Bev Koerin, Ph.D., (B.S. ’69; M.S.W. ’74) attended Westhampton College, now part of the University of Richmond, for two years but, because she was drawn to social work, she transferred to Richmond Professional Institute.
“I knew I wanted to go into this field that I wasn’t even really clear on,” she says.
Once established at RPI (which along with the Medical College of Virginia, became Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968), Koerin thrived in her course work and her future career path became razor sharp.
“When I attended VCU, the programs were comprehensive and I had excellent instructors and outstanding field experiences,” she says. “As a first-generation college student with no family tradition of going to college, VCU afforded me a wealth of opportunities. I value that.”
Koerin earned her B.S. in Social Welfare from the VCU School of Social Work in 1969, and began working for the Richmond Department of Social Services, assisting low-income adults. She later enrolled part time into the VCU School of Social Work’s master’s program and earned her degree in 1974. She then joined the Virginia Department of Welfare, aiding families in need.
“In social work, there is a big-picture orientation and it’s not enough to enhance or change a family’s situation,” she says. “You have to look at that family in the context of all the other factors affecting them. You have to look at what you can do beyond the family and intervene in other ways.”
Koerin moved from the nonprofit sector to academia so that she could influence the next generation of social workers. After a three-year stint as an assistant professor and acting chair of the Department of Sociology at Randolph-Macon College, Koerin joined the VCU School of Social Work faculty in 1979 and taught macro social work policy and practice. During her 29-year tenure, she held many positions in the school, including assistant professor, associate professor, B.S.W. program director, M.S.W. program director and associate dean. She feels proud of the school and how it provides the educational foundation for students to make their mark in the field.
“For nearly 100 years, the School of Social Work has prepared people for solid practice in the community and beyond,” she says. “We have really good relationships with agencies in the community — where our students are placed and go to work and then become the executive directors. Our graduates are everywhere.”
Koerin retired in 2007, and because of her close ties to the VCU School of Social Work, she has included the school in her will as part of planned giving. She hopes the school will remain a solid contributor to the Richmond community and around the globe.
“Whatever happens to VCU and the School of Social Work, I have this long-term connection,” she says. “That is my student life. That is my professional life.”