Don Schweitzer, PhD, LMSW

Bachelor of Social Work Program Director
UC Box 

Areas of Research & Specialization

I am an associate professor of Social Work at Pacific University. For much of my practice career and the early part of my research, I worked with people experiencing homelessness, both adults and youth. My current research focuses on understanding how young people become disconnected from community. I believe that current policy and treatment responses frequently exacerbate the problems of these young people and become obstacles to genuine care. As a result, many young people have few options beyond high-risk living and working arrangements. My research goals are to conduct participatory research that partners with young people in an effort to help shape innovative policies, treatment models, services and service evaluation.


PhD in Social Work and Social Research, Portland State University, Portland, Ore., in 2011

Master of Arts in Social Work, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, in 2005

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho, in 2004

Why I Study Social Work

Since beginning my work in social services, I have always wanted to study and acquire the skills of social work. At the bachelor’s level, social work taught me the skills I needed to work with at-risk populations such as individuals experiencing homelessness and other marginalized groups. At the master’s level, social work taught me skills to work with individuals suffering from severe mental health challenges and those struggling with addiction. At the doctoral level, social work helped me understand to effectively evaluate the interventions our profession employs. Moreover, I am extremely proud of the history of social work and the professions commitment to human rights and social justice.

What I Would Tell a Student Considering Social Work

Social work is an exciting field that offers many occupations working with a variety of populations. Do you think you might want to work with the homeless or with at-risk youth? Perhaps you’ve thought about working with women being released from prison, helping them transition back into our communities, or with the elderly? Maybe you’d like to work in a hospital assisting patience access services in the community. These are just a few examples of the type of work social workers do. However, while social work is an exciting, diverse profession with a long history of facilitating real change in our communities, I would encourage students to visit with one of the social work professors as well as any social workers they may know in the field and ask them more. We’d be happy to sit down and talk with you.

Professional Affiliations

Board member, Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon

Member, American Evaluation Association

Member, Oregon Program Evaluators Network

Published Works

Nelson, K., Walters, B., Schweitzer, D., Blythe, B., & Pecora, P. (2008). A ten-year review of family preservation research: Building the evidence base. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs. Available online at

Cahn, K., Schweitzer, D., Jamieson, A., & Slevin, H. (2009). Stronger youth and smarter communities: An analysis of Oregon’s investment in runaway and homeless youth programs. Portland, OR: Portland State University.

Schweitzer, D. (2011). Runaway and homeless youth: Changing the discourse by legitimizing youth voice. Dissertation. Portland State University.

Nelson, K. & Schweitzer, D. (2012). What works in family preservation services. In P.A. Curtis & G. Alexander (Eds.), What works in child welfare. Child Welfare League of America.

Schweitzer, D. (2012). Running on empty: Service and citizens stretched to the limit. Report. Hillsboro, OR. Washington County Anti-poverty Workgroup.

Schweitzer, D., Helmer, C., Lee, L., Linderman, M., Moore, D., & Schweigeraht, C. (2013). Asking for directions: Partnering with youth to build the evidence base for runaway and homeless youth. Report. Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR.

Schweitzer, D., Chianello, T. & Korthari, B. (2013). Compensation in social work: Critical for satisfaction and a sustainable profession. Administration in Social Work, 37, p. 147-157.

Schweitzer, D., Pecora, P.J., Nelson, K.E., Walters, B., & Blythe, B.J. (2015). Building the evidence base for intensive family preservation services. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 9(5), p. 423-443.

Select Presentations

June, 2014: Invited Plenary Speaker, Saffron Strand, 5th Annual Conference: Let’s Get Serious: Skills, Jobs, Careers as Paths Out of Homelessness and Poverty, Richmond, CA.

August, 2013: National Pathways to Adulthood: A Convening on Youth in Transition;

Doerfler, M., & Schweitzer, D. Punks, Delinquents & Drop-Outs: The Effects of Societal Views of Youth on Youth Work; Baltimore, MD

June, 2013: Invited Plenary Speaker, Saffron Strand, 4th Annual Conference: Developing the Homeless Workforce: What Will it Take; Richmond, CA

November, 2012: National Runaway and Homeless Youth FYSB Grantee Conference; Changing the Discourse of Youth Services by Legitimizing Youth Voice; Indianapolis, IN

April, 2012: 24th National Symposium on Doctoral Research in Social Work; Runaway and Homeless Youth: Changing the Discourse by Legitimizing Youth Voice; Columbus, OH

March, 2012: The Association of Bachelorette Social Work Program Directors (BPD) Annual Conference; Ritter, J., & Schweitzer, D.: Comparing Two Pedagogical Approaches in a Macro Social Work Course; Portland, OR

June, 2011: Innovations in Community, Organizational & Policy Practice Conference; Charpentier-Philippi, E. & Schweitzer, D.: A Place to Connect: Understanding the Impact and Influences of Biophilia; Portland, OR

March, 2010: Social Work Doctoral Student Symposium; Presented dissertation project, participatory action research methods with homeless youth. Houston, TX

April, 2009: Oregon Coalition on Housing & Homelessness; Workshop exploring the myths surrounding program evaluation and provided tools for programs to develop their own performance standards. Hood River, OR

November, 2008: Presentation: Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantee Conference; Communities Empowering Youth – State Capacity Building; St. Louis, MO

Honor & Awards

·      2016: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Leadership Academy

·      2014: Elise Elliot Grant, Study Abroad 2.0

·      2013: Pacific Research Institute for Science and Mathematics (PRISM) grant

·      2013: Faculty Development Grant, Meaningful Youth Participation

·      2012: NIH (R25) Building Careers for Research in Child Maltreatment and Intimate Partner Violence: Early Career Scholar Interdisciplinary Training Program 

·      2011: Pacific Research Institute for Science and Mathematics (PRISM) grant

·      2010: Pacific Research Institute for Science and Mathematics (PRISM) grant

·      2010: Faculty Development Grant, Increasing Civic Engagement Skills of Students


Boats in the sunset

BSW program director Don Schweitzer led twenty-one students from a variety of majors to Trinidad, one of the southernmost islands of the Caribbean.

Held April 28, the CCE's annual Community Collaboration Celebration honored the contributions of students, faculty, staff and local partners over the past year.

Sporting elaborate tattoos on his arms, a pair of studded earrings and faded jeans and shirt, Don Schweitzer doesn’t appear to be a college professor who has just won a prestigious grant.