Michelle Carney, a professor in the School of Social Work, prepares her students for leadership roles in nonprofit organizations that advance the well-being of individuals and communities.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from The Ohio State University, a Master of Science degree in social administration from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in social work from The Ohio State University. I am currently a professor in the School of Social Work and the director of the Institute for Nonprofit Organizations at UGA.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in 2004 to join the School of Social Work, but I was lured here by the Institute for Nonprofit Organizations and the ability to teach in the degree and certificate programs.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I love to teach in the nonprofit program. My favorite courses are grant writing and program evaluation. It is amazing to watch students embrace content they originally feared and by the end of the semester see their confidence in their skills grow as they consult with real nonprofit organizations to develop grants and evaluation proposals.
What interests you about your field?
I love that social work is such a wide-ranging field.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Becoming the director of the Institute for Nonprofit Organizations is certainly a highlight. I also was chosen by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach to be a Public Service and Outreach Fellow. I was able to spend a semester working with the Archway Partnership in various Georgia counties mapping community assets.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I use my experience in nonprofit management and my expertise with social work interventions for criminal populations—particularly in evaluating aspects of social work intervention services for male and female batterers—to bring reality into the classroom. I also involve students in research and in doing so learn from them as we work to improve social work agencies and programs.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
The ability to think critically and the skills to become leaders in the nonprofit sector.
Describe your ideal student.
I love overachieving students who are excited about learning and want their graduate education experience to prepare them as fully as possible for work in the social sector. My ideal student will push me to extend my knowledge so that I can better prepare all my students.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
Watch my daughter dive at the Ramsey Student Center for Physical Activities. The facilities are so amazing!
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Walk down East Clayton Street during the holidays when the trees are lit with small, white lights.
Community/civic involvement includes….
I work with dozens of nonprofit organizations to increase their organizational capacity.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
My favorite movie is “Moonstruck,” because I am a romantic.
Proudest moment at UGA?
I have my proudest moment three times a year when we graduate our Master of Arts in nonprofit management students. We require a colloquium presentation as part of our capstone requirements, where students feature their major work in their internships. I am always so proud and impressed with what my students are able to accomplish during their time at UGA.
Originally published Jan. 12, 2014