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Alumni Profile (Posthumous): Rosmarie Welter-Enderlin, February 24, 1935 – April 4, 2010

Rosmarie Welter-Enderlin was a distinguished graduate of the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She received her MSW in 1966 and was a respected therapist in Ann Arbor, working at Child and Family Services and later, the Family and School Consultation Project, an NIMH research project directed by two School of Social Work faculty, Professors Richard Stuart and Tony Tripodi. Rosmarie was the senior therapist for the project, supporting her junior colleagues and mentoring MSW and PhD students. Among these mentees were Professor Kathleen Coulborn Faller; Professor Emeritus Siri Jayaratne; Professor and former Dean Jeanne Marsh, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago; Professor Rona Levy, University of Washington School of Social Work; Professor Karen Kirkhart, Syracuse University School of Social Work; and Professor Janet Johnston, San José State University Justice Studies Department. Among the MSW level mentees were Michael Lott, executive director of the Guidance Center in Southfield, Michigan and Verena Brunner, a family therapist in Ann Arbor.

Rosmarie made enormous contributions to the re-visioning of family therapy with a feminist lens.

In the early 1970s, after Rosmarie had been admitted to the U-M Joint Doctoral Program on Social Work and Social Science, she returned to her native Switzerland for family reasons. In Switzerland, she became an eminent family therapist, and prolific writer, publishing 11 books in German. She was fluent in English, Italian, French, German, and Swiss-German. She developed an international reputation, as exemplified by receipt of the Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice Award from the American Family Therapy Academy in 2003. She was also an esteemed member of the board of directors of Family Process Institute, which publishes the scholarly journal, Family Process, and a member of the advisory editorial board of that journal. She was the editor of the German family therapy journal, Systeme Familie. To quote her close friend and distinguished colleague, Dr. Evan ImberBlack, of the Ackerman Institute, “Rosmarie made enormous contributions to the re-visioning of family therapy with a feminist lens.” Her work was groundbreaking, re-introducing the self and the affective domain into European family therapy.

Rosmarie was the first woman to establish a family therapy institute in Europe, Das Ausbildungsinstitut für systemische Therapie und Beratung, in Meilen, a small town just outside of Zurich. The Institute, comprised of professionals from many disciplines and many countries—psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, anthropologists, sociologists, and historians—was inspired by Rosmarie’s leadership. Rosmarie used the Institute to launch international family therapy congresses, of which there were five, each with a unique theme, and each resulting in a book of essays. She also used these congresses to foster the ideas and careers of younger colleagues. 

Rosmarie was both professionally and personally dedicated to family and enhancing family life in personal space and workplace. She came from a large family, being the oldest of five siblings with very diverse interests and interesting lives. Her husband, Dr. Rudolph Welter, an environmental architect, shared her focus on the family and also on living space and workplace. She was the mother of two, Dr. Barbara Welter-Thaler, and Stefan Welter, and the grandmother of three. As a woman and a professional, she celebrated family and life. Her personal life was characterized by large gatherings of family, friends, and colleagues. 

A scholarship honoring Rosmarie Welter-Enderlin will be announced at a later date. 

—Kathleen Coulborn Faller, PhD, ACSW, is Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor of Children and Families and Director of Family Assessment Clinic.

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