Vickii Coffey, Ph.D.
Department of Social Work
What I enjoy most about teaching at GSU is the diversity of the students and the wealth of work and life experiences they bring into each class. Reciprocally, my students enrich my teaching as we embark upon a wonderful shared experience of collaborative and independent learning. My enjoyment of teaching is also rooted in the people and spaces at GSU. I am inspired by the eco-friendly and intimate environment of the campus. The sculpture park and surrounding green space inspire creativity and provide the perfect landscape for promoting engagement between students, faculty and staff. In addition, I enjoy the ongoing mentorship and support of faculty in the social work department. My peers have encouraged me to innovate and think out-of-the-box in ways that have positively impacted my students’ learning experience.
I began my academic career at Governors State University in 2013 and I have served in multiple teaching roles, including Lecturer, Instructor and currently as Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work. My educational background is interdisciplinary. I earned a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago, School of Social Services Administration and a Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I teach a diverse range of core graduate and undergraduate social work courses with a primary emphasis on social justice and social policy.
Prior to my career in academia, I worked as an Executive Director (E.D.) for several domestic violence and human service agencies. As an E.D., I served on local and national advisory councils that developed and implemented social policy and safety initiatives to intervene on and stop violence against women. I am most proud of my past multiple term appointments to the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women (U.S. Department of Justice) and the U.S. Department of Defense Taskforce on Domestic Violence. I have continued my policy service, volunteering for local domestic violence and community reentry programs and initiatives.
My distinct research interests are: mass incarceration, reentry, violence against women, and the intersections of race, class and gender across each of these spectrums. My dissertation titled “Beyond Transitional Work and Low Wages,” explored the management-level work experiences of formerly incarcerated African Americans. In recent years, my research focus has expanded to include inquiry on cancer health disparities with populations of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.
In 2014, I became an Early Stage Investigator (ESI) with the GUIDE Project, a National Institute of Health funded cancer research, training and mentorship collaboration between Governors State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. As an ESI, I am assisting in the development and design of a mobile device animation video that will promote genetic counseling as a breast cancer intervention tool. Inspired by my role with the GUIDE, I was awarded a 2018-19 GSU-University Research Grant to conduct an investigation titled, Exploring Cancer Health Disparities among Formerly Incarcerated African American Men and Women, a qualitative, pilot study on reentry and cancer health care disparities.
My past professional and life experiences have taught me that every person has the capacity to influence and make positive social change. Through teaching, research, and community service, I want to inspire and motivate my students to improve the quality of life. To accomplish this goal, I work to provide an engaged learning experience that encourages students to actively pursue knowledge that will challenge and address societal inequities. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
Link to CV