Gift Establishes New Scholarship for Health Social Work Students

April 26, 2013
by Maya Meinert
A new gift of $25,000 will go toward the establishment of a scholarship at the USC School of Social Work for a Master of Social Work student who plans to work in the health field.

For Paul Beigelman, giving to the University of Southern California is a top priority.

“Next to my family, USC is the No. 1 recipient of favors of my trust,” he said. “I bleed cardinal and gold.”

That’s why Beigelman, MD ’48, chose to honor his late wife, Irene Beigelman, MSW ’57, with a gift of $25,000 toward the establishment of a scholarship at the USC School of Social Work for a Master of Social Work student who plans to work in the health field.

As a medical doctor who specialized in diabetes care for underserved populations, Beigelman recognizes the significant contributions social workers make to the health profession, as well as in many other areas of social welfare. Irene Beigelman worked at Children’s Bureau, which focuses on improving the lives of vulnerable children.

“Social workers do exceptionally important work; I saw my wife doing it,” Beigelman said. “I’m glad to help them in any way I can.”

Judith Axonovitz, clinical professor of field education and director of the school’s Skirball Academic Center, noted that health issues permeate nearly all parts of people’s lives, which has helped quadruple the number of USC students studying health social work.

“Every family is impacted by health and its ensuing issues, including finances, psychology and personal relationships,” said Axonovitz, who was one of the founders of the school’s Health concentration and knows Beigelman personally. “We teach our students that it’s a holistic approach in treating our clients, and Dr. Beigelman saw that as well.”

Beigelman’s career took him all over the United States to many prestigious posts, including those at Harvard University; Stanford University; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the National Institutes of Health. But USC, where he spent the majority of his time, will always be his home. After receiving his medical degree from what is now known as the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Beigelman performed his internship at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center and later spent 40 years at the Keck School as a professor and volunteer.

“I’m determined to do my bit to keep USC where it belongs in the top ranks,” he said. “I want to spread the good stuff around. What is money for if not to do some good?”