Cheryl Williams-Hecksel awarded Distinguished Academic Staff Award for 2021

February 3, 2021

Cheryl Williams-HeckselThe MSU School of Social Work is thrilled to announce that Cheryl Williams-Hecksel, Senior Clinical Instructor in the School since 2003, has been awarded the Michigan State University Distinguished Academic Staff Award for 2021. 

Ms. Williams-Hecksel’s contributions are exemplary in the areas of advising, curriculum development, outreach, engagement, and teaching. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of several training initiatives that have ensured that Michigan social service agencies, and the social work students who train at those agencies, are highly skilled in the treatment of trauma. She is also part of national learning collaboratives around implementing trauma informed curriculum and practices. She provides consultation with field agencies around their capacity to be evidence-based and trauma-informed.

A recent accomplishment of Cheryl’s has contributed to clinical excellence in the treatment of survivors of sexual assault. She has worked tirelessly to expand one of our most important offerings, the Evidence-Based Trauma Treatment Certificate (EBTT), into treatment of adult survivors of sexual assault. This certificate previously focused solely on trauma in children. The EBTT certificate provides MSW students with specialized coursework, training in an evidence-based practice model, and a specialized field placement with a field instructor who has experience implementing this model. This is one of our more highly enrolled certificates with close to 200 students completing it since its inception in 2011. 

Cheryl also represents MSU on the staff of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) where she co-leads the University Partnerships team and supports Schools of Social Work and public and tribal child welfare agencies from across the country in developing innovations around preparing social workers for careers in child welfare.

Dr. Anne Hughes, Director of the School, said, “Cheryl is an extraordinary leader, colleague, teacher, and advocate who epitomizes the values we hold dear in social work. Through her long-term contributions to the University, the State of Michigan, and the country, she shares the vision of excellence at Michigan State University with all she encounters. She is a superb ambassador for our land grant mission.

Throughout her career at MSU, Cheryl has provided exceptional contributions and is a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Academic Staff Award.”

Cheryl is often called on to share her expertise in trauma through continuing education offerings. She has developed and delivered many trainings for social workers across the state, always with excellent ratings. She is highly sought after as a professional trainer and is also a revered teacher. Cheryl consistently receives high student ratings, evidenced by SIRS scores above the average, and students who request her courses again and again. She is regularly cited as one of the reasons students remain in social work and pursue graduate degrees in social work.

Julie Navarre, Director of Field Education stated, “Ms. Williams-Hecksel has been instrumental as a member of the School of Social Work’s Field Team. Her entrepreneurial spirit and creativity are invaluable to our field education models, policies, and procedures. Her career demonstrates long-term excellence and exceptional contributions to MSU and beyond that improves the well-being of diverse and vulnerable individuals, families, organizations, and communities.” 

Upon learning of the award, Ms. Williams-Hecksel said, “I am so honored to be nominated by my colleagues at the School of Social Work and recognized by the University.  Working at the School of Social Work has been the highlight of my career and I appreciate that I have had the opportunity to contribute to the important work of our students, graduates, and community agencies.”