NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Max Siporin (1917 - 2010)
Max Siporin was born in New Haven, CT on January 30, 1917. After earning a BS in English Literature from the City College of New York and then a MA in English Literature from New York University, he spent some time in the army. Upon his discharge, he went back to Columbia to earn his MSW in 1948. He did a post masters as a psychiatric social worker at Western Psychiatric in Pittsburgh before spending four years as a psychiatric social worker for the VA hospitals in New York and Houston. Max then went to the Menninger Institute in Topeka, KS, where he was a psychiatric social worker. As a veteran, Max was recruited to be the social work supervisor at the VA Research Hospital in Chicago. His work there was recognized by the Department of Psychiatry at Baylor Medical College in Houston.
Upon earning his DSW from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work in 1959, the teaching bug hit early in the 1960s when he was an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Work concurrent with his position as a social worker with the department of psychiatry at the University of Kansas Medical School.
Max then moved to Tulane University School of Social Work as a professor. He had a couple more moves to the University of Maryland School of Social Work and a visiting professor at Adelphi University School of Social Work before finally landing and spending the last twenty years of his active professional career at the School of Social Welfare at the State University of New York at Albany. Max retired in 1989.
Even in retirement, Max continued as a very active social worker. His professional career was primarily clinical with a focus on individuals and families. However, when Max retired to McAllen, TX to be closer to his wife's, Alma, family, the Barreras, his social work practice changed. Where he had previously focused on clinical work, being in the Lower Rio Grande Valley necessitated that he become a community organizer. He helped to begin the Community Council of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. He teamed with Hermila Anzaldua, the then director of the BSW program at the University of Texas Pan American, to envision the development of an MSW for the University. The MSW program became a reality in 2003.
The University of Texas Pan American honored Max and Alma with the development of the Max & Alma Barrera Siporin Endowed Social Work Education Fund, which subordinates the Hermila Anzaldua Lecture Series. In this way, it was possible for Max to continue enhancing social work education by promoting it into the future.