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Little Hall, home of the UA School of Social Work


Efforts to establish a school of social work on the campus of The University of Alabama began in 1965 with a feasibility study. The study, conducted by the Council on Social Work Education, examined the resources and need for such a school in Alabama. Because of the study and a well-coordinated campaign by a citizens’ committee of the National Association of Social Workers – Alabama Chapter, the state Legislature enacted a law at its 1965 spring session authorizing the University to establish a graduate school of social work. The new law charged the School with addressing the state’s critical shortage of and pressing need for professionally trained social workers.

“On the day the bill was established, all of the committee members were present and personally handed each state legislator a pink carnation as they came into the chamber.”

Jerry Eure, retired social work faculty member

an old typed document estimating the cost to establish a school of social work. the total estimate for the first year budget was 90 to 100 thousand dollars

To prepare for the School, the University renovated Little Hall, a campus building constructed in 1915, to meet the specific requirements of social work education. At the time, the building, which faces University Boulevard and is just east of the UA President’s Mansion, contained an auditorium, classrooms, seminar rooms, a research laboratory, offices for members of the faculty and staff, a student lounge, and a library reading room.

Following the Little Hall renovation, the School’s first dean, Howard B. Gundy, was appointed in 1966 to oversee the School’s two-year program of classes and field instruction, leading to a Master of Social Work degree. He served as dean until 1971.

The UA School of Social Work enrolled its first class of 29 MSW students in the fall of 1967. The School was included on the Council on Social Work Education’s fall 1967 roster of schools working toward accreditation. In 1969, CSWE officially accredited the MSW Program and our first class of graduates received their master’s degrees the same year. Since that time, the School has awarded nearly 3,000 MSW degrees. The MSW program, which continues to grow and now includes a primarily online degree, was last accredited in 2019 for the maximum period of eight years.

The undergraduate program in social work at UA was approved in 1969 and placed within the School of Social Work in 1970.

“There is a deep feeling on the part of students that social change is necessary and that the field of social work offers relevant education,” Gundy told the Crimson White in a Sept. 28, 1970 news story on students’ interest in the field.

— Howard B. Gundy, first dean of the School of Social Work

In 1974, the Council on Social Work Education first accredited the BSW Program. The program was re-accredited in 2018 for eight years, the maximum period for accreditation.

Our doctoral program began as a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program in 1975. Over the years, recognizing the need for increased emphasis on research within the profession, school faculty substantially revised the program. Since 1992, our Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) has been conferred. Today, our PhD Program focuses on preparing students as teachers and researchers for the social work profession. The PhD program is affiliated with the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE) in social work. In 2019, we added the DSW program to prepare social work practitioners who have an MSW to become leaders within organizational settings, work with the highest degree of independence, and/or pursue a social work faculty appointment in higher education.

Our Early Educators

Mary Avis Todd was one of the founding faculty members of The University of Alabama School of Social Work, where she taught until her retirement in 1978. She had a compassion for others and a creative manner in which she met challenges. It took many others like Todd to establish the School of Work. Here are some of of individuals who helped us begin our 50-year and counting journey in social work education.

1967 Faculty Members

  • Augins, Warren G., AB (Syracuse),  MSW (Syracuse) Associate Professor of Social Work
  • Griffin, Jerry E., BS (U. of A) MSW (Boston College), Assistant Professor of Social Work
  • Gundy, Howard B. AB (Syracuse) MSW (Buffalo), PhD (Syracuse). Dean, School of Social Work and Professor of Social Work
  • Prigmore, Charles S., AB (Chattanooga), MSW (Wisconsin), PhD (Wisconsin), Professor of Social Work
  • Todd, Mary Avis, AB (South Dakota), MA (Illinois), MSW (Illinois), Certificate of Advanced Psychiatric Social Work (Pittsburg), Associate professor of Social Work

1967–68 Field Instructors

Allen, Sara Bell, MSW (New York School, Columbia)

Beverly Charles O., MSW (Louisiana State University)

Blackmon, William Foy, Jr., MSW (Louisiana State University)

Blalock, Leonard Keith, MSW (Tulane University)

Bryce, Marguerite, MSW (University of Pittsburgh)

Coleman, Estelle, MSW (University of Tennessee)

Collier, Jerry Culver, MSSW (University of Tennessee)

Conyers, Arthur C., Jr. MSW (Tulane University)

Coon, Joe, MSSW (University of Tennessee)

Cutting, Alan R., MSW (Florida State University)

Denton, Roy, MSW (University of Tennessee)

DePee, George W.,  MSSW (University of Tennessee)

Gassman, Frances, MA (University of Chicago)

Glasscock, Betty, MSW (University of Tennessee)

Head, Sara, MSSS (Boston University)

Hudspeth, Grace, MSW (Tulane University)

Johnson, David P., MSW (Tulane University)

Katz, Harold E., MA (Northwestern University)

Kew, Katherine, MSW (University of Tennessee)

Lynch, Jean P., MSSW (University of Tennessee)

Mueller, Thelma, MSW (University of Pennsylvania)

Pippen, Mary Ruth, MSW (University of Pittsburgh)

Price, Mary F., MSW (Tulane University)

Ramage, James W., MSW (Tulane University)

Schepps, W. M., MSW (New York University)

Strange, Jo Ann L., MSW (Tulane University)

Sudduth, William D., MSW (University of Minnesota)

Vreeland, Elizabeth Thompson, MSSW (College of Women and Mary Professional Institute)

Weldon, Avanelle S., MSW (State University of Iowa)

West, Sibyl H., MSW (University of North Carolina)

Whitener, Joseph A., MSW (University of North Carolina)

Agencies Providing Field Instruction in 1967-68


Alcoholics Center

Jefferson County Department of Public Health’s Mental Health Clinic

University of Alabama (UA) Medical Center’s Smolian Psychiatric Center

UA Medical Center’s Spain Rehabilitation Center

UA Medical Center’s University Hospital


Alabama Department of Mental Health

Family Guidance

Montgomery County Department of Public Health’s Mental Health Clinic

United States Veterans Administration’s Hospital

United States Veterans Administration’s Out-Patient Clinic


Bryce State Hospital

University of Alabama’s Psychological Clinic

United States Veterans Administration Hospital