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Ginsberg, Mitchell I.


GINSBERG, MITCHELL I. (1915–1996), U.S. social worker and educator. Ginsberg, a native of Boston, received his B.S. (1937) and his M.A. in education and psychology (1938) from Tufts University and his M.S. in social work from Columbia University (1941). He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946 as supervisor of a psychiatric social work unit. He was a social worker in Manchester, New Hampshire, and in Boston, then moved to the personnel and training bureau of the National Jewish Welfare Board in New York. He joined the faculty of the Columbia University School of Social Work, and in 1953 he became full professor, serving as associate dean (1960–66). He was a consultant in various training programs of the U.S. Peace Corps project and to the City of New York. In 1966 Ginsberg was appointed commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services under Mayor John Lindsay. During his two-year tenure, he initiated several reforms, including the elimination of expensive investigations of welfare applicants and late-night inspections of recipients' homes. In 1968 he held the position of administrator of the city's Human Resources Commission, serving also as consultant on the community action program of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.

Ginsberg returned to Columbia in 1971 as dean of the School of Social Work and special assistant to the president for community affairs. During the next 10 years, he helped launch Columbia Community Services, a cooperative project that provides health and social services to the homeless. When he retired in 1986, Ginsberg was designated professor and dean emeritus, continuing to teach and serving as co-director of Columbia's Center for the Study of Human Rights and chairman of the citywide Emergency Alliance for Homeless Families and Children.

In recognition of his lifelong work on behalf of the underprivileged, Columbia established in 1991 the Mitchell I. Ginsberg Professorship in Contemporary Urban Problems, which provides research on preventive policies and practical solutions to homelessness and other urban problems. The Ida R. and Mitchell Ginsberg Social Policy Endowed Fund was established at Columbia to support further studies in social policy by students at the School of Social Work.

[Joseph Neipris /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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