Ruth Koehler Biographical Information

Ruth T. Koehler had a distinguished career in social work, beginning in the 1940s in foster care and mental health positions. She was a graduate of Douglas College in New Jersey and received her MSW from Simmons College in 1942. In 1952, she completed the Program of Advanced Study at the Smith College of Social Work, with a concentration in treatment of children.

Koehler joined the Lansing Child Guidance Clinic as Chief Psychiatric Social Worker in 1952 and became director of that agency in 1962. In 1965, she joined the faculty of the MSU School of Social Work and became a full professor in 1971.

Ruth’s expertise as a child therapist enabled her to help innumerable children in her private practice and to teach others in the classroom and in her extensive consultations how to work with troubled and endangered children and their families. She frequently served as an expert witness in court cases involving children and taught many seminars for school and agency personnel, in addition to her many teaching and committee responsibilities at MSU.

Practitioners throughout the state sought her consultation in their work. She was a much beloved teacher, and alumni have often cited what they learned in her classes as a special memory of their time at MSU.

A recipient of many honors and a published author of several articles in child treatment, Ruth retired from the University in 1987. At that time, the School established the Ruth T. Koehler Endowed Lecture Series for students and practitioners wishing to learn more about treatment of children. The Koehler Conference series on clinical work with children and regular workshops have become an important part of the School and community.

Ruth died in 2003 but we continue to honor her work and memory through her educational legacy. Ruth was a wonderful person, clinician, teacher and friend. She always maintained her interest in students, alumni, and work with children. She will be greatly missed even as we continue to honor her work and memory through her educational legacy.