Vicky Buchan, professor emerita in the CSU School of Social Work, has been supporting students throughout her 30-year career. Now, she is taking that support a step further with the creation of a scholarship specifically to assist students who are pursuing a Ph.D.
Buchan started teaching at Colorado State University in 1987 when she heard that the School of Social Work (then a department) was developing a master’s program. Hoping to work with the budding program, Buchan became an assistant professor in the department and has maintained a faculty position for the last three decades.
Love of working with students
Before coming to CSU, Buchan received her Master of Social Work and her doctorate from the University of Denver. She has more than 14 years of experience in the field, primarily in medical social work. During that time, she worked with many students who were participating in field experiences and internships. She loved working with the students and decided that she wanted to teach.
When Buchan started teaching at CSU, she was asked to cover statistics and research methods and continued teaching the majority of research courses for graduate students throughout the ’90s and early 2000s. Buchan found a passion for instilling in students an understanding of the need for research in social work, as well as the feeling of accomplishment from incorporating research results into practice.
Her job as a professor is a unique and enjoyable one for Buchan. “You can stay in your field and yet do something completely different in your career,” she explained. “As a professor, students keep you young and you learn from them while you teach them. The students helped me keep up with the practice innovations. It’s been an honor to teach at the University.”
Social Work doctoral program
Buchan has worked tirelessly in the development of the Ph.D. program for the School of Social Work. In the late ’90s, Buchan joined with several faculty members, including Victor Baez, Brad Sheafor, Ben Granger, and Deb Valentine, to begin development of the program. It took three versions and several years of effort, but in 2003, the School of Social Work introduced an interdepartmental Ph.D. in conjunction with the School of Education, and in 2011, the School of Social Work Ph.D. program was approved and Buchan became the first director of the program.
Occupational health research
Buchan also led a successful research program as a faculty member in the school. Buchan loves interdisciplinary work, and as a researcher she has been awarded many grants and contracts to provide research and evaluation to human services organizations. She recalls that it was especially enjoyable to work together on a grant with her late husband, Roy Buchan, who was a faculty member in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences in CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
In 1991, she co-wrote a grant establishing The High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at CSU. The center has been funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for 27 years and includes researchers from multiple colleges, disciplines and external organizations. The mission is to provide research, intervention, and translation education to reduce occupational injuries and disease in Public Health Service Region 8 for those employed in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The High Plains grant has brought millions of dollars in research funds into the university.
Buchan has served a vital role in the School of Social Work in the service realm as well. She has served on many college and university committees. She served as academic adviser on 86 Master of Social Work committees representing more than 250 students, and she has also served as co-adviser on eight interdisciplinary Ph.D.s, adviser on three Social Work doctoral committees, and is currently chairing five Social Work Ph.D. committees.
Buchan’s scholarship will focus on providing assistance to both part-time and full-time students seeking their doctorate in social work. The scholarship is the counterpart to a scholarship in Roy Buchan’s memory, the James D. DeField and Roy Buchan Memorial Scholarship, which funds College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students who are part of the Industrial Hygiene graduate program.
“All students need support,” said Buchan. “My husband and I were lucky to get support in our own education, and we felt strongly that we wanted to give back to other students. However, we wanted to focus on graduate students because they are usually making life changes and supporting families. We hope to provide support for that process.”
The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.