Meyer Luskin, benefactor and namesake of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, spoke to UCLA students about leadership skills and responsible entrepreneurship at a March 3 gathering held in person and via Zoom.
Luskin shared stories from a long and varied career in investment advising, oil and gas, rental cars, beauty schools and, ultimately, the recycling of food waste. Scope Industries, the company he has led for more than six decades, turns tons of bakery goods that would otherwise have gone to landfills into food for livestock.
“Meyer is a businessman who invented a business, and that’s not common,” UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura said at the event. “Meyer had an idea, and his idea was to take something most people threw away and make it into something useful.”
Luskin’s talk included stories from his own UCLA education, which was interrupted by a tour of duty during World War II, and his experiences facing anti-Semitism as a young businessman. Luskin advised students embarking on their careers to examine their motivations, acknowledge conflicts of interests and uphold the highest ethics.
“You have to be retrospective about yourself,” he said. “You have to take time to think about what you’ve done and where you’re going and who you are and what you want.”
He encouraged those blessed with success in business to act responsibly and generously.
“The first principle is get good people, pay them well, think about them,” he said. “When you do something that’s right, it comes back and helps you. … It just works that way in a long life.”
Meyer and Renee Luskin also visited with many of the student fellows currently receiving their financial support while pursuing UCLA degrees, an opportunity that is a meaningful highlight for the Luskins and students that had not been able to take place face-to-face for two years because of the pandemic.
SPEAKERS DISCUSS EQUITY, DIVERSITY DURING FIRESIDE CHAT
“Foundations and Racial Justice — Creating the Pathway for More Equitable and Inclusive Communities” brought together philanthropic leaders on March 31 for a virtual discussion of the critical role that foundations play in funding and working together for a more equitable and inclusive society.
Dean Gary Segura served as moderator. Panelists were Jarrett Barrios, senior vice president of strategic community and programmatic initiatives for the California Community Foundation; Nina Revoyr, executive director of Ballmer Group’s philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles County and California; and Ruby Bolaria-Shifrin, director of housing affordability at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
“If we always wait until we are sure,” said Revoyr about making decisions in unfamiliar circumstances, “we’re never going to do it.”
The event was organized by the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) committee of the Luskin School advisory board and schoolwide departmental leadership in support of UCLA Luskin’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion funds.
The financial support provided to students from underrepresented backgrounds advances the goal of diversifying the fields of public policy, social work and urban planning, providing several types
- Funded internships with nonprofit community organizations that otherwise couldn’t afford to provide a paid internship. This is a double win: The student gets paid while gaining professional experience, and the community organization gets a funded temporary position.
- Student fellowships, allowing students to devote more time to learning instead of having to hold down a job or being saddled with an unsustainable debt load.
- Creation of these fireside chats to support opportunities for students to meet in small groups with professionals in the field. The goal is to discuss pressing social issues and the i mplication on their work within public affairs.
In addition, board members Laura Shell, Vivian Rescalvo, Lourdes Castro Ramirez and Jacqueline Waggoner hosted a salon focused on EDI fundraising on May 3 at Shell’s home. The salon is an extension of the EDI efforts by Ramirez and Waggoner highlighted in the previous issue of Luskin Forum.
MENTORS, MENTEES CELEBRATE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF SENIOR FELLOWS
The Luskin School celebrated 25 years of mentorship and meaningful engagement through the Senior Fellows program on May 24.
The mission of the premier leadership career training program is to engage prominent leaders as role models for graduate students from UCLA Luskin Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning. The program features policy, public service and community leaders who serve as mentors to guide Luskin students toward careers in the public interest.
The special occasion also provided an opportunity to honor and reflect upon the work of VC Powe, who was the heart of the program for years prior to her death in 2020. Her leadership, dedication and finesse in matching Senior Fellows to students was integral to its success.
In recognition of the 25th anniversary and in memory of VC, the school also launched a successful fundraising campaign that raised over $25,000 to help sustain and grow this valuable program. The funds are being used to support programming and supplemental internship stipends
NEW SCHOLARSHIPS BENEFIT PUBLIC AFFAIRS MAJORS
Several well-deserving students were selected as the first recipients of two new undergraduate scholarships beginning in the spring quarter.
Established by UCLA alumna and former congresswoman Lynn Schenk, the Congresswoman Lynn Schenk Capstone Scholarship in Public Affairs will support students completing the required experiential learning capstone opportunity during their senior year. UCLA Luskin undergraduate majors participate in a three-quarter experiential learning capstone program that integrates the classroom and community. This experience gives students the opportunity to build practical expertise while also deepening understanding of their coursework.
The second award was established by H. Pike Oliver MA UP ’73 as the H. Pike Oliver Scholarship in Public Affairs to support students from underrepresented communities with an interest in addressing complex interdisciplinary issues related to urban and regional development. Students pursuing the public affairs degree are deeply engaged in learning skills and gaining knowledge that will improve how people live and help communities thrive.
Like Schenk and Oliver, donors can create scholarships through current-expenditure or endowed gifts, providing essential support
to students whose academic promise and career goals embody the mission of the Luskin School.
URBAN PLANNING CELEBRATES 50 (PLUS!) YEARS AT UCLA
Half a century after the study of urban planning got its start at UCLA, alumni, faculty and friends returned to campus to celebrate the program’s enduring focus on activism and equity.
Throughout the spring quarter, several of the nation’s thought leaders on urban planning and environmental justice shared their scholarship in a series of lectures. The commemoration included reflections on the legacy of the late Professor Martin Wachs, a renowned educator, researcher and influencer of transportation policy and planning.
The celebration culminated on May 14 with a keynote speech by Dolores Hayden, a scholar of the history of the American urban landscape, followed by a festive gathering in the UCLA Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden outside the Public Affairs Building that houses the Luskin School.
Alumni and friends are encouraged to support the Urban Planning department’s current top priority: student fellowships. By contributing to this fund, you help allow students to devote more time to learning instead of having to hold down a job or being saddled with an unsustainable debt load.