The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  259

SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

In May 1921 the Regents of the University of Michigan first authorized a curriculum in social work expressly designed to meet the growing demand for trained professionals in the various fields of public and private philanthropy. Under the direction of Professor A. E. Wood, staff members in sociology developed a curriculum in social work which included background courses in the social sciences, specialized professional courses, and field work. In 1927, the Regents authorized a certificate in social work to be awarded to students who completed a years work experience in addition to their undergraduate degree requirements. The successful development of a program in social work was recognized in 1925, when the University was granted membership into the Association of Schools of Professional Social Work. This Association encouraged the maintenance of the high standards of the School's undergraduate program and the initiation of a graduate-level curriculum.

In response to the thinking of social work educators at the time, and the recommendations of a committee of prominent Detroit citizens, including the Honorable Henry Hulbert, William Norton, and Tracy McGregor, the University moved to reorganize its program in social work. With financial support from the Horace H. and Mary A. Rackham Fund and the McGregor Fund, the Institute of Health and Social Sciences was established, later renamed the Institute of Public and Social Administration: Curriculum in Social Work. The new Institute, housed in the Horace H. Rackham Education Memorial Building in Detroit, accepted its first students in the fall semester of 1935, offering a two-year program leading to the Master of Social Work degree. Robert W. Kelso was selected by the University as Director of the Institute. In the initial ten year period the staff increased from two full-time faculty members in 1935 to six in 1945, and included a number of part-time lecturers. Among the early faculty were Eleanor Cranefield, Arthur Dunham, Ralph Fletcher, Clarice Freud, and William Haber. The enrollment of the Institute's program in social work from 1935-45 totaled 986 students, who registered for varying amounts of course instruction. During the early years of the program many students were employed part time to finance their education and therefore Page  260most graduates required from four to six years to complete their degrees. Others were forced to discontinue their studies with the advent of World War II. In addition to the program in Detroit, faculty at the Institute reached over 500 students through a statewide extension program.

By 1945 faculty members urged the restructuring of the Institute of Public and Social Administration and the formation of an Institute of Social Work. This action redefined the status of the social work curriculum, giving it a clear identity of its own. Robert Kelso was named Director of the new Institute and worked in cooperation with an Executive Committee composed of faculty members from the University's Ann Arbor campus. The Institute remained in Detroit and set as its goals the design of a curriculum to enlarge the technical side of training for work in the general field of social and public welfare and to relate it to the broader aspects of political and social life. The curriculum included courses in major divisions of social work, identified as social case work, group work, community organization, public welfare, research and statistics, administration, and field work. The Institute's program in extension teaching in outstate communities was strengthened by the addition to the faculty of Professor Mary Taylor. The leadership of Professor Dunham in the area of community development at state, national, and international levels brought attention to the Institute.

Upon retirement of Robert Kelso as Institute Director in 1950, Professor Dunham served as Acting Director. During 1949-50, Professor Dunham and the faculty gave thought to ways of improving social work education in Michigan. Alternatives considered by the University and Wayne University were merging their schools of social work, or expanding one school to handle the total program of graduate education in social work in the Detroit area. As a result of months of exploration, the Wayne School announced plans to strengthen its program in Detroit, and the University of Michigan established the School of Social Work, to replace the Institute of Social Work. The University transferred the operation of the School from Detroit to Ann Arbor, effective July 1, 1951.

In announcing this action of the Regents, President Alexander G. Ruthven noted that the School would concentrate its attention on the educational needs of other communities throughout the state, and would place special emphasis on the field of public welfare and its administration. The administrative structure of the new School of Social Work Page  261called for the Governing Faculty of the School, subject to Regental approval, to manage the affairs of the School, to provide the necessary courses of instruction, to prepare suitable requirements for admission, proper curriculums, and appropriate requirements for graduation. The executive functions of the School were to be performed by a Dean.

Fedele Fauri was named Dean of the School of Social Work and Professor of Public Welfare Administration in 1951. Under Dean Fauri's leadership the School's first years in Ann Arbor produced a program in line with President Ruthven's expectations for the School. Faculty review of curriculum resulted in the addition of courses to reflect a focus on public welfare services and social administration. There was renewed emphasis on statewide services, through consultations, development of field placements, extension courses, summer institutes, and workshops. These activities represented a supplementary but vital function of the School in assisting social agencies in communities throughout the State to improve their social work services.

Throughout the 1950s the School focused attention on offering an expanded curriculum and on strengthening existing programs. Professor Dorothy Schroeder joined the faculty to assist in the development of psychiatric social work as an approved specialization. This program was jointly funded by the University and by the United States Public Health Service under the National Mental Health Act. Professor Katherine Reebel developed the School's specialization in medical social work and played a special role in relating the School's program to the services of the Veteran's Administration. Contributions to the School's program came from Professor Patricia Rabinowitz in public policy and administration, from Professor Cranefield in corrections, Professor Freud in child welfare, and Professor Fletcher in research.

In 1954 plans for the development of a specialization in group work were enhanced by the appointment of Professor Robert Vinter. His teaching, research, and writing in this area brought national attention to the School for leadership in education for the practice of social group work. In 1956 the School strengthened its program in public welfare and policy by the appointment of Wilbur Cohen as Professor of Public Welfare Administration.

An important phase of the School's development was begun in 1953 with an interdisciplinary faculty seminar on Page  262the research basis of welfare practice. The Russell Sage Foundation provided support for the seminar by making available the services of David French. Under French's direction the seminar, composed of faculty members from ten units of the University, sought ways in which social science knowledge and research procedures could be applied to the problems in social work. The pioneering work of French and his colleagues set the stage for collaboration between the social sciences and the School, resulting in the appointment of a Coordinating Committee on Social Welfare Research, chaired by sociology Professor Amos Hawley. This Committee developed a plan for a program of advanced training and research in social work and social science leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The program was funded by the Russell Sage Foundation with the goal of preparing persons for leadership positions in the social welfare field, particularly in teaching, research, and administration. The program began in September 1957, under the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and was administered by a Supervising Committee. Professor Henry Meyer was appointed to the School and administered the program from its inception until 1970, when Professor Rosemary Sarri assumed these responsibilities. Professor Meyer was joined by Professors Edwin Thomas, Robert Vinter, and Eugene Litwak in the early development of the program's organization and content, and in the building of links between social work and the social sciences. As the program evolved under Professor Meyer's leadership, additional faculty became involved in doctoral courses and research, particularly research in corrections, schools, and public welfare. The activities of the doctoral program provided a continuous infusion of new knowledge and applications into the courses and curriculum design of the master's program.

From a modest beginning in Ann Arbor, a house on Washington Street, the School relocated in new quarters in the Frieze Building in the late fifties. As enrollments increased, Dean Fauri saw the need for a separate divisional library for social work to meet the educational requirements of students and faculty. Regental approval was received and on April 14, 1958, the Social Work Library was established in the Frieze Building. The Social Work Library was opened with 3,006 volumes and today houses a collection in excess of 16,900 volumes.

A new curriculum, approved by the Board of Regents in 1957, was inaugurated in the fall semester of 1958. Students enrolling in the School were required to complete 56 credit hours for graduation instead of the 48 hours Page  263previously required. The new curriculum provided a balanced program of study in the three recognized areas of social work education, i.e., social services, human growth and behavior, and social work practice. Increased enrollment in the School necessitated additional field work placements in social welfare agencies, an essential part of the educational program. The School continued its earlier efforts to develop a broad-based program and, with the support of agency executives to expand field instruction opportunities, was able to educate more students and still maintain the quality and scope of its program. A substantial increase in non-University support for social work education in Michigan came about during these years, especially through teaching, research, and training grants from governmental agencies, foundations, and voluntary social welfare agencies.

The 1960-61 year marked the tenth anniversary of the School as a separate unit of the University under the administrative direction of Dean Fauri. The School had developed in accordance with the guidelines stated at its inception. Priority had been given by Dean Fauri and the faculty to the needs of the State of Michigan for professional social workers, and state departments and agencies had cooperated with the School in educational-leave programs for employees and the furnishing of scholarships and traineeships for students. At the same time the School helped meet the demand for professional social workers throughout the nation, as the number of full-time students more than doubled in the ten year period. Increased support from the University, as well as federal sources, brought strength to the programs in child welfare, corrections, mental health, aging, vocational rehabilitation, and schools.

The School of Social Work was reaccredited in 1963 by the Council on Social Work Education. The accreditation review stimulated planning toward a number of changes in the School's curriculum, which reflected changes in American society and in national developments in social work education. Professor Vinter was appointed Associate Dean of the School in 1964, and his leadership in curriculum review brought forth a proposal for a new curriculum which was approved and implemented in fall 1968. The curriculum revision strengthened course offerings based on relevant social science research and conceptualizations, expanded the scope of practice-knowledge courses, and increased the flexibility of elective options to students.

The expansion of the School in the sixties was stimulated by Dean Fauri and Associate Dean Vinter. The School Page  264also received direction from the Michigan Citizens Committee on Higher Education. The Committee's report to Governor Romney in 1965 indicated that demand for graduate study in the field would rise 20 percent a year for the next five to ten years, due to the increased demand for professional social workers by the various government agencies, and both facilities and faculties would need to be increased substantially in order to accommodate such an increase in students. Enrollment was systematically increased each year, made possible by an increase to 52 full-time faculty, funded by the University and by federal training grants. By 1967, full-time enrollment was 428 with over 200 graduates from the School, the largest number of graduates in one year by a single school of social work. Enrollment was also increased during this period by the new year-round operation of the University, whereby students could enter the School in January and complete four continuous terms and receive the M.S.W. degree after one year and four months compared to the normal two academic years of study. As of fall 1968, the School ranked first among the 75 accredited schools of social work in the United States in enrollment, number of full-time students, and number of M.S.W. degrees granted each year. The School continued to maintain this ranking in 1971 as the faculty totaled 59 full-time members; full-time enrollment was 598, with 305 degrees granted during the period of July 1971. In attaining its increased size, the School controlled its growth year by year, maintained high standards, and continued to improve the quality of its programs. In 1965 the School's faculty determined to actively pursue the recruitment of students and faculty from minority groups in order to enrich its program through racial and cultural diversity and to provide increased educational opportunities for minority group students. The 1971 enrollment was made up of 22 percent minority group students including Blacks, Chicanos, American Indians, and Asian Americans. Nine faculty members represented minority groups. The School's faculty endorsed and began to implement the recommendations of a Minority Opportunities Committee, which included increased efforts in recruitment, financial aid and funding, supportive services, and curriculum development relative to minority group and disadvantaged students.

Student participation in the School's affairs became formalized in 1965 through the organization of a Student Union. In addition, special groups of students organized into the Association of Black Social Work Students and the Trabajadores de la Raza. In 1969 students began participating in School committees on a 50 percent student-50 Page  265percent faculty basis, plus one faculty member serving as chairman.

In July 1970, Dean Fauri was appointed Vice-President for State Relations and Planning at the University, and Associate Dean Vinter served as Acting Dean for the 1970-71 academic year. In May 1971, Phillip Fellin was appointed Dean of the School. The School's governing faculty continued to provide for a Faculty Council, which included elected representatives from the faculty to serve in an advisory capacity to the Dean on the affairs of the School.

A number of social scientists, with interests and competencies in social work, facilitated the broadening of educational perspectives in the School, both in terms of content and definition of appropriate professional roles. This influence on the School was highlighted in 1967 in a book of readings edited by Professor Thomas, which included 32 articles, all authored by members of the School's faculty. Also of significance was Readings in Social Work, edited by Robert Vinter in 1967, including materials by a number of faculty members, and translated into Spanish and German. By 1971, faculty members had published a number of books of particular relevance to social work education, including books on social work research, community practice strategies, families in crisis, field instruction, treatment organizations in corrections, poverty, and manpower studies. Through its programs and activities, the School has attained a national and international reputation as an outstanding school of social work.