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Vol.24, No. 01 Sept. 4, 1998

School of Social Work Celebrates Centennial with Keynote Speech by Tipper Gore

By Kim Brockway --

Timely issues, from child care and welfare reform to mental health and immigration, were discussed at the School of Social Work's Centennial Conference, held in June. One of the most memorable moments for the more than 800 faculty, alumni, students and professionals in social work and related fields who attended the three-day event is certain to have been the keynote address by Tipper Gore.

Mrs. Gore began by observing, "the mark social work has placed upon our social fabric is indelible," and continued by asking those present to consider adding a family-centered approach to their work.

Mrs. Gore's warm words to the audience of advocates were not the only tributes that came from the nation's capital. President Clinton sent a message, which read in part: "As we seek to shape social change in the next century, we will continue to need your leadership, advocacy, and commitment to excellence."

A videotaped message from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in which she noted the important legislation that resulted from social workers' efforts, was screened for conference attendees. New York Governor George Pataki, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the New York City Council, and a half-dozen senators and representatives also sent their congratulations on the historic occasion.

During the conference, Dean Ronald A. Feldman announced the creation of the Sylvia D. and Mose J. Firestone Centennial Clinical Professorship and Scholarship. Established by Mrs. Firestone, a 1939 graduate of Columbia's School of Social Work, and her husband, the professorship and scholarship will be official upon approval by the Board of Trustees in the fall. It was also announced that the School had received a bequest of $3 million from the estate of the late Carol H. Meyer, a professor at the School from 1962 to 1996.

The work of more than 35 faculty, alumni and community leaders was recognized during the presentation of special Centennial, Hall of Fame, and Centennial Leadership awards. Among those honored for their achievements to their local, national, and even international communities were Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Children's Defense Fund founder and president Marian Wright Edelman, and the former First Lady of Costa Rica Karen Olsen De Figueres.