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November 10, 2017

Faculty Spotlight: David Skiff, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work; Chair, Department of Social Work

David Skiff, Ph.D.

Professor of Social Work; Chair, Department of Social Work
Dean, School of Education and Social Work



  • Roberts Wesleyan College | B.S.W.
  • Asbury Theological Seminary | M.Div.
  • University of Kentucky | L.M.S.W.
  • University of Rochester | Ph.D. | Counseling and Human Development


What is your favorite campus tradition at Roberts?

I have several. One of my favorite traditions, that we do in the Bachelor of Social Work program, is our Application to the Major Meetings. It allows us to spend one-on-one time with each student to help them prepare for job interviews and to learn about their field placement and career interests. My favorite question that we ask them during that time is: “If there was something we could be praying about on your behalf, what would that be?” That gives us a chance to communicate to all the students that we care about not only their academic journey but also their spiritual journey. The other tradition that I enjoy is the Senior pizza party at the end of the year to celebrate our senior graduates – we always take a group photo while we’re all jumping up in the air to commemorate the completion of the Social Work program here at Roberts.

Is there anything new and exciting happening in your department?

A ton of new things are happening in our department. First, we are continuing the building of our nontraditional Bachelor of Social Work program in Brooklyn with the Orthodox Jewish community. Our first cohort is now in their third semester and doing incredibly well. We anticipate the first graduates of that program in December 2018. We are also using that same model to launch a degree-completion program here in Rochester for non-traditional students in the fall of 2018. Finally, we are in the exploratory phase of re-envisioning what is next for the Masters of Social Work program as well.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at Roberts?

I really enjoy facilitating interaction with students in my classes. I do not like to lecture straight out of the book, word for word. I integrate a lot of opportunities for students to engage their critical thinking skills and give them real-life case examples. Every year, we do an emergency room trauma simulation lab. We have a lot of fun creating those scenarios which are based on real-life, specifically case studies that come out of our private practice world work.

What has been the highlight of your career?

I would say supporting and encouraging students, faculty, and staff to be hilariously free to use their gifts and abilities wherever God calls them to go. We encourage them to embrace opportunities for transformative experiences, whether locally, nationally, or internationally.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel with Dr. Sousa and 40 Roberts Wesleyan students with, and it was a phenomenal trip! I was able to baptize six students in the Jordan River, preach a couple mini-sermons on the Mount of Beatitudes (on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee) and Mount Precipice (just outside Nazareth) and lead a communion service at the Garden Tomb (in Jerusalem). We all had the opportunity to hear incredible speakers at each stop on our journey throughout the land of Israel and to build new relationships with the students. Another highlight of the trip was having time to swim in the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. We also spent a remarkable time in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, hiking in Hezekiah’s tunnel, and having quiet time in the Garden of Gethsemane. The trip was such an amazing experience. We are hoping to make it an annual trip for more students to experience in the future.

Student Insight:

Sarah Wallace B.S.W ’17, M.S.W ’18

As an advisor, Dr. Skiff tries to provide the best opportunities for all of his students. He is very understanding of the work load and makes sure we are well-prepared to meet assignment deadlines. His efforts have also allowed me the opportunity to take part in research funded by the Berry Fund Scholarship I received from Roberts. This scholarship made it possible for me to continue my education and follow my dream of receiving my Masters of Social Work.

I am thankful for my Social Work classes because they have made me a more competent student and I feel more than ready to join the field of Social Work. Our professors take the time to get to know us because they really care about us becoming good social workers. They know what it takes to be an excellent social worker because they themselves are excellent social workers.


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