Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives
First Dean, Indiana University School of Social Work
Houk came to IU in 1945 as director of fieldwork for the Social Services Division. She became Dr. Grace Browning's right hand, and helped her to establish the new division's curriculum and field placement program. In 1951, following Browning's death, Houk was appointed the next director of the Social Services Division. Houk successfully managed the program through a series of hard times during the early 1950s, which included decreased enrollment, loss of field placements due to an overhaul of the public welfare system under Governor George Craig, and budget cuts. Despite these setbacks, Houk managed to boost enrollment through a grant that paid the costs of new professors and scholarships. Whereas in 1942, there were only 12 students enrolled in the program, by 1966 enrollment had increased to 112.
Houk chaired the division of graduate schools of the Council on Social Work Education; served as secretary of the Council on Social Work Education; chaired the Division of Graduate Schools and the Committee on Training of International Students; and served as a member of the Curriculum Study Committee. In 1966, the Board of Trustees voted to make the Social Services Division a separate IU School, and Houk became the first dean of the Indiana University School of Social Work. She only served in this position throughout the summer, however, due to an impending mandatory retirement age set by the Board of Trustees. Houk retired in August 1966 and died June 1988. The School of Social Work established the Mary Hammond Houk Memorial Fund in her honor.
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