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Remembering Yeheskel “Zeke” Hasenfeld ‘62
February 17, 2020

Yeheskel "Zeke" Hasenfeld, a 1962 graduate of Rutgers School of Social Work’s MSW program, passed away last February at the age of 81 after an extended illness. A tribute to Dr. Hasenfeld’s impactful career was held at this year’s Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) conference, where many colleagues and friends shared memories of this titan in the field of social work.

Dr. Hasenfeld was a distinguished professor of social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Following his doctoral studies in Sociology and Social Work at the University of Michigan, he joined the faculty there, held a joint appointment with the Department of Sociology, and served a stint as the Associate Dean of the School of Social Work. His research focused on the dynamic relations between social welfare policies, the organizations that implement these policies, and the impact they have on the people who use their services. A major theme that ran through his studies is the conceptualization of human service organizations as an arena in which contesting moral assumptions compete for institutionalization through the daily practices that shape worker-client relations.

Dr. Hasenfeld developed a distinct theoretical framework to guide a critical analysis of human service organizations – the sites where the field of social work is vastly enacted – and applied it in empirical studies of such organizations as employment agencies, juvenile courts, community mental health organizations and welfare departments. He was also interested in exploring the effects of social policies and the organizations that implement them on human rights and the exercise of social citizenship. At UCLA he studied the implementation of welfare reform, and was engaged in a series of studies on nonprofit human service organizations in poor neighborhoods. Read more on the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare website.

Dr. Hasenfeld went on to train several generations of social work scholars who have in turn taken leading positions advancing the study and practice of “macro” social work in schools across the country. Associate Professor Anna Haley explains, “During his career, Dr. Hasenfeld transformed the area of organizational studies and practice within the field of social work. He gifted us with unique and powerful insights about how and why our unique human service organizations function as they do, and opportunities for improving them. He has in turn provided the vision and tools for a great many of us after him, both as researchers and those engaged in other levels of social work practice, to pursue our work.” Rutgers School of Social Work is honored to have played a role in his foundational training.

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