Anna Scheyett, PhD, LCSW, is currently the Dean of the University of Georgia School of Social Work where she leads a diverse faculty committed to preparing students to engage in culturally responsive practice to promote social justice. In a career that has spanned over 30 years, she has distinguished herself as a scholar and advocate in the areas of adults with severe mental illness, mental illness and the legal system, assertive community treatment, case management services, consumer rights, mental health policy, and policy and practices related to systems moving to managed behavioral health care.
Scheyett began her career in 1986 working with vulnerable populations, first in Massachusetts and then in North Carolina where she developed new community-based services and training programs. She is recognized for her leadership in developing innovative case management services for individuals with mental illness. Early in her career Scheyett established and led the Behavioral Healthcare Resource Program at the University of North Carolina. This innovative program provided training, technical assistance, and consultation to the North Carolina Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, as well other organizations. It continues to provide training and technical assistance nearly two decades later.
As a social work administrator, Scheyett is a recognized leader in the development of curriculums that integrate and emphasize social justice strategies to help prepare tomorrow’s social work practitioners to address inequity and improve the human condition. She has been recognized for reaching across the university and community to build collaborative relationships that advance interdisciplinary practice that support enduring change.
In 2000, Scheyett joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Social Work where she served as a Clinical Associate Professor and then Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. During her tenure at UNC, she led some 13 funded projects focusing on important issues such as using technology in the classroom, training for practitioners under health care reform, identifying and reducing HIV risks for incarcerated women, and evaluating the impact of human rights and consumer and family advisory committees on hospital discharge processes. She also taught on topics of severe mental illness, the legal system, and consumers and mental health policies.
Scheyett demonstrated continued commitment to excellence in social work education as evidenced by leading a complete revision of the UNC MSW curriculum leaning toward a focus on greater integration of micro and macro, which allowed greater flexibility in practice electives for MSW students. She also facilitated a successful reaccreditation process which highlighted the changes integrating practice options for students. An important component of the curriculum and reaccreditation process was the development of protocols for ensuring the full integration of non-tenure track faculty into the curriculum and life of the school. Her leadership and support in this effort continues to have lasting impact on the UNC School of Social Work and the quality of the students graduating from the program. During this time, Scheyett also led the development of multiple grant efforts focusing on reducing STD/HIV risk among women prisoners and improving mental health care for students on campus. These grants totaled more than $1.6 million.
In 2011, Scheyett was appointed as the Dean of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina where she was instrumental in rapidly expanding financial support and creating new research interdisciplinary partnerships across the university and with public and private community agencies. During this time, licensure pass rates for the college rose by nearly 40 percent, research expenditures and peer-reviewed publications increased dramatically, and the college exceeded a $4 million fundraising goal and established seven endowed scholarships.
Shortly after assuming the position of dean, Scheyett worked with faculty to revise the MSW curriculum and again led a successful reaccreditation process based on those revisions. She continued to champion the integration of non-tenure and part-time faculty, developing policies and training programs to ensure high quality education across the programs. In addition, she demonstrated ongoing leadership across the University and the state serving as one of the leading advocates for interprofessional education through her role as Dean Liaison for the Universities Interprofessional Health Education Initiative. Scheyett also has been recognized for her skill and success in building strong and enduring partnerships with state and community-based agencies including the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Corrections, and the United Way. During this time she also delivered a TED Talk titled Social Workers as Super-Heroes which has been viewed almost 430,000 times since 2015.
In 2016, Scheyett was appointed as the Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia (UGA). Immediately after joining UGA’s faculty, she worked with faculty to prioritize and strengthen the school’s programs to better meet the challenges of the 21st century, expanding interdisciplinary opportunities, increasing research activity, promoting diversity, fostering meaningful community collaborations, and grounding all in a fundamental focus on social and economic justice. She led the development and launch of UGA’s online MSW, undergraduate social work minor, and online certificate in nonprofit management and leadership. Committed to communication and connection with stakeholders—she also founded two new annual School magazines: Wanted: Social Justice and Research Review.
With her support, the University of Georgia School of Social Work founded a student-led Social Justice Symposium. This annual event is done in collaboration with the community and explores issues of social justice that impact Athens and surrounding communities. Her leadership as Dean is responsible for raising the School of Social Works U.S. News and World Report rankings from 38 to 22 in two years.
Scheyett continues to contribute to the field through her scholarship and mentoring of faculty. Even with the heavy administrative and leadership demands in her role as Dean at USC and UGA, she continues to publish and present at national conferences. Most recently, she presented on an innovative project exploring the intersection of mental health and rurality focusing on farmer mental health based on a unique collaboration with the UGA Agricultural Extension Services. She also has worked to expand the role of social work internationally with her presentation "What is Social Work" for the Japanese Association of Social Workers.
Scheyett has more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, 11 book chapters, and 73 refereed presentations and posters. She also has authored or co-authored 25 government or foundation reports. Google scholar shows that she has had more than 1,400 citations with an h-index of 24.
During the course of her career, Scheyett has demonstrated a commitment to community-based collaborative scholarship, excellence in social work education, and has served as a mentor to countless students and young faculty, sharing her experience, her values, and her commitment to social justice as the foundation of social work practice.
Originally from Maryland, Scheyett received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Dickinson College (1980), her Masters Degree in Science from the Yale University Department of Human Genetics (1982), her Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1989), and her PhD in Social Work from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2007). Her work and personal life also have intersected in ways that have led to unique and pioneering efforts. She has raised two daughters, one of whom now has her MSW and the other one is a horticulturalist who is collaborating with her on the uncharted area of suicide and stress among farmers. Building on the example of her parents, who were physical therapists and involved in sports medicine, Scheyett helped to found the Alliance of Social Work and Sports which looks at youth sports as a form of social work intervention. This group also looks at athletes who are often vulnerable and can be exploited.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Scheyett has served in numerous leadership roles, including serving as a member of the North Carolina and national boards of NASW, has held multiple positions on the Board of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, and is currently on the Board of the St. Louis Group for Social Work Research. More recently she has been invited to speak on social work to international audiences in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.
She is the recipient of a number of honors and awards including:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness and Eli Lilly Foundation’s “Heroes in the Fight” Award
- Social Worker of the Year Award, National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter
- President’s Award, South Carolina Action Council for Cross-Cultural Mental Health and Human Services, Inc.
- Most Creative and Innovative Teaching Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work
- Ambassador of Service Award, University of South Carolina
- Council on Social Work Education Mentor Recognition Honoree
Scheyett edited the book “Making the transition to managed behavioral health care: A guide for practitioners and agencies” and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters. She is Editor-in-Chief for Social Work, a consulting editor for Social Work Research and the Journal of Social Work Education and contributes as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals.
- Scheyett, A., Bayakla, R., Whitaker, M. (2019). Characteristics and contextual stressors in farmer and agricultural work suicides, Georgia, 2008-2015. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 43,61-72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rmh0000114
- Crawford, K. & Scheyett, A. (2020). The death penalty for persons with serious mental illnesses. In L. Ricciardelli (Ed.) Social work, criminal justice, & the death penalty: A social justice perspective. NY: Oxford University Press.
- Rubin, M, Konrad, S., Nimmagadda, J., Scheyett, A., & Dunn, K. (2017). Social work and interprofessional education: Integration, intersectionality, and institutional leadership. Social Work Education. DOI 10.1080/02615479.2017.1363174
- Pettus-Davis, C., Howard, M., Dunnigan, A., Scheyett, A., & Roberts-Lewis, A. (2015). Using randomized controlled trials to evaluate social support interventions for prisoners and their loved ones: Challenges and recommendations. Research on Social Work Practice, Online First. DOI: 10.1177/104973151557920
- Scheyett, A., Pettus-Davis, C., McCarter, S., Brigham, R. (2012). Social work and criminal justice: Are we meeting in the field? Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 32, 438-450. DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2012.705241
- Scheyett, A., & Drinnin, E. (2004). Community practice in adult health and mental health care. In M. Weil (Ed.), The handbook of community practice (pp. 418-441). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Scheyett, A., (Ed.) (1997). Making the transition to managed behavioral health care: A guide for practitioners and agencies. Milwaukee, WI: Families International, Inc.