IN MEMORIAM: Honoring Notable Faculty and Alumni Lost in 2019

February 3, 2020 @ 11:41 pm
By Communications Office

Ann Sulzberger Sand, left, who died last May, listens to fellow alumna Pauline Falk at the National Symposium on Outcomes Measurement in the Human Services in 1995.

Last year saw the loss of several outstanding members of Columbia University’s School of Social Work community. While they may no longer be in our midst, they will remain an inspiration to the field of social work, and we’re grateful to claim them as part of our School’s heritage. Please join us in paying tribute to these five individuals and their contributions.

One of the first people to recognize homelessness as an issue affecting families, Kronenfeld subscribed to the 19th-century belief that social workers should live among the people they serve. He opened the nation’s first family shelter on New York’s Lower East Side, the Urban Family Center, in 1972, as an alternative to welfare hotels. At that time, he moved on to the premises and raised his family there. Later, as executive director of the Center’s parent agency, Henry Street Settlement, he lived on site as well. After thirty years with the two organizations, he identified and mentored Henry Street’s next two directors, to ensure continuity. Kronenfeld, who graduated from our School in 1961, was honored as a Face of Hope at President Bill Clinton’s Inaugural and inducted into the Columbia School of Social Work Hall of Fame in 2011. His daughter, Jenny Kronenfeld, told the New York Times: “Basically he felt that being poor should not define a person or their future.” Kronenfeld died on December 6.

As the founding executive director of Friends and Relatives of the Institutionalized Aged (FRIA), Ethel Paley, who graduated from our School in 1969, achieved a reputation as a leading advocate for elderly New Yorkers. During her period at FRIA’s helm, from 1976 to 2011, Paley transformed the organization into a consumer information and advocacy organization for residents of New York City’s assisted-living centers and nursing homes. In the late 1970s, Paley organized the Long Term Care Community Coalition, a state-wide bloc of consumer, community, civic, and professional organizations that would identify and address the systemic issues affecting the quality of long-term health care in New York. In 2014, Paley was inducted into the School’s Hall of Fame. Although she received many awards, friends pointed out that the Hall of Fame designation was particularly meaningful to her. Paley died on November 18.

As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the early 1950s, Sand vocally opposed segregation at school events. She went on to become a leading activist for causes such as childhood literacy and the rights of people who are homeless, long before these causes gained widespread traction. A former trustee of Columbia University, Sand was also active at the School of Social Work, from which she graduated in 1954. She served on our Dean’s Advisory Council, the School’s Centennial Committee, and the development council of the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice, a joint program of CSSW and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. Beyond the university, she served on the boards of the Citizens’ Committee for Children and Reach Out and Read of Greater New York. She died May 17.

Florence Taub Stein, a 1941 graduate of our School, served for many years as the director of social work at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. Active in many city, state, and national organizations, she published and presented widely. Among her many honors was the outstanding leadership award she received as president of the Society for Hospital Social Work Directors (now the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care). In retirement, Stein continued ballroom and line dancing into her 90s and played five weekly games of bridge until she was 100. Continuing to volunteer until the age of 99, she consulted for CSSW and served in numerous capacities at the state and regional level, including as a commissioner in the Monroe Township Office on Aging, receiving citations for her contributions. She died on March 28.

A globally recognized leader in the field of prevention science, Steven P. Schinke, CSSW’s D’Elbert and Selma Keenan Professor of Social Work, developed and tested programs aimed at helping children and adolescents to reduce risky behaviors that would compromise their health and life chances. A beloved figure at the School of Social Work, Schinke was known for his stellar research and publication record, collegiality, and dedication to teaching and mentorship. His last role for the School—one that he relished—was as faculty advisor to the School’s online campus, which launched in 2015. He enjoyed developing online versions of the Research Methods and Introduction to Statistics courses, even winning an award for his online teaching. He died on January 1. This past fall, the School established two new awards in his name for innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Once again, we mourn the loss of the above individuals while also celebrating their contributions to the field of social work, whether as practitioners, educators, and/or researchers. No doubt there are more names that ought to have appeared on the above list. If you wish to let our readers know about a member of the School’s community who died in 2019, please add your tribute in the Comments section below.