NYU Silver: A Brief History

For more than 50 years the Silver School of Social Work at New York University has been educating social workers in every field of practice, training its students to make positive change in the world. The social unrest in the 1960s and ‘70s—the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the fiscal meltdown in New York City—led to an era of political and social justice activism as the School. The development of the School’s signature clinical practice identity took shape in the late 1970s and 1980s. The School grew dramatically in the 1990s through its enrollment numbers, establishment of a new campus, and expansion and refurbishment of the building in Washington Square.

Through the generous gift of the Silvers in 2007, the School has been able to integrate themes of clinical social work, research for building knowledge, and economic and social justice for all in our society. Below is a brief summary of the School’s history:

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1953: NYU establishes a Department of Social Work in its Graduate School of Public Administration and Social Service.

1955: NYU grants 34 Master’s in Social Service degrees.

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May 1960: NYU votes to establish separate graduate schools of public administration and social work.

September 1960: NYU establishes the School of Social Work.

May 1961: NYU confers 35 degrees to the first graduates of the School of Social Work.

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August – October 1972: With federal funding no longer available and the School unable to reach revenue goals from a new undergraduate program, NYU sends the School a closing notice. The closure is scheduled to happen over two years with half the faculty receiving one-year termination notifications.

November 1972: Fundraising efforts are successful, including a $300,000 gift from Trustee Ruth Lewis Farkas. NYU’s Board of Trustees votes to confirm reinstatement of the Graduate School of Social Work.

September 1973: The School establishes the one-year residence MSW program and an undergraduate program.

September 1976: The School creates the MSW extended program, allowing a combination of full-time and part-time study.

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September 1980: The School creates a doctoral program (DSW).

1981: The School initiates a post-master’s advanced certificate in clinical social work to help professionals advance their knowledge in treatment strategies and improve their approaches to complicated cases.

September 1982: The School introduces a 16-month accelerated MSW program, a faster route to an MSW degree.

September 1984: The School establishes its first dual-degree program. With the NYU School of Law, the program allows students to earn an MSW degree and JD degree. Three more dual-degree programs will be established in the 1990s and 2000s.

1987: The New York State Department of Education authorizes the School to grant a PhD degree, replacing the DSW.

September 1987: The School introduces the advanced standing MSW program.

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1990: As School enrollment exceeds 1,000, NYU announces that 1 Washington Square North will be added to the School of Social Work building, joining 2 and 3 Washington Square North.

1994: The refurbishing of the School’s buildings is complete and the School is renamed the Ehrenkranz School of Social Work, after the death of longtime dean Shirley Ehrenkranz.

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September – December 2001: Following the September 11 attacks, the School’s faculty, alumni, and students respond with crisis counseling and other critical services.

2003: The School establishes the Division of Lifelong Learning and Professional Development.

2007: NYU renames the School the Silver School of Social Work in honor of Constance and Martin Silver’s $50-million gift.

2007: In honor of Ehrenkranz, the School renames its building the Ehrenkranz Center.

2007: The School establishes the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.

2007: The School creates a 32-month MSW program designed for those who work full-time, allowing for evening, weekend, and summer study.

2010: The Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health is founded.

2012: The NYU Center on Violence and Recovery affiliates with the Silver School.

2012: NYU Silver and East China Normal University School of Social Development establish the NYU-ECNU Joint Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai.

2015: The first global MSW program is established at NYU Shanghai; students attend the first year in Shanghai and second year in New York City.

2015: The School creates a DSW program in clinical social work, to prepare licensed social workers for leadership roles in academic and agency settings.

2017: The School establishes The Restorative Justice Lab, directed by McSilver Associate Professor of Poverty Studies Robert L. Hawkins.