Photo of Victor Wilburn

Victor Wilburn, Ph.D

Office:  SC114A

It is important to meet the student where they are and get them where they need to be.

What area do you teach?

Child Development and Family Studies


Ph. D. in Child Development from the University of Tennessee
M. S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Tennessee
B. S. in Agricultural Economics/Rural Community Development from Tennessee State University

Your philosophy of teaching:

My teaching philosophy is based on a few basic premises: (1) Students learn best when they exist in an environment that is safe and student friendly. Once this is established, (2) it is important to meet the student where they are and get them where they need to be. This is the process of determining and evaluating a student's current skillset and helping them to develop the competencies of their discipline. (3) As teachers, we mentor and facilitate growth in students as we partner with them to discover their greatest potential. When directly engaged in the learning experience with students, my activities can best be described as the Melt, Mend, Mold, and Make it Hard process. The initial stage of mending represents in the time used to capture the imagination of students by helping them understand the effectiveness of their discipline as an instrument of change to society and within their discipline. The mending stage is the process of integrating new knowledge with their already existing wealth of knowledge and experiences. The molding stage is the process where we work effectively for students to discover their own purpose and relevance to society and a their profession. In making it hard stage, this is indicative of the process where students must have time to process new knowledge and competencies. This is essential to producing mature professionals who possess the right professional identity.

Why did you decide to teach?

While the specifics are unknown, I come from a family of teachers in both my parents and the vast majority of the educated within my extended families. In fact, I am told I have been teaching since five if you count childhood play preoccupations.

Credentials/career path

Victor R. Wilburn is the Department Chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. As Chair, his responsibilities are to coordinate and oversee the Department of Child and Family Studies which consists of 10 full-time faculty, eight part-time faculty, and over 175 undergraduate students. Dr. Wilburn’s activities consist of teaching in the areas of child development, family studies, and education, research, and student advising. Dr. Wilburn has experience teaching courses in each of the child related periods of development and Family Studies. Dr. Wilburn has also provided consultation and training to organizations committed to community development and preschool education. He has been at the position of Interim Chair of Human Environmental studies from January 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018. Promoted to Department Chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies effective August 1, 2018 to present.

Dr. Wilburn has worked 10 years as a program director working with children in state’s custody. He has been responsible for staff training and development and resident crisis management. Dr. Wilburn has also taught courses in child development for four years at the University of Tennessee and five years as an assistant professor at the University of Akron.

Dr. Wilburn earned his Doctorate in Child Development at the University of Tennessee; the M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Tennessee; the B.S. in Rural Development from Tennessee State University. Dr. Wilburn has conducted research on rural families and rural community development. He has also done research on children’s development and explored psychosocial developmental outcomes. His works have been published in journals and presented at conferences.

Professional Highlight

Chairperson of the Department of Child and Family Studies

Organization with which you are involved

National Assiciation of the Education of Young Children
American Assiciation of Family & Consumer Sciences
Omege Psi Phi Fraternith

Most Recent/Notable Published Work

Wilburn, V. R., Smith, S. M., and Hill-Carter, C. (2013). Exploring Cultural Linkages Between Family Systems and Minority Children Behaviors in the Academic Classroom: A System of Crisis from the Family, to School, then Prison. The National Journal

Best advice for students

Decide now, who you want to be and what career you wish to have. Then work as if the decision has been made and you are that person.


Scully Building 114
Human Environmental Studies
One University Plaza, MS 5750
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701