human services.

The award recognizes the importance of universities and colleges as partners in serving and improving the outcomes for at-risk families working with the Department of Economic Security. Northern Arizona University was nominated by the DES for a partnership providing advanced social work education aimed at reaching people in rural areas.

“The partnership between DES and Northern Arizona University has and will continue to improve outcomes for Arizona’s most vulnerable children and families,” wrote David Berns, director of Arizona Department of Economic Security, in his nomination letter. “NAU has designed a flexible program for those who are working with underserved populations, such as rural families and American Indians.”

Kooros Mahmoudi, acting chair of the department, accepted NAU’s award at a conference in Virginia earlier this month.

“It is an honor to receive this national award for our department and NAU,” Mahmoudi said. “We strive to provide the best educational opportunities for our students who in turn enhance and improve the understanding and delivery of human services to our state.”

Arizona State University’s School of Social Work also received the award for working with DES to increase educational opportunities for the child welfare workforce and to recruit students as potential employees.

Candidates were nominated by chief executive officers of state public human service agencies. Both NAU and ASU were nominated by Berns. Recipients were selected by a panel representing the American Public Human Services Association’s board of directors, staff, agency executives and human service practitioners.