Mission, Vision and History

New students cheering

Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is a national network of scholars and practitioners who shape the course of social work and nonprofit practice and research to drive societal change in our backyard and around the world.


Advancing leadership in social work and nonprofit education, scholarship, and service to build a more just world.


Students are central in all that we do, and they actively participate and contribute to a dynamic learning community that develops leaders of social change in direct practice, community practice and nonprofit management.

The Mandel School was founded by and for the Greater Cleveland community in the belief that a university-based school of social work would transform the work of people and organizations to achieve to their full potential. As the Mandel School celebrates its centennial, we reaffirm our historical commitment to the application of social science for improving social welfare, and seek to continue to broaden the national and international reach of our research, teaching, and service. Our graduates are prepared to be future leaders who turn knowledge into action that furthers health, well being, and social justice.

Adopted by Mandel School faculty, November 2014


Consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost graduate schools of social work, the Mandel School remains at the forefront of decoding the history and dynamics of social work and nonprofit management.

Our founding and first dean

On Dec. 4, 1915, The Western Reserve University Trustee Executive Committee voted to establish the School of Applied Social Sciences—as the Mandel School was called then—and to appoint James E. Cutler as its first dean. By this action, they established the first university-affiliated school of social work in the United States.

Classes began Sept. 19, 1916, with a total enrollment in both semesters of 48. The first five students graduated in 1918. The first master’s degree students graduated in 1919, which was also the year our MSSA master’s degree program in social work was accredited.

The first graduates included Margaret H. Johnson, MSSA 1919, who would later serve as the Mandel School’s first woman dean.