Back in 1993, the stars aligned for Dr. Glen Schmidt to become a founding faculty member at the University of Northern British Columbia when it opened in 1994.
A social work clinician, Dr. Schmidt had worked for the Manitoba government for more than 12 years and then took a position with the University of Manitoba Social Work Access Program in Thompson, Man.
One of his colleagues, Dr. Sid Frankel was teaching a course in Thompson at the time and mentioned to Dr. Schmidt that he knew the chair of UNBC’s School of Social Work and they were looking for someone with northern social work practice experience.
At the same time he heard a story on CBC Morningside radio about UNBC’s opening and it sounded like an interesting and exciting opportunity.
“At the time, Thompson didn’t have a university and my wife and I had begun to talk about possibly moving to a community with a university,” recalls Dr. Schmidt. “Our daughters were nine and 13 years-old and we were looking ahead to their needs. The prospect of working at Canada’s first new university in 25 years and the point our family life cycle seemed to suggest that a move made good sense.”
Dr. Schmidt and his family made the move west to Prince George.
After 24 years of service, research and teaching excellence at UNBC’s School of Social Work, Dr. Schmidt retired from UNBC in September 2018 and will be bestowed the title of Professor Emeritus at the University’s Convocation on May 31.
Associate Professor Dawn Hemingway, Chair of UNBC’s School of Social Work says Dr. Schmidt laid the groundwork for social work education in northern B.C., including developing the Field Education component and serving as UNBC first Director of Social Work Education.
“Arriving at UNBC already an experienced child welfare and mental health clinician and leader, Glen soon developed an international reputation as a scholar and educator in the areas of northern practice; child welfare policy and practice; supervision; and social work education,” she said.
“A stellar teacher, scholar and graduate student supervisor, Glen always supported and assisted faculty members and students alike. Whether sharing course materials with new faculty or inviting them to join a research initiative or assisting students with coursework, research or scholarship possibilities, Glen was there without question. He is truly exceptional and we’re so very glad he will remain part of the School of Social Work and the UNBC community.”
Dr. Schmidt says it was very satisfying to examine social work and social services issues that affect northern and remote communities in his research. His papers in that area of research received good attention at the national and international level.
“Having worked more than 12 years in northern practice, I’d like to think I bring a practitioners perspective to my research rather than a perspective that is strictly academic,” he said.
He admits was difficult juggling private practice with academic work, “however most of the courses I taught were practice-based courses and I thought it was important that I keep my hand in practice in order to be an effective teacher of practice.”
He used evenings and weekends to manage his private practice and only stopped it four years ago.
In the community, Dr. Schmidt sits on the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association and AimHi. Provincially, he is a member of the BC Association of Social Workers board, while at the national level he has served on the Commission on Accreditation for Schools of Social Work.