Wooing the Fast-Growing Latino Electorate

UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor Gary Segura spoke to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star and public radio station WITF about the fast-growing segment of Latino voters who are a key target for 2024 elections. Economic issues, particularly concerns about better pay and the cost of prescriptions and health insurance, are a top priority for Latinos in the swing state of Pennsylvania, according to a survey conducted by BSP Research, co-founded by Segura. “Latinos are often worried that their jobs don’t pay well enough, or they have to take a second job in order to make ends meet,” Segura said. He noted that Pennsylvania’s Latino electorate includes a substantial number of Puerto Ricans, a group that historically has leaned Democratic. However, many Latino voters feel that neither of the two main U.S. political parties has shown sufficient interest in connecting with them, according to the national survey conducted on behalf of UnidosUS.


Improving Accountability in L.A. City Government

UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor Gary Segura appeared on LAist’s “AirTalk” to discuss recommendations for reforming governance in Los Angeles after a series of scandals that have shaken voter confidence. Segura is co-chair of the LA Governance Reform Project, a group of scholars whose final report calls for the establishment of independent redistricting commissions and an increase in the size of the City Council, Los Angeles Unified Board of Education and Los Angeles Ethics Commission. The scholars conducted extensive polling and focus groups to collect feedback reflecting “every corner of the city, every demographic group, every interest, every point of view,” Segura said. One of the recommendations — the inclusion of five at-large seats in a 25-member City Council — would “increase the number of ways people can have their voice heard” and guard against abuses of power, he added. The reform coalition urges that the measures be put before voters in November 2024; if passed, new districts could be established for the 2028 elections.


Stalled Momentum in Reforming L.A. Governance

UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor Gary Segura spoke to LAist about a delay in the decision to move forward with reforms at L.A. City Hall. Segura is co-chair of the L.A. Governance Reform Project, a coalition of scholars who came together in response to a series of corruption scandals that have plagued the city. Their recommendations for better governance include increasing the number of seats on the L.A. City Council, currently made up of 15 members representing 4 million Angelenos. “One of the advantages of a larger council is that it makes it possible for smaller communities to maintain a voice,” Segura said. Council members are debating the anticipated impact of the proposed change on the delivery of city services, as well as on the balance of power between the council and the mayor. The decision to delay action and possibly hand the question over to a yet-to-be-created charter reform commission has stalled momentum and is deeply concerning, Segura said.


Reforming the L.A. City Council to Give Diverse Communities a Voice

UCLA Luskin’s Gary Segura spoke to the L.A. Times about a proposal to expand the Los Angeles City Council in an effort to boost representation and discourage unethical behavior. Nearly a century has passed since L.A. residents approved the current number of council districts, 15. New proposals would increase that number to somewhere between 21 and 31. “Los Angeles is a complex city, far more diverse than most cities in the United States,” said Segura, a professor of public policy. “With huge numbers of ethnic and racial populations, it has become increasingly difficult to give different communities a voice.” Any change would require voter approval. Opponents of council expansion often cite concerns about higher costs, but “the truth of the matter is we spend very little on governance in Los Angeles,” Segura said. Even if the council more than doubles in size, the cost of staff, office space, cars and other needs would represent less than 1% of Los Angeles’ annual $13-billion budget.


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.