The School of Social Work celebrated its 50th anniversary as the first master’s in social work program at SF State on March 7.
SF State’s department of social work received three awards recognizing the University’s social worker’s education achievements and services. They received a mention from San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, who came from Senator Scott Weiner and San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee.
The Master of Social Work (MSW) program began in 1968, led by Dr. Kenji Murase, who passed away in June of 2009. His daughter and Executive Director of San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Emily Murase commemorated her father and donated $2,000 to the School of Social Work.
“I’m here because my brother and sister wanted to mark this very special 50th anniversary.” Dr. Murase said. “My dad got the call to come to the Bay in 1968, exactly 50 years ago, to help start the MSW program and it meant the world to him.”
Social welfare courses began to be offered on campus in the 1930s. By 1955, The School of Social Work became an entire program.
“The school of social work is also celebrating 25 years of participation in the child welfare program,” SF State President Leslie Wong said.
Despite their success, the school of social work has faced obstacles that have resulted in a shutdown of the program, causing students at one point to finish their courses at Sacramento State University as mentioned by Alumni of the MSW Program and Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter, Janlee Wong. In 1968, the Black Student Union and other coalitions on campus held a 5-month strike (the longest in the Universities history) to demand for equal access to public higher education, establishing the department of Ethnic Studies.
“There was a good reason for that [the shut down]; the drive for ethnic studies on campus. San Francisco social workers have been present and part of progressive policies in San Francisco including but not limited to universal health care, sanctuary cities, rent control and affordable housing,” Wong said.
Despite their achievements, social work master’s student, Alex Alvarez, who is graduating this May, hopes to see more funding for students in the future for more events such as the one on Wednesday, where students are
able to network with alumni and other professionals in their field.
“This is something that I’m definitely passionate about [the social work], however I think this is one of a few events that have been hosted [like this] within the two years that I’ve been in this program, so I think more funding needs to be put on to this.” Alvarez said.
Office Manager for the School of Social Work, Victoria Lee emphasized how events were alumni and students can network serves a a stepping stone for undergrads to gain professional experience in communicating with a variety of
professionals from across the Bay Area. That is why they are focusing on deepening relationships with alumni in hopes to host more events for students in the future.
“That’s our big hope so that they would get to know their extended social work community. This is a way to get to know a broad network, and that’ll be really hopeful for them as they find their paths after graduation.” Lee said.

Jones, Susanna, Professor and Director & Professor of the School of Social Work 50th Anniversary the Salesforce Eats, Ohana Floor of the Financial District on Wednesday, March 7. (Bryan Ramirez/Golden Gate Xpress)