NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Teresa Gardian inducted into Columbia University's School of Social Work Hall of Fame
Pioneering Contributions: Teresa Gardian's forward looking and innovative social work services for children and families, individuals with chronic mental illness, clients with addiction issues, patients who are victims of crimes and report to the emergency room, and other clients in the medical setting have had a significant impact on service delivery and client well-being in the New York City area. During Gardian's 35 years at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, she responded to the many changes occurring in mental health care with innovative programs, and advocacy for those groups and individuals that fell through the cracks by coordinating resources. During years of the rapidly transforming health care system, Dr. Gardian participated in the creation of, and delineation of roles for social work in programs addressing quality assurance, discharge planning, child abuse and neglect, prevention services for high-risk mothers and children, in-patient services for those with AIDS, alcoholism in the community, patient representation, and employee assistance. Her expertise on deinstitutionalization was reflected in the leadership she demonstrated in developing a psychiatry day center, a Single Room Occupancy Program, and a drug detoxification unit at the hospital. Gardian's development of a program for rape and crime victims in the emergency room showed her initiative in advocating for those who are vulnerable. In developing relationships with other departments, such as the Women's Auxiliary committee and Church Committee of the Hospital Board, she was able to secure needed funds for transportation, medicine, housing, and other needs of clients.
Career Highlights: In 1963, Dr. Gardian began her social work career as a supervisor at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, NY. Her work in the Child Psychiatry Division concluded after seven years, at which point Gardian took the position of Associate Director of Social Work in the hospital's Department of Psychiatry. Her commitment to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital would continue in this capacity for eighteen years. Dr. Gardian's dedication, competence, and innovativeness would be recognized by the hospital in offering her the position of Director of Social Work in 1988. She accepted, holding the social work leadership position for ten years at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. At that hospital, Dr. Gardian collaborated with other agencies on a study related to deinstitutionalization, the same topic on which she focused her dissertation. In the mid-1970's, Dr. Teresa Gardian became especially involved in cross-cultural and ethical issues related to care for the elderly. In 1974, she became a member of the Advisory Board of the Special Services for Older People, a community organization. At the hospital, she oversaw the implementation of policies related to advance directives in health care, health care proxies, Patients' Bill of Rights, and ethical committees for organ transplants. Gardian ensured translations in Spanish were available to patients.
From Dr. Gardian's own educational experience, she realized that structural changes to the highest level of social work education were needed, and she facilitated the change from a professional degree (DSW) to a PhD in order for the multi-disciplinary and scientific educational experience of social work's highest educational attainment to be properly recognized. Gardian organized the Consortium of the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) and Directors of Social Work of the hospitals of the Columbia Medical School, facilitating students' involvement in conducting research, organizing educational conferences, and more opportunities for student field work. At Hunter College School of Social Work, where Dr. Gardian began as an instructor in 1981, she advocated for greater student opportunities at St. Luke's hospital. After nine years, she left Hunter, and Gardian would move on to her current position with her alma mater CUSSS in 1991 as a faculty member, also serving as a professor at Fordham University School of Social Services from 1996-2001. Dr. Gardian shared her expertise nationally and internationally through presentations at conferences, drawing from her practice experience. At the present time, Gardian raises money for "Helping Hands," which assists adolescents in finishing their education, and "Arco Iris," a program in La Paz, Bolivia that assists street boys and girls.
Biographical Data: Teresa Gardian received a Master in Social Work from Nebraska University School of Social Work (1960), focusing on group work and psychiatric social work. Gardian earned a PhD from CUSSS (1981), focusing on policy, health and mental health, and families and children. She is also a member of the Manhattan Mental Health Council and Columbia University Community Services.