Faculty Spotlights

School of Social Work faculty are actively engaged not only with their students, but in social practice and the profession. Our faculty has a broad range of research interests that bring a wealth of expertise to our program. In addition to their research specialties, many of our faculty also are deeply connected to university and community projects. Check them out!

Community Engagement

Unified Health Clinics
The Unified Clinics are one large multi-specialty group practice that was established in 1995 to provide quality “real world” clinical training experiences for students in the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University by meeting authentic community needs in an outpatient clinical setting. A number of social work faculty actively provide services at the clinics both through the Child Trauma Assessment Center and the Behavioral Science services.

Child Trauma Assessment Center
CTAC was founded by social work professor Dr. Jim Henry. CTAC is a transdisciplinary team that conducts assessments for children in order to gain a better understanding on how the child’s traumatic exposures have impacted them and their families, in order for children to get the help they need. The center is also one of the Nation's Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network (FAS-DPN) sites, and is affiliated with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).

Fostering Success
Social work professor Dr. Yvonne Unrau is the director of the Center for Fostering Success, which is a university-level center that seeks to create successful transitions from foster care-to-college and college-to-career for students who age out of foster care and enroll in college. The Center also aims to educate, develop and connect leaders addressing the needs of youth and alumni of foster care.


Drs. Bridget Weller (School of Social Work), Jennifer Harrison (School of Social Work), and Carla Adkison-Johnson (Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology) are investigators in the Interprofessional Peer Education and Evidence for Recovery program (I-PEER). The purpose of I-PEER is to provide training for current and future behavioral health professionals in culturally- and developmentally-appropriate, integrated care for adolescents and young adults in West Michigan. I-PEER participants are a diverse group of graduate students completing their final internships in integrated, interdisciplinary healthcare settings that use a team-based care approach to providing services. In addition to supporting students, the I-PEER program expands meaningful community partnerships in West Michigan to assure that the diverse lived experiences of adolescents and young adults remain seen. 


Associate professor Dr. Jennifer Harrison is a co-principal investigator in the Michigan Youth Prevention and Recovery for Opioid Use Disorders (MY-PROUD) program. The MY-PROUD program provides training and workforce development for interprofessional students and providers on opioid use disorder prevention and recovery. The goal of MY-PROUD is to increase the number of current and future professionals trained in OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services for adolescents and transitional-age youth in medical and educational settings. To reach this goal, MY-PROUD trainings are available for students, community members, and program partners. This program is currently funded through August of 2022.

Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations

Associate professor Dr. Don Cooney serves as an associate director of the Walker Institute. Founded in 1989 as the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations, the Institute was renamed in 2000 in honor of Dr. Lewis Walker, Western Michigan University’s first African American Ph.D. faculty member. Dr. Walker devoted his career to teaching and research about race and ethnic relations and worked for social justice through many applied research and community service projects. The Walker Institute continues this work in service to the University and community.

Private Practice(s)
A number of faculty own private practices in the community, and bring that current expertise into their teaching.

NASW Leadership
Some faculty members are deeply involved in the local, state and national chapters of the National Association of Social Workers, leading the path forward for our profession.

peer-reviewed Research Journal

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare
The WMU School of Social Work is home to the Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare. This journal, established in 1974, promotes the understanding of social welfare by applying social science knowledge, methodology and technology to problems of social policy, politics, the social ecology and social services. Assistant Professor, Dr. Melinda McCormick serves as the Editor in Chief.