Associate Professor Emeritus
“Pioneering impact in professionalizing child welfare services”…, “educational leadership above and beyond the expected”…, and “outstanding capacity demonstrated in counseling students”… are a few of the tributes accorded Jeanette Zupancic by her professional peers. During her quarter
century of services to the Ohio State University College of Social Work, the impact of Zupancic’s contributions on the professional community and on campus has been matched only by a few. After earning her Master’s of Social Work degree Prof. Zupancic quickly advanced in the child welfare field, starting as a social work director in the Juvenile Diagnostic Center, following which she was appointed Director of Casework at the Franklin County Children’s Services. Her grasp of social work methods applied to the human needs she served revealed a rare expertise.
Zupancic was appointed as an assistant professor in the College of Social Work in 1960 after serving as a lecturer while employed full-time. By then, she had already brought about changes in the historical warehousing of children in Fairfield County which had prevailed since the turn of the century. When she moved into the Columbus area, she continued her speaking engagements, effectively mobilized professional and lay support to expand her pioneering and “new approach” to emphasize child development and protection within the family context. Her efforts challenged political, legal and medical prejudices that sustained antiquated practices and thinking about child welfare. She addressed the need to employ highly skilled social workers and pressed funding sources to initiate the development of several day care centers for low income families. Her activism included the upgrading of staff credentials, attention to early childhood education curricula, and continuing education for all staff. She also promoted special education services for the disadvantaged and reaching out techniques to parents. She trained and supervised social workers in assessing needs and in maintaining family integration to replaced irrevocable foster care and institutional placements.
As a faculty member in the College of Social Work, Prof. Zupancic wore many hats, started out as Director of the undergraduate social work program which she lost little time in upgrading to a high level of professionalism. She was tenured in 1964. Zupancic taught courses in social work practice both at the undergraduate and graduate level, and was credited with redesigning courses in social work practice and supervision where her expertise was put to use. Prof. Zupancic’s unusual interpersonal abilities and skills proved to be assets in major university committees where she served as well as within the College of Administrative Sciences to which Social Work was attached administratively until 1976. Her professional affiliations included membership in the National Association of Social Work, service on the Board of the Travelers Aid Society, the advisory board of the Rosement Center and the First Community Church Counseling Center. In all her endeavors Prof. Zupancic has demonstrated unusual leadership qualities, conscientiousness in completing challenging tasks, great compassion for people and personal dignity.