NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Sidney Berengarten (1911 - 1999)
Berengarten, Professor-Emeritus of Social Work was acting Dean, Associate Dean, Director of Field Work, and a member of the Columbia University School of Social Work for 34 years until his retirement in 1979. He became Director of the Division of Standards and Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education until 1984.
Berengarten's social work career began during the great depression when he worked as a field worker, progressing to assistant case supervisor, New York City Department of Welfare until 1941. He received his Master of Science Degree from Columbia University in 1943. He had earned a Master's Degree in history and international relations from Clark University.
During World War II, Berengarten was a First Lieutenant with the Medical Services Corps. He served as Chief Psychiatric Social Workers and Clinical Psychologist until 1946. After military service, he began his career at CUSSW.
In 1947, Berengarten undertook a pace setting pilot study on criteria in the selection of social workers. He co-authored the study, "Interviewing and Personality Assessment: Selection of Social Work Students" with Irene Kerrigan. The study was published by CSWE. They also published an early monograph of his, "Admissions Prediction and Student Performance in Social Work Education".
Berengarten was actively involved in community activities in addition to his official capacity at the university. He has been published extensively.
Berengarten was an "American Specialist" in the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, undertaking the role of consultant to schools of social work in Columbia, South America. He was also advisor to the Fulbright Commission and coordinator of the Educational Exchange Program of CUSSW and the schools of social work of Columbia, South America. He also served as a consultant to the Surgeon General of the US Army for more than 20 years.
In Berengarten's role and his activities throughout his career, he was a source of strength and wisdom to his faculty colleagues. During the turbulent late 1960's, he helped steer the school through critical times using his negotiating ability to bring about stability and continuing educational progress. He was a distinguished person with abiding devotion to excellence.