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. Under the leadership of Dean Alton Linford in the 1950s-1960s, the school underwent diversification in curriculum, faculty, and the student body. The construction of a new SSA Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was a public symbol of the school's renewed status during this time. SSA was also central to controversial incursions of the university into neighboring communities in Hyde Park and Woodlawn.
As Linford prepared to retire from his deanship, he worked with University of Chicago President Edward H. Levi to recruit Harold Richman, a promising young faculty member, to the position. Richman became dean in 1969. Previously an employee of the National Institute of Health and a White House Fellow under the Secretary of Labor, Richman used his Washington connections to expand federal funding of SSA programs. An important initiative was an experimental consolidated grant secured from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This grant model streamlined the funding process and offered administrative flexibility in funding curriculum development and student aid. Richman also expanded the curriculum and the faculty by recruiting from related disciplines. During the 1970s, he was instrumental to the development of the interdisciplinary Committee on Public Policy Studies, which evolved into the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
In 1978, Richman resigned from the deanship to found the Chapin Hall Center for Children. He was replaced by Margaret Rosenheim, who would serve in the position until 1983.
From the guide to the University of Chicago. School of Social Service Administration. Office of the Dean. Harold Richman. Records, 1927-1978, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)