Founded in 1920, the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration prepares students for leadership in fields of social work. As one of the university's professional schools, SSA offers graduate-level coursework leading to master's and doctoral degrees.
Early deans of SSA led the school from its founding as an experimental program that stressed social research and theoretical studies, into its establishment as a model for innovative social work education and a national influence on social policy. In 1956 Alton Linford, a student of Edith Abbott and a faculty member since 1945, became dean of the school. Under his administration, the school enjoyed a substantial increase in funding. Linford's guidance provided for further curriculum development, increased enrollment, and greater diversity in the faculty and student body. Linford's leadership extended to the journal Social Service Review, where he served as chair of the editorial board. He also played an important role in developing the Council on Social Work Education, a national association of social workers, and an accrediting agency of schools of social work.
The construction of a new SSA Building was a public symbol of the school's renewed vigor and status during this period. Designed by the Modernist master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the glass, steel, and brick building was dedicated on November 3, 1965. Standing at 969 E. 60th Street, the building was part of a controversial expansion of the university into neighborhoods south of the Midway.
Alton Linford stepped down as dean of SSA in 1969, and was replaced by Harold Richman, who would serve in the position until 1978.
From the guide to the University of Chicago. School of Social Service Administration. Office of the Dean. Alton Linford. Records, 1923-1969, bulk 1956-1969, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)