Thursday, November 10, 2022 11:00am, EST

Rutgers School of Social Work Mourns the Death of Dr. Jeffrey Longhofer

Rutgers School of Social Work is deeply saddened to share news of the death of longtime faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Longhofer. Along with his life-long partner, Dr. Jerry Floersch, who retired from the School of Social Work last July, Dr. Longhofer was a co-creator of the School of Social Work’s DSW program. He was also the inaugural director of Rutgers’ Tyler Clementi Center for Diversity Education and Bias Prevention, a program that serves as a campus resource that promotes understanding and engagement on issues related to diversity and bias prevention, increasing the capacity of the campus community to engage across differences. 

Jeffrey Longhofer

“Jeff’s deep engagement with clinical practice was an asset to our programs for years,” said Dean Cathryn C. Potter. “His interests and scholarship foci were truly wide ranging and eclectic, and his practical books were a resource for so many. During the pandemic, while throwing themselves with gusto into the experience of teaching in synchronous remote (assembling a state-of-the-art studio in their home), Jerry and Jeff also created On Caring, a virtual project through which they sought to press transdisciplinary ideas into the service of connecting theories, facts, and practices for thinking about what we might yet become, well beyond the welfare state and toward a caring society.”

We invite you to learn more about Dr. Longhofer’s life and contributions to the field of social work in his obituary below.

Jeffrey Lee Longhofer was born Sept. 13, 1955, the third son of E. D. “Rusty” and Mary Inez (Ray) Longhofer of Marion, Kansas. With his older brothers Darold and David, Jeff lived the idyllic childhood of a boy growing up in a small rural farming community along the western edge of the Flint Hills. As a student at Marion High School, Jeff became an accomplished state-contest-level debater, thespian, and vocal musician, participated in school plays and musicals, and served in class and school leadership positions. He graduated in 1973. Jeffrey died on January 31, 2023.  The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

In the fall of 1973 Jeffrey enrolled at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, with a dual major in sociology and anthropology. The study of humanity, cultures, and societies was fertile ground for Jeffrey’s expansive curiosity. After attaining his bachelor’s degree in 1977 he continued his studies in anthropology at the University of Kansas, earning a master’s degree in 1980 and a Ph.D. in 1986. He later expanded his education and professional expertise by obtaining a Master of Social Work degree in 2002 from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and postgraduate psychotherapy training in child development and psychoanalysis and adult psychoanalysis at the Hannah Perkins Center and the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center, both in Cleveland, Ohio, from 2001 to 2007.

Beginning in 1985, Jeffrey taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of North Texas, Case Western Reserve University, Rutgers University, as well as at other educational institutions. The hallmark of Jeff’s teaching was the interactional nature of learning between himself and his students. Class with Jeff was often a journey into the unexpected for students accustomed to lectures and textbooks. He sought to connect students to each other and to what they were learning by establishing a safe environment for open discussion and collaboration, often drawing on his interests in things such as film, music, and architecture to both broaden and hone their understanding. Beyond being a supportive facilitator of learning, Jeffrey was a participant in the learning process himself, open to adjusting his own understanding as students brought forth their own perspectives. His work was acknowledged by numerous awards he received for teaching excellence across his career.

Purveyors of injustice had an ardent foe in Jeffrey. From his earliest days at Washburn where he advocated for the rights of Kansas collegians as a member of the statewide Associated Students of Kansas, Jeffrey applied his talents to further the cause of social justice across a wide array of issues. Known for his gregarious and caring nature, Jeffrey had little patience for those who violated the principles of individual and communal affirmation and acceptance he held so dear. Early in his career he fought for a young Ugandan poet in Kansas City who was facing deportation, while also embracing the larger cause of bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa. Drawing on his agricultural roots, he worked with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center to focus attention on the plight of hog farmers as they fought against increasing corporatization, developing a model for farmer organization that remains in use today. At Rutgers, Jeffrey willingly took on the task of helping to establish and direct the Tyler Clementi Center, a unique model for supporting and affirming LGBTQ students as they entered the university. Those are but a few examples of the many ways in which Jeffrey championed the cause of social justice.

Jeffrey’s contributions to advancing the fields of applied anthropology and social work through research, professional publications and presentations, and professional service are extensive and diverse. His cultural investigations ranged from studies of Mennonite, Amish, and Hutterite culture to African drumming, agriculture, childcare, and social constructs surrounding illness and dying. Jeffrey left an enduring and pervasive mark on the field of social work and counseling through publications intended to influence and advance direct practice in case management, medications, spirituality, and working with specialized populations. Countless current and future professionals have and will continue to benefit from books he co-authored, including a series of casebooks focused on K-12 schools, sexual trauma, and LGBTQ sexual trauma. Jeffrey worked to ensure the integrity of the increasingly extensive amount of professional literature by serving on the editorial boards of six professional publications and as editor of the American Anthropological Association’ Culture and Agriculture. He also served on numerous professional organization board and was co-president of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social work from 2017 to 2019.

Jeffrey was preceded by his parents, Mary Inez Longhofer and Estil (Rusty) David Longhofer; grandparents, Inez Ellis Ray and James A. Ray; his cousins, Roxie Ray and William (Bill) Remmers.  He is survived by his partner/spouse, Jerry Floersch, Lawrence, Kans., brothers, David Longhofer, Lee Summit, Mo. and Darold Longhofer of Overland Park, Kans.; nephews, Stacey Longhofer and Jeremy Longhofer, Overland Park, Kans.; nieces, Danielle Bartelli, Gabrielle Darrow, and Nikki Longhofer, of the Kansas City metro area ; second cousins Juilette Remmers, of Iowa City, Iowa, and Jestina Jones-Cathcart, Oxnard, California; and cousins Michael and Walkie Ray of southern California.

To donate to a Haskell Indian Nations University fund in Jeffrey’s memory go online to:  When completing the online form, make sure you select the box titled “specific fund” and type  “Longhofer Haskell Fund for Justice.”

To donate by mail, make the check payable to Haskell Foundation, in care of The Jeffrey Longhofer-Haskell Fund for Justice. The address is: Haskell Foundation, 155 Indian Ave., Box 5019, Lawrence, KS 66046

For a more extensive obituary and more information about Jeffrey and the planned post-life events, go to this blog post: