Living Proof: Reflections on 75 Years of Social Work Education

Living Proof: Reflections on 75 Years of Social Work Education


[Slide stating, “UB School of Social Work, University at Buffalo: The State University of New York, Living Proof. Reflections on 75 Years of Social Work Education”] [Slide stating, “The interviews seen in this film were taken from the UB School of Social Work History Archives as part of the School of Social Work History Project.”] [Denise Krause, Clinical Associate Professor, Assoc. Dean Comm. Engagement speaking] Interviewing faculty and staff was a unique experience for me. Wow I’ve learned so much in the last three years, uh,
through the interviews at the history project. Um, I felt at first I felt so
overwhelmed with the task of interviewing around 60 or so people for
the project and as we began scheduling the interviews and talking to people,
what I realized really quickly is how much I felt in sync with what so many of
the people we were interviewing talked about but I really learned that what
draws most of us to this field are the same things and that was pretty amazing.
I interviewed many former students and those students today are in a variety of
careers, uh, most of them are still social workers and what’s common to all of them
is that they’re still using their social work skills. I often felt with staff
their sense of loyalty to the school and that loyalty was so deep that at times
they didn’t want to say what they really thought because they thought that it may
in some way disrespect people that they had worked with at the school and that
really struck me as profound, that in some instances that that loyalty has
spanned 30, 40 and 50 years. That says so much to me about how they thought about
the school and their commitment to the school and the work of the school to
hold on to memories that way for 50 years is remarkable. [Mary Frances Danner, MSW 1963 speaking] Things are different today than they were when I started but even so I think
that social work education has a value all to itself and I think anybody that
is embarking on it is indeed fortunate because it’s something that you will
take with you all and have for all of the rest of your life. [John DiBiase, MSW 1953 speaking] I look at it as people helping themselves. The thing is to involve
people so they, they take responsibility and then they can carry on even though
the instructor or the social worker is gone. [Ted Myers, MSW 1953 speaking] I did my fieldwork at the Children’s Aid and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which
is now called the Family and Children’s, uh, agency so I did my first year of fieldwork
there which it put me in touch with a lot of children’s services and a lot of agencies. [Ginny Riedman-Dangler, MSW 2002 speaking] I actually was a school teacher for many years close to 18 years, I
taught elementary education, first grade, and towards the end of that period of
time I was beginning to, um, think about social work because I was finding in the
classroom that I really enjoyed working with the children more with the
social-emotional development. When the SUNY Buffalo program came to Rochester, I
decided this is the time to make this change if I really want to, um, make the
change into social work. [Narrator speaking] The UB School of Social Work has a long history of educating social work professionals that have impacted
countless lives. The school traces its roots to as early as 1924 when Dr. Niles
Carpenter, then head of the sociology department, held meetings with social
workers about starting a new School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo.
As the 1920s saw bootleggers roaming the streets of Buffalo, social work activists
and university administrators met to start a School of Social Work in 1924.
Dr. Niles Carpenter, then head of the sociology department at the University
at Buffalo, was informed by a group of social workers that he was expected to
start the School of Social Work at the University forthwith. Carpenter, a
professor of family sociology and an ordained minister, was lured away from
Harvard to join the University at Buffalo sociology department. By 1926, the
group has started evening classes on case work and family relations that were
held at the old charity organization society building on Franklin Street in Buffalo on Niagara Square. [Hans Falck, MSW 1953 speaking] The School of Social Work had a hard time getting going and there were various reasons for that. The one reason was that Dr. Carpenter was the only
PhD in the school. [Gerry Miller, Associate Professor, MSW 1961-1994 speaking] He, uh, had a Divinity degree from Harvard or someplace like
that, um, he was a great guy, I guess everybody
liked him but, uh, I’ve heard he didn’t like social workers, so you know, [Gerry laughing]. He, uh, worked at it very hard but he didn’t have the kind of background in social work that I feel is
essential for a faculty member. [George Lankes, MSW, 1940 speaking] Dean Carpenter as I recall having read about him in the newspaper when he joined the staff at the University of Buffalo, he
had been in Washington, and he had authored or helped author much of the, um,
New Deal legislation, and, uh, he was concerned as to how I would integrate my
undergraduate work with my work in, graduate work in social service and I
tried to assure him that I would, I would get there. [Narrator speaking] Even though the 1920s were a relatively prosperous time for many, [Ship horn sounds] poverty still remained a lingering reality. A Brookings Institute study estimated that a majority of Americans,
60%, were living below what was required to supply the basic necessities. Despite
individual poverty and the mass social problems found in all major
industrialized cities, Buffalo was prospering. Then, just 11 years after the
influenza pandemic and the end of World War One came another giant shock to the
American system. [Blues music playing] The great stock market crash of 1929 saw millions of its
citizens go from being counted among those who had, to those who had not.
Unemployment in some cities rose to over 40%. Thousands of unemployed men roamed the country in a futile search for work. Farmers everywhere lost their land. Crop
prices plummeted. Farmers were selling their produce for less than it cost them
to transport the goods to market. In Buffalo, to help feed the masses of poor
and unemployed, churches and social agencies set up food pantries and worker
assistance centers. The demands on social work programs had never been greater.
Despite the hardships brought on by the depression, the University at Buffalo
itself continued to grow and appropriately demands were high on the
university’s young social work program. With the support of UB president Samuel
Capen, a formal curriculum in social work was initiated in 1931. It was comprised
of classes taken in the senior undergraduate year, one summer session and a postgraduate year that would allow a student to earn a certificate in social
work. In 1932, while Buffalo celebrated its 100th anniversary as a city, the
American Association of Professional Schools of Social Work developed a
minimum curriculum for social work education and that year the UB School of
Social Work applied for a membership. The Program of Social Work was accepted by
the Association in 1934. The school also received a grant of federal funds from
David Adie who served as the New York State Commissioner of Social Welfare. The
funds were to be used as a seed money for the establishment of a special
training unit for public welfare workers. By this time, the school had an enrollment of 139 people, most of them part-time. In 1935, the New York State Temporary
Emergency Relief Administration or TARA gave a grant to UB to set up a training
unit. 40 students participated and were granted six months educational leave
with pay. That year Cornelia Hopkins Allen was hired to help
expand the UB School of Social Work program and was put in charge of the
TARA program. Allen who was called “Hops” by many, had worked for a time at the
famous Hull House in Chicago before coming to work at the University at
Buffalo. [John Robin Allen, BA 1957, son of Cornelia Hopkins Allen speaking] My mother was born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1896. Uh, she got her degree from Smith then went to work with Jane Adams at Hull House and, uh, overcame any
ideas that she may have had ingrained into her about prejudice. She believed in
integrating people as do most people now. [Narrator speaking] In 1935, there was also a name change in the program from the curriculum of Social Work to the School of Social Work.
A second postgraduate year of social work education was added leading to a
Master of Social Services degree. This marked the formal establishment of the
School of Social Work at UB with Dr. Niles Carpenter serving as its first
Dean. [Hans speaking] There was no big School of Social Work. There was a tiny place and for those of us who taught in Thompson Hall we could have been. One could have summed up our existence by, by the number of courses. [George speaking] One of the things I well remember at the time I was working with Catholic Charities
and I was assigned to their Olean office because of an illness on part of the
workers down there and I was sort of a filler in, a substitute, and I’d have to
drive up from Olean to take my classes and I’d stay in Buffalo overnight and
then go back the next morning, so it was a little trip to come up and take these evening classes. [Narrator speaking, music playing] The Great Depression had changed the face of society and the
profession of social work itself had to adjust to a new way of looking at things
on both a national and local level. Social workers had to get used to seeing
things they had not been exposed to before and they had to adjust to seeing
the hardships around them. [Jean Radde Bennett, MSW 1939 speaking] I was at the, um, mental health clinic and then the welfare clinic in Lackawanna [Interviewer speaking] Were you? [Jean speaking] Yeah that was an experience. [Interviewer speaking] Was it? [Jean speaking] Yes. Almost every house I had, well, they were all on relief. Just went in one after another. [Interviewer speaking] Did you? [Jean speaking] Terrible times. [Narrator speaking] To help struggling Americans, President Roosevelt developed a plan called the New Deal. The New Deal policies ushered in a wave of massive government-sponsored social
welfare acts created in an effort to bring relief to those in need. Programs like
the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Public Works Administration and the
National Housing Act all were created to help a society staggering under the
weight of economic hardship. The second phase of Roosevelt’s New Deal was
enacted between 1935 and 1941. It continued the relief and recovery
measures and in addition provided for social and economic legislation to
further benefit the American worker. The money for many of these programs took
years to reach cities like Buffalo but once funds began to arrive in 1935,
the amounts were staggering. Over 45 million dollars were spent on
projects that put some more than 75,000 people to work. 4.5 million
dollars was spent on public housing and millions for other infrastructure
projects including money for schools, street widening, playgrounds, tennis
courts and even swimming pools. In 1936, University at Buffalo President Capen
established a new School of Social Work that would function as a separate academic unit from the Department of Sociology. The school placed an emphasis on
casework along with training and social welfare and other social work courses
including group work. Later a graduate certificate in public administration
was offered. In 1938, reflecting the needs of the community, the School of Social
Work’s reach was expanded and a course entitled public welfare in rural
communities was offered in Dunkirk, New York. Then on December 7th, 1941, America
was drawn into World War Two [music starts playing] and the impact this new war would have on the
future of social work would be considerable. Schools across America
quickly emptied of fighting aged men as they went off to war.
At first, the UB School of Social Work remained relatively unaffected because
students were on a graduate level and the acute need for social workers in the
Armed Services enabled some students to obtain deferment until they had finished
their courses. But by 1942, the school had to cut the public welfare fellowship
program because so many of the men had gone off to war.
That year the American Association of Professional Schools of Social Work
became concerned that the School of Social Work program at UB had a
curriculum that had overweighed case work and lacked a strong program in public
welfare. The organization was also concerned that private agencies rather
than public ones were being used for field placements. By 1943, more than half
of UB’s full-time enrollment consisted of soldiers and sailors assigned to UB
for special training. The war economy in the city was booming, literally jerking
it and the nation’s economy out of economic depression almost overnight.
Buffalo alone had over five billion dollars in war supply contracts and the
area did more war business with federal government than all but four cities in
the country. Nearly 200,000 women were at work in the city as the
war effort boomed. During this time, the field of social work itself was
streamlined into eight subject areas. Subject areas included public welfare,
social casework, social group work, community organization, medical
information, social research, psychiatry and social welfare administration.
Perhaps one of the greatest effects that World War Two had on the profession of
social work was the establishment of the GI Bill.
Officially titled Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the GI Bill
provided for college or vocational education for returning troops as well
as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided loans for returning
veterans to buy homes and start businesses. The GI Bill sent enrollment [chipper music starts playing] numbers at UB and other schools skyrocketing. What followed was a bumper
crop of newly minted social workers that made an impact on the profession and
society that can easily be felt today. [Gerry speaking] After World War Two, on the GI Bill, uh, quite a few men, uh, went for Master’s Degree in Social Work and, uh, there are a number of prominent, uh, Buffalo, uh, social workers, uh, who did that, who got their master’s
degree on the GI bill. [Ted speaking] Before I got to the School of Social Work, before I went to
the University of Buffalo and that was because I was in the service in World War
Two and I, uh, had, um, gone through the Southwest Pacific campaign. [sounds of bombs] Uh, I will say this I did get bombed at, I got shot at, and I got torpedoed once on a ship and, uh, so that with the remnant of my GI Bill and this scholarship, I was able to finish my second year. So that’s how I did in the
School of Social Work and I’ve enjoyed being in the field ever since. [Narrator speaking] During the winter of 1945, a cooperative program of social work was set up in Syracuse, New
York between UB and Syracuse University. From that point on students and faculty
had to make long regular commutes. [Pauline Riemer, MSW 1957 speaking] And the classes were held in the law school.
There was no campus for the School of Social Work at that time so we, there were 25 of us in five different cars that went from Syracuse at 4 a.m. in the
morning, um, to get to Buffalo for an 8 o’clock. Our 5 cars that had started at
4 a.m. in the morning from Syracuse had to get off and go onto Route 20 which we
used to call the suicide route because it was either two lanes or three and the
three was a passing lane but you took you heart in your hands because it
wasn’t a safe place to pass, but we still made it. [Narrator speaking, sounds of kids talking and playing] Another important milestone in the development of social work in Western
New York was Cradle Beach camp. Originally founded in 1888, its sole
purpose was to serve the underprivileged children of the City of Buffalo. This was
during a time when diphtheria, cholera infantum and typhoid were major
killers of infants and children. The fresh air mission, as it was called then,
provided a place where these children could enjoy the sun, water and wind while
having enough to eat. In 1946, after many years of serving only underprivileged
children, the summer camp program took its first group of handicapped children
financed by the Buffalo Rotary Club. Cornelia Hopkins Allen became director
of the camp in 1947 creating another important link from the School of Social
Work to the community at large. [Bernard Tolbert, MSW 1973 speaking] I really knew her from Cradle Beach camp and
I knew her as Hops and I used to, uh, during the, uh, on days off at camp when the kids were gone
she used to take myself and another one of the, at the time we’re kitchen boys, we
were young staff, probably 17 years old, she’d take us to her house and we did work
for her and, and, uh, yeah everyone knew her as Hops. She was, she’s a legend, I think certainly at the school but for sure at
the camp. [William McFarland, MSW 1956 speaking] Yes she was a dynamo. Uh, she was the lady that started the Cradle
Beach camp, uh, and she initiated that and brought it to where it is – gave it
it’s underpinnings for what it is today. [John Allen speaking] It was both a camp for crippled children and for underprivileged children and so
it was all planned out that instead of having the usual pattern of having the
crippled children being there for, uh, first period in the summer then the
underprivileged children coming for that, we put them together. [George speaking] It was a summer Catholic Charities run the health camp out on the Lake Shore Road for
underprivileged children and alike and I was suggested to me by a friend of mine,
a social worker, that I might be interested in going out there and working on the
lakeshore with these kids. Room and board was $7 a week, a dollar a day,
and I thought well that would be fun for four or five weeks whatever it was and I went
out there and that’s where I got my feel for social work and that’s where I got
my insight into what the University of Buffalo was doing as far as their School of
Social Work was concerned. [Pauline speaking] There were, um, many things that they did in the
summertime for very disabled children that had never been done before.
Disabled children were suddenly going to camps,
thanks to Cornelia Allen, this never happened before. Um, they always were they
would take the child who could swim, who could, uh, do all of the things he was
supposed to do, be able to walk and so forth, but they never thought of taking kids in
wheelchairs. Cornelia Allen did. [Marjorie Connors, MSW 1960 speaking] She knew she taught the History of Social Work, she knew Jane and she knew, had known all these people so she was very
interesting and she kind of talked [inaudible] off the cuff all the time. She sometimes brought her dogs to, uh, school. Uh, she had two cocker
spaniels. She was a typical absent-minded professor, very gracious, very generous,
but we had to get, uh, all the glasses out and everything. She had full reign of her
house but I remember you, it was hard finding things and you had to think
what’s the least likely place you’ll put stuff and we could find it. [John Allen speaking] I do remember a lot of times when students would come to the house my mother loved
entertaining. She would like nothing better than to be sitting at a table and
having ten people around so she did invite students a lot to come to the
house and we even rented out our third-floor apartment out to students
who needed it, so we had a lot of them there and, and many many parties with all
the students and it was very nice. [Mike Moran, MSW 1963 speaking] We had a great time, wonderful time there. All our parties were pretty riotous. You have to understand we had none of the, what the school has now studies of in alcoholism or in, or in drug addiction, oh we didn’t have any trouble with drug addiction, but, but alcohol flowed freely
at these affairs and no one asked any questions about that, no one said hmm is
this a dangerous or bad thing. Uh, if they did I didn’t hear them and I don’t, I
don’t know how many other people did either. I don’t think the faculty heard
them very well either because they had a good time but we, we
had these good and often integrating times. [Narrator speaking] By the 1950s, enrollment at the School of Social Work had peaked at 89 full-time graduate students and 188
part-time graduate students. A psychiatric social work sequence was
approved by the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers and UB became
the 22nd approved psychiatric social work training center in the United
States. [Pauline speaking] The average citizen walking down the street did not know what Social Work
was nor how to use it and I think maybe sometimes that’s even true
today. We were involved in every angle of social work. There was social work
specialized in law, specialized in medicine, specialized in crime and, and probation and parole. [Narrator speaking] The 1950s also saw the UB School of Social Work branch out
again under Dean Carpenter and an agreement was made to offer certain
first-year courses at the campuses of the University of Rochester.
There was also increased movement in the profession from a specialist orientation
to one of generalist and an increased focus on the person in environment
approach. The school was given a new home in 1955, moving from Townsend Hall on
Niagara Square to McDonald Hall on the Main Street campus. That stay, however,
was short-lived and by the end of the decade the School of Social Work had
moved again, this time to Foster Hall. In 1956, only one new student was admitted
into the master’s program. Benjamin Linden replaced Niles Carpenter as the
new dean of the school and new relationships were established within
New York State Departments of Corrections, Health, Mental Hygiene and
Social Welfare and the National Institute of Mental Health among others,
that greatly enhanced the school scope. The 1950s also brought the beginnings of
an era of major change for Buffalo and the University. While the University at
Buffalo continued to grow and plan for the future, the city itself began a
process of economic decline that would continue over the next half century. The
completion of the Welland Canal in 1959 literally bypassed the city cutting it
off from the main shipping routes that ran through the Great Lakes and St.
Lawrence Seaway. Soon both employment numbers and populations began to decline
as heavy industry began to migrate from the area. The city would lose half its
population over the next 50 years, leaving the education industry as one of
the top players in the local economy. As the industrial decline continued and
jobs were lost during the 1960’s, countless thousands of workers including
a well-established and relatively prosperous African-American middle class
increasingly found themselves facing unemployment. With little formal
education and employment options diminished, social unrest would soon
follow. Nationally in an effort to address some of these issues,
President Johnson proclaimed an unconditional war on poverty in January
1964. He established the Economic Opportunity Act which included such
programs as the Job Corps, Upward Bound and Head Start. In 1962, the University of
Buffalo, once a private school, merged into the State University System and
became the State University of New York at Buffalo. The 1960s also brought two
name changes for the School of Social Work. The first came in 1963 when the
name became the School of Social Welfare. Then in 1966, it became the School of
Social Policy and Community Services. But name changes were but a small part of
the many changes occurring at UB during the 60s. [Isaac Alcabes, Associate Professor 1963-1992 speaking] But one of the first things I remember was I think 1963, um, the Dean’s talk to the
first, to the entering class was about Martin Luther King’s I had a dream
speech which had just occurred that summer, so the focus, the national focus
on doing something about poverty and welfare reform and, uh, that was exciting. But
in some ways the school’s curriculum wasn’t connected to that, I mean we were
still thinking about casework. How do we help people on a
one-to-one basis, on a family basis? The Social Work profession didn’t have much
influence on the national level. You know, our expertise was how do we
help people who are in trouble and were coming to us, not so much about how
we change the national economy, change national housing policy, education policy
and my first semester I came, I came in late and listened to Lyndon Johnson’s
State of the Union speech where he introduced the anti-poverty program. [Narrator speaking]
President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty opened a wide variety of
opportunities for social workers to find education and employment all across the
nation and in Buffalo too. [Mike speaking] One of the things that happened was when you
graduated from the school the war on poverty was as I say either underway or
about to be underway, so that made a lot of money poured into social work at that time. There was many job openings locally and there was tremendous competition for
graduates of the school so you didn’t, you didn’t have to look too hard, people
called you and said are you interested could, would you come down for an
interview etc. [Narrator speaking] From 1961 to 1973, waves of social unrest swept across the country that dramatically affected the university
system, the City of Buffalo and the nation. On campus, many protests were
sparked by several issues including nuclear proliferation, the Vietnam War,
the ROTC presence on campus, racial bias in athletics and a Department of Defense
research program called Project Themis. By 1966, the numbers of protests and
protesters, both student and faculty, participating in teach-ins and sit-ins
had dramatically increased, primarily in opposition to the Vietnam War. At one
point, an FBI report noted that 2000 students and some faculty attended a May
1966 rally in opposition to U.S. foreign policy at the Millard Fillmore Room of
Norton Hall. [sounds of people rioting playing] By 1967, the campus unrest had begun to spill out onto the city
streets. Riots rocked the east side of Buffalo from June 26th through July 1st
virtually closing down the city. In one night of rioting over 40 people were
hurt, 14 with gunshot wounds. In 1970, the situation between the students, faculty
and administration reached another boiling point, when students of the
School of Social Work joined the fray by going on strike. Students in the School
of Social Work organized a liberation college at Foster Hall. A student and
faculty member were arrested due to interfering with what was called a
legally constituted authority. [David Wegenast, Assistant Professor 1968-1978 speaking] I remember getting tear gassed. We were in Foster Hall, uh, we were right out in front where everything was happening, you know, out in front of Hayes Hall, Crosby Hall between the union, so there we were and uh, being curious I tried to get as close as
I could to see what was going on sometimes and ended up suffering from
some tear gas, but I didn’t suffer any being clubbed. But I attended this
meeting the night before along with another colleague, Larry Fiebert, and in
the morning, on Sunday morning, we decided to come back up to the campus and, uh,
faculty were again meeting and, uh, the decision was made to, uh, go into Hays Hall
and occupy the president’s office and to request a meeting to discuss the, uh,
presence of the Buffalo Police on campus and the brutal treatment that they, with
which they were treating the students. Not that the students weren’t also, uh, disruptive. I mean they set fire to the
bank across the street and to the railroad bridge down the, down on Hertel, by Hertel, on Main Street [sounds of crowds rioting playing] but, uh, we went into Hayes Hall, I remember and we were
in the office and maybe about an hour or so later we were informed that, uh, we would
have to leave, I think the police came and, uh, we were told if we didn’t leave
that we would be arrested. There was, this was a very democratic
time so all the decisions were made by, by majority vote or by, uh, the group you
know and so the group decided to, uh, to stay and eventually we were all arrested,
removed from the building and taken to a small jail over on Bailey Avenue over
here and from there eventually downtown, then later that night, uh, released. [Bernard speaking] Everybody and his mother was somehow affected by the Vietnam War and being on campus
at that time. Uh, you know, it was just a quite an
experience you know there were police on campus because of the riots and, um, I just
recall downtown Main Street at Hertel there was a barricade built across the
street where people had piled furniture and tires and things and the police were
on one side and students and other people were on the other side and the rocks
were being thrown and you know, just things like that, tear gas. We’re walking
across campus and you could parking over and I don’t remember the name of the lot
anymore but coming to class, parking and then you could, a tear gas would you know
kind of drift across and hit you in the face and you know, start burning your eyes. [Diane Savatteri, MSW 1989 speaking] The most dramatic event that I recall from this time on campus, my
undergraduate years, was the march from Norton Union to Hayes Hall. The march
began very quietly, orderly. We came out by Main Street to the front and there
in front of me were lines of Buffalo policemen in riot gear. At that point is
when I thought oh my god it’s happening here. [sounds of police sirens playing] We, it was only when tear gas was launched and I think that was the moment my eyes, you know, the tear gas, the smoke, my
eyes started watering and we just started coughing and couldn’t even stand
up. Some people were falling over each other to get away, started running. The
first thing you think is oh my god are they going to start shooting and there
was a fear; we had Kent State happen. The group I was with we ran to get down to
the parking lots by Main Street, uh, my car was down there and our only thought at
that time was we need to get out of here because it’s gotten out of hand; they won’t listen. [Yvonne James, MSW 2001 speaking] It was during the time that there was a lot going on, on campus
all over the country and here at UB also because at that time UB was involved in
a revolutionary stand. The community was greatly involved in that time. It was
during the riots some time around the riot so a lot of the thinking, um, from the
inner city was carried out to the University. UB at that particular time
was part of a huge social change that was going on all over the country and, um,
I was very, um, excited. So there was a, there was a connection with the school and the
community. Some of the people that they bought in, um, to speak on campus they were
about change you know something had to happen almost like they had a band in
the community. There was a lot of mistrust, um, with the university. [Bernie speaking] There’s another very distinct memory I have and it involved the School of Social Work. It
was, it was a Saturday, I was on the track team at the University and we were going
to a track meeting. We had went, gone over to Clark gym which is where at that
time was the main athletic facility and, uh, we’re getting ready to go, we had to
catch a bus to wherever this track meet was. I had to for some reason, I had to come over
to the School of Social Work in Foster Hall, in fact I was coming I know that to
look at a paper to see what grade I got on something and when I got here there’s
a protest going on and they had the stairs blocked and some students, you know,
they were shutting down Foster Hall; they’re shutting down the School of
Social Work for whatever the reason, they’re protesting something. I can
remember I said well I got, I want to see what I got on this paper, I wanted to see if the grade was posted and, um, I couldn’t pick this
person out in a million years if I had to but there was a young student a
female who was not very big and I remember she was blocking the door
telling me I couldn’t go in. I remember telling, I you know, I pay my tuition I
have a right to go into the building or go to class if I want to, you can’t you
know tell me that I can’t do that just because you don’t like something that
was going on. So while I was involved in some of this stuff I guess I also felt
very much like, you know, I still have a right to go to school if I want to so. [Narrator speaking] As UB celebrated its 125 anniversary in 1971, the
School of Social Work had 38 faculty members and over 500 students in
undergraduate and graduate programs. Franklin Zweig who had started in 1968
as Dean of the School of Social Work resigned. After Zweig’s resignation,
Dr. Sherman Merle was appointed dean. [Charles Bland, Assistant to Dean Merle, 1972-1980 speaking] Zweig was more of a, I believe was more of a community service worker whereas Merle was a dyed-in-the-wool
caseworker. He was, he was very [inaudible] in the idea of personal service to, more or less on a one-to-one basis and I think he, his goal was to restore
that sort of what he regarded as the core of social work back into the
University and to get away from this maybe what you might call do-gooders stuff. [Narrator speaking] The mid-1970s also brought the beginning of hard times for the school and the
school changed its name back to the School of Social Work. [Sherman Merle, Dean, 1972-1980 speaking] The school was coming up for its accreditation from the Council on Social Work education and when the team that was assigned to
review the school came to the campus, they discovered in their review of the
materials that this school was in really quite considerable disarray. On the basis
of the president’s office saying that they would be willing to give this
school another shot by virtue of bringing in a new dean and trying to
clean this place up a little bit and give him, give the school a year to mend
its ways as it were. Well subsequent to that the university began to make this
search for a new dean which where I, when I came into the picture. [Slide stating, “During the 1970’s The School of Social Work underwent many significant changes including the elimination of the undergraduate program in 1977, and the introduction of the part-time MSW program in 1979.”] [Isaac Alcabes speaking] What he brought
to the school was standards and I remember when students were in trouble
he would convene a meeting of the teaching faculty and objectively go over their records. [Shirley Reiser, MSW 1976, Coordinator, Rochester Extension Project speaking] When I first came here in 70 or 71 as part of that summer program, we, we
were just coming out of an accreditation visit where the gossip in the community
was that accreditation was in jeopardy. A lot of my filter of the, of the community
came through my field agencies, my field placements and they were so so excited
to have that relationship, the affiliation with the school and this
worked well with my life. [Bertha Laury, Direction of Field Education, 1972-1996 speaking] I tried to find placements that were different. I tried
to find challenging placements. The thing was once you got them in a challenging
place that you can’t have a person who was there who was also challenging but
you know that was what that was really about.
We were, we were sending students into places where they hadn’t been before. [Shirley speaking] One of, one of my I think powerful experiences in my field placement was the mini unit that I was
placed within at the Stutzman Alcoholism Treatment program. The Stutzman ATC was
part of the Psychiatric Center at the time and was on the fifth floor of the
Strozzi building on the psych campus. So I’m there I am on my first day, I’m going to
a placement I don’t want to go to and, and there was a, one of the patients was
wandering around in his pajamas and I’m on the elevator waiting to go up hoping
the doors gonna close before he comes in cuz I’m a little scared here. And he
exposed himself to me and, and I was I remember like as he was walking toward
me and the elevators second floor, third floor, I’m watching the lights on, I’m
like backing myself into the corner where I’m sitting there pressed up
against the corner and the elevator door opens and the director of the Stutzman
program walks by and sees me and it’s kind of twinkling his eye and said hey
it doesn’t get much better than that. So that was my introduction, I mean that he,
that was his wonderful way of it’s gonna be okay here we’re gonna laugh about
this and you’ll be fine. [Narrator speaking] In 1976, during the deanship of Sherman Merle, the school
was told it would have to terminate five more faculty members sparking sharp
reactions on campus and in the community which helped to save the school from
closure. In 1977, the new Amherst campus complex officially became the University
central campus. Many on campus and in the community criticized the decision to
move and were upset by the decentralized layout of the campus, claiming it would
discourage social intercourse. That same year, Buffalo was hit by the infamous
blizzard of 1977 that caused 28 deaths and left tens
of thousands of people stranded. [Bertha speaking] Because we knew a storm was coming and we had talked about what would we do if the storm comes.
Well the storm came and we couldn’t leave until the University told us to close
down and we kept calling and they wouldn’t tell us to close down. They
would say we just have to wait because if the university closed, we closed.
And we were the only ones still left and I said well I have permission from the University, which I didn’t, and I said you know with their permission we may leave. So I said to the
Commissioner bye and we left. Just in time. [Narrator speaking] In 1980, Dean Merle resigned and
the faculty at the school had been cut to just 12 people, down from 38. During
this time, the threat of closure loomed over the school. [Marvin Bloom, Associate Professor, 1963-1997 speaking] I wasn’t, I happened to be away at the faculty meeting, for some reason I used
to do everything I could to avoid them so I was away. So, uh, he comes in and
announces we’re gonna close the school down at the end of the year.
Everybody’s morose, which they should be, and I was too. Then somebody, I think it was
actually Gerry Miller who said, “Well what about the students who are in their first year?”
You know they have the two year. So he says well everybody has to suffer. I mean here a
young man or a young woman signs up for a two year program and you’re gonna tell them you
have to suffer. That just, so I figured we got to do something about it. [Narrator speaking] That year Elizabeth Harvey replaced Sherman Merle, becoming the school’s first female dean. [William M. speaking] She was a brick, she really was. She was, she, uh, had a difficult task and she was
thrown into a difficult position because she had been named dean at the time when the school was at a low ebb and she was taking over, uh, kind of a rundown
operation. [Margaret Manzella, Adjunct Faculty, 1984-1994 speaking] I always felt that there was, um, a real, um,
tension between the necessity of research and the necessity of the
clinical work and that we didn’t talk to one another. It’s like I felt like there
was very poor communication going on and that used to frustrate me a lot because
one isn’t effective without the other. [William M. speaking] When the school was put on probation, I was involved in that process. Uh, when the, uh, Council on Social Work
Education decided not to accredit the school, uh, and put it on probation, uh, and that
was an experience that I will remember because we had to take a pretty good
hard look at the school and its faculty and its students. [Hugh Petrie, Interim Dean, 1983-1985 speaking] There was a lot of talk about getting rid of this program or that program and the School of Social
Work was clearly up on people’s lists as one of the places that oh well gee
maybe we could get rid of the School of Social Work. Well fortunately I think for
the school you had a very strong, uh, group of, uh, practitioners and, and friends and
stuff like that and they, um, put a lot of pressure on the university for saying
look this is the kind of thing that Western New York really has to have and
you will not be fulfilling your responsibilities to the Western New York
community if you go ahead and do this. [Narrator speaking] The school did manage to avoid closure and was restructured and reorganized. [William Greiner, President, University at Buffalo, 1991-2003 speaking] What we finally did was we had to unravel the faculty structure, at least we took the
School of Social Work and made it independent. We took the, and when I say we I mean Bob Rosburg and I were the people in at the time who kind of helped,
you know, finish the reorganization that puts social work out independently and
put management out independently and then you had to say we’ve got to rebuild.
And but it was in that context of all of those connections that people had with
this community, that went back to the founding of the school, went back in
the 20s. Uh, that basically produced, you know, it was kind of that like the
second coming of the School of Social Work because the School of Social Work started in
the College of Arts and Sciences and then, then moved out. Then it got put
back into a piece of social sciences. Then its second kind of rebirth coming out. They had to do a lot of redevelopment. It took a long time. [Narrator speaking] As the school moved out of this difficult period and began to show
improvement, it still struggled to maintain diversity in its faculty and
student population. [Jan Palya, Asst.Dean for Field Education & Student Services (1996-2007) speaking] There wasn’t much racial diversity. There were, um, very few minority students, um, students of color whether they
were you know, um, Latina, African American. There was not much diversity in the
classes as I remember it. [Narrator speaking] However, under the ten years of Dean Seidl and Dean Shulman the school did enjoy a period of growth and expansion
including the opening of extension programs in Rochester, Jamestown and
Corning. As the school marked its 50th year of operation in 1984, Buffalo was
enjoying a positive economic period. The unemployment rate fell below the
national average to 8%. City officials remained optimistic about the city’s
future under the new North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA that was due to
take effect in 1994. In 1987, the school was moved in-house temporarily in alumni
arena on the university’s North Campus. Under Dean Seidl, the newly restructured
school also added a joint JD MSW program to further expand the scope of the
school’s offerings. [Jorien Brock, JD/MSW 2003, Adjunct Instructor speaking] My first year is when I was really connected with the School
of Social Work most closely. I think the greatest strength
of the school at the time was that it was connected to the community. It was
connected to the larger university community, there were partnerships with
social work in the School of Dentistry to explore some of those issues, both
related to access to good health care but also I think some of the anxiety
that goes along, you know, with going to the dentist. So, you know, there were those
kinds of partnerships with, you know, medical school, the law school and it was
significant to me that, that those opportunities were available and that
people recognize the value of interdisciplinary approaches. [William G. speaking] At least our school I think has gotten more used to the idea of A you have to
work with community and B you have to, have to work with others to
take advantage of what’s in the university. Last time I looked I
heard that there was a big contingent of JD/MSW students. [Narrator speaking] By the mid-1990s, the University at Buffalo itself had become an economic powerhouse creating a 1.41
billion dollar impact in the local economy. Boasting an enrollment of 25,000
students, the university offered nearly 300 degree programs, an operating budget
of 600 million and 4,500 full-time positions making it one of Western New York’s largest employers. [William G. speaking] One of the things this university learned to do, uh,
in the 90s in particular was let’s get in a position we control our own revenue.
I think the most important thing that happened in the presidential
leadership was the role that the University played in
getting the SUNY system to buy into revenue stays where it’s generated. [Narrator speaking] In 1992, the school was moved to the third floor of Baldy Hall on the North Campus.
Two years later, the school was expanded again under Dean Seidl with the
addition of a PhD program in social welfare. [Nancy Smyth, Dean, UB School of Social Work, 2004-Present speaking] He was in the process of trying
to change the school, move it in a new direction and doing that primarily on
the, um, non-tenured faculty that he’d hired, um, and you know bringing them along and at
that point our school was at a place where a lot of schools are when they’re
trying to change over. Most of the tenured faculty didn’t have PhDs. They had MSW
and had been there for many years and had been part of the school and then you
had this sort of new cadre of social work researchers coming up, um, and, uh, sort of
moving the school more in line with the Research 1 University and I think that
was very much Fred’s, Fred’s goal. [Song “Two-Ten, Six-Eighteen” starts playing] [Frederick Seidl, MSW 1964, Dean, 1985-1997 speaking] Well I said actually that, that’s piggybacked on the Rochester extension. Uh, it’s when Dean Santos and, uh, Marshall Smith
who are on the faculty at RIT visited me in my office and there was a guitar in
the corner and, uh, Dean picked it up and played a song and I played a song and
Marshall played a song and we said hey this is fun, can’t we do something
about this and so we, we did. There was no shortage of having opportunities to play
and you know so we played in colleges. We played at the 100th anniversary of
Hull-House in Chicago, um, which was a very gratifying evening and, and it didn’t
take but three or four songs for anybody to know that these guys were social
workers. So it was just another way of expressing those values and, and, and like that. [Narrator speaking] In 1998, Lawrence Schulman then became the new dean of the school. [Marcia Buhl, MSW 1974 speaking] I think Larry if you want to talk about somebody who has national credibility and publications and, you know, was a
who’s who in social work, uh, it would be Larry Schulman. [Lawrence Shulman, Dean, UB School of Social Work, 1998-2003 speaking] Well you know I’ve been a faculty member for many many years and I usually was complaining about the Dean
so I decided maybe it was time to try it myself, one last shot. That was in 1997, in
the summer of 1997, I saw it was a terrific opportunity and a good
university and I liked the core of the faculty that I was meeting with, and I
thought they were ready to work hard on some major changes to build the
university from where it was then to where it is now and so I took the job. [Narrator speaking] By the year 2000, the School of Social Work was resettled into its current home on
the sixth floor of Baldy Hall and a combined BA/MSW degree program for
eligible UB undergraduates was at it. [Andy Safyer, Interim Dean, 2003-2004 speaking] The students here at UB were more working class. A lot of them were first-generation getting their master’s
degree. They were very much part of the region and they were very wide-eyed
innocent and eager to learn, and some have gone on for doctorates and some
have taken leadership positions both here or in New York and so that’s very nice. [Narrator speaking] The new millennium saw the school advance a number of community-based
programs including the Visa Center at the South Campus which provided services
to at-risk youth suspended from the Buffalo public school system and a
project designed to reach out to older adult patients through UB’s dental
clinics who may be in need of social services. Over the course of the history
of the school and for many schools across the nation, there has been an
ongoing challenge to maintain cultural, sexual, racial and ethnic diversity in
both its faculty population and its student enrollment.
Early evidence of this issue was seen in a letter from Dean Carpenter dated June
1946 acknowledging to a Veterans Administration regional office official
that the school did in fact accept Negroes into the program but that the
school preferred only those from Western New York.
Even as the school entered the 21st century, diversity still remained a
concern in the school and in its representation in the community, affecting faculty and students alike. [Veronica Mack MSW 2005 speaking] Through my experience through life, I have always passed as a white, a white female and, um, I’ve always
said that I am an African American female. When I stepped into the class the
first time that was one of the things that I did notice, above and
beyond everything else that was going on, that I was the only person of color in
the Jamestown campus, on the Jamestown campus in this program. Um, but
there were people that were old, there were people that were young, there were
different, there were different, there was diversity, it just wasn’t within color. [Narrator speaking] In
2004, Dr. Nancy Smyth became the school’s second female dean. As she assumed the
leadership of the school, she was challenged with multiple issues
including those involving diversity, both on and off campus. [Nancy speaking] We have probably more diverse faculty than most of the faculties on campus. We have more diverse
student body than most of the faculty, student bodies on campus and that’s,
those are good things to be known for, I think. Um, it doesn’t mean that we can’t improve in those areas but it does mean that we can offer contributions. [Narrator speaking] She was also charged with a task of managing a multi- campus system. [Nancy speaking] And so we’re now currently living with these three off-site programs [slide showing map highlighting Rochester, Corning and Jamestown] in addition to Buffalo and my
analysis of the school size, our size of our student body compared to our peers
and our what we call aspirant peers, schools that we want to ultimately be
like, is we should have eight more tenure-track positions than what we have
right now. Um, we should probably be a faculty that’s, um, closer to 30 at this
point, um, and if we had those eight people it would be so much easier to provide
both what we need at those programs and provide enough of the teaching at this
campus. [Narrator speaking] In the latter part of the 19th century and in the first part
of the 20th century, there emerged a series of major social reform movements
advancing the profession of social work as we now know it. By the end of the 20th
century, the profession of social work had developed into a wide array of
disciplines. As we move through the 21st century, we must deal with the effects of
a rapidly changing economy, shifting demographics, high rates of immigration,
family compositional change, the challenges of urban poverty and a host
of other issues in our society, all of which will pose new challenges to
the profession of social work. [John Simpson, President, University at Buffalo, 2004-Present speaking] And the School of Social Work has I think taken
advantage of some of the kinds of, of academic initiatives that are going
on in the university. It’s, um, entirely appropriate and valuable participation
in some of the strategic strength initiatives from, from UB 2020, our
strategic plan and what that is a template. Um, there are good reactions to
both the students and the faculty of the school, of the School of Social Work. [Nancy speaking] And I think that’s a difference we’ve made at UB, you know, that UB’s difference,
it has made a difference in this community for that reason, um, and I think
that’s really powerful. I think we have that capacity and I’d like to think we
have it not just regionally, I think we can have that impact on a larger scale
as well, as we turnout doctoral students, as we turnout master students who go to
other places. When I look at the areas for growth for us as a school and where
we need to go, one is to become better collect, better connected to our alum and
to find ways to use their wisdom in, in our school. Um, and the other is that we need to move to a more international focus. [Steven Sample, President, University at Buffalo, 1982-1991 speaking] I guess I would say to recent graduates, uh,
future graduates, uh, don’t, don’t allow the profession to become
politicized. Understand that when we talk about
diversity it isn’t just color or gender or
religion or ethnicity, if there needs to be in a great healthy
university or in a great healthy social work school, a diversity of political opinions, a diversity of. [Narrator speaking] Social workers, quite literally, do the real work
involved in changing our society. It is through their shared experiences that we
gain the necessary knowledge and information needed to make a real and
lasting difference in other people’s lives. The roles they play are diverse
and critical to helping both individuals and our society as a whole. [Ellen Grant, MSW 1974 speaking] But in terms of the various, um, social work roles that I’ve had, everything from doing therapy
with families in the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, you know, with, um, I can remember
one young man who was in his 20s at the time when I was just starting out in
social work and had had a lobotomy, in his 20s or so. And knowing that that was going to be
the extent of his prognosis in terms of being able to get better. I mean it was like so humbling. [George speaking] You have to look at the whole person, get the whole situation.
Is it physical, is it emotional, is it stress? What is it that the problem that
this person is faced with and that they’re looking for help. [Maria Picone, Adjunct Instructor, 1981-Present speaking] The big thing is, as you, as you well know, is that remember what an honor it is to be a
social worker and invited into, um, the life of people and communities to make it, um, a
better place. It’s sometimes I cannot believe that I am
paid to do this work it’s like they’re paying me to do this, this is amazing. [Shirley speaking] I’m so glad I chose this field. As I see the social work community becoming more
involved in larger issues I’m, I don’t know any other profession that, that
looks at people and systems the way we do. I’m so proud to be a part of that. [Ellen speaking] When you, when you get up there and you have to have your own accounting and the
man says you, okay what have you done for somebody else. Every job that I’ve had,
every experience that I’ve had is a gift and so I always try to make the best of
it. [Slide stating, “UB School of Social Work, Excellence in Masters and Doctoral Education”] [Slide stating, “The Making of the School of Social Work History Project…”] [Susan Green, MSW 1988, Cinical Associate Professor speaking] Over, I think it was just over three years ago Dean Smyth asked Denise Krause and I to, uh, spearhead the history project for the
School of Social Work. There’s been two different time frames during the last
three years that it, uh, became very apparent to me, uh,
that this is a privilege.
We went down to Florida to interview our oldest living graduate and her name is
Jean Bennett. She, uh, graduated in the 30s so was what again one of our first
graduates of the school and, uh, to be welcomed into her home, to listen to what
she did in her internship, um, well she was a part of the school in serving folks,
specifically in Lackawanna, New York, and to hear her talk about how, um, being a part
of the community within the school and being taught the values and the skill
sets necessary to connect with people in our work was totally what I talk about
in a classroom and try to instill upon students now, uh, and so to have the absolute
evidence in front of me of here we are 70 plus years later and, uh, there’s no fancy
part of our work. That really is about human connection
and, um, giving our best to people that we serve, uh, so that was very striking to me. Probably for me one of the most profound experiences that I’ve had is the
knowledge that actually three of the people that we have interviewed have
passed since we interviewed them and I, I know that we gave individuals an
opportunity to tell their story, uh, that being Marvin Bloom, George Lankes and
Bill McFarland and their story absolutely made a difference for me and
I know will be captured and is captured within the book, the documentary and the
manuscripts. I, um, feel honored to have the opportunity to meet almost 60 people
that were somehow and are still connected to our school. I absolutely, um, did
not expect to experience the, um, emotions number one that I have over the last few
years of interviewing people and having the opportunity to listen to their story, um,
and the story of how our school has, uh, made a difference within, uh, the community of
Buffalo certainly the University at Buffalo but worldwide. Uh, it’s opened my eyes in many ways. [Denise speaking] One of the most moving interviews for me, uh,
happened when we had a conjoint interview with Gerry Miller and Howard
Doueck and Ike Alcabes and Ike and Jerry are two former faculty members and
Howard is current. And the three of them sat at a table and they just talked
about the profession, they talked about the school and they had a lot of laughs
and correcting each other and correcting each other’s memories and, um, it was very
fun to be a part of that and toward the end, what the profound piece is how moved
that they were by their participation in the education of social workers and how
they really saw that their role as social work educators transfers to a
difference that’s me, that’s made with clients in the real world and it came to
the point where there was a really extreme sentiment about that, and that’s
rare to see at a faculty level and I was very moved, as was everybody in the room
at that time and I don’t think there was any way I could have predicted how it
would have impacted me. And it’s, um, at times I have been touched in
ways that I never thought that I would be touched about the history of the
school of social work and today I feel as though I have really more questions than
answers and I’m probably not any different than a lot of people who, who
make documentaries or interview people. It seems that sometimes that the work of
social work is so overwhelming and the question is really are we making a
difference in people’s lives and, and that’s why people come into the field
and that’s what we heard over and over, I came to social work because I thought I
could make a difference, I felt that I could make a difference. There’s so much
need all around me, I need to make a difference and that’s what people said
to us and that’s how I feel today and it feels and this is a, you know, it feels
like a privilege to have heard the stories and it also feels as though I
have a torch to carry forward that, that now I’m privileged with this history
that I have to help make sense of for other people to further make a
difference. And it’s remarkable. [Slide stating, “The UB School of Social Work would like to offer special thanks to the following people who participated in this History Project.”] [Slide with scrolling names stating, “Gerald Miller, Isaac Alcabes, Marvin Bloom, Ted Myers, John DiBiase, Michael Moran, Howard Doueck, Lawrence Shulman, Bertha Laury, William Greiner, Marcia Buhl, Ellen Kennedy, Sherman Merle, Pauline Riemer, Janet Siegner, Jean Bennett, Angela Lawrence, Frederick Seidl, Marjorie Connors, Carolyn Qualich, George Lankes, Shirley Reiser, Arthur Eve, David Wegenast, Ellen Grant, Patricia Eichorn, Bonnie Collins, Linda Dinger, Mary Frances Danner, Bill McFarland, Sandy Anderson, Veronica Mack, Anna Cerrato, Yvonne James, Catherine Dulmus Bernie Tolbert, Maria Picone, Jan Palya, John Robin Allen, Mike Evola, Paul Gervitzman, Nancy Smyth, Hugh G. Petrie, Marge Brew, Hans Falck, Sook Yee Yeung Virginia Zeeb, Margaret Manzella, Rita Andolina, Yhermana Puello, Charles Bland, Heidi Milch, Andy Safyer, Diane Savaterri, John Simpson, Steven Sample Susan Green, Denise Krause, Alisha Taggart-Powell, Hilary Weaver, Ginny Riedman-Dangler”] [Slide stating, “Produced by State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Social Work and Odessa Pictures, Inc.”] [Slide stating, “Co-Producers, Susan McGowan, Stephen Powell”] [Slide stating, “Written by Stephen Powell”] [Slide stating, “Narrated by Dr. Adjoa Robinson, State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Social Work”] [Slide stating, “Project Coordinator & Associate Producer, Jeffrey Bloomberg”] [Slide stating, “Interview Videography & Project Managers, Sue Green, Denise Krause, Jeffrey Bloomberg, Additional Videography by Rafi Bloomberg”] [Slide stating, “Editing & Post Production, Stephen Powell”] [Slide stating, “Script Research, Dr. Prashant Girinath”] [Slide stating, “Researchers, Dr. Prashant Girinath, Jeffrey Bloomberg, David Coppola, Susan Lankenau”] [Slide stating, “Archival Photography & Media, Library of Congress, bpdthenandnow.com, Archive.org, wnyheritagepress.org, State University of New York at Buffalo Archives”] [Slide stating, “Project Director, Dr. Nancy Smyth, Dean, School of Social Work, State University of New York at Buffalo”] [Slide stating, “Music, Hull House Revival, productiontrax.com, Josh Woodward”] [Slide stating, “Project Assistants: Dave Coppola, Sook Yee Yeung, Melissa Castellana, Alex Siradas, Angelique Caley, Rafi Bloomberg”] [Slide stating, “Copyright 2009, State University of New York at Buffalo”] [Slide stating, “For more information go to: www.socialwork.buffalo.edu”]

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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