Judith Axonovitz

Clinical Professor, Field Education and Director, Skirball Academic Center
Contact Information
Department of Study 
Adults and Healthy Aging
MS, Simmons College, 1972
BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1968

Prior to joining in 1983, JUDY AXONOVITZ was a clinical practitioner at two leading Harvard teaching hospitals in Boston, the University of Colorado Medical Center-Denver and several Los Angeles hospitals, where she also served as a field instructor for local schools of social work training graduate students. In addition, she was director of a hospital social work department with in-patient medical and psychiatric services. As a clinical specialist at the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles, she worked in all areas of in-patient health care delivery, teaching students and overseeing continuing education for all social workers employed by VA medical centers in southern California.

Axonovitz was a member of USC's field faculty and an academic advisor for more than 20 years, a role which enabled her to design field objectives and the clinical curriculum for Master of Social Work students, as well as to teach the Human Behavior and the Social Environment for the health concentration. She also served as liaison between foundation-year students and their assigned agencies and field instructors, and created the first syllabus for the integrative seminar. In addition, Axonovitz has provided teaching modules on the psychological impact of health issues to medical students at the Keck School of Medicine of USC to help them develop their clinical practice skills.

She was the lead professional from USC to bring the Geriatric Social Work Education Consortium (GSWEC), the nation's first major multi-university regional consortium in partnership with leading agencies serving seniors, to southern California. Serving on all levels of design, application and implementation, she established the group among all social work education communities to train social work students in the area of aging. Axonovitz also was instrumental in launching a joint collective of schools of social work. Starting with two schools 25 years ago, the collective is going strong today with nine MSW programs.

In 2004, Axonovitz was promoted to director of the Skirball Academic Center, where she has grown the program from its inception to a regular enrollment of approximately 40 full-time and part-time foundation students.

A key member of the school's admissions team, Axonovitz also serves on 10 committees in the school, advises the Skirball Student Caucus and collaborates on projects with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, including the dual-degree program in Jewish Communal Service.

She provides consultation in many arenas – locally, nationally and internationally – that have included relief missions to Baltic countries and Cuba, and mental health services to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Her clinical and consultative areas of expertise are in aging, diversity, health, death and dying, bereavement and grief counseling.