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							Monday, Feb. 9, 1998

Maurice V. Russell, Social Work Leader, Dies at 74

Maurice V. Russell, a longtime leader in social work service and education in New York, died in a fire in his country home in Rhinecliff, N.Y., yesterday (Sunday). He was 74 and a resident of Manhattan. He died of smoke inhalation from a fire near a wood stove that broke out at 9 P.M. in his two-story Hutton Street house, said Duchess County Sheriff Fred W. Scoralick. Over more than 40 years, Dr. Russell taught and directed social services at several New York institutions. Currently, he was professor of clinical social work at the New York University School of Medicine. For 15 years, from 1973 to 1988, he had been director of the Social Service Department of the New York University Medical Center. He also taught at Columbia University, Hunter College and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is credited with establishing the first professional department of social work at Harlem Hospital 30 years ago, and he was director of social services at Jacobi Hospital. Earlier he was associate director of Brooklyn Psychiatric Center, Inc. At the time of his death he had been president for 25 years of the Kenworthy-Swift Foundation, which funds projects to promote mental health in young people. He was a Trustee of Columbia from 1987 to 1995, the first African- American elected to represent the alumni of the University on the board. "He was one of the most innovative and honored leaders in social work education over a period of many, many decades," Dean Ronald Feldman of the Columbia University School of Social Work, his alma mater, said today. His many awards included designation as "Social Worker of the Year" in 1986 by the American Public Health Association. The Maurice V. Russell Professorship in Social Policy and Social Work Practice was created at Columbia in 1994 with the help of a gift of $1 million from Edith K. Ehrman, a colleague he had known since the 1950's. "He initiated new and exceptionally important health care programs and fostered cutting-edge advances in social work education," said Dean Feldman. "He was one of the very best friends of the School of Social Work, and everyone throughout the social work community - locally and nationally - will miss him sorely." Maurice Russell was born May 7, 1923, in Philadelphia and remembered a childhood of hard struggle and poverty after his father was struck and killed by a car when the boy was only 7. "I became acutely aware of what it felt to need help," he later recalled. "That experience sensitized me, and perhaps for that reason I have always found a lot of satisfaction in helping people." A good student, he graduated from high school at 16 and attended Temple University at night, working during the day to support his mother and pay his tuition. It took eight years to earn his B.A. while he helped his mother realize her life's dream, to own a house of her own. With a loan and fellowship and two jobs, he earned the master of social work degree from Columbia in 1950. Teachers College awarded him the Ed.D. in 1964. He taught at the Hunter College School of Social Work from 1955 to 1960 and was a professor in Columbia's School of Social Work and School of Public Health from 1966 to 1980. He was professor of community health at Einstein and director of social service at its affiliate, Jacobi Hospital, from 1970 to 1973. He was director of social services at Harlem Hospital for many years. In 1970 he was president of the National Society of Hospital Social Work Directors and had become a mentor to others in the field, many of whom are now directors of social work programs across the country. "He was a very kind and gentlemanly person, with style - dignified and compassionate," said one of his colleagues, Esther Chachkes, director of social work at the New York University Medical Center. Dr. Russell continued to be a mentor to young African-American and Hispanic graduate students to the present. He was chairman and president of Louise Wise Services in the 1980's and served on the boards of Cancer Care, Inc., the American Cancer Society, the American Orthopsychiatric Association and the Robert Popper Foundation. He was book review editor of Social Work in Health Care from 1979 to 1988. He received the National Urban League Award for Community Service in 1965, the New York State Welfare Conference Award - for dedicated, innovative service in the hospital social work field - in 1972 and the Ida M. Cannon Award for Outstanding Hospital Social Work Director from the American Hospital Association in 1973. At Columbia he was an active alumnus. A longtime member of the advisory board of the School of Social Work, he was currently co-chair of the school's 1998 Centennial Honorary Committee. He received the University's alumni medal in 1993. As a Columbia Trustee, Dr. Russell chaired the educational policy committee and served on the executive, alumni affairs, community affairs and health sciences committees. He was also on the advisory committees of the Kathryn Bache Miller Theatre at Columbia and Community Impact, which organizes volunteers to serve in community service groups. Dr. Russell is survived by a sister, Frieda Durham of Philadelphia. 2.9.98 19,273