Dean’s Message

And in the blink of an eye, five years has come and gone.

This is my 11th Forum column. I write after an extraordinary period of change in the world, and at UCLA Luskin. We do our work in the world, on real problems facing real people, families and communities. When I arrived five years ago, I made a commitment to embrace and enhance the School’s well-established mission of helping, of doing good in the world. I believe we have kept that promise, and each day I am stunned to see the astounding efforts of my colleagues in implementing that vision through research, training and action.

Five years ago, I could not have envisioned the pandemic, the insurrection and the myriad crises of these last two years. New challenges and new opportunities, daunting and exciting at the same time, have emerged from this upheaval. Out of the old will emerge new patterns, changed institutions, terrible losses and unanticipated opportunities. Exactly what those will look like is hard to foresee. But the Luskin School will certainly be trying.

What can UCLA Luskin do to enhance our understanding of COVID-19, of the political upheavals of the last years, of the social changes being set into motion by both? In this issue, we highlight ways in which Luskin research has immediate impact on the world around us.

Our work on inequality and displacement is never more needed than now, when the homelessness and affordable housing crises collide with large-scale economic struggle during the pandemic, and
a 40-year growth in income inequality.

Our work on housing and transportation can certainly inform our understanding of the “great resignation” or the withdrawal of substantial segments of the workforce from active participation. There is very little question that priorities have shifted for millions of Americans, less willing to work for minimum wage, less willing to take that second job (or, for couples, third job), less willing to

commute for hours a day. The death of hundreds of thousands of our countrymen, the 18 months of remote work, clearly reshaped choices.

Similarly, our expertise in these areas cannot help but inform the changing nature of work and workplaces after nearly two years of remote employment for many. Telecommuting pre-dates the pandemic, but these last two years have revolutionized our understanding of what tasks require in-person labor, and how supervisors can effectively monitor those working from home. Clearly some of this work was not ideal, but we discovered that some workers did just fine! In this context, hours of commuting and parking costs are hard to justify when they don’t improve productivity or enhance service.

Our expertise on health and health care disparities, disruptions in the insurance market, depression and mental health challenges, and lack of services to the poor, to marginalized communities and the homeless is made more urgent in the wake of clear and undeniable effects of this inequality on Los Angeles and beyond. We have witnessed wildly uneven mortality rates, testing and vaccination efforts, and untreated morbidities that have made a terrible situation worse for those who have the least.

Communities of color, among those most disadvantaged in the pandemic, have also seen their political voice weakened by vote dilution and voter suppression, and by a history of the use of the criminal justice system as social regulation. The UCLA Voting Rights Project at Luskin may be coming to a courtroom near you as we fight to protect the franchise and American democracy. When those most disadvantaged take to the streets in frustration, they are likely to face hostile law enforcement and attempts at suppression. Minority experiences in the U.S. justice system have historically been problematic under the best of circumstances and even more so in these times of social stress and the ongoing tragedy of unjustified killings. Thankfully, these events, too, are the subject of inquiry in all Luskin departments.

The distinction between the Luskin School and much of academia is reflected in words written by Marx 133 years ago in his 11th Thesis on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Gary

The Dollars and Sense of Growth More faculty, more students, more research — yes, growth is good, but it does come with a price tag

By Les Dunseith

The Luskin School of Public Affairs has been growing — quickly.

  • The faculty is far larger than it was just five years ago — 35 ladder faculty then, 59 now (with three more hires pending).
  • Half-a-dozen additional research centers have been added or fully funded during that time.
  • The undergraduate public affairs major has skyrocketed from zero to 428 majors and pre-majors since spring 2018. Another 167 undergraduates are working on a minor.

Make no mistake, numbers like these are very good news. But such growth comes with a price tag, and dealing with that financial reality didn’t get any easier amid the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to pay for it all?

It helps that enrollment in UCLA Luskin’s graduate degree programs is up across the board. A total of 551 master’s students, a record number, are enrolled this academic year. Revenue from fees paid by these professional school students helps offset some of the associated costs of educating more people, such as hiring additional instructors and funding more graduate research fellowships. From a budget standpoint, such fees are also beneficial because they are not part of state appropriations and thus not impacted by any cuts from Sacramento.

It’s also true that adding undergraduate students brings in revenue from tuition. Generally speaking, tuition money flows to the university as a whole, not directly to the Luskin School, but additional funding tied to the undergraduate program has been put to good use at UCLA Luskin to support educational activities in undergraduate classrooms.

A portion has also been directed toward the graduate students who act as teaching assistants.

Rowena Barlow, chief financial officer, said total support received by the Luskin School’s students has risen 72.4% over four years. Teaching assistantships include a tuition waiver in addition to salary, meaning that many graduate students today are paying less for a master’s degree than they would have if the undergraduate degree did not exist.

On the negative side of the ledger, adding the undergraduate program also led to the hiring of many new faculty, which has increased salary costs. But many of the new additions have contributed to another growing source of funding — research contracts and grants.

“Grant proposals and research awards have grown exponentially,” Barlow said, increasing up to 60% since Gary Segura became dean. In the most-recent fiscal year, UCLA Luskin was awarded 124 grants totaling $23.2 million, nearly double the 66 grants totaling $11.2 million in 2017-18. And just three months into the current fiscal year, researchers at the Luskin School had already received contracts and grants totaling more than $13.1 million.

Grants are especially important to faculty and their associated research centers, and as the number of such entities has grown, so has their funding. In the last fiscal year, academic research and advocacy entities, along with related training programs, brought in 72 awards — 58% of the School’s total. Barlow said those grants totaled more than $18.5 million — 80% of all contract and grant funding at UCLA Luskin.

“The numbers are stunning,” said Segura, who credited the dedication of Barlow’s team in Financial Services with coping with a steadily increasing workload as new research centers have come aboard.

“There’s no handbook,” Segura said. “There’s no campus resource center for new center startups.”

Another vital funding source not tied to taxpayer support is private donations, particularly endowments like the gift from Meyer and Renee Luskin in 2011 that led to the renaming of the School. The Luskins recently fulfilled the remainder of that gift and subsequent endowments totaling $54 million, and the full amount is now earning the interest that funds ongoing educational activities such as student fellowships and scholarships, some faculty research efforts and the Luskin Lecture series. A portion of the Luskin endowment is also earmarked specifically to faculty recruitment and retention, Barlow noted.

“Competing for faculty is our biggest budget challenge,” Segura said. “Our faculty are successful. And the more successful they are, the more other schools come knocking.”

Even the generosity of the Luskins extends only so far, however. Several priority needs remain.

Jocelyn Guihama, director of administration and experiential learning for the undergraduate program, mentioned that many students reported working multiple jobs to support their families amid the economic turmoil of the pandemic.

“Since most of the internships that we provide are unpaid, removing the necessity to hold down a job or jobs — by funding more scholarships so that students can focus on their capstone and academics — would be the ideal,” she said.

Segura said gifts that benefit students are always welcomed, and he mentioned another ongoing need that potential donors might not think about — gifts that directly support doctoral students.

“Doctoral fellowships are hugely valuable,” said Segura, not only for the students themselves but indirectly for the entire School because those who earn Ph.D.s at UCLA typically go on to positions at other universities. Many refer potential students to UCLA. Some cooperate with their former professors on new research projects. And having alumni professors distributed widely within academia helps boost the School’s reputation, which drives academic rankings.

Growth at the Luskin School is ongoing, and Segura noted that two more research entities are now in the startup phase — one focusing on childhood bullying, and the other relating to the complexities of gay male sexuality. Both are looking for a benefactor.

Ultimately, today’s UCLA Luskin is a place where bold ambitions might occasionally outpace resources, and the financial challenges can seem daunting at times. Even so, managing the cost of success is a good problem to have.

Dean’s Messages on Remote Instruction to Start Winter Quarter UCLA Luskin modifies operations as part of COVID-19 health and safety efforts on campus amid the rapid spread of Omicron variant

January 10 update:

Friends:

I hope this note finds you all safe and well.

On Friday, you received the campuswide Bruin Post extending our period of remote instruction through Friday, Jan. 28, with our return to campus on Monday, Jan. 31. In my meeting with senior Luskin School leadership Wednesday, we anticipated such a development this week, but the chancellor opted to act sooner as case rates and circumstances made the 18th implausible and unadvisable. Even without a full complement of students on campus last week, the case numbers were shocking. This is the right decision.

For staff or faculty who need to come to campus, please follow the directions of the university with respect to masking, vaccination boosters, testing and so forth, and complete the daily symptom monitoring.  If you come to campus for any reason, please use that opportunity to submit a test to the campus system.

In the interim, our policy of suspending in-person events is extended up to the Jan. 31 return. Planning for all events AFTER Jan. 31 should continue, but always with a cautious eye toward deadlines, financial implications and the changing public health circumstances.

As always, I deeply appreciate your fortitude and resilience during this very challenging period for the School and for the globe.

Dec. 30 email to the UCLA Luskin community:

Friends:

By now you’ve likely seen the Bruin Post sent last Tuesday, informing us all that the winter quarter will begin with remote instruction through the Martin Luther King Holiday. As of now, we will return to the classroom on Jan. 18, 2022.  This date, of course, is dependent on evolving public health conditions. Staff working remotely should continue to do so. Staff working in person or hybrid should speak directly with their supervisor regarding School and departmental needs and each unit’s plans.

Please note the new testing and vaccination requirements detailed on UCLA’s COVID-19 resources page.  In brief, everyone should receive the booster as soon as eligible, all personnel (students, faculty and staff) will require a baseline test before returning to campus, and all will require once or twice weekly testing through UCLA testing systems. More details are available on the linked web pages.

Some thoughts:

I am as disappointed as you that we have once again had to step back from the normal (or nearly normal) conduct of university business and our daily lives. Our primary concern at this moment is the health and safety of our team and our students. We have succeeded in the last year beyond our wildest imaginations despite the many challenges presented by the epidemic — thanks to your creativity, your adaptability, your perseverance, and your hard work. We have admitted and trained more students, won more extramural grants, and we have spread the word of our important work to our largest audience ever.

I know this has come at a cost … all of us are stressed and tired. And I am sorry to say that I have to ask you to take on this challenge again, at least until we can return.

Here is how I’d like to proceed in the interim:

Instructors: I think a sober assessment of the current public health information suggests that we should prepare for a period of remote instruction that lasts beyond Jan. 18.

  • Exceptions to the in-person suspension are allowed under guidance provided in a follow-up Bruin Post of Dec. 28.
  • Additional guidance for course instructors is available in a separate Bruin Post sent Dec. 30.

Staff: As I suggested, you should confer with your manager regarding safeguards. However, I am instructing staff managers to use remote work to the fullest extent possible. The campus has NOT closed and we will require minimal staffing in the building unless it does, but we should meet only the most urgent needs with in-person work.

Meetings: Same as the fall, any meeting which CAN be held remotely SHOULD be held remotely. We are all accustomed to Zoom meetings now.

Events: Guidance from the campus has allowed events to continue but imposed a more restrictive safety protocol.  On my own authority, all UCLA Luskin in-person events should be canceled (or re-platformed) through Jan. 17. Assuming the return to in-person instruction on Jan. 18, we will follow the campus’ new guidance, which includes testing, masks and an indoor eating ban. We will reconsider event plans after Jan. 18 as new information becomes available.  The new campus safety protocols include:

  • One of the following testing options is acceptable upon onsite check-in.
    • Proof of negative antigen test within 24 hours
    • Proof of negative PCR test within 48 hours
    • On-site negative rapid test (we have the supplies)
  • Masks are required.  Recommend surgical/procedure or N95/KN95 masks (we have the supplies)
  • Indoor eating should be avoided, when feasible.

Research: Since the campus is not closed, there is no suspension of research activity at this time, though restrictions on in-person meetings apply. Research center and institute leaders are encouraged to consider the reinstatement of remote work for any research or administrative staff whose effectiveness should allow for remote working.

Students: Just so you know, the campus would like students to return by Jan. 9 and would welcome their return Jan. 3. The leadership feels like we will have a better handle on the public health issues and vaccine/testing compliance among students when they are in residence, and steps have been taken to assure the availability of quarantine beds should they be necessary.

My first concern remains our collective safety and well-being, and I want all of you to know how deeply I appreciate your great work.

All these headaches notwithstanding, I hope all of you and your families enjoy a joyous and SAFE new year, and I will see you soon.

All the best,

Gary

Gary M. Segura
Professor and Dean
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

CEO Tells Why Weingart Foundation Supports Latino Data Initiatives

The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (UCLA LPPI) has received $125,000 in general funding over two years from the Weingart Foundation. It’s a commitment that CEO Miguel Santana said is representative of the organization’s effort to advance social and racial justice in Southern California. Not only is the grant recipient helmed by the “best and brightest of the Latino community,” Santana said, but “UCLA LPPI, along with the Luskin School, are leading in the effort to confront inequities in Los Angeles through research and analysis.” The Weingart Foundation advocates for empowering affected communities and basing social justice on robust data, choosing not to be prescriptive with its grants. Rather, Santana stressed, they “support organizations in Southern California based on the idea that they know best how to use their dollars.” Santana is one of the few Latino leaders of a philanthropic foundation. He previously served on the Luskin School’s Board of Advisors and continues to chair the Committee for Greater LA, where he and other civic leaders worked on the landmark report, “No Going Back: Together for an Equitable and Inclusive Los Angeles,” with UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura and professor Manuel Pastor of USC’s Equity Research Institute. “I was very fortunate to work closely with Dean Segura during my time as a board member,” Santana said. “He is a thought leader on issues for the future of SoCal, and Angelenos are lucky to have him.” —Alise Brillault


 

Endowed Chair Awarded in Honor of Former Dean Gilliam New chair in social justice will benefit the research of Manisha Shah, a professor whose global policy focus includes child health and intimate partner violence

By Les Dunseith

The Luskin School of Public Affairs presented its newest endowed chair to Professor Manisha Shah on Nov. 9 with the chair’s namesake, former Dean Frank Gilliam, and its benefactors, Meyer and Renee Luskin, in attendance.

The Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chair in Social Justice, which was created by the Luskins as part of their naming gift to the Luskin School in 2011, will provide financial support for Shah’s research throughout a five-year term as holder of the chair. She is a professor of public policy who joined the UCLA Luskin faculty in 2013.

Gilliam’s long tenure at UCLA as a professor and then dean ended in 2015 when he became the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He said it is an honor to have his name attached to an award focusing on social justice.

“I am extremely humbled and honored that the Luskins have created an endowed professorship in my name,” Gilliam told an audience of about 75 invited guests who assembled on the festively redecorated third-floor rooftop of the Public Affairs Building.

The social justice focus of the endowment was particularly meaningful for Gilliam. “These are issues I’ve spent my entire professional and personal life working on and I continue to do so today,” he said.

As the holder of the endowed chair, Shah said she plans to further her attempts to understand the barriers that prevent women and girls around the world from living their best lives, an issue that led her to found the Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA in 2019.

“What do we do at the lab? Through a gender lens, we focus on hard-to-reach populations, understudied populations, and we look at groups like adolescents and sex workers and low-income women. We study critical issues related to child health and intimate partner violence and sexual health,” Shah said during her remarks. “Ultimately, the idea is that we’d like to shift public conversation and eventually shift some of the social norms.”

Gilliam, who first hired Shah to join the faculty at UCLA, expressed pride and excitement that she had been chosen as the inaugural holder of the chair in his name.

“She is a remarkable person, a remarkable intellect,” Gilliam said. “Her work is so important. It spans disciplines like economics and public policy and really social welfare, quite frankly. She focuses on the most understudied topics and the most overlooked populations. … This is big stuff.”

Current Dean Gary Segura noted the pivotal role that Gilliam played in bringing social justice to the forefront during his time as dean, shaping the sometimes-disparate disciplines within the Luskin School into a unifying vision.

“Frank Gilliam, perhaps more than any single other leader in the School’s history, shaped the social justice mission and identity of the Luskin School of Public Affairs,” Segura said.

In his remarks, Meyer Luskin said his observations of Gilliam’s leadership and priorities helped lead him toward making the $50 million naming gift to the Luskin School a decade earlier.

“I saw dedication, courage, morality and ethics, empathy, much resourcefulness, strength and kindness, intelligence, hard-working, visionary, loyalty, a great sense of humor, and a man most devotedly committed to justice and equality,” he said.

Segura thanked the Luskins for their foresight and generosity in endowing the new chair, plus three other previously awarded chairs benefitting professors at UCLA Luskin.

Gilliam said their selflessness is well-represented among people associated with the professions of social work, public affairs and urban planning that are taught at the Luskin School.

“The people who work in your area often go unnoticed. They don’t do it for the fame, they don’t do it for the fortune,” he said. “This is hard work, it’s complicated work. It’s real work … on the ground, dealing with real-world policy problems that affect the society.”

Gilliam surveyed the crowd of family, friends and former colleagues who had gathered to celebrate Shah and recognize an endowment that will forever carry his name. Ultimately, said the former professor, dean and current chancellor, it’s about passion for the cause, the mission, embodied for Gilliam in the words spoken by Meyer Luskin when they first met:

“My goal in life is to make the world a better place.”

View additional photos:

Gilliam Endowed Chair

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chair in Social Justice

Celebrating a new endowed chair that recognizes the important contributions of our faculty to the cause of social justice and equity in the United States and around the world.

Honoring us with their presence:

  • Jacquelean and Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and our former dean
  • Meyer and Renee Luskin, who established the endowed chair as part of their naming gift to the Luskin School in recognition of Frank Gilliam’s long and successful deanship

6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9

Luskin School of Public Affairs Rooftop Terrace

BY INVITATION ONLY. Please look for an email invitation in your inbox.

Contact events@luskin.ucla.edu for more information.

A Warm Welcome to UCLA Luskin

The Luskin School welcomed students and alumni back to campus with a series of celebrations and orientations to launch the new academic year. The 10th annual UCLA Luskin Block Party on Sept. 23 drew a record crowd as students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters such as Meyer and Renee Luskin gathered on Dickson Court North to connect with one another after an 18-month stretch of remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health protocols remained in force during Welcome Week, which included graduate student informational and networking sessions and an open house for undergraduates focusing on the public affairs major. The week wrapped up with an exclusive reception for Class of 2020 graduates in the School’s public policy, social welfare and urban planning programs.

View UCLA Luskin photo galleries from:

10th Annual Block Party

Graduate Student Orientation

Undergraduate Open House

Class of 2020 Celebration

New Book by Segura Measures the True Cost of War

A new book co-authored by UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura measures the full cost of war by examining the consequences of foreign combat on domestic politics. In “Costly Calculations: A Theory of War, Casualties, and Politics,” published by Cambridge University Press, the authors employ a variety of empirical methods to examine multiple wars from the last 100 years. The human toll – the military dead and injured – is generally the most salient measure of war costs and the primary instrument through which war affects the social, economic and political fabric of a nation, according to Segura and co-author Scott Sigmund Gartner, provost of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Their work provides a framework for understanding war initiation, war policy and war termination in democratic polities, as well as the forces that shape public opinion. “War-making is not just strategic but also represents a political action of some consequence filtered through a societal lens,” the authors write. “Leaders embark upon a course of conflict with an eye on the level of public support, work hard to win that support if it’s missing, actively attempt to manage public beliefs about the conflict and its costs and benefits, and may suffer the political consequences when the people viewing a conflict through the eyes of their communities believe that they miscalculated.” 


 

Dean’s Message

Renewal and resilience.

It would be trite to offer metaphors of springtime and cherry blossoms to mark the (maybe) tail end of a global pandemic and ongoing national political crisis. For starters, we are not out of the woods. New variants, lagging vaccination rates in some places, anti-scientific vaccine resistance and global poverty are all enormous barriers to putting a definitive end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, the persistent separation between part of our body politic and un-spun facts, coupled with widescale efforts at disenfranchisement and a governing system designed for inaction, means that the peril to American democracy remains real and present. Indeed, my last message to you dated Jan. 4 celebrated a well-run election that was free of violence — then two days later, an insurrectionist mob occupied the U.S. Capitol attempting to use violence to overthrow a 7-million-vote presidential victory by Joe Biden.

Still, it is worth taking a moment to at least acknowledge where we are and what has happened to get us here. The new administration has facilitated an astounding vaccination campaign. Just shy of half of all Americans were fully vaccinated as of July 1, and almost 60% are on their way with at least one shot. California is among the leading states in successful vaccine distribution. To be certain, disturbing gaps by race, ethnicity and income remain, as do infuriating gaps by political identity and state. But progress has been made. When we return in September for the next academic year, classes will be taught in person because all faculty, staff and students who can be vaccinated will have fulfilled their obligation to do so. 

Amid the turmoil, the Luskin School has continued to pursue our core mission of teaching, training and research in the interest of the public good. Moreover, we have advanced our ongoing process of renewal, regeneration, reinvestment and reinvention. The School and its faculty are determined to adapt to new conditions, new challenges and new opportunities. We have been quite busy. 

Student recruitment for fall was one challenge successfully met, and we anticipate welcoming the largest class of incoming professional students (MPP, MSW, MURP) in our history. The undergraduate major — which just graduated its first class to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs — will have approximately 450 students across four classes this year thanks to the amazing leadership of Professor Meredith Phillips, the department chair,
and Jocelyn Guihama, director of undergraduate administration
and experiential learning.

Fall also will bring our first dual-degree program when Urban Planning joins with an international partner in Sciences Po, the leading social science university in France. Professor Michael Storper, Associate Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and the current and former UP chairs, Chris Tilly and Vinit Mukhija, worked hard to develop this proposal and shepherd it through the complex UC approval process.  

And a new certificate program, Data Analytics in Public Affairs, will also be available starting this year to students in all professional programs thanks to the leadership of Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld, an assistant professor of public policy, and a schoolwide committee. 

Five new faculty will join us this year — three hired a year ago and two new additions — bringing to 60 the number of tenure-stream faculty in the Luskin School. They include specialists in transportation equity, housing discrimination, Black social mobility, child welfare and LGBTQ equity, and Latino youth empowerment. The range of expertise represented in the UCLA Luskin faculty continues to be enriched and expanded by such scholars.

And there have been other joys to celebrate. Professors Paul Ong and Don Shoup both won distinguished emeriti awards for their extensive research and teaching contributions to the School and to UCLA that have continued amid retirement. Other faculty and researchers have won awards and research grants too numerous to recount here. Alumnus Bill Coggins, a distinguished social worker and social service professional, was recognized by UCLA with the Alumni Public Service Award. And our most-worthy benefactors, Renee and Meyer Luskin, were chosen as UCLA’s Alumni of the Year. 

So, onward!  We have work to do and more challenges to meet. Be well.

Gary

Commencement Events Bring Class of ’21 Together

UCLA Luskin honored its Class of 2021 with two days of celebrations, including an on-campus ceremony that brought classmates together after more than a year of remaining apart. The June 10 stage-crossing event felt like a class reunion for many students who completed their coursework remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some health protocols remained in place, students from the School’s public policy, social welfare, urban planning and undergraduate programs were able to gather at UCLA’s Los Angeles Tennis Center to hear their names read aloud and take photographs with Dean Gary Segura, department chairs and fellow graduates. “Today, we have so much to celebrate,” Segura told the assembled graduates. “You have accomplished, against all odds, completing your UCLA degree during a global pandemic, and we could not be prouder of you.” Formal commencement ceremonies and speeches were posted online June 11 as the Luskin School bestowed master’s and doctoral degrees — and, for the first time, the new Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs.

View a livestream of the on-campus event on Vimeo and additional images on Flickr.

 

UCLA Luskin Commencement 2021