Dr. Donna Washburn: Behavioral Sciences Department Chair and Associate Professor of Social Work
October 9, 2011
Dr. Donna Washburn, PhD, LCSW, is a 1998 graduate of Evangel University’s Social Work program. She went on to receive her master’s degree in Social Work from Missouri State University and her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent in 2015. She began teaching upper level social work courses at Evangel in 2000. Washburn was named chair of Evangel’s Behavioral Sciences Department in the summer of 2009.
Her husband, Bruce, is a police officer. Together they have three young children. The Washburns attend Evangel Temple Assembly of God in Springfield, where they are very involved. Donna Washburn teaches Sunday School, sits on a panel addressing mental health issues, and consults with church staff regarding child safety and security issues. She also serves as a consultant to agencies in Springfield, conducting training on a variety of mental health topics. She was recently commissioned by the governor to serve on the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board.
You are an alumna of Evangel’s Social Work Program. Did you ever imagine yourself coming back to Evangel to teach, let alone be named chair of the Behavioral Sciences Department?
Be careful what you wish for! When I graduated from Evangel, someone asked me what lifelong goals I had. At that time I stated I would like to finish my graduate degree, work as a therapist for many years in the field, and end my career as a professor. God took my dreams and allowed them to come true within 10 years! He has taken my two professional passions, teaching and helping others, and placed me in an ideal profession. Teaching and mentoring students fits perfectly with my strengths.
Where did your career journey take you prior to coming back to teach at Evangel?
After graduating with my bachelors and masters degrees, I worked in several different agencies in the Springfield area. I began working in a local middle school as a school social worker. From there I moved to Lakeland Regional Hospital, a psychiatric hospital for children, as a case manager. This experience was invaluable as I worked with children struggling with mental health issues all across the spectrum. Additionally, I learned about the family dynamics involved with troubled children, and that often the child is simply a symptom of the dysfunction of the entire family. Following this experience, I moved to my most fulfilling professional experience outside of my current position. I was hired by Boys and Girls Town of Missouri as a therapist and social worker for troubled teens. This residential facility treats children struggling with issues of abuse and neglect, substance abuse and violent behaviors. Here I was able to grow in my clinical skills by conducting individual, group and family therapies. While I was thriving in my position, I also enjoyed conducting agency in-service trainings. This is when I began to consider teaching. It was then I applied to teach adjunct at Evangel.
What do you think sets the Evangel University Behavioral Sciences Department apart from similar programs at other universities?
I truly believe it is the combination of faith and faculty. Integration of faith in the field of Behavioral Sciences is crucial as it involves the complexity of the human condition. Without the Lord’s guidance and discernment, practitioners are at a great loss. Faculty do an outstanding job in teaching students how to integrate the power and knowledge of the Spirit into their specific careers. Additionally, our faculty deeply care about our students. Open door policies, mentoring and smaller class sizes all contribute to a very personal educational experience.
What are some of the exciting things happening in your department right now?
What isn’t exciting in the department? Our Psychology program continues to promote students’ research at national conferences and is taking students for the 3rd year to Kenya to work with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder victims. Our Social Work program has taken on the global crisis of human trafficking, and will offer students many opportunities to get involved and impact this issue. Lastly, our Criminal Justice Program will be traveling across the country to participate and compete in the national conference for Criminal Justice Associations.
What is your favorite course to teach?
Honestly, I really enjoy teaching all of the courses I tackle. My professional background and primary teaching assignment is to the Social Work Program. I love working with our students as they learn the fundamentals and advanced skills in the field. Helping them discover the passion of fighting for social justice, or honing their clinical skills applies to all of the courses I teach.
What do you enjoy most about working with Evangel University students?
Their youth, fresh perspective and drive for the calling God has given them. Even in the challenging times, EU students are open to mentoring and allowing God to work in their lives. When you combine this with their thirst for learning, it becomes a humbling opportunity to speak into their lives.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Come visit us and see what we are all about. The career possibilities that flow out of our majors are almost endless. From traditional helping careers such as counseling, social work and law-enforcement, to international work and careers in government, our alumni have spread across the globe and are impacting the world.