School of Social Service Administration Renaming and Gift Announcements

To: Members of the University Community
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President
Subject: School of Social Service Administration Renaming and Gift Announcements
Date: January 27, 2021

Today, I am pleased to announce a new commitment from James and Paula Crown and their family to support the School of Social Service Administration, which will help advance its vital contributions to social work, social policy, and social welfare. In recognition of the gift, the School will be renamed the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. The name change was also informed by faculty discussion and recommendations, for which we are grateful. The new name honors the legacy of the School’s founders, makes clear the range and interdisciplinary nature of the School’s work, and reflects a vision for the future to advance a more just and humane society.

The landmark gift—the largest ever in support of a school of social work—will advance the School’s educational and scholarly mission. It will increase student financial aid, support faculty research and hiring, and strengthen community engagement to address the challenges of inequality and related social problems. 

The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice is focused on identifying solutions to complex problems affecting society’s most vulnerable individuals through the integration of research, training, and direct community engagement. Guided by an interdisciplinary tradition, its scholars conduct innovative research to address interconnected social challenges such as educational inequality, health disparities, crime and violence, poverty, and child and family welfare—working at multiple scales, from individual- to policy-level interventions.

The gift further builds on the Crown Family School partnership with city and state agencies, social service organizations, and Chicago Public Schools, and will advance community-based applied research in neighborhoods surrounding the University.

Since its founding more than a century ago, the Crown Family School has been a leader in applying rigorous research to address complex social issues. This generous gift from the Crown family will transform the ability of scholars and students to carry out their interdisciplinary work with far-reaching impact, and to engage even more deeply with communities to address disparities, repair systemic inequalities, and develop innovative responses during a critical time in the country’s history. The $75 million gift will bring the Crown family’s total giving in support of social work, education, and access at UChicago to more than $100 million.

We are deeply grateful for the commitment of James and Paula Crown and the Crown family, who have been strong supporters of the University for more than three generations. James Crown is a member of the University Board of Trustees and a past chairman of the Board. In addition to supporting the work of the Crown Family School and the Urban Education Institute specifically, the family has helped improve access to education through the Crown Family Chicago Odyssey Scholarship and the Chicago Public Schools Scholarship. They have established a Professorship in Molecular Engineering and the Henry Crown Professorship in Hebrew Studies.

This new commitment will make a long-lasting and positive impact by supporting eminent scholarship and education in social work, social welfare, and policy, at a time when the need for such work is greater than ever.