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School of Social Work to celebrate 100 years of giving hope and changing lives of people in need

View print-quality imageEdna Henry, who was the first director of the Department of Social Service in 1911
Edna Henry, who was the first director of the Department of Social Service in 1911 View print-quality image


September 28, 2011

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On Monday Oct. 24th, the Indiana University School of Social Work will host a day-long celebration of its 100th anniversary.

The School’s story is one that starts in June of 1911, when a letter from Indiana University President William Bryan arrived at the home of Edna Henry asking if she would be interested in a position in a new department the university was setting up: the Department of Social Service.

The Social Service Department would work with the School of Medicine at the City Dispensary and with the deserving poor who came to the Medical School, Dr. Bryan explained. “Work of this character has been inaugurated with much success at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston,” he noted.

Henry readily agreed to serve as the Department’s first Director and it opened in September of 1911, placing Indiana University at the forefront of a movement to transform the lives of the poor, ill and disabled. The decision makes today’s Indiana University School of Social Work the oldest professional social work education program in the United States begun and continuously functioning as part of a university.

One can only speculate that the Dr. Henry was too busy in 1911 to wonder what the next 100 years would hold for the university’s fledgling program. A century later the answer is evident. The story of the Indiana University School of Social Work is an inspiring one, an account of dedicated faculty who worked to make the School’s program one of the best in the nation. The impact of the School can readily be seen in our students and alumni who have passionately dedicated themselves to give hope and change lives of people in need.

The Social Service Department started with one person, a desk and a telephone, but now offers Social Work and Labor Studies programs on campuses across Indiana and is one of the nation’s leading schools of social work.

One hundred years of work is something worth celebrating. The School’s Alumni Association has been hard at work planning activities throughout the state with the culmination coming Oct 22-23 with activities in Bloomington and Indianapolis. On Monday Oct. 24, the focus turns to the IUPUI campus where our students, graduates, faculty and staff will get a chance to pause, reflect, re-connect and celebrate a century of accomplishments at our School.

Monday, Oct 24th, will start with a three-hour Continuing Education Conference where faculty from our Social Work and Labor Studies programs will touch on the past, present and future of the School. At 6:30 p.m., everyone will gather at Scholar’s Hall at University Place Hotel for a reception, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Our guest speaker will be James Morris, the former Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Please consider joining us on Oct. 24. You can register by going to