NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Elaine Rothenberg (1921 - 1994)
Elaine Rothenberg earned a lasting place in the annals of Social Work Education in this country. Born in New York City, graduated from Queens College of that city with the highest honors, she went on to Smith College School of Social Work where she earned her MSW in 1943. She grounded her experience in case work both in public welfare in Florida and later in the Family Service Society in Richmond. She went on to the Memorial Guidance Clinic in Richmond where she was both caseworker and supervisor.
Her career in academic education began in the School of Social Work, Richmond Professional Institute where she was Professor of Social Work as well as Director of Field Work and Admissions. During this period Smith College recruited her for their summer sessions teaching case work. Later she joined their Seminar faculty. In the late 1960's Richmond Professional Institute joined the Virginia Commonwealth University. Mrs. Rothenberg became associate Dean of that School of Social Work and in 1972 was named Dean, but her influence extended beyond the School of Social Work. After her retirement as Dean, she was named Professor and Director for Academic Affairs and finally Vice- president of the University and received U.C.V.'s Presidential Medallion, an award for service to the University. Her successor in the Deanship said of her: "During the years of her deanship she built VCV's School of Social Work into one of national renown."
Mrs. Rothenberg's ability and competence was recognized and put to use by local, national and international professional organizations. She was on the Board of Directors of NASW and later on the Executive Committee of that organization at the national level and she also took an active role in committees and taskforces at the State and local level. The Council of Social Work Education used her on their Accreditation Commission and in their House of Delegated. She was a member of the NIMH review committee for their grants to Schools as well as on the review committee for the Office of Human Development Service under the Dept of Human Service. She was frequently used as Consultant on curriculum development in schools of social work. She was in demand as a speaker and as an institute and workshop leader. Although Mrs. Rothenberg spent her last 45 years in Richmond which was her home, she will be missed not only in that locality, but by all the schools and organizations in which she played such an active and significant role.