Blanche Grosswald (1952-2003)

Blanche Grosswald (1952-2003)

Cone, James

Blanche Grosswald was an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, Dr. Grosswald had worked as a social worker in the Golden Gate Regional Center, San Francisco, CA, where she worked with developmentally challenged clients. She became interested in social work when she did volunteer work at the Rape Crisis Center in Contra Costa County, California. Her research endeavors involved social justice and human rights and overlapped several fields including social welfare, sociology, public health, law, and labor and health policy.

Her dissertation (University of California-Berkeley) examined the impact of shift work on family relationships, in part consisting of a statistical analysis of a 1997 database compiled by the Families & Work Institute. Her dissertation also included a qualitative study based on primary-data interviews with San Francisco bus drivers concerning the effects of their shift work on their families (Grosswald, 2002).

Dr. Grosswald’s principal research focus examined the work and family needs and consequences of a changing workforce on the family relationships of blue-collar workers. She believed it was crucial from a human rights or social justice perspective to give voice to a group of workers that has been underrepresented both regarding access to work and family benefits and in the corresponding literature.

Dr. Grosswald was an advocate of the right to physician-assisted suicide. One paper she published on this subject (Grosswald, 2002) deals with the social work values of self-determination and the best interests of the client as they come into conflict, posing an ethical dilemma. Her contribution, published in the law journal Law and Policy, offers a unique and controversial position grounded in social welfare theory and values.

Dr. Grosswald’s role models for teaching include Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educator and author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1993). She was beginning her third year at Rutgers, where she was teaching four core classes on the New Brunswick and Newark campuses. Her students’ comments on her evaluations consistently refer to having a rewarding learning experience.

In addition to working with faculty from the School of Social Work, Dr. Grosswald contributed to interdisciplinary research with faculty from other Rutgers schools and departments. The Institute for Research on Women awarded her a fellowship for the 2002-2003 academic year.

Blanche Grosswald’s life and work embodied well the principles of social work. She was engaged, passionate about her beliefs in human rights and autonomy, and a dedicated researcher and teacher. She will be missed by all of us who knew her.

Copyright Families in Society Jul-Sep 2004

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