A Century of Partnership and Progress: The IU School of Social Work

IU School of Social Work Centennial Celebration
Scholar's Hall
University Place Campus Center
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana
October 24, 2011

“The Keynote of The Modern University”

Over a century ago, IU’s seventh president, David Starr Jordan wrote that “[t]he keynote of the modern university is its usefulness.”1  This evening offers an ideal example of that usefulness at its finest and most compelling, as we celebrate the centennial of the Indiana University School of Social Work.

Evolving in Service to The State and Nation

The evolution of the School of Social Work began as the Social Service Department in Indianapolis in 1911. It all started with one worker, one desk, one telephone, note cards, and a mandate from President Bryan to “study charity problems . . . and render service to the deserving poor.”

That mandate placed Indiana University at the forefront of a national social reformist movement that touched virtually every aspect of society and included such seminal figures as social activist Jane Addams, photographer Jacob Riis, journalist Upton Sinclair, and many others. The growth and development of the IU School of Social Work has mirrored the history of our country, from those early days when the demand for social workers increased at the end of World War I as wounded soldiers returned home,  to the Great Depression, to World War II and the present day when so many people are still in need.

The new department struck a bold note in its early publications, stating, “The Department must look through the individual patient to the society in which he lives and find there the causes which make individuals sick or keep them so. Such work cannot be limited to the confines of one city. It must be statewide. Indiana University can be satisfied with nothing less than better health, increased knowledge, and consequently diminished poverty for the coming generations of all Indiana.”2

This ambitious statement captures the call to service that the IU School of Social Work has been heeding for the past century, as it grew from a department to a division to a graduate school to a full-fledged, system-wide school with a presence on every campus of Indiana University.

A Century of Growth

Now the school is the oldest and one of the largest schools of social work in the nation. It is home to 70 faculty members across the university, 300 undergraduates, 950 master’s students, 40 doctoral students, and approximately 8,600 living graduates.

Those graduates represent every state in the union as well as at least fourteen different countries. The oldest graduate earned a degree in 1957, lives in Bloomington, and is now 103 years old.

The school necessarily works in close collaboration with communities throughout the state. For instance, it oversees the Child Welfare Education and Training Partnership with the Indiana Department of Child Services, does research for the Indiana Department of Mental Health and Addiction, and works in partnership with around 600 social service agencies across the state each year placing students for internships necessary for their degrees.

These are just a few details about the Indiana University School of Social Work, its history and its engagement throughout the state. I commend Dean Michael Patchner for his leadership of the school as well has his leadership in statewide efforts to improve the lives of children. He is truly a leader who exemplifies the very best of his profession.

Looking Forward to a Second Century

All of us at Indiana University can take great pride in the achievements of the IU School of Social Work, and together we can look forward to another century of partnership and progress. Thank you very much.

Source Notes

  1. Jordan, David Starr.  Voice of the Scholar with Other Addresses on the Problems of Higher Education. Paul Elder:  San Francisco, 1903.  Page 11.
  2. Bryan, William Lowe.  Correspondence with Edna Henry.  3 June 1911.  Indiana University Archives.