Assistant Professor of Social Work
Office: 134 Gries Hall
BSW, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1999
MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2002
PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2012
Dr. Abigail Kauffman Wyche joins the NMU faculty this year after obtaining her PhD at VCU's School of Social Work in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Wyche's primary scholarship interests center around the professional resilience among helpers--or the process by which human services professionals become and remain committed, healthy, happy and effective in their practice of helping others. Her interest in this topic was first spurned during her career as a child welfare worker, a field of social work in which she directly observed how the high incidence of burnout and turnover seemed to impact the quality of care given to vulnerable children. Over time, with experience and study, she has become aware of how sophisticated the process of resilience is, and the many potential points at which a social worker’s resilience might be enhanced.
One of those potential points, organizational leadership and culture, steered her to take a position as Executive Director of Volunteer Families (a nonprofit, short-term foster care agency) as well as to participate in several evaluations of a variety of social work agencies in order to better understand organizational culture’s role in resiliency.
Another point at which professional resilience seems to be enhanced, supervision, became the topic of her dissertation titled, “Responding to the Child Welfare Workforce Crisis Here and Now: A Constructivist Approach to Understanding Supervision.”
Finally, it was yet another of those potential points, social work education and specifically field education, led her to seek the position of field coordinator at NMU. As a former field student and field instructor, Dr. Wyche has had the fortunate opportunity to experience and observe an unusually high number of those light-bulb moments, when theory, research and classroom education all finally start to make sense in a real world practice setting. It’s in those moments that it seems that sustainable passion is born in a learner and future practitioner.And so, Dr. Wyche has moved her family from the hot and humid South (where flurries cause traffic pile-ups) to the land of lake-effects here in Marquette, with every optimism that she will continue to witness many, many more light-bulb moments, and with hopes that her ongoing research will play some small role in promoting a healthier, happier, more committed and more effective social work workforce.