Veteran faculty tapped to lead college academic units

Two long-term College of Health and Human Services faculty members have recently been appointed to leadership roles in the college. Ben Atchison, Ph.D., joined the occupational therapy faculty in 1999 and is now serving as chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy. Robert Wertkin D.S.W., joined the social work faculty in 1981. He has been appointed to serve as director of the new School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs, which houses the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Services program and the Center for Gerontology. Both appointees have been serving in those roles on an interim basis.

Photo of

Ben Atchison

An alumnus, Dr. Atchison earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Western in 1975. He earned his M.Ed. in Counseling and Psychological Services from Georgia State University and a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Design and Technology from Wayne State University. Prior to coming to Western, he worked as a staff occupational therapist in varied settings and served on the OT faculty of Eastern Michigan University for 13 years. In 2012, he retired officially at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 21 years on active duty and in the reserves with the Army Medical Specialist Corps.

A founding member of the Southwest Michigan Children's Trauma Assessment Center, Dr. Atchison has been a co-principle investigator in grant funded studies carried out through the center since 2003. He has presented widely on assessment and school based intervention for children with trauma and on a variety of other topics. In 2011, he published the fourth edition of "Conditions in Occupational Therapy: Impact on Occupational Performance" with WMU OT faculty member Dr. Dianne Dirette.

Dr. Atchison’s service memberships include the School Task Force of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and an appointment to the Council on Accreditation for Occupational Therapy Education Appeals Board. In 1994, he received the Award of Excellence from the Michigan Occupational Therapy Association and was inducted into association's Roster of Fellows. His awards also include the Roster of Fellows and several service awards from the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Photo of

Robert Werkin

Dr. Wertkin earned an M.S.W. from the University of Kansas and a doctorate in social work from the University of Utah. He is the founding chair of the University Assessment Steering Committee and the WMU 21st Century Student Initiative (formerly the Millennial Project) at Western. He has formerly held appointments as interim director of the School of Social Work and interim chair of the Department of Physician Assistant. From 1989 to 1991, he took a leave of absence to serve as the Assistant to the State Director of the Michigan Department of Social Services and Executive Advisor to the State Director of the Office of Children and Youth Services. 

Dr. Wertkin’s specialty areas include organizational development, program evaluation, and job enhancement strategies, and he has made numerous presentations nationally and internationally on those topics. He has also served as a consultant to many organizations, including the Michigan and Kansas Departments of Social Services, the United States District Court, and the Allegan, Charlevoix, Newaygo and St. Joseph Intermediate School Districts. 

He has been selected as an Exemplary Program Evaluator by the Michigan Department of Education, is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and is proud to have been chosen by WMU social work students as their keynote graduation speaker four times. His honors include the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Promise from the University of Utah and the 2011 WMU Distinguished Service Award.