Counseling professor Calleja earns top faculty honor



Nancy Calleja, a counseling and addiction studies professor, is being honored with this year’s Faculty Excellence Award. 

Calleja is not only a professor for the graduate counseling program but also directs and serves as chair of the department.

She has been working at the university since 2003, making this her 16th year in the game. 

Calleja teaches several courses, including advanced practice and research in addiction counseling, consultation, diagnosis and treatment of mental-health disorders, and program development and evaluation. 

Calleja said that her passion to go into this area of study “was ignited at an early age by witnessing injustices and those who were so often left out.”  

She said she was also fueled by her mother “who took in other kids in need who would have otherwise been left out.”

Her first job working with young men in the juvenile justice system was a factor, too.   

The passion and dedication that Calleja puts into the program shows.

While under her control in 2006, the counseling program received its first-ever full accreditation. It recently got fully reaccredited through the year 2024. 

“(I) always knew that I wanted to work with marginalized individuals – individuals with complex needs and, largely, those who were involved in one of the public systems (i.e., juvenile/criminal justice, child welfare, mental health),” she said. 

Calleja has a presence on multiple committees at the university including (per her award bio) advisory boards for mission and leadership and the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration, strategic planning, and promotion and tenure. 

But it doesn’t stop there.

According to the award bio, she “has served on statewide committees in child welfare, in leadership roles in the state counseling professional associations and continues to serve as an expert for the state of Michigan on cases of alleged ethics violations and clinical malpractice.”  

She is on a board for a mental health clinic and  a  “consultant in business planning and juvenile justice treatment across the U.S.” 

Calleja has written three books, eight book chapters and thirty articles. 

Calleja said that she is deeply honored to receive the award.

She said she is “extremely humbled by her my colleagues who nominated me, and by the letters of support from other colleagues – because of the deep respect I have for each of these individuals. I am nothing short of humbled and further honored to be in their company.” 

Since the award was announced, Calleja has received letters from former students.

She said they “brought tears of joy and gratitude, and a reminder of my privilege in having the opportunity to have worked with them during their graduate journey to becoming professional counselors.”   

Calleja hopes to keep doing the same thing she’s currently doing. 

She wants to continue “teaching and helping to shape our next generations of master’s level mental-health professionals,  designing and investigating new treatment methods in clinical practice with system-involved individuals, engaging in activism against legislation and other methods that serve to negatively impact individuals based on system-involvement, poverty, color, geography, and other variables and serving the university, my profession, and all of the individuals whose lives I touched through my research directly and indirectly.” 

Aside from making a difference in the world, Calleja said that she enjoys running, hiking, reading and book collecting, cooking, cross-country skiing and bike riding.