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Former Dean Morton I. Teicher dies

Morton I. Teicher, Ph.D., dean of the UNC School of Social Work from 1972 to 1981, and an NASW Social Work Pioneer, died on June 13 at age 97.

Teicher, who was known for his dignified appearance and manner, was “well-respected by faculty and students as a social work leader and scholar,” said current Dean Gary L. Bowen.

“Dr. Teicher played an important role in my return to the UNC School of Social Work as an assistant professor in 1985,” said Bowen, who first encountered Teicher as a student in the mid-seventies. “He was very excited when I joined the faculty, and I so much appreciated his warm reception and support.”

Born in the Bronx in 1920, Teicher earned his Ph.D. in anthropology, and performed field work among the Inuit and the Iroquois. His distinguished career in social work took him to Boston, Toronto, New York, Lusaka, Zambia, Jerusalem, Chapel Hill and Miami. According to the NASW Foundation, Teicher was among the first social workers to achieve officer status in the U.S. Army. He was also one of the first military psychiatric social workers, serving in the China-Burma-India Theater for more than two years during World War II.

An active member of the NASW since its foundation, Teicher was appointed to a commission that produced the first Code of Ethics for the social work profession. He arrived at Carolina after serving for 15 years as dean of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University, where Teicher “taught and modeled political involvement for social change” – activism that earned him praise from Eleanor Roosevelt in 1959.

Over the course of his career, Teicher also served as dean of the School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the Oppenheimer College of Social Welfare in Lusaka, Zambia. During his time at UNC, Teicher took a leave of absence for six months in 1975 to serve as a consultant on social planning in Israel. Based in Jerusalem at the National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, his work involved consultation with the advisor to the prime minister on welfare services and with the Ministry of Welfare.
According to his obituary, which was published in The New York Times, Teicher was a former president and founder of the Thomas Wolfe Society, a voracious reader, and “an inspiration to thousands of students for 50 plus years.”
Teicher’s contributions to the field of social work and to the School will long be remembered, Bowen agreed.
“He played a highly significant role in building the foundation for what has become a great School of Social Work,” he said.