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NYU Alumni Constance & Martin Silver Donate $50 Million to University’s School of Social Work

October 15, 2007
N-107, 2007-08

School to be Named the Silver School of Social Work at NYU

In the largest private donation to a school of social work in the United States, Constance and Martin Silver have pledged $50 million to the New York University School of Social Work. The gift will be used to support the Constance McCatherin-Silver Fellowship, which provides financial aid to M.S.W. students in need who are dedicated to helping minority populations; to establish an endowed professorship for a junior faculty member researching poverty; and to promote other new initiatives dedicated to the study of poverty and to better allocate funding, administration, and services.

The funds also will help lay the groundwork for a planned McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Practice. (“McSilver” is a combination of Silver’s name and her maiden name, McCatherin.) In recognition of this historic gift, the NYU Board of Trustees has renamed the School as the Silver School of Social Work.

Both Silvers are alumni of NYU. Constance Silver earned a B.S. in social work in 1978 and an M.S.W. in 1979; she also received a Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University in 1983. Martin Silver is a 1958 graduate of NYU’s School of Commerce (now the Stern School of Business).

“This gift marks a new chapter in the life of our school, and in a larger sense, it is an unprecedented moment for social work education,” said Suzanne England, dean of the School of Social Work at NYU. “The research, learning, and policy work sustained by the Silvers’ generosity will help deepen our knowledge about systemic poverty, and identify effective policies to lessen or eliminate its causes.”

Constance Silver, who taught at the School for several years, said, “It is one of the great pleasures of my life to help the School of Social Work, and Martin is proud to be able to offer his support to the School as well.”

The poverty-focused Institute and professorship in poverty research are both deeply resonant with Constance Silver’s life story. She grew up poor in rural Maine and occasionally visited New York City through the generosity of a wealthy family who lived in the city but spent summer vacations near her home. After graduating high school, she moved to New York, met her future husband her first week in Manhattan, and went to work in sales for a New York-based airline. It was not until she was in her mid-thirties that, at the urging of a neighbor, a social worker 30 years her senior, she decided to study social work.

Martin Silver grew up in the Bronx, served in the Army during the Korean War, and then attended NYU on the G.I. Bill. After working as a stock broker early in their marriage, he entered the hair goods business in the U.S. and in Asia. Six years later he became involved in the plasma collection business, and the company grew to become one of the leading firms of its kind in the world.

Constance Silver’s many professional interests include “pro bono” work with Florida’s Indian Creek Village Public Service Department in mental health and social work, including training police officers in hostage negotiation, the dynamics of stalkers, and police suicide. In 1993 the National Association of Social Workers presented her with the Diego Lopez Award for Private Practitioners for her work with AIDS patients.

Constance Silver was appointed to the NYU Board of Trustees in 2003.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Silver School of Social Work

Type: Press Release

Constance and Martin Silver

Constance and Martin Silver


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