The School of Social Work has an important legacy on the Syracuse University campus, in the local and regional communities, and beyond. Since the beginning, it has upheld the highest standards of teaching and scholarship while building a strong, long-lasting foundation incorporating theory and practice. Since the 1950s, fieldwork has played an important role in social work education at Syracuse University. Many of the School’s current field placement sites reflect relationships dating back to its early years. Guided by the social work profession’s cardinal values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of all persons, the importance of human relationships, integrity and competence, Falk College is committed to preparing the next generation of social workers to meet society’s needs.

Use the numbered orange dots to connect events on the timeline with corresponding photos. Photos and historical data are courtesy of University Archives, Syracuse University Libraries, and individual faculty and staff contributors.


Through the 1930s, Syracuse University students are offered undergraduate courses in social work through the Department of Sociology and College of Home Economics. At that same time, the University and the community’s Council of Social Agencies of Onondaga County form a vision for a School of Social Work.


The University of Buffalo begins a one-semester social work course offered through the adult education division of Syracuse University.


The American Association of Schools of Social Work decides Upstate New York is in need of a separate School of Social Work, specifically at Syracuse University.


Syracuse University ends its relationship with the University of Buffalo and inaugurates an independent School of Social Work. Much of the groundwork is complete, but the question of funding remains.


Howard Gundy is named the School’s first Dean. Under his direction, field work plays an important role in the School and is a foundation on which the program continues to grow and evolve. A Rosamond Gifford Charitable Corporation grant sustains the program in its early years.


The School of Social Work initiates the process of accreditation. The following year, the School is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the first such school in New York State, excluding Buffalo and New York City, and the 61st in the country. 1 Pictured is Syracuse University Chancellor William Tolley, left, presenting the letter of accreditation to Howard Gundy, center, in 1958.


A Ford Foundation grant establishes a Youth Development Center at Syracuse University focused on addressing juvenile delinquency. Integrally involved with the community and other University programs, the Youth Development Center is the nation’s largest university community venture of its kind. For the first time, student interns are placed at the VA Medical Center in various geographies, including Syracuse and the Fort Drum area in Watertown, NY, building the foundation for the Office of Field Instruction. Over time, many alumni join the VA professional social work staff.


2 Pictured is a Youth Development Center photo of guests at graduation, Jack Kirkland ’59, G’61, Mrs. Kindelsberger, Dean Piskor, and Mrs. Richmond, from left to right.


3 On May 22, Eleanor Kenyon G’61 receives the Elizabeth Allen Scholarship Award of the Central New York Chapter, National Association of Social Workers, from Paul Weinandy, Chapter Chairman, at the School of Social Work Graduation Banquet. 4 Pictured is the 1961 Girls Club of America at the School of Social Work.


The School moves from its first home at 400 Comstock Ave. to “Crouse House,” three buildings on South Crouse Ave. that include the Youth Development Center and the Social Work Library on either side of the main building at 926 South Crouse Ave. 5 Pictured are the Crouse House exterior, the library, and one of its classrooms. 6 Howard Gundy, center, is pictured in the School’s library.


While John Hartnett serves as Acting Dean, the Syracuse University School of Social Work is the only school in the nation running its own social services agency at the time, Central Village Services, serving 500 low-income families.


The Council on Social Work Education, as an outgrowth of the “War on Poverty,” votes to begin providing social work education at the baccalaureate level—the entry level or the first professional degree.


In the 1970s, international students begin to attend the School from nations such as India, Egypt, Korea, Canada, and the Philippines. A U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare grant allows the School to plan a “Model Cities” program for the aging.


The School admits its first undergraduate class under Dean Walter Beattie, one of the first bachelor of social work programs in the U.S. In 1975, the bachelor’s degree program receives accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.


7 The School establishes the all-University Gerontology Center, which allows students across the University to pursue a concentration in Aging. 8 Pictured is a scene from the Gerontology Center. Today, the Gerontology Center exists as the Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute, established in 2011, a joint partnership between Falk College and the Maxwell School.


9 Under Dean Kermit Schooler, pictured center, the School receives a National Institute of Mental Health grant that led to the Family Mental Health concentration.

The Council on Social Work Education issues accreditation standards covering content in social work curriculum, staffing, and organization of social welfare programs at the undergraduate level. The following year, the Council is formally authorized to accredit baccalaureate social work programs.


A concentration in Health Care is introduced. 10 The School moves to Brockway Hall, connected to the Brewster-Boland residence hall.


Diane Lyden Murphy, an alumna of the School of Social Work and the future founding Dean of Falk College, joins the School of Social Work’s faculty.


Four master of social work students, including Jeffrey Ambers G’80, president of the School of Social Work Graduate Student Organization, initiate the Social Justice Award to honor community members committed to social justice under the advisement of professor Alejandro Garcia, who in 2006 becomes the School’s Director. The award program is later named for Daniel Rubenstein, former faculty member, and his wife Mary Lou, a school social worker, and it continues to this day. 11 Pictured is Falk College Dean Diane Lyden Murphy presenting the 2013 Social Justice Award to Garcia.


12 An Occupational Social Work concentration is introduced by professor Joseph Steiner, pictured on the right receiving an award of appreciation from Chancellor Kenneth Shaw in 1997.


13 By 1987, the School begins to offer off-campus programs in Rochester, Utica, and Ogdensburg, led by professors Ed Ihle and Gerald Gross, who is named Acting Dean the following year and succeeded in 1989 by William Pollard, pictured conducting a lecture.


The terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 takes the lives of 35 Syracuse University students returning from a semester abroad in London. Among them are two from the School of Social Work, Suzanne Miazga, a graduate student, and Kesha Weedon, a junior.


14 Pictured are social work professors William McPeak, far left, and Donald Lawitts, far right, and to his right, alumnus James Stone G’64. 15 Also pictured is Dean William Pollard at a 1992 alumni luncheon. Pollard was instrumental in the School’s alumni engagement efforts.


Professors Nancy Mudrick and Claire Rudolph write and receive a five-year curriculum development grant that creates the Child Welfare concentration in the School of Social Work and also supports tuition. This project enables current caseworkers from several Upstate New York county Department of Social Services agencies, including Onondaga County, to earn master of social work degrees on a part-time basis. 16 Pictured are professors Gerald Gross, Mudrick, later named the School’s Director in 2002, and Rudolph.


17 The School of Social Work moves to Sims Hall, pictured here, on main campus.


The Zeta Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha, the national social work honor society established in 1962, is founded at Syracuse.


Having been affiliated with the National Association of Social Workers’ Legislative Day for decades, and facilitating annual trips to Albany, NY, professor Eric Kingson implements the first Legislative Policy Day for the School in Onondaga County.

Starting in 2006, the annual event is sponsored by alumnus James Stone G’64. 18 Pictured are Stone, standing left, and Kingson, standing right, at the 2012 Legislative Policy Day.


The School of Social Work and College of Nursing, along with two departments in the College for Human Development, together form a new multi-disciplinary college at Syracuse University, the College of Human Services and Health Professions, with William Pollard as founding Dean and Bruce Lagay as the School of Social Work’s first Director. The five advanced concentrations are reconstructed into two: Individuals, Families, and Groups (IF&G), and Community Organization, Policy, Planning, and Administration (COPPA).


A gift from the Alan B. and Barbara Mirken Foundation establishes the annual Alan B. Mirken New York City Social Work Immersion Trip. Each spring, faculty, students, and staff from the School of Social Work embark on a three-day journey to the New York City area for the Immersion Trip to help students learn how U.S. social welfare developed. 19 Pictured are professors Carrie Smith, Elizabeth Thoreck, Deborah Monahan, and Karen Kirkhart with students on the trip.


A minor in social welfare is introduced.


The College of Human Services and Health Professions is renamed the College of Human Ecology.


Under the leadership of Nancy Mudrick, the School of Social Work initiates the study abroad program “Topics in Advanced Social Work Practice and Policy: A Four-Country Observation and Comparison of Services” in which students visit human service agencies in France, Germany, and Switzerland together with social work students from these countries. 20 Pictured is a scene from the 2008 trip.


The College of Human Ecology is renamed the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics with support from Syracuse University alumni, David Falk ’72 and Rhonda Falk ’74. The Falk Complex, former home of the College of Law, is dedicated in 2015.


The social work and marriage and family therapy dual degree master’s program is introduced, the first of its kind in the nation. The School continues to expand and evolve. 21 Pictured is professor Paul Caldwell teaching equine-assisted therapies.


Under the leadership of Director Carrie Smith, the master of social work concentrations are reconceptualized, creating the Advanced Clinical Practice and Advanced Integrated Practice concentrations.


22 The 18th Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Forum at the Onondaga County Courthouse brings students together with community and political leaders and other experts to discuss the trauma, pain, and disruption of gun violence. With average annual attendance of 120 students, faculty, speakers and panelists, field supervisors and other community partners, estimates indicate 2,160 individuals have participated in the symposium to date, including 1,530 students.


23 Director Keith Alford presents a proclamation from Joanne Mahoney, county executive, which declares April 21, 2017 “Syracuse University School of Social Work Day” at the School’s 60th Anniversary Celebration event April 21 at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse. 24 That same day, Syracuse’s Zeta Gamma Chapter of the Phi Alpha national social work honor society welcomes 32 new members at its 2017 induction ceremony, pictured.


25 The 2018 Rubenstein Social Justice Award is presented to Al-amin Muhammad, pictured here delivering the keynote address, “Many faces, many stories: The lived experiences of people who are homeless.” The award is also presented to the Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse, New York, a community agency serving people in need as well as a long-time partner of the School of Social Work and its Office of Field Instruction.