Letter to the Editor: Silver School dean on the case for a tuition-free social work education

The dean of NYU’s Silver School of Social Work responds to a recent op-ed advocating for the school to be made tuition-free.


Echo Chen

(Illustration by Echo Chen)

Michael A. Lindsey, Dean, Silver School of Social Work

In response to the op-ed “NYU’s Silver School of Social Work should be tuition-free” (Nov. 2).

I applaud Noah Zaldivar’s advocacy for the social work profession in general, and specifically, for education here at the Silver School of Social Work. In fact, speaking up about the need to remove financial barriers to a Silver education is an example of a principle we hold dear in action: the willingness to advocate for policies and practices that promote social justice and socioeconomic equity.

Social workers are indispensable in our schools, social service organizations, mental health and behavioral health systems, and so many other sectors. Post-pandemic, we have even seen increasing use of social workers in the private sector to address the needs of employees. And, as Noah points out, most are not paid according to the value that they provide to society. That must change, and can only happen if the will to do so is mustered in the public and private sectors. Meanwhile, demand for the services of social workers grows.

[Read the original op-ed: NYU’s Silver School of Social Work should be tuition-free]

We believe that a social work education should be affordable to any and all who are called to the profession and meet admission standards. We also know that our goal of having a student body that is more reflective of the communities in which we learn, work and do research will only be possible if we can remove as many financial barriers as possible.

How we get to that place at Silver will involve a multi-year effort and additional funding and resources from within and outside of the extended Silver community. As Noah points out, it took 11 years for the Grossman School of Medicine to raise the funds and support for its goal of making medical school free for all of its students.

That’s why we are calling on all who can help us to knock down the barriers — alumni, donors, policymakers, nonprofits, government, community partners, and particularly those in government and the private sector — to work with us in the coming months and years so that we can broaden the pipeline of innovative practitioners that are so needed right now. We will share more about ways that can happen in the coming months.

Michael A. Lindsey is the Dean and Paulette Goddard Professor of Social Work at the NYU Silver School of Social Work.

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