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Willma and Albert Musher Chair Professorship Established

Columbia University Record -- November 18, 1994 -- Vol. 20, No. 10

Social Work Gains 2 New Chairs

Two new named professorships have been established at Columbia's School of Social Work, Dean Ronald A. Feldman has announced. They are the Helen Rehr and Ruth Fizdale Professorship of Health and Mental Health, and the Willma and Albert Musher Professorship of Social Work.

The Rehr and Fizdale Professorship, endowed with gifts from Rehr, an alumna of the School, and the estate of Fizdale, will combine fields of social work practice and health care research.

The Musher Professorship, endowed with a gift from Musher, a friend of the School, will advance social work knowledge development through the application of methods that have been used in related fields of scientific inquiry.

Feldman noted that the two professorships are being established at "an auspicious moment in the School's history."

He said, "Public funds for social work education have declined sharply. These gifts will offset that decline as the School approaches its centennial in 1998. Most important, they will help the School to assume renewed leadership in crucial areas of social work education: physical health, mental health and the advancement of social work practice through scientific inquiry."

Appointments are expected to be made to the professorships in the 1994-95 academic year.

Rehr, who received both her master's and doctoral degrees in social work from Columbia, served for many years in the department of social work service of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, becoming its director in 1973. The following year she was named Edith J. Baerwald Professor of Community Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She retired in 1986 but has continued as a consultant to the department. She has also taught at Hebrew, Haifa and Ben Gurion Universities in Israel. She has been honored by the National Academies of Practice in Social Work, Hunter College and the National Association of Social Workers, which named her a Social Work Pioneer in 1993. She is a member of the development council of the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice, which is sponsored jointly by the School and the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services.

Fizdale, who died Oct. 30 at age 86, was adjunct professor emerita at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She studied at the University of Chicago and at the schools of social work of Smith College and the University of Pennsylvania. For nearly 20 years she was executive director of the Arthur Lehman Counseling Service in New York, where she developed a fee-for-service system for use by private agencies, thereby enabling salaries to be paid to social workers. Created to serve middle-income clients, the ALCS helped to establish social work as a profession. Her book Social Agency Structures and Accountability was widely used in graduate schools, agencies and in private practice to standardize quality social work services on a fee basis.

She was a founding member of the NASW Competence Certification Board and was named New York Social Worker of the Year in 1970. In 1988 the National Center for Social Policy and Practice of NASW honored her by establishing the Ruth Fizdale Fund for Social Welfare Studies.

Musher, a director of Stiefel Laboratories, has been a benefactor of the School of Social Work for a number of years. His primary interest has been the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice. His earlier gifts funded studies on support services needed by grandparents raising grandchildren and AIDS prevention among minority youth. Musher's gift to endow a professorship further advances his interest in helping to develop the scientific base of social work practice.

Born in 1904 in San Francisco, Musher is a graduate of Johns Hopkins. As president of Aveeno Pharmaceuticals Inc., now merged with S.C. Johnson Co., from 1948 to 1969 he was responsible for inventions that led to 50 U.S. and foreign patents on pharmaceutical and food products. He founded and chaired the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Bureau of Community Education of the New York Board of Education.

Columbia University Record -- November 18, 1994 -- Vol. 20, No. 10