Jason McVicker, social worker and teacher, 1962 – 2016

McVickerJason McVicker, a clinical social worker and lecturer at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA), died October 13 of a heart attack. He was 54 years old.

McVicker is remembered as a teacher and mentor who brought to the classroom deep experience from his work in the field, from serving as director of mental health services at Center on Halsted, a LGBTQ community center in Chicago, to providing psychotherapy to individuals, couples and families in private practice.

“Jason was a long-time dedicated teacher to our students and an outstanding clinical social worker in the city,” said Neil Guterman, Dean of the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) and the Mose & Sylvia Firestone Professor.

A Louisiana native, at an early age McVicker developed a passion for opera working as a stage manager at the New Orleans Opera, and years later writing opera reviews for Chicago Free Press and for an Italian online opera zine, GB Opera.  McVicker received a master’s degree from SSA in 1994 and spent the next two decades in Chicago in social work, including developing programs for HIV/AIDS at Chicago House and Social Service Agency and working with children and adolescents as a psychotherapist at the Fillmore Center for Human Services. 

McVicker later took his experience to the classroom, serving as a teacher and mentor at SSA as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University. At SSA, McVicker taught a range of courses, including Social Work with LGBT Clients and Social Intervention: Direct Practice, and served as a core field consultant for the school.

Colleagues said McVicker saw social work as a calling and brought pragmatism and the authority of experience to his teaching. One of his favorite proverbs was “the afternoon knows what the morning never suspected,” said William Borden, a senior lecturer at SSA.

“As a teacher and clinician, Jason cared deeply about ideas, but he cared even more about people and how we put ideas to use in our efforts to provide help and care,” said Borden, who first met McVicker as a graduate student at SSA. “I call upon him as an exemplar of the scholar-practitioner tradition as I introduce students to the profession.”

McVicker is survived by his husband, Michael Worley, his father, Laddie McVicker, and brothers Kevin and Shane McVicker. A memorial service is planned for November 12.

-- Mark Peters