1916 – 2006
Advocate for human rights and social justice
National leader and former Dean of San Diego State University School of Social Work, Kurt Reichert was a driving force in the field of medical social work education. Born in Austria, he pursued social work after leaving his Austrian homeland in the late 1930’s on the heels of a Nazi invasion. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. He received a B.A. in 1940 from Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, and M.A. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Work, in 1946, and a PhD in 1955 from the School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, with a minor in Public Health.
Dr. Reichert was a strong supporter of civil liberties and social justice. His career reflected these beliefs, most importantly during the Civil Rights movement. While president of NASW he convened a three day Human Rights Assembly that included association board members, state chapter leaders and staff. Participants met with then President Lyndon Johnson at the White House. At that momentous meeting they presented the NASW Call to Action, which supported the Civil Rights Bill.
Dr. Reichert’s professional career was extremely diverse both in the types of work he did and geographically. For example, he worked at the Jewish Family and Community Service, Chicago as a caseworker; U. S. Navy Hospital Corps; Scholarship and Guidance Association, Chicago; Home Service, Hennepin County Chapter, American Red Cross; Assistant Professor and Chief Psychiatric Social Worker, University of Minnesota Medical School and Hospitals; Cultural Affairs Division, United States High Commission in Germany; Lecturer of Social Work, Research Associate, University of Minnesota School of Social Work; Consultant and Special Lecturer in Public Health, School of Social Work, Syracuse University; Director, Office of Public Health Social Work, New York Department of Health; Social Work Consultant, VISTA, Office of Economic Opportunity; Associate Professor of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College; Director, and the Division of Standards and Accreditation, Council on Social Work Education. He eventually settled at the School of Social Work, San Diego State University where he was Professor and Coordinator, Health Concentration, Dean, and Professor Emeritus.
After more than three decades of dedication to the social work profession, Dr. Reichert returned to the artistic interests of his youth. An active member of the San Diego community for 25 years, he performed in numerous theater events, readings and productions. Melding the values of social work with art, he returned to Austria in 2005 to read his childhood poems – a poignant performance detailing the inhumanity he had experienced during the Nazi invasion.