Barbara Berkman, AM ‘60

1986 Recipient of the Edith Abbott Award

Past Award Winners

Barbara BerkmanBarbara Berkman is the Helen Rehr / Ruth Fizdale Professor of Health and Mental Health at Columbia University School of Social Work and Adjunct Professor, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.  She was formerly the Director of the Ruth D. and Archie A. Abrams Interdisciplinary Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Berkman received her Doctorate from Columbia University School of Social Work, a MA from the University of Chicago, and her BA with distinction in Philosophy from the University of Michigan.  Following her doctorate, she was awarded a Kellogg fellowship to study the outcome of social work health care service delivery to older hospital patients.  She has directed 23 federally and foundation supported research projects focusing on issues in oncology and geriatric care, and is currently Principal Investigator and National Director of the John A. Hartford Foundation’s Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars Program. She is a former President of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR).

Berkman has received many awards and honors.  In 1986, she became the first recipient of the Edith Abbott Distinguished Alumni Award of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.  In 1987, she received the “Greatest Contribution to Practice” Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Hyman J. Weiner Award for “Distinguished Scholarship Contributing to Health Care Practice and Administration,” from the Society for Hospital Social Work Directors of the American Hospital Association.  In 1994, she was honored by the National Association of Social Workers when she received the Ruth Knee / Milton Wittman Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Health/Mental Health Policy.” 

In 2002, Berkman received the “Career Achievement Award” from the Association for Geriatric Education in Social Work (AGE-SW).  In 2004 she was given NASW Foundation’s Social Work Pioneer Award, and in 2008 she received the President’s Medal of Honor from the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors (BPD).  Most recently, Berkman has been honored with the 2009 Donald P. Kent Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gerontological Society of America for her professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society.

Berkman’s professional contribution to the knowledge base of social work in health care is evidenced in her publications, which include books, chapters, and over 100 articles.  In recognition of her research and practice in oncology and health care, with a focus on older adults and their families, she has been named a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and of the New York Academy of Medicine and The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Alumni SPIF
Jeff Simms

Jeff Simms, AM '12

"I chose to study social work, and especially policy, because I believe working at that level is where one can truly affect some of the wider causes of poverty and homelessness."

Shirley Li

Shirley Li, AM '16

Li reflects on her SSA field experience, “I now realize that as a therapist, both the goal and how you approach that goal are very important.”