Melissa McCollister Headshot

Psychology, Sociology & Social Work

Melissa McCollister

Assistant Professor of Social Work


PhD Capella University
MSW University of Akron


Dr. Melissa McCollister joined Mount Mercy in 2021 to teach Basic Helping Skills, Social Work Practice I, Grant-Writing, and Foundation Field.

Before arriving on the Hill, Dr. McCollister earned her doctorate degree for human service and non-profit management at Capella University, School of Public Service Leadership, and her master’s and bachelor’s for social work at the University of Akron

Dr. McCollister’s instructing background includes being an assistant professor at Indiana State University’s department of social work to a teaching assistant in Canton City Schools’ Shipley Day Treatment Program. She has worked at the Pride Center of Terre Haute (LGBTQ+) as an executive director, been a youth leader at Multi-County Juvenile Attention System, and has been a youth coordinator at Akron Area Pride Collective (LGBTQ+).

Furthermore, Dr. McCollister is certified in motivational interviewing from the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and received certification from Dr. David Caruso from Yale University for administering and interpreting the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test assessment. During the 2014-15 academic year, she served as Treasurer for the Child & Family Leadership Exchange XX in Summit County, Ohio. Her research included studying emotional intelligence rates among both metro and non-metro public child welfare workers in the state of Ohio and their intent to stay or leave the profession. The intent of the research was to provide a better understanding of retention issues in public child welfare work. As a result of her research, she has been asked to be a keynote speaker numerous times and become widely known as an expert in the field of the importance of using emotional intelligence in social work practice.

As a highly experienced educator that has spent over 18 years teaching macro practice social work in academia, Dr. McCollister has had the pleasure of working with thousands of students from both metro and non-metro areas throughout Ohio and Indiana in a variety of educational settings and field placement practicum experiences. Her goal has always been to mentor students in finding a personal and professional balance for their passion and to help them to become strong vessels through practicing self-care and emotional wellness. She elevates and inspires students to become racial and social justice leaders that will be ready to influence the future of social work and policy towards a more justice-oriented society.

Dr. McCollister is skilled in the macro practice areas of community capacity building, grant-writing, fund-raising, research, policy advocacy, and program evaluation. She has been recognized numerous times with awards regarding her dedication and commitment to community capacity, including the 2020 for the Community Engagement Award - Level 1, from Indiana State University, College of Health and Human Services. Other notable awards include: the 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Alumni Award from The University of Akron, School of Social Work; the 2011 Outstanding and Distinguished Member of The University of Akron Faculty/Staff Award; and the 2004 Ohio Chapter, Region II, National Association of Social Workers, Master of Social Work, Student of the Year Award. In 2022, she is the Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for the NAACP in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Her primary social work practice and research interest areas include LGBTQ+ advocacy, racial and social justice initiatives, emotional intelligence, and trauma-informed practice. She is a passionate activist for building antiracist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural communities and often volunteers in her local area. Dr. McCollister’s teaching philosophy follows a critical pedagogy based on transformational philosophers such as bell hooks and Paulo Freire. She enjoys her leisure time singing and playing guitar, attending museums, watching numerous sports, soaking up nature's beauty and spending as much time as she can with her family, friends, and fur babies.