Students and faculty of the School of Public Affairs welcomed Meyer and Renee Luskin to their new namesake School during a school-wide reception held in the student lounge on Thursday, February 3, 2011. In front of a crowd of 150 enthusiastic well-wishers, students in shirts emblazoned with the new name of the school unveiled a 10-foot banner celebrating the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs.
The renaming of the School, in recognition of a generous $100 million gift to UCLA by the Luskins, was publicly announced on January 26, and the transition to the new name will formally take place during a campus ceremony on March 18, 2011.
Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., dean of the School, remarked, "To me the significant part of the gift is that it places value on the work that we do, the people who are in the helping professions, who take care of the public good, who care about a greater cause than money or material things, and really try to change the world and make it a better place."
"This gift brings with it a deep sense of obligation, the Luskins have entrusted us with a legacy, and this is about being serious about thinking about the big problems that vex our society and the greater society as a whole. We should celebrate, and also recognize that we have a deep sense of responsibility to try and live up to the legacy of this gift." Also at the celebration were UCLA Chancellor Emeritus Albert Carnesale and former Massachusetts governor (and 1988 U.S. presidential candidate) Michael Dukakis, both now on the faculty of the Department of Public Policy.
Speaking of the significant endowment funds that the Luskins have gifted to the school (90 percent of the $50 million given to the school are dedicated for endowments), Professor Carnesale commented that "A gift of this magnitude will ensure not only that the school endures through bad budget times and has a reliable source of funding to accomplish important things, but in good budget times, it can really step up with new initiatives and new experiments that would otherwise be impossible."
Governor Dukakis, in closing the event, added his own take on Dean Gilliam's comments, “I don't want this place to change the world a little bit, I want us to educate people who change the world a lot," and pausing to turn to the Luskins in thanks, added, "and that is what your gift will enable us to do."