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2010.06.25 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

UNO School Named for Nebraska Social Work Pioneer

Omaha - A Grand Island, Neb., native is the new namesake for the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).

Social work pioneer Grace Abbott is recognized in the new Grace Abbott School of Social Work, which was formally approved earlier this month by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Grace Abbott School of Social Work professor Ann Coyne suggested the name change nearly 10 years ago after learning about Abbott’s work and legacy throughout the Midwest and the country.

A 1906 University of Nebraska graduate, Abbott was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1975. She is known for encouraging Congress to enact the first federal child labor laws, and was an active promoter of programs to improve the health of women and children. She was named president of the National Conference of Social Workers in 1924 and served as managing editor of the Social Service Review.

Although Abbott was a Nebraska native who grew up in Grand Island, a sizable portion of her outreach happened at Hull House in Chicago alongisde Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams, where they served Chicago’s neediest families. The Jane Addams Hull House Association still exists today, offering Chicago families childhood education, job training, housing, child welfare, senior programs and literacy programs.

Abbott was also the first person appointed by the United States to a committee of the League of Nations and later began international children’s work that became the United Nations’ UNICEF program.

Celebrations are planned for Omaha and Grand Island later this year to recognize Abbott’s heritage and the School of Social Work’s future at UNO.

“Grace Abbott and her outstanding achievements in social welfare, which are still visible today, provide social work students their ‘northern star’ in her legacy,” said Theresa Barron-McKeagney, School of Social Work director. “The naming of the UNO School of Social Work is a proud moment in the school’s history. The faculty, students and staff are thrilled – and ready to celebrate with the communities statewide whom we serve.”

Added Coyne: “Grace Abbott was one of the most important social workers of the early 20th Century. She worked tirelessly for mothers and children and was often called ‘the mother of America’s 40 million children.’ Most of the social policies we have today are directly traceable to her work on child labor, social security, and maternal and child health.”

Established in 1937, the Grace Abbott School of Social Work has attracted local, regional and national recognition for its excellence in teaching, leadership in research and commitment to service. Students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work. The Grace Abbott School of Social Work resides in UNO’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service.

The Council on Social Work Education has continuously accredited the school’s master’s (since 1940) and bachelor’s (since 1975) programs, awarding reaffirmation of accreditation in 1997 through the year 2013.

The Grace Abbott School of Social Work offers the only accredited Master of Social Work program in Nebraska, and is the only such program within a 250-mile radius. The Grace Abbott School of Social Work’s mission is to educate students to become highly qualified social workers who serve people of all ages and influence the systems that affect them; to advance knowledge through teaching and research; and to engage with diverse communities to promote socially just societies.

For more information, visit www.unomaha.edu/socialwork or call (402) 554-2792.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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