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Kate McClernon Chaffin

Kate Chaffin

Kate McClernon Chaffin, MSSW, LAPSW

Director, Online MSSW Program and
Associate Professor of Practice


  • BS Tennessee Technological University
  • MSSW University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Research Interests:

Currently lies within best practices in online teaching.

Courses Taught:

  • Social Work and Social Welfare Policies and Programs (SW 510)
  • Introduction to Macro Social Work Practice (SW 512)
  • Social Work Research (SW 519)
  • Introduction to Direct Social Work Practice (SW 522)
  • Neurophysiology for Social Work Practice (SW 528)
  • Leadership Skills and Knowledge for Advanced Social Work Practice (SW 539)
  • Evidence-based Policy and Practice with Children and Adolescents(SW 571)
  • Neurophysiology in Social Work (SW 593)
  • Social Work Pedagogy in Online Environments (SW 676)

Biographical Statement:

After receiving her MSSW from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2004, Professor Chaffin gradually moved into the role of Clinical Director at the Davidson County Mental Health Court. The purpose of this court was to assist criminal defendants with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness, Addictions, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Intellectual Disabilities successfully navigate the court system and get their lives on the right track. In addition to her time with the Court, Professor Chaffin also served as adjunct faculty with Tennessee Technological University teaching courses in criminal justice, sociology, and social work. She also served as a child therapist for children and adolescents suffering with autism, anxiety and depression.

In 2008, Professor Chaffin joined the College of Social Work in order to develop the Online MSSW program. This online program is nationally ranked and she is recognized as a leader in online education. She serves as director of the Online MSSW program. An individualized approach to students is a huge part of Professor Chaffin’s success and is a great part of her leadership philosophy. Her current course load includes Evidence Based Practice with Children and Adolescents, Social Welfare Policy and Practice, Leadership in Social Service Agencies, and Social Work Pedagogy in Online Environments. Her research interest currently lies within best practices in online teaching. She is a faculty advisor for the Vanderbilt University Interprofessional Learning Program, she is the recipient of two Social Justice Initiative Grants focusing on Racism and Sexism and she is a member of the CSWE Role of Women in Social Work Council. She is a graduate of the Program Directors Leadership Academy though the Council on Social Work Education and she is a current DSW student at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lastly, Professor Chaffin believes strongly in the NASW Code of Ethics and the need for strong policies to support individuals, groups and communities. Equity for all is a platform that she holds dear and is something that she strives for daily in both her professional and personal life.