Curtis VanderWaal

Curtis VanderWaal

Curtis VanderWaal

Title: Professor of Social Work and Chair of the Department of Social Work

Office Location: NH016
Phone: (269) 471-6196


B.S., Andrews University
M.S.W., University of Michigan
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University


Curtis VanderWaal, MSW, Ph.D., is Chair and Professor of Social Work at Andrews University, where he has taught since 1990.  He is also Director of the Center for Community Impact Research at the Institute for Prevention of Addictions.  He teaches classes in program evaluation, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, and values & ethics.  The majority of his research has focused on substance abuse treatment & prevention, social capital, faith-based ministries, agency program evaluations, and faith-based LGBT issues.  He has been involved in over 30 funded research projects, including funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the DeVos Family Foundations, the United Way of Southwest Michigan, and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.  He has authored or co-authored over 30 peer reviewed journal articles or book chapters and participated in more than 90 peer reviewed research presentations and poster sessions.  He currently serves on the editorial board of the journal "Social Work and Christianity."  He is also a board member for Riverwood Center, the community mental health center for Berrien County.

Prior to coming to Andrews University, VanderWaal was a counselor at a community mental health center in Michigan.  He received his Master of Social Work (MSW) in 1987 from The University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in 1995 from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. VanderWaal is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Council on Social Work Education.  He has been inducted into the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Alpha Honor Societies. He received the J.N. Andrews Medallion (2014), the Sigfried H. Horn Scholarly Research Award (2012), Student Advising Award from Andrews University (1992), the Zapara Excellence in Teaching Award (1998) and the Andrews University Teacher of the Year award (1999).

Current Research or Professional Activities

*indicates students

VanderWaal, C.J. (Co-Principal Investigator), Sedlacek, D., Lane, L.* & Carbonell, N.. Coming to terms with one’s sexual identity is a particularly complex process for Christian LGBT+ youth, many of whom are at high risk for negative outcomes such as depression, substance abuse and suicide. Many Christian families are just beginning to actively wrestle with how to view and treat their LGBT+ children. This survey of 310 Seventh-day Adventist adult Millennials explored perceived levels of their family’s acceptance or rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity during their teen years. Other variables included recent levels of self-esteem, social support, depression, substance abuse, high-risk sexual activity, and suicidal thinking or attempts.  Findings showed generally low levels of family acceptance and support, as well as elevated rates of depression and at-risk thoughts and behaviors.  A high proportion of respondents have retained strong spiritual commitment and moderate church involvement.

VanderWaal, C.J. and various students.  Since 2010, Curt VanderWaal and over 120 students have worked with the United Way of Southwest Michigan to evaluate a wide variety of funded programs in the areas of health, basic needs, education, and income. Combined evaluation projects have been funded for over $150,000.

VanderWaal, C.J., McBride, D.C., Baltazar, A., & various students.  Over the past six years, VanderWaal has been a co-investigator on three General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist-funded projects – Christian Record Services for the Blind program evaluation; The Hope Channel program evaluation; and the Adventist World Radio program evaluation.  Combined evaluation projects have been funded for over $150,000.  VanderWaal is also working with colleagues at Washington Adventist University (John Gavin, PI, and William Ellis) to explore Seventh-day Adventist voting patterns and key social issues such as LGBT acceptance and women’s ordination.

Recent (2012-present) Peer Review Publications: (*indicates student co-author)

VanderWaal, C.J., Sedlacek, D. & Lane, L.* (In press, 2017).  The Impact of Family Acceptance or Rejection among LGBT+ Millenials in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Journal of Social Work and Christianity.

McBride DC, Terry-McElrath YM, VanderWaal, CJ. (2016). Illicit drug policy. In Eyler A, Chriqui J, Russell SM, Brownson R (Eds), Prevention Policy and Public Health. Oxford University Press.

VanderWaal, C.J., Sedlacek, D., & Diaz, H.L. (2015).  Alcohol and drug addiction: Healing the hurting church.  In Maier, R. (Ed.), Church and Society: Missiological challenges for the Seventh-day Adventist church.  World Missions Department, Andrews University Theological Seminary.

Gleason, P.C., Hopkins, G.L., Eagan, M.*, VanderWaal, C.J., Duffy, J., & McBride, D.C. (June 2015).  Extracurricular screen time among Idaho youth: Prevalence and association with psychological distress.  Journal of the Idaho Academy of Science, 51(1), 1-10.

VanderWaal, C.J., Opel, A.*, & Hernandez, E.I. (April 2015).  Pastors as gatekeepers: Congregational encounters with mental health and substance abuse issues. Ministry Magazine.

VanderWaal, C.J., Howell, M.D., Davis, D., & Opel, A.* (December 2013/January 2014).  Yielding to temptation: How should we deal with students who try alcohol or drugs?  Journal of Adventist Education, 76(2), 17-24.

VanderWaal, C.J., Mayer, A.R.*, Cooper, K., & Racovita-Szilagyi, L. (December 2013/January 2014).  Balancing justice and mercy: Redemptive ways of dealing with student substance use.  Journal of Adventist Education, 76(2), 40-47.

VanderWaal, C.J., Young, R.M.*, McBride, D.C., Chriqui, J.F., & Terry-McElrath, Y.M. (2013).  Smurfing in Small Toxic Meth Labs: Impact of State Methamphetamine Precursor Policies  Journal of Policy Practice,  12(3), 231-255.
VanderWaal, C.J., Hernandez, E.I., & Sandman, A.R.* (2012).  The gatekeepers: Clergy involvement in referrals and collaboration with mental health and substance abuse professionals.  Journal of Social Work and Christianity, 39(1), 27-51. 
Baltazar, A., Hopkins, G., McBride, D.C., VanderWaal, C.J., Pepper, S. & Mackey, S. (2012).  Parental Influence on Inhalant Use.  Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.  22 (1), 25-37.

Recent (2014 – present) Peer Review Presentations and Posters: (*indicates student co-

VanderWaal, C.J., Sedlacek, D., & Lane, L.* (2016, November). The Impact of Family Rejection or Acceptance among LGBT+ Millenials in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Presented at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work, Cincinnati, OH.

Baltazar, A., Howell, M. & VanderWaal, C.J. (2016, November).  Faith-Based Dual Degree MSW Programs:  Strengthening Two Worlds.  Presented at Council on Social Work Education, Atlanta, GA.

Gavin, J., Ellis, W., & VanderWaal, C.J. (2016, November). The Adventist Vote: Findings from the 2016 National Election Survey.  Presented at the Michiana Adventist Forum, October 22, 2016.

Sedlacek, D. & VanderWaal, C.J. (2016, July).  Supporting LGBT+ Youth in Seventh-day Adventist Homes.  Presented at the Adventist Conference on Family Research & Practice, Berrien Springs, MI.

Gavin, J., Ellis, W.W., & VanderWaal, C.J.  Adventist Religion & Public Issues Survey, 2016, May).  Presented at the Adventist Human Subjects Research Association Conference, Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL.

VanderWaal, C.J., Hopkins, G., Wynne, L.*, Baltazar, A., & McBride, D.C. (2015, November).  Impact of parents and teachers on school bullying among elementary and middle school girls. Presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.

McBride, D.C., Hopkins, G.L., Baltazar, A.M., VanderWaal, C.J.  Religious Belief/Involvement and Recent Alcohol Use/Binge Drinking in a Prohibitionist University. American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, October/November 2015.

McBride, D.C., Hopkins, Gary, Baltazar, A.M., VanderWaal, Curtis J., Bailey, Karl G.D. Acceptance of health emphasis in doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and alcohol abuse/use in a population of young adult church members.  American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expo, Chicago, IL. Oct-Nov, 2015.

VanderWaal, C.J. (2015, November).  Creating generous spaces for LGBT students on a Christian campus.  Presented at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work Annual Meeting, Grand Rapids, MI.

Gavin, J., VanderWaal, C. J., & Ellis, W. (2014, October).  Faith Perspectives on Building Strong Volunteer Programs.  North American Association of Christians in Social Work.  Annapolis, MD.

McBride, D.C., Terry-McElrath, Y. & VanderWaal, C.J. (2014, July).  Effective substance abuse policies.  Presented at the SDA Global Conference on Health and Lifestyle, Geneva, Switzerland. 

VanderWaal, C.J. (2014, July).  Role of clergy, churches and communities in collaborative recovery and relapse prevention.  Presented at the SDA Global Conference on Health and Lifestyle, Geneva, Switzerland. 

Wynne, L.* & VanderWaal, C.J. (2014, February).  Bullying behaviors and correlates among elementary and middle school girls in Berrien County, Michigan.  Presented at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters Conference, Oakland University, Rochester, MI.

VanderWaal, M.J., McBride, D.C., Helm, H.H., & VanderWaal, C.J. (2014, February).  Sex, substance use, and religious behaviors on a conservative Christian campus.  Presented at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters Conference, Oakland University, Rochester, MI.

McBride, D., Hopkins, G., VanderWaal, C., & Baltazar, A. (2014, January). Faith and the Church in Substance Abuse Prevention. The North American Division Health Summit, Orlando, Florida.