This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.
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Published: December 22, 2011

Susan R. Schapiro, clinical associate professor emerita in the Graduate School of Education who founded and directed the popular Methods of Inquiry (MOI) Program, died Nov. 11 after complications from surgery. She was 81.

Schapiro founded the MOI program in 1986 with a three-year, $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Designed to enhance the learning experience of UB undergraduates, the course taught students how to think critically and, at the same time, raise their grades.

A Buffalo native, Schapiro graduated from Buffalo Seminary and Mills College in California. In 1952, she entered Harvard Law School, a member of the second class of women ever admitted to the school.

She decided she didn’t want to practice law, and dropped out of law school after her first year. She began teaching at Buffalo Seminary in the late 1950s, starting with geometry classes and later teaching “Problems of Democracy.”

In the mid-1960s, Schapiro became the first female teacher at the then-all-boys Nichols School, developing new courses in “Afro-American Literature,” the “Literature of Identity” and “Existentialism in Literature,” and later heading the new Department of Philosophy, Religion and Social Relations.

She left Nichols in 1981 to study at UB, earning her doctorate in the philosophy of education at age 61.

She later created the Methods of Inquiry Program, teaching critical thinking skills to students with relatively low test scores and high school grades. MOI became one of UB’s most popular and successful undergraduate courses, remaining part of the curriculum for two decades. She retired from UB in 2000.

Schapiro also was active in the community, heading the Junior Board of Albright-Knox Art Gallery, serving as a member of the Urban League and working on numerous political campaigns. For many years, she taught literature and philosophy to adults through Trinity Church’s adult education program.