Ron Astor, the Richard M. and Ann L. Thor Professor in Urban Social Development at the USC School of Social Work, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion during its Los Angeles graduation ceremony on May 17.
Astor, who also holds a joint appointment in the USC Rossier School of Education, is an internationally recognized school violence expert and creator of an award-winning disaster preparation mapping and monitoring system that has been implemented in schools throughout the United States and Israel. He is currently a co-principal investigator on a Department of Defense Education Activity research project to improve school climate and connectedness for children in military families.
Astor earned a master’s degree in Jewish communal service from the Hebrew Union College in 1985, the same year he received a Master of Social Work degree from the USC School of Social Work.
Rabbi David Ellenson, president of the Hebrew Union College, said the honorary doctorate was an expression of pride for Astor’s many accomplishments since graduating 25 years ago.
“His publications, the leading role he plays in his academic areas, his contributions as a scholar and activist to the State of Israel, his commitments to the highest Jewish values our institution champions, his distinguished service as a faculty member at USC as well as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – all these factors lead us to honor him at this time,” Ellenson said.
Astor began his teaching career as a visiting professor and Fulbright Senior Scholar fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research into various types of school violence – from bullying and sexual harassment to emotional abuse and weapons use on campus – has been published in more than 100 scholarly journals.
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