Faculty Spotlight: Yvonne Chase shares journey into Human Services

by Chynna Lockett  |   

Yvonne Chase smiling grey background

After serving a year as the President-elect of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Yvonne Chase is now president. In her role as president, she is a regular contributor to NASW’s Social Work Advocates magazine. She is also President of the Council for Standards in Human Service Education, an organization that accredits human service degree programs in colleges and universities. Dr. Chase shares some of her vibrant background in human services that led her to UAA.

Name: Yvonne Chase, PhD, MSW, LCSW

Title: Professor, Department Chair, Bachelor of Human Services Program Advisor

Unit: Department of Human Services

Hometown: Anchorage

Tell us about your job.

Department chairs handle a lot of logistics and try to keep things running smoothly. We do everything from scheduling courses to making sure faculty members can teach the courses in which they have the interest and expertise.

What do you love the most about your work? 

The Department of Human Services works as a team. Everyone gets along and pitches in to finish work, it’s a great group of professionals. It’s multidisciplinary in the sense that our faculty members represent a number of disciplines. Our backgrounds add to the richness of the students’ learning experience.

How do you contribute to student success?

As the advisor for the Bachelor of Human Services program, I think there are a couple of keys to success. As students are deciding about their major and trying to contact someone to answer questions, it’s important to get back to them in a timely manner. We have mostly non-traditional students in the human services programs. Our students often have full-time jobs and families. We try to schedule courses to meet their needs. 

What was your professional journey that led you to working at UAA? 

I came here with the intention of staying for a year to work in the state government. That was 40 years ago. In Alaska, I worked as the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services and later held the same role for the Department of Education and Early Development. I also worked as the ​​Director of the Division of Family and Youth Services and Director of the Division of Community and Rural Development.

While I was with the state government, I had an opportunity to travel quite a bit. I’ve been to a number of small communities. It gave me an understanding of the difficulties facing students in small communities, like not having the Internet bandwidth to look at a video as part of an assignment. It also gave me an appreciation for living without items that some consider necessities, like running water. Alaska is a very multicultural state, with more than 100 first languages spoken in the Anchorage School District. Working with education in my state role gave me an understanding of the richness of cultural diversity in Alaska and I want to see that as an integral part of the curriculum in Human Services.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I still don’t know what I want to be! I started out as a French major and switched to sociology. My first job out of college was working at a child protection agency in Chicago. As I became interested in child welfare, I realized I needed more training to help the families in crisis that were part of my caseload. That is when I decided to pursue a master’s in social work.

What is your favorite Alaska activity?

My husband and I have been members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary for almost 40 years. As volunteers, we did search and rescue on Alaska’s waters, and still love being on the water.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is one by James Baldwin, a now deceased African American author. He wrote about poverty and the issues of discrimination and racism. He said:

“These are all our children. We will profit by, or pay for, whatever they become.” 

I like to share quotes with my students to keep them motivated, but I see this quote as a reminder of our responsibility as educators.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I love to read mysteries and I have belonged to a book club for 20 years. We read an interesting mix of books, and I’ve read several books that I would have never known about without the book club.

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