Mary Ann Quaranta Dies at 82

Mary Ann QuarantaMary Ann Quaranta was a dean of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service.

Mary Ann Quaranta, former NASW president and previous dean of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, died Dec. 16, 2009. She was 82.

Quaranta was an NASW Social Work Pioneer® who was known as a gifted educator and administrator, said Nancy Boyd Webb, professor emeritus of Fordham University GSS.

According to the school, Quaranta served as dean of the graduate program for 25 years before taking an appointment in 2000 as provost of Marymount College. She served at Marymount until 2004, when she was named special assistant to the president for community and diocesan relations. Even when complications from illness in 2007 restricted her mobility, Quaranta continued to serve the public good.

“Mary Ann Quaranta was in many ways the life and soul of the Graduate School of Social Services,” said Joseph M. McShane, president of Fordham, in a statement issued by the school. “Her scholarship and vision helped shape the school’s direction, and her tireless effort on its behalf, and on behalf of several generations of students, made the school what it is today. Her intellect, her fire and her generous commitment to the GSS and to Fordham will be sorely missed.”

Webb said that during Quaranta’s tenure as dean, she helped build a small local program into a nationally recognized school of social work.

“Dr. Quaranta was an inspired mentor to countless faculty, students and social work professionals,” said Webb, who presented a eulogy at Quaranta’s funeral.

Under Quaranta’s leadership, the graduate school acquired national prominence as a school of social work that received consistently high rankings in U.S. News and World Report and also brought in record levels of grant and research funding. Quaranta also developed the school’s first doctoral program in social work.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, followed by a master’s degree in social work from Fordham and a doctorate degree in social work from Columbia University.

Quaranta was NASW president from 1981 to 1983 and served the association in several positions, both nationally and in New York State.

In the 2005 book Celebrating 50 Years of NASW Leadership, Quaranta wrote that her proudest achievement as president was assessing NASW’s programs and functions. This effort resulted in recommendations that were adopted by the Board of Directors for cost-effective programming. “Throughout its 50-year history, NASW has striven to be an active force in society,” she stated in the book. “We have made considerable progress, but we must continue the daunting challenges ahead.”

Her other professional affiliations included the Council of Social Work Education, the National Conference on Social Work, the National Conference of Catholic Charities, American Association of University Professions and New York Board of Social Welfare.

Several prominent GSS programs were initiated under Quaranta’s tenure. They include:

  • CHILDREN F.I.R.S.T., the Children and Families Institute for Research, Support and Training;
  • the Interdisciplinary Center for Family and Child Advocacy (in collaboration with Fordham Law School); and
  • the National Center for Schools and Communities (in collaboration with the Graduate School of Education).

Quaranta was also instrumental in developing the Ravazzin Center for Social Work Research on Aging and the Institute for Managed Care and Social Work, both at Fordham.