University of Kentucky College of Social Work Hall of Fame

Irma Sarett Rosenstein

Irma grew up in New York City and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s in Social Work.  Irma has always cared deeply about the welfare of children, the most vulnerable among us. A social worker at the UK Med Center, Irma also taught in the College of Social Work and worked closely with our first Dean, Ernest Witte.  Irma recognized early on in her career that early intervention was the key to both treatment and prevention for kids in need.  Also and maybe more importantly, Irma Rosenstein brought an ethos of openness and of clarity to community problems.  She did not shirk from addressing racism and bigotry.  Irma took on the big issues of her day, and still now her passion for social justice is evident.

Irma was the driving force behind the ‘Kentucky Conference on Christians and Jews’, now called the ‘Kentucky Conference on Communities and Justice’, an organization dedicated to building community and ending bigotry.  She hosted one of social work’s most prominent leaders, Whitney Young, at a KCCJ dinner when no public places outside of the University of Kentucky were desegregated.  Irma came to Lexington more than 50 years ago and we know that she changed this community for the better.  The entire community is indebted to her and grateful for her courage.  The College of Social Work counts Mrs. Rosenstein as one of our Hall of Fame members and as a friend and colleague.  Irma remains one of the College’s staunch supporters and we feel blessed to have someone with her integrity and compassion involved in our work.  Specifically, we are honored that Irma and Irv have gifted us with an endowment for this prestigious lecture series.  This lecture series is something the College is proud to offer each year to our students, faculty and to the wider community as a very special learning opportunity.