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President Obama sends letter congratulating School of Social Work on its 100th anniversary

 Richard Reed, Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Resilience Policy
Richard Reed, Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Resilience Policy


October 28, 2011

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Nearly 400 people, including Indiana University President Michael McRobbie and IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz, joined together to celebrate 100 years of work by the Indiana University School of Social Work at a celebration dinner.

The event at Scholars Hall at University Place Hotel on Oct. 24th on the IUPUI campus included a special recognition letter delivered from Washington, D.C. by Richard Reed, Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Resilience Policy. Reed is also a BSW and MSW graduate of the School of Social Work.

“I am pleased to convey to you some sentiments from the folks I get to spend a lot of time with,” Reed told the audience before he began reading the letter. “I am pleased to send my heartfelt congratulations to everyone celebrating the Indiana University School of Social Work’s 100th anniversary. Over the course of your history, your school has prepared countless young minds to face the world’s challenges and to build a better tomorrow.

“Generations of students, educators and staff have passed through your doors and made your school a valued place of learning for all who celebrate this milestone. I hope you take pride in your many contributions and achievements and look ahead for those sure to come.”
After reading the last line, Reed paused and announced the letter was signed by the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

The dinner celebrated the history of the School that started out as the Division of Social Services in 1911 in Indianapolis. “The crush we experienced when we came in the front door is testimony of the enthusiasm and support for the School,” McRobbie told those assembled at the dinner. He noted the Division that started with one employee, a desk and a telephone has grown into one of the oldest and 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. The School’s graduates live in every state in the United States and at least 14 different countries.

“All of us at Indiana University can take great pride in the achievements of our School of Social Work, and together we can really look forward to another century of partnership and progress.”

Chancellor Bantz commented on the turnout at the dinner as well, noting in his experience, it was the largest crowd he has seen in Scholars Hall since the room opened. “We emphasize that this is a campus that translate research into practice,” Chancellor Bantz said. “You of course illustrate that each and every day in the work you do and in the service you give to our state.” The school’s involvement in helping to train the employees of the Indiana Department of Child Services is an effort that will touch not just a thousand children, but probably tens of thousands of children in Indiana, he said. Social workers often deal with the stressful circumstances that can tear our society apart, whether it is infant mortality, homelessness, domestic violence and overcoming other problems, the chancellor said. “We thank all of you for what you do as social workers.”

Jim Morris, the keynote speaker at the dinner, said he considers social workers, along with youth workers, coaches and teachers are the most important people in any community. “You give hope and encouragement to lots of people who are vulnerable, at risk and need a boost,” said Morris, who is the former director of the United Nations World Food Programme and is now the president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment. “You guide the way to help folks who need to find a way to become part of what our society has put in place to address tough, tough problems. So I am profoundly grateful to you.”

School of Social Work Dean Michael Patchner told those at the dinner that if he had any regrets, it was those who took the first steps to develop the social work program at Indiana University could not be at the dinner to see how far their fledgling program had come in the last century.

“We have undoubtedly become bigger, both in the numbers of students and faculty. The research our faculty carry out its top notch and has helped improve how our students assist their clients. But I make this promise to you. When people find themselves in trouble, be it poverty, sickness or other social problems, the School of Social Work and its graduates will be there to help.”