Segura on Expanding Representation and Accountability in L.A.

News outlets covering testimony before the L.A. City Council’s ad hoc committee on government reform carried the comments of Gary Segura, professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin. Segura is co-chair of the L.A. Governance Reform Project, a group of university scholars drafting recommendations to increase transparency and accountability at L.A. City Hall. A preliminary report from the project called for several reforms, including the creation of 10 additional City Council seats for a total of 25, including four at-large seats. “The purpose of that was to have an additional cohort of members of the council who had a citywide constituency and therefore were interested in advancing the interests of everyone in the city,” Segura said. He added that the Governance Reform Project is continuing research into the value of at-large seats and conducting further conversations with community-based organizations and members of the voting rights community. The group expects to issue its final report in November.

A Sweeping Proposal to Reform L.A. City Governance

News organizations including the Los Angeles Times, Daily News and Associated Press covered a package of recommendations issued by the Los Angeles Governance Reform Project, co-chaired by UCLA Luskin Professor Gary Segura. The advisory group, created in response to a series of corruption scandals that have plagued L.A. City Hall, called for 10 additional seats on the City Council for a total of 25; two independent redistricting commissions; and a more powerful ethics commission. “As we speak today, there are 260,000 souls in every City Council district in Los Angeles. To say that this stretches the definition of local representation as it was understood by our founders would be an understatement,” Segura said. He called the proposals in the group’s interim report a “starting point, intended to spark a meaningful and actionable conversation that will drive reform forward.”


Message From the Dean

The year 2023 arrived finding me, suddenly and unexpectedly, at the helm of our School. But as the sentiments of surprise and overwhelmingness subside, I feel excitement, optimism and joy for the future of the Luskin School.

Yes, it is true that our School emerged in the new year having been hit by a triple tsunami — a global pandemic that emptied our building’s corridors and classrooms and forced us to become a “Zoom university”; a stressful labor strike that brought disagreement and tensions; and a sudden loss in leadership with the resignation of our previous dean, Gary Segura.

But it is also true that our School has been blessed throughout its 29-year history with effective, forward-looking deans, who have helped us witness a consistently upward trajectory.

Today, we have the largest and most diverse faculty in our history. We have research centers that produce and disseminate knowledge locally and globally. We have bright graduate and undergraduate students who want to improve the world around them. We have a very able and supportive staff and a well-networked advisory board, both with the good of the School as their focus. And we have alumni and other donors believing in our School and supporting it materially and otherwise, with the Luskin family at the top of this list.

The research undertaken in our School aligns extremely well with UCLA’s vision of becoming “the most impactful university
in the world.”

Our city, our region and indeed the nation and the globe are confronted with critical and, at times, interrelated challenges: deepening social inequality, housing insecurity and climate change, to name some of the most important ones. United by our mission to promote social justice in communities and cities, a lot of the work that our faculty is involved in concentrates on improving the position of vulnerable and marginalized social groups (racial/ethnic and gender minorities, older adults, immigrants, children, unhoused and disabled individuals, etc.) through sound and progressive policy and planning.

Faced with disasters such as drought and wildfires in our state, brought upon us by human action and causing uneven and adverse effects on communities, some of our faculty are also involved in studies about the sustainability and resilience of our ecosystems, our air and water, and the intersection of environmental policies with justice.

The fiscalization of land and market-driven urbanism in our cities have led to dispossession, residential and commercial displacement, housing unaffordability and homelessness, which
are particularly acute in our region. Some of our faculty and research centers are at the forefront of studying and developing policy recommendations to address these menaces.

And there are other very important issues and challenges requiring policy attention involving police brutality, mass shootings, inferior access to education or health services, voting rights — to name just a few — that my colleagues are working
on and helping to develop responses.

The portfolio of our School’s work is indeed impressive, but there is room for more. At the time of this writing, a proposal for a Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) is passing through the last round of reviews from the UCLA Academic Senate. It aspires to educate a new type of real estate professional: people who are not only technical experts in the field but also experts in the ethical and political underpinnings of development. Additionally, driven by our conviction that we should educate global citizens, and that global issues are also experienced locally, we are developing a new master’s degree in Global Public Affairs. Lastly, a faculty committee is examining the opportunity to develop a certificate program for our alumni and others who wish to learn about new technologies and digital tools for public policy — skills that we currently offer to our students, but which have changed significantly from previous decades.

So, the coming years will be busy and exciting. There is a lot to be done, but the future is bright.

Thank you very much for your support and for staying close to our School!



Segura Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Gary M. Segura, professor of public policy, political science and Chicano and Chicana Studies at UCLA, has been elected a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Segura is one of four UCLA faculty members newly elected to the academy in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The four UCLA scholars will be among 120 U.S. and 23 international members who will be inducted into the Washington, D.C.-based organization in April 2024. “The Luskin School is extremely proud of Gary’s election to the National Academy of Sciences,” said UCLA Luskin Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. “This is a top honor! He is joining a very elite group of the best and the brightest in the United States and the world.” Segura’s work has focused on issues of political representation and social cleavages, the domestic politics of wartime public opinion and the politics of America’s growing Latino minority. During his tenure as dean of the Luskin School from 2017 to 2022, he co-founded the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, which later became the Latino Policy & Politics Institute. Segura was recommended for inclusion in the social and political sciences section, one of the organization’s 31 disciplinary areas, said Susan R. Wessler, home secretary of the academy, which was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Wessler said the new inductees will join in the work of the academy. “We are an active, working academy that addresses important matters in science and advises the nation on problems where scientific insights are critical,” she said.

Read the full story.


Luskin School Reaches Top 10 Among Public Affairs Schools Nationwide Subcategory rankings include seventh in urban policy and ninth in social policy

By Stan Paul

UCLA Luskin has achieved Top 10 recognition among public affairs graduate schools in the nation based on newly released U.S. News & World Report ratings.

The School is in good company, sharing the spot with prestigious programs including Princeton, NYU, Georgetown and the University of Texas, Austin.

“I am very proud of our School’s rapid and continuing rise in the rankings, reaching now the Top 10 Public Affairs Schools in the U.S.,” said Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. “The recent rankings represent only one indication of the excellence that characterizes the Luskin School and its faculty, staff and students.”

In congratulating the School, Gary Segura, who served as dean from 2017 until the end of 2022, said that it is particularly gratifying that the academic community is taking notice.

“The improvement in our rankings is a reflection of the efforts of faculty and staff across the School and the unique constellation of expertise here at UCLA Luskin,” Segura said.

Mark Peterson, interim chair of UCLA Luskin Public Policy, also pointed out that the achievement is particularly notable for the Luskin School, which is significantly younger — and smaller — than the schools that ranked higher and thus have larger faculties and longer histories from which to develop reputations.

“With our national standing, one might say that we are the proverbial little engine that could,” Peterson said.

Among public institutions, UCLA Luskin was among the top eight nationwide, second among public colleges and universities in California, and third among all public affairs programs in the state. UCLA Luskin Urban Planning is ranked No. 1 in North America by Planetizen, a planning and development network based in Los Angeles that is the only entity that ranks urban planning programs.

The School — with graduate departments in Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning, and a Public Affairs undergraduate program — also received high marks from U.S. News & World Report for subcategories that include urban policy (No. 7), social policy (No. 9), environmental policy and management (No. 14) and public policy analysis (No. 14).

The latest rankings of public affairs programs, released in May 2023, are based on peer assessment survey results from fall 2022 and early 2023, according to U.S. News & World Report, which surveyed deans, directors and department chairs representing 269 master’s programs in public affairs and administration.

The lists of all the schools, all the individuals surveyed and all the names of the specialty areas evaluated were provided to the news organization by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, known as NASPAA, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

See the full list of the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools.

Segura on Approaches for Reforming City Government

UCLA Luskin Professor Gary Segura spoke to LAist’s “AirTalk” about the L.A. Governance Reform Project, an effort by Southern California scholars to develop proposals to reform Los Angeles’ scandal-scarred city government. While the project will initially focus on establishing a fair redistricting process, it will also consider the merits of increasing the number of City Council members, which currently stands at 15. “The idea is that there should be a representation system in which all of the city’s various ethnic, racial, sectarian and linguistic groups have an opportunity to see their views represented,” said Segura, the team’s co-chair. “The truth is that’s just easier when there are more seats.” The scholars will invite civil society and social justice organizations to weigh in on this approach. Past efforts to expand the council have met with public opposition, and Segura acknowledged that recent controversies exposing corruption and racist conversations may make electing more City Council members seem unpalatable.


Segura to Co-Chair Project for Better L.A. Governance

UCLA Luskin Professor Gary Segura has been named co-chair of a coalition of Los Angeles-based scholars and researchers who will develop proposals for bringing better governance to L.A.’s halls of power. The L.A. Governance Reform Project was launched amid recent controversies at Los Angeles City Hall that have underscored the need for a transparent, accountable and community-driven system of government in the diverse and dynamic region. The group’s first task will be to produce recommendations for an independent redistricting process to be presented to policymakers in the coming months. The team will then turn to other areas, including but not limited to City Council expansion, ethics and land use reform. As they conduct their analysis, the scholars will consult with several members of the governmental, civic, activist and academic communities. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment in Los Angeles. Interest in reform is high throughout the community, and the best reforms will generate the widest and broadest community support,” said Segura, whose academic work focuses on political representation and social cleavages. Segura serves as co-chair with Professor Ange-Marie Hancock of the University of Southern California, and the project will be administered by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles. The L.A. Governance Reform Project team also includes scholars from Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount University and Pomona College. The project has received funding from philanthropic organizations including the California Community Foundation, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Weingart Foundation.


Message From the Dean

As you may have heard by the time this issue reaches you, I have stepped down as dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, effective at the end of 2022. [Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris has been appointed as interim dean, beginning Jan. 1.]

Serving as dean these last six years has been a profound privilege and, without exception, the best experience of my career. And part of what made that experience so wonderful was getting to meet and learn about the incredibly important and impactful work being done by UCLA Luskin alumni across Los Angeles, the state of California and beyond. The Luskin School has many things of which it can be justly proud, but none so exceptional as its more than 9,000 alumni doing good work for good purposes every day.

The last six years have been transformative.

Together, and with the magnificent foundation provided by Renee and Meyer Luskin’s amazing gift, we have expanded and deepened the impact and scope of the School. In six years, we enlarged the ladder faculty to 59 and have hired more than half our current faculty. Today, that faculty is evenly divided by gender, and a majority of UCLA Luskin ladder faculty are scholars of color.

The founding and growth of the undergraduate major in public affairs has more than doubled the student population, from 525 to more than 1,100.

We have dramatically enlarged our overall levels of extramural research and grant support. UCLA Luskin faculty garnered a record $38.3 million just last year.

The Latino Policy and Politics Institute and the Hub for Health Intervention Policy and Practice were both established and flourished. The UCLA Voting Rights Project waged judicial battle across the country to protect fair and equal voting rights. Social workers traveled to asylee detention camps at the southern border to provide support, counselling and assistance. And Luskin School faculty stepped up in a big way to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on Los Angeles’ most vulnerable populations.

Since my appointment, our philanthropic efforts together fundraised $39.03 million on 4,522 gifts, both big and small, ranging from 10 dollars to $3.2 million, all to enhance and deepen the teaching and research efforts of the School and its fine faculty.   

With the great times came the hard ones. We said goodbye to our friends, mourning VC Powe, Zeke Hasenfeld, Martin Wachs, Mark Kleiman and Leo Estrada, as well as earlier retirees such as Karen Lee, Leland Burns and Joel Handler.

We spent four quarters, two summers and a few additional weeks running five university graduate programs and an undergraduate major from our couches and dining tables, hoping to spare faculty, staff and students from the ravages of a global pandemic. The class of 2020 had graduation online. The class of 2021 had a distanced ceremony in the tennis stadium, without their families present.

But through it all, the Luskin School of Public Affairs persevered, stuck firmly to its mission, trained a generation of change-makers, and had an impact. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Events at UCLA have been, frankly, turbulent in the last months, as you have no doubt read. The Luskin School needs leadership that is fresh and energetic to face the challenges and opportunities to come. I look forward to supporting my successor and I hope you will too. I know you will embrace the new dean with the same warmth, help and enthusiasm from which I so richly benefitted. For my part, I look forward to returning to my first love, classroom teaching.

In the coming years, it’s my sincere hope that the Luskin School continues to make change in Los Angeles and beyond. I know that it will. Thank you for being part of that journey and allowing me to join you.

All the best,


Segura to Step Down as Dean, Remain on Faculty His six years leading the Luskin School has been marked by a deep commitment to equity, diversity and academic excellence

Gary Segura has decided to end his time as dean of the Luskin School for personal reasons. Here is a message sent to the UCLA Luskin staff and faculty by UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt:

Dear Colleagues:

I write to share the news that Dean Gary Segura, who has led the Luskin School of Public Affairs since January of 2017, has informed me of his decision to step down as dean and return to the faculty. His last day will be Dec. 31, 2022. We will share plans for interim leadership of the school as soon as they are in place.

In his nearly six years as dean, Dean Segura has fostered within the Luskin School a deep commitment to academic excellence and to equity, diversity and inclusion. Under his leadership, the school has enrolled an accomplished and highly diverse group of students in its programs and appointed renowned scholars in areas such as poverty and inequality, immigration, criminal justice, education policy and more.

Dean Segura has helped to cement the Luskin School’s status as a leader in research, teaching and practice across the areas of social welfare, urban planning and public policy. Recognizing growing demand for the Luskin School’s programs, in 2018 he led the development of the undergraduate major in public affairs, which provides a multidisciplinary foundation in social science theories, data collection and analysis. Additionally, the school launched a certificate program in data analytics in fall 2021 and added a new dual master’s degree program offered jointly by our Urban Planning Department and the Urban School of Sciences Po in Paris.

Dean Segura also co-founded the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute in 2017 to address inequities and spread awareness of the most critical domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color.

Chancellor Block and I are grateful to Dean Segura for advancing the public affairs disciplines at UCLA and for his work to deepen the Luskin School’s impact on communities near and far. Please join me in thanking Dean Segura for his leadership and wishing him well on his next chapter.

Segura on Misguided Assumptions About Latino Voters

UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura spoke to the Los Angeles Times about shifts in Democratic campaign strategies to win the Latino vote. After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, many Democratic candidates are emphasizing abortion rights, discarding the conventional wisdom that the Latino electorate is too socially conservative to be receptive to the platform. “These incorrect assumptions have lasted for a long time, and they have been incorrect for a long time,” said Segura, who has conducted extensive polling research. Political strategists who previously concluded that predominantly Catholic Latino voters would remain staunchly opposed to abortion rights missed nuances among the electorate. While individual voters may have personal convictions against abortion, many draw the line at government intervention that curbs the rights of the people.