Randall Akee Appointed Next Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chair in Social Justice Public policy professor is cited for his commitment to Indigenous communities and accomplishments as an economist

Professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies Randall Akee has been appointed the next Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chair in Social Justice at UCLA Luskin.

The chair, created by Meyer and Renee Luskin as part of their naming gift to the Luskin School in 2011, will provide financial support for research throughout Akee’s five-year term. Former professor Manisha Shah was the inaugural holder of the chair.

Selection committee members for the Gilliam chair described the former UCLA American Indian Studies chair’s commitment to justice for Indigenous communities as “palpable in his collaborative efforts with leaders from American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations, Pacific Island nations and Native Hawaiian communities,” wrote Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris in an internal announcement about Akee’s selection.

The committee also cited Akee’s rigorous empirical research as a highly accomplished economist and his tenure on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, which concluded in 2023.

“During this pivotal period in navigating the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, he played a crucial role in addressing economic inequality with his expert insights,” they wrote.

Akee was cited for his mentorship of racially diverse students and for taking extensive measures to increase the pipeline of American Indian, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian students in higher education.

“I started as an assistant professor at Luskin when Frank Gilliam was our dean, and I am very grateful for this honor,” said Akee, who joined the Luskin School in 2013 and was recently promoted to full professor.

L.A. County Residents’ Satisfaction With Quality of Life Matches Lowest in Year 9 of Survey High cost of housing is the most important factor impacting the annual Quality of Life Index, particularly among renters

By Les Dunseith

Concerns over the high cost of living pushed the satisfaction of Los Angeles County residents back to its lowest-ever level, with renters feeling especially pessimistic about their futures, according to an annual UCLA survey.

The Quality of Life Index, or QLI, is a project of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs  that measures county residents’ satisfaction in nine categories. The overall rating fell two points from last year to 53 on a scale from 10 to 100, marking the second time in three years it came in below the survey’s 55 midpoint since the index launched in 2016. That means a majority of respondents are dissatisfied with the overall quality of their lives.

fever chart shows rating change over time

The cost-of-living rating dropped from 41 to 38, the lowest satisfaction score ever observed for any category in the survey. Although all major demographic subgroups rated the cost of living negatively, the lowest scores came from women, 36 (33 from those 50–64 years old) and Latinas, 36 — as well as renters, 35.

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the study at UCLA, said renters, who make up nearly half of survey respondents, are being disproportionately affected by the economic and inflationary pressures facing the region. More than half, or 59%, cited housing as the most important factor in their rating.

“Housing costs have gone up,” Yaroslavsky said. “And incomes have not gone up anywhere near commensurate with what’s happened to housing.”

While 61% of homeowners feel optimistic about their economic future in Los Angeles County, 51% of renters report being pessimistic. Only 23% of renters think they will be able to buy a home where they would want to live at some point in the future.

pie chart shows only one in four renters expect to buy a home eventually

 

This year’s survey also produced striking results on the issue of homelessness.

“We discovered very little optimism about whether the current programs and efforts to eradicate homelessness will work,” Yaroslavsky said.

More than half, or 60%, of respondents said homelessness in their area has gotten worse over the past year, with only 10% saying it has gotten better. Just 20% are more hopeful than they were last year that the homelessness situation in Los Angeles County will improve.

Respondents were also asked whether they worried about becoming homeless themselves, with the highest levels of anxiety expressed by people living in households earning less than $60,000 annually at 44%, renters 37% and African Americans 33%.

“Despite the best efforts of state and local officials, the public is more negative and less hopeful about solving homelessness,” Yaroslavsky said.

In an election year, do such findings signal possible voter upheaval?

“It feeds an overall sense that things aren’t working well,” said Yaroslavsky, a former elected official. He framed this year’s results in the context of nearly a decade’s worth of research showing positive results for neighborhood quality and racial/ethnic relations, but low marks in categories commonly associated with decisions by public officials.

“A main theme over the last nine years is that Angelenos love the neighborhoods where they live. We appreciate diversity and get along with others better than some people think. And the quality of life for most of us is pretty good,” he said. “But at some fundamental level, people think our governmental institutions are letting them down.”

The QLI showed minor changes from the previous year in most categories, although satisfaction with education fell three points to 48, the second-lowest score behind cost of living. While transportation/traffic jumped eight points in importance from 2023, it remained among the three lowest categories in quality-of-life importance.

Among Angelenos who are employed, 55% are working full time at a workplace away from their home. Of those, 59% of Latinos, 64% of African Americans, 63% of men over age 50 and 63% of Latino men always work away from home.

The last year has seen a modest decline in most ratings for elected officials.

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna is viewed favorably by 34% and unfavorably by 26%. Last year was 37% favorable and 21% unfavorable.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is viewed favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 32%, a drop from 46% favorable and 23% unfavorable in last year’s QLI.
  • Respondents had a slightly favorable view of the city councils in their cities: 37% favorable and 32% unfavorable. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is viewed more negatively: 27% favorable and 35% unfavorable.

Regarding the environment, 25% of respondents said climate change had a major impact on their quality of life in the last year; 38% saw a minor impact. The 2024 QLI also asked about the availability of air conditioning: 75% of Angelenos have it in their homes but with substantial variation by region, income and race/ethnicity.

  • Some of the differences likely relate to climate patterns: 48% of residents in the ocean-cooled South Bay communities have air conditioning compared to 92% in the hotter San Fernando Valley.
  • Residents most lacking in air conditioning, 40%, are at the lowest end of the income scale (under $30,000 per year), compared to just 11% for those making over $150,000 per year. And 30% of renters do not have air conditioning.

This year’s QLI is based on interviews conducted in English and Spanish with 1,686 county residents from Feb. 22 to March 14. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3%.

Funding for the Quality of Life Index is provided by Meyer and Renee Luskin through the Los Angeles Initiative. The full report is being published April 17 as part of UCLA’s Luskin Summit.

View the report and other information about this year’s study, plus previous Quality of Life Indexes, on the website of the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.

text with report name and a map of Los Angeles County

 

The Power of Lived Experiences Three alumni share the personal stories that impact their policy efforts on homelessness — ‘the greatest moral and humanitarian crisis of our lifetime’ 

By Les Dunseith

Lourdes Castro Ramírez entered college as one of nine children from a tight-knit working-class family that had migrated from Mexico when she was 4. She had no idea how that background would guide her career as a policymaker focusing on housing affordability. 

“As a first-generation college graduate, I did not intend to get into this field,” Castro Ramírez recalled March 7 during a Meyer and Renee Luskin Lecture Series event that included State Sen. Caroline Menjivar MSW ’18 and Assemblymember Isaac Bryan MPP ’18. “In fact, I didn’t even know that this field existed.”

Now Castro Ramírez is the point person for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on housing and homelessness, working on an issue that has reached crisis proportions after too little national policy attention for decades.

“I do feel that there is hope. We are now finally seeing housing policy in action, getting the attention that it requires,” the 1996 UCLA urban planning master’s graduate told faculty, students, alumni and others at the Luskin Conference Center.

“Homelessness is the greatest moral and humanitarian crisis of our lifetime,” Bryan said. “We’re at a crisis position even though [California has] more billionaires than anywhere in the world. But that is the Los Angeles that we have created. 

“And it didn’t just happen. I don’t want to believe it was on purpose because it would be too painful to believe that somebody wanted tens of thousands of poor and disproportionately Black people sleeping on our streets,” he said. “I don’t want to believe that it was intentional. But neglect isn’t an excuse to not make it right.”

Bryan represents a district near the 405 and 10 freeways mostly to the east and south of UCLA that includes some of the L.A.’s wealthiest neighborhoods — and some of its poorest. He talked about the irony of needing to raise money by speaking to rich donors in the mansions of Beverly Hills and then returning to his rented apartment in a modest-but-affordable neighborhood just a few miles away. 

He has experienced housing precarity first-hand, including during his UCLA education. 

“I remember walking across the stage on graduation day. I was very proud. I was very excited,” Bryan recalled. “And there was a faculty member in the audience who knew that I couldn’t pay my rent that month. And she wrote the personal check to make sure that I could stay afloat till I found a job.”

Bryan was able to get his UCLA degree in part because he received a grant from the David Bohnett Foundation, which seeks to improve society through social activism and since 2007 has been providing awards that include a position in the L.A. Mayor’s Office for three selected fellows. Longtime adjunct instructor and UCLA Luskin Board of Advisors member Michael Fleming is the founding director of the Bohnett Foundation. He served as the moderator for a Q&A with Castro Ramírez, Bryan and Menjivar, who like Bryan is a former Bohnett fellow and a master’s degree recipient from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. All three talked about income disparity and how their personal experiences relate to affordable housing issues in California.  

Menjivar said her large family of Salvadoran immigrants struggled to make ends meet while living in one- or two-bedroom apartments in low- to middle-income communities like Tarzana. Her mother worked as a house cleaner. 

“I would commute to school and sometimes get a ride from my mom,” Menjivar recalled. “She would drop me off — her firstborn, first-generation student at UCLA, the No. 1 public university in the world — and then she would go down the street to clean a mansion.”

That perspective is never far from her mind.

“Now, I represent 1 million people in the state legislature, looking to bring more affordable housing,” said Menjivar, whose district includes Burbank and many working-class neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley. “So, when [policymakers] talk about eviction protections and housing affordability, I don’t just speak on it. I’ve lived through that.”

Their lived experiences affect the decisions that Menjivar and Bryan are making and the issues they choose to advance as elected officials in Sacramento. Both have been involved in efforts tied to their backgrounds in public policy and social services. (Menjivar noted that, like herself, Mayor Bass was educated as a social worker.) 

In prepared remarks that preceded the panel discussion, Castro Ramírez spoke about her fondness for UCLA and why she was happy to accept the speaking invitation.

“Just walking into this space and seeing UCLA in the background, and seeing so many people I know here, just makes me really proud of my parents, where I come from and this university that invested in me,” she told an audience that included current colleagues on the Luskin School’s Board of Advisors.

It was a UCLA professor who first encouraged her to look into affordable housing as a potential career path, she said, and that led to roles as a practitioner and policymaker at the municipal level in Ventura and San Antonio, at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Obama administration, and later in Sacramento as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. 

“And now I’m back in L.A., back to my hometown … and working on the issues that are really important and critical to our city, to our state, and to our country as chief of housing and homelessness solutions,” she said.

Castro Ramírez spoke about harmonizing federal, state and local government efforts, a process that the mayor’s office characterizes as “locking arms” to address the housing crisis.

The overall number of people falling into homelessness continues to outpace the number who are being housed, but this is not because individual efforts have been unsuccessful. 

“In fact, there are incredible nonprofit organizations, housing authorities, housing groups who are doing amazing work,” she said, noting that a supportive housing approval process that used to take six months now takes an average of 43 days. Almost 14,000 affordable units have been approved for Los Angeles. 

“This is what the intersection of policy and programming implementation looks like, being able to move with a sense of urgency, being able to implement the idea that having a place to call home is fundamental,” Castro Ramírez said. 

Public service can be frustrating work, charged with philosophical disagreement and subject to constant second-guessing often motivated by political opportunism. Fleming asked the panel what makes the aggravation worthwhile. 

“I want to make my community, my city, my state, my country better. And that is an awesome privilege that I try to never take for granted,” said Bryan, noting that his chief of staff is another Class of 2018 UCLA Luskin graduate, Caleb Rabinowitz. “And when we walk out of the Capitol, we can kind of ask ourselves, ‘Is the state better this week because we were here?’” 

Menjivar said she is motivated by her family history. 

“My mom came to this country for a better future for her kids not knowing that the future for our family tree would lead from house cleaner to state senator in one generation,” she said.

But there have been hurdles along the way, and that’s also a motivation.

“I was born with what I call the Triple L — a lady, a Latina and a lesbian. So you can imagine I have a handful of stories around discrimination, around facing barriers and overcoming them, and I know that others helped in getting me to the point that I am now.” 

Her lived experiences are vital to her success.

“I think about every barrier that I went through to get to this point, every ‘No’ that I got, even when I was running for office. And for every “No’ that I was given, I’m here now to ensure that other people like me don’t get those ‘Nos’ anymore.”

Castro Ramírez said she is grateful to have gone “to an amazing university and to step into a role that I never thought that I was prepared to step into.”  Glancing at her fellow alumni, she continued, “And I’ve been able to see the power of our collective ability to make change and to make a difference.”

She paused for a moment, then spoke again, softly. 

“I guess the last thing — and the reason I’m hesitating is because, you know, this is a very personal reason for me — I am the mother of three children. I had a son; he was 11 years old when he passed away due to cancer. He was really an incredible, talented individual who craved … leaving his mark in this world. And that didn’t happen.

“And I feel like every day that I wake up, every day that I show up to work, show up to address the work that needs doing, I feel like I’m showing up for him.”

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs hosts the Luskin Lecture Series to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to the betterment of society. This presentation was also part of an ongoing series of events in the 2023-24 academic year to commemorate 25 years since the first graduating class from UCLA Luskin Public Policy was sent into the world equipped to make changes for the better.

View photos of the event. 

Luskin Lawmakers

Master of Real Estate Development Receives Final Approval From UC The one-year degree program will stress instruction on the ethical underpinnings of a growing profession

By Stan Paul and Les Dunseith

Beginning in the fall of 2025, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs will enroll students in a new Master of Real Estate Development, or MRED, program.

“We are delighted and excited to receive approval for the MRED, which we envision as building a better future for our cities,” said Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, distinguished professor of urban planning. “We see the MRED as a transformative opportunity to train and diversify a new generation of real estate professionals who can best respond to the needs for more and more affordable housing, climate-adaptive and green-building technologies, and age-friendly developments.”

The Office of the President of the University of California notified the Luskin School of the degree’s final approval on Jan. 23. It has been working its way through the approval processes at UCLA and UC for about two years.

Led by Vinit Mukhija, a professor and former chair of urban planning, the program will be a one-year, full-time, self-supporting degree program that emphasizes the ethical underpinnings of a growing profession.

Mukhija said urban real estate development is “one of the most powerful forces shaping buildings, neighborhoods, cities and their suburbs, and metropolitan regions.

“From planning to finance to design, development decisions about what to build and where to build influence equity and urban sustainability in ways that are often neglected in traditional real estate development programs.”

 “Success in real estate development will require a nuanced understanding and ethical response to underlying environmental and social challenges.” —Professor Vinit Mukhija

The MRED will provide key practical skills, integrating students into real-world development projects. It will take advantage of UCLA’s location in the nation’s second-largest city, Los Angeles.

Mukhija also noted the profound role that development has in addressing global grand challenges.

“Success in real estate development will require a nuanced understanding and ethical response to underlying environmental and social challenges,” he said.

Coursework will be led by faculty experts from UCLA Urban Planning, the Anderson School of Management and UCLA Law. An inaugural class of 25 students is expected, growing to about 40 students in the program over time. 

The MRED will be a full-time (44 units minimum), primarily on-campus program spanning 11 months, with students in residence during the fall, winter and spring quarters, which is consistent with other real estate development programs in the United States. 

Applicants to the MRED program at UCLA Luskin must possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. At least two years of experience in real estate, urban development or a related field is preferred. 

Unlike other real estate development programs, Mukhija said the UCLA program will be distinguished with an Urban Development core requirement that situates the MRED program’s training within the broader terrain of urban governance and urban life, including the challenges and opportunities presented by concerns about equity and sustainability.

Mukhija expects that many of the applicants will be mid-career professionals who are not typically served by state-supported programs. A significant share of international applicants is anticipated, with some coming from countries with growing urbanization rates and thus facing  new challenges relating to urban growth.

In addition, the program proposes to prepare real estate development professionals who understand the fundamentals of development, as well as the context of urban development and the effect of real estate and urban development on urban life and economic opportunities.

Senate faculty will teach at least 30% of the courses, joined by distinguished and innovative real estate and urban development practitioners. These industry experts with practical experience in real estate will provide the development and experiential knowledge that is “crucial and essential for the holistic, integrative perspective that we intend to cultivate in our students,” according to the documentation prepared by UCLA Luskin in support of the program. 

Although situated within UCLA Luskin Urban Planning, coursework will also touch upon issues taught in the School’s social welfare, public policy and public affairs degree programs, which share a common thread of social justice and a desire to make society better. And the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies based at UCLA Luskin will play a role in the research component.

In addition to conducting research on real estate and urban development, the MRED students will receive training to become real estate development professionals who can recognize and address the challenges of inclusive urbanization.

“It’s part of our mission,” Mukhija said.

‘Retirement Is Not Retreating; It’s Changing Gears’ Now a professor emeritus, Social Welfare's Mark Kaplan continues to teach and serve the UCLA community

By Stan Paul 

Mark S. Kaplan, professor emeritus of social welfare, officially retired earlier this year, but, for now, he is busier than ever.  

“Retirement is not retreating; it’s changing gears,” explained Kaplan, an avid cyclist. “It’s more leaving one set of activities and moving toward new adventures.”

He is still teaching, conducting research, applying for grants, including from the National Institutes of Health, mentoring students, and continuing to mentor and collaborate with former students who have become successful scholars and colleagues over the years. He’ll also take on a campuswide faculty committee post or two, including chairing UCLA’s Academic Senate Grievance Advisory Committee for 2023-24. 

Kaplan, a faculty member at UCLA Luskin for the past decade, has devoted his career to public health issues, most notably suicide and gun violence in the United States and globally. 

“Throughout his career, Mark tirelessly devoted himself to unraveling the complex dynamics surrounding suicide, substance use, and gender and firearm violence,” said Social Welfare chair Laura Abrams at a retirement celebration/roast held for Kaplan over the summer. “His unwavering dedication to these critical areas of public health and social work has significantly contributed to our collective knowledge, prevention strategies and policy advancements in addressing these pressing concerns.”  

Man in white shirt and dark jacket standing at festive table

Kaplan thanks his colleagues from UCLA Luskin Social Welfare at a retirement dinner/roast. Photo by Ananya Roy

Kaplan, also a dedicated ukulele player, says his retirement also comes with a few strings attached. 

“I’m actually working with more undergraduate public affairs students than ever before, including honors thesis projects,” he said. 

In addition, he will be teaching his popular course on preventing firearm violence, now approved for distance (online) learning. Kaplan said the format has allowed him to bring in a wider array of guest speakers on timely topics who are unable to travel to campus.  

Of one of his frequent guests, he said, “We don’t see eye-to-eye on anything. But it is a very civil conversation, and most students very much appreciate the diversity of points of view and hearing different voices in this highly polarized area.” 

Since going online in winter 2021, the course has received positive feedback from students, who voted to keep the course fully online in winter 2022, even after UCLA had returned to in-person instruction. 

“There’s no other place in the country that I know of that has a permanent course on gun violence,” Kaplan said. Launched in the wake of a 2016 shooting on the UCLA campus, the course has been consistently filled, and student interest has only grown. “What is important is that it has evolved over time. It keeps getting better, so I am committed to that course,” he said. 

Kaplan has received a number of awards throughout his career, including the Distinguished Investigator Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has contributed to state and federal suicide prevention initiatives and has testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging at a hearing on veterans’ health. He has also served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Kaplan also has advocated for including of gun violence prevention as one of the Grand Challenges in Social Work, which he said was recently approved. 

At UCLA, Kaplan has been a faculty affiliate with the university’s California Center for Population Research. Academic posts before coming to UCLA have included Portland State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Oregon.  

The four-time Fulbright awardee recently received an award from the Fulbright Specialist Program to help faculty at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid maximize the global impact of their research. He also has his eye on new research opportunities in Canada, where he has been affiliated with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Kaplan, whose research has been widely published, is a frequent contributor to media seeking his expertise, including through op-ed pieces. He plans to expand on that effort to help the next generation of scholars improve their citation record of scholarship and their overall visibility and impact. 

“I’ve been intrigued by that. How do you engage the readers more? It doesn’t happen in an organic way.”  

And although Kaplan has made some time for cycling in the Pacific Northwest and a trip to Guatemala, where he grew up, he also plans to continue collaborating with Luskin School faculty, staff and students.

So, for now, Kaplan is staying local. 

“It’s not one transition. It is a series of transitions for me,” he said. “And there will be unexpected twists and turns along the way.” 

In Memoriam: Douglas G. Glasgow, Author of ‘The Black Underclass’ First Black UCLA Social Welfare tenured faculty member was director of UCLA’s Center for Afro-American Studies, and later dean of Howard University’s School of Social Work

By Stan Paul

A celebration of life for former UCLA Social Welfare Associate Professor Douglas G. Glasgow, a widely recognized scholar on welfare and underclass formation in urban cities, will be held Oct. 7 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He died Aug. 9 at age 94.

Glasgow was the first Black tenured faculty member in the UCLA School of Social Welfare — now part of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. He was a member of the faculty from 1969 to 1971. In 1970, Glasgow served as director of the UCLA Center for Afro-American Studies, which later became the UCLA Ralph J. Bunch Center for African American Studies.

“Doug was a good friend and colleague when I was a lecturer and he an associate professor in the School of Social Welfare,” said emeritus professor Alex Norman. “He was the first African American to receive tenure at the School — I was the second.”

Glasgow was one of the founders of the National Association of Black Social Workers and was former vice president of operations of the National Urban League during his time in the nation’s capital.

“He was beloved as a teacher and respected as a scholar,” Norman said.

Norman also noted that Glasgow, who was published in numerous professional journals, coined the phrase “the Black underclass,” the title of his powerful and insightful book based on research he conducted in Watts in the 1960s following the Watts riots. Updated in 1975, his research drew attention to young Black males labeled as “problem” youths who constituted a perpetual underclass that, he said in his book, “represent the fastest-growing portion.”

“This book was born in flames, in an inferno that raged for four August days in 1965. The place was Watts, Los Angeles,” Glasgow begins. Amid this tumultuous historical turning point in Los Angeles, Glasgow writes that he sought to “examine the lives of inner-city young men through their perceptions of their life experiences.”

In his preface, Glasgow wrote that “this book is not intended as a definitive study of the Black underclass. Rather, by concentrating on a group of representative young men and their individual (and collective) confrontations with mainstream institutions, it attempts to convey the human experience of those who are denied upward mobility and are processed into underclass status.”

Glasgow also wrote that his hope was that “everyone concerned with the human, social and economic waste represented by America’s inner cities will benefit from reading this book.”

Joseph A. Nunn, who earned his undergraduate, MSW and Ph.D. degrees at UCLA, also recalled Glasgow fondly from his graduate student days in the 1960s.

“Dr. Glasgow was the only tenure-track faculty, an assistant professor, when I arrived,” a time of anti-war and anti-discrimination marches and protests, he said. During that time, Nunn and other students demanded that a tenured Black professor be added.

“He was promoted to associate professor following the activities of the Black Caucus,” said Nunn, who would later become a longtime director of field education at UCLA Luskin.

Glasgow left UCLA for Howard University’s School of Social Work, where he was dean from 1972 to 1975. While there, he led faculty and students in creating the first comprehensive, accredited, graduate-level curriculum modeled from a Black perspective.

He is included on the National Association of Social Workers Foundation Pioneer roster, which notes his many accomplishments and affiliations. Among these are visiting professor at the University of Ghana at Legon and Makerere University in Uganda. During his time in Africa, Glasgow served as a policy analyst and consultant on social development to the Ministers of Social Welfare in Ghana and with the Ministry of Rehabilitation in Ethiopia.

In the United States, he was a visiting professor at the University of Maryland and taught at Norfolk State University, where he helped start its social work department.

Glasgow also helped found community-based and national organizations that include the Black Men’s Development Center and the United Black Fund/United Way. In Washington, he served on a number of boards and commissions, including the District of Columbia’s Mental Health Reorganization Commission, the Advisory Board on Mental Health and the Teen Pregnancy Commission.

He was a resident scholar for the 21st Century Commission on African-American Males and was a scholar in residence at the E. Franklin Frazier Center for Social Research at Howard University, where he remained actively engaged in research and policy studies into his later years.

Glasgow was born in New York City, the youngest of 13 children of Matthew and Angelin Glasgow. He grew up in Brooklyn and received his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College in 1959 and MSW from Columbia University in 1961, followed by his DSW from the University of Southern California in 1968. He later worked as a youth therapist at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles.

His activist work as a student led to friendships with civil rights advocates including Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, Andrew Young, Ronald Brown, Whitney Young and “so many other greats while publishing articles, consulting, working and always selflessly trying to make a positive difference,” said his daughter Karen Glasgow.

“He was a gifted lobbyist, orator, writer, cook, singer, storyteller, visionary, father, partner, friend, bridge builder and a very humble man,” she said. “He only wanted his legacy to be remembered as a catalyst to make others pick up where he left off. When asked what he was passionate about, his reply was ‘the eradication of injustice.’”

Glasgow is predeceased by his wife, Frieda Glasgow, and a daughter, Rickie Glasgow. He is survived by his daughter Karen Glasgow; his grandson Douglas R. Glasgow; his partner Cheryl McQueen; and great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

In his memory, the family suggests that donations be made to the National Association of Black Social Workers in his name.

More information is available via the family obituary and tribute wall online.

A Festive Welcome to UCLA Luskin The entire School community comes together to make connections and celebrate the launch of a new academic year

Students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of UCLA Luskin connected at a series of events kicking off the 2023-2024 academic year.

An orientation for graduate students brought public policy, social welfare and urban planning students together to learn about resources provided by the university and the Luskin School.

The undergraduate program hosted a luncheon for majors, pre-majors and students interested in learning more about the bachelor of arts in public affairs.

And the Block Party tradition continued for the 12th year, with the entire UCLA Luskin community gathering to make connections, learn about opportunities and organizations, enjoy the flavors of Los Angeles, and greet the School’s benefactors, Meyer and Renee Luskin.

View photos from:

 

For access to the Block Party 360 Videos and Roamer Booth images, contact events@luskin.edu

‘Have the Courage to Create the World We All Deserve to Live In’ Commencement speaker Michael Tubbs challenges UCLA Luskin's Class of 2023 to use their education for the greater good

By Mary Braswell

Savor the moment, then get to work.

That was the Commencement Day message from anti-poverty advocate Michael Tubbs, who called on UCLA Luskin’s Class of 2023 to use their education and training to restructure society from the ground up, with justice as a guide.

“We’re here not because of what you’ve done but who you will become and how you will use the precious gift of this UCLA education,” Tubbs said. “We need you all to have the courage to imagine and create the world we all deserve to live in.”

Tubbs spoke to public policy, social welfare and urban planning scholars earning advanced degrees at a morning ceremony on June 16 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. In the afternoon, he addressed students awarded the bachelor of public affairs at a festive gathering on the patio of Kerckhoff Hall.

Tubbs made history in 2016 when he was elected the first Black mayor of Stockton, California, at age 26. He recalled his own educational journey as a first-generation graduate of Stanford University, and offered this reminder to UCLA Luskin’s newly minted BAs, MPPs, MSWs, MURPs and PhDs:

“The alphabets behind your names don’t mean you’re better than people … and dare I say they don’t even mean you’re smarter than the people who raised you,” he said. “But what it does mean is that you’re better equipped to serve. It does mean you’re better able to self-actualize. It does mean you’re better positioned to use your privilege and your access to do some good.”

This year, more than 420 students earned bachelors, master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA Luskin. Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris offered congratulations while also underscoring the stakes at play as the national election cycle is now picking up steam.

“You are taking your places in the workforce during a critical time not just for America but for the entire world. Who are we as a people? What are our values? Will we make the right decisions to better all of society? …

“As I look at you, I take comfort. I know you have been well prepared,” Loukaitou-Sideris said. “I trust that you will remain dedicated to a future in which geography, income, gender or race have little bearing on an individual’s ability to access opportunity and have a fulfilling life. I can’t wait to see all that you will accomplish.”

At each commencement ceremony, students delivered greetings in different languages, 16 in all, a reflection of the School’s cultural diversity. Four students were selected by their peers to offer words of inspiration: Chinyere Nwonye of Public Policy, Jhorna Islam of Social Welfare, Antonia Izuoga of Urban Planning and Mina Anochie of the Undergraduate Program.

In his remarks, Tubbs urged the graduates to make the most of both the triumphs and the inevitable disappointments in life. As Stockton’s mayor, he led a program of reforms to reduce poverty, provide scholarships to students, bring down the homicide rate and improve the city’s fiscal health — yet his bid for reelection in 2020 failed.

The defeat ultimately led to an important realization: “Your job, your title, your accolades — that’s a means to an end … but your purpose remains the same.”

Tubbs went on to join the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom as special advisor for economic mobility and opportunity, and is widely viewed as a rising star in progressive politics. He is a leading advocate for a guaranteed basic income to provide stability to American households, and last year he founded End Poverty in California, a nonprofit devoted to breaking the cycle of income inequality.

“Today is such a wonderful day because it’s a mountaintop day. It’s one of those days where everything comes together,” Tubbs told the graduates. “But I submit to you, over the course of the next several decades of your life, every day won’t feel like this day. …

“As you figure out what it is you want to do, maybe your purpose, maybe part of what you’re supposed to do, will be found in the pain you’ve experienced, in the things that make you angry, in the things that feel unfair, in the things your parents had to experience.”

Tubbs advised the students to take the long view as they work toward change. As a younger man, he had the privilege of meeting Bob Singleton, a UCLA alumnus and one of the original Freedom Riders, civil rights activists who boarded buses to Southern states to challenge segregation. Singleton was arrested for his actions on June 4, 1961. The same day, Barack Obama was born.

“He said he had no idea that the choice he made as a 21-year-old UCLA graduate to do something to change the world would pave the way so that 50 years later a child born with no opportunity would have the chance to be president,” Tubbs said.

“Class of 2023, the question before you all today as you get your degrees is what are you prepared to do today, tomorrow and next week so that 50 years from now, we’re not having the same conversation? So that 50 years from now we don’t have hundreds of thousands of people in our state sleeping in tents right next to luxury apartments and mansions? … So that 50 years from now, we live in a country that’s deserving of your talent, of your time and of your treasure?”

View photos and video from the UCLA Luskin undergraduate commencement ceremony:

Commencement 2023: Undergraduate

View photos and video from the UCLA Luskin master’s and doctoral commencement ceremony:

Commencement 2023: Graduate

 

Fernando Torres-Gil, a Lifetime of Service and Resiliency  As an educator and public official, the UCLA Luskin professor has spent four decades 'finding a silver lining' amid life’s misfortunes  

By Stan Paul

Fernando Torres-Gil has worn many hats — including a stylish white fedora he favors — in a long career as an educator and as a public official dating back to the Carter administration. 

As UCLA Luskin Social Welfare celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding, Torres-Gil will retire after more than three decades helping to advance the School’s educational mission as a professor of social welfare and public policy. He has served as chair of Social Welfare, associate dean and acting dean, as well as founding director of UCLA’s Center for Policy Research on Aging. 

Comparing his early years to the tale of “Forrest Gump,” Torres-Gil said the travails of his “personal circumstances created unexpected opportunities for higher education.”  

His mother, Maria, made education “the first, second and third priority,” Torres-Gil said. “Growing up in Salinas, California, as the second of nine siblings to Mexican farmworkers and an extended immigrant family from Mexico created the likelihood that none of us would go beyond farmwork,” he said. “Factory jobs, at best.” 

And yet, Torres-Gil, his siblings — and later their children — would gain admission to Brandeis University, UCLA and five other University of California campuses, Pomona College, Cal Poly Pomona, San Jose State, USC and Occidental. 

family photos show siblings as children and adults

Family photos show Torres-Gil with siblings as a child and adult.

His mother became an expert at navigating community services. She fought fiercely to avoid foster care and to keep her family intact despite poverty and the “drama and challenges of her circumstances,” which included Fernando contracting polio at six months and becoming unable to walk.  

“To our everlasting gratitude, … after many years of surgical interventions and rehabilitation, I acquired a modicum of mobility,” Torres-Gil said. “This led to key milestones that informed my academic journey.”  

In the 1950s and 1960s, higher education was rarely an option for the children of working-class families from Mexico. Most young Latinos from public housing projects like him ended up in the military, fighting in the Vietnam War. But Torres-Gil’s disability put him on a different course — community college, then San Jose State, where he excelled academically and was active in the Chicano movement.  

Torres-Gil had few role models at the time for the next step — graduate school. “We knew of no Chicanos/Latinos from our region that had ventured afar for graduate education,” he recalled.  

He wound up studying social policy and management at Brandeis University near Boston because he could continue working with the United Farm Workers there to promote a lettuce and grape boycott in New England. He went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees from Brandeis.  

Torres-Gil chose the emerging fields of gerontology and  geriatrics as his emphasis after attending the 1971 White House  Conference on Aging. He remembers skeptical Chicano friends  in Boston questioning his choice to work with old people, calling  it “depressing” and asking how he would find a job. Fifty years  later, he said, they “are all elders and deeply interested in all things about aging.”   

His circle of contacts expanded to include the Jewish, Irish, Italian and Portuguese communities in New England, and those connections later led to high-level policy and governmental positions. He earned his first presidential appointment in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the Federal Council on Aging. Over the next few decades, he held staff positions or advisory roles during the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  

As a scholar at both USC and UCLA, his mantra has been to prove himself as an “independent scholar with original ideas” respected by peers. 

Torres-Gil’s research has focused on the politics of aging, health care and long-term care reform, and disability policy. He has continued to provide expertise on aging to elected officials about the intricacies of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act. 

“This has given me a most satisfactory career as a scholar, public servant and policy entrepreneur,” said Torres-Gil, who was recently elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.   

During retirement, he plans to continue being an advocate for older adults, the disabled and the homeless, although mostly at the local level.  

He also wants to continue teaching part time, offering the type of advice to students that has exemplified his own life — to view difficult situations as learning opportunities.  

“Never let misfortune keep you from achieving greater resiliency and … finding a silver lining,” Torres-Gil said. “For any bad breaks I may have had, I’ve had a lot of silver linings.”

Opening Doors of Opportunity for Undocumented Students Spearheaded by two UCLA Luskin master's students, a campaign to establish the right to work puts public policy coursework into action

By Mary Braswell

Two UCLA Luskin master’s students are putting their public policy education into action to advocate for equal opportunities for undocumented students — and their work is already paying off.

Last fall, Carlos Alarcon and Karely Amaya spearheaded a campaign known as Opportunity for All, which called on the University of California to remove hiring restrictions for all students, regardless of immigration status.

Backed by labor, legal and education experts across the nation, the campaign laid out a strategy that upended prevailing interpretations of a 1986 federal law that had blocked employment opportunities for undocumented immigrants.

In May, hundreds of students from up and down California carpooled to UCLA to show their support at a rally during a meeting of the UC Regents. During a public comment period the following day, speakers donned Opportunity for All T-shirts to stand in solidarity.

“Just to see the sea of blue — it was beautiful,” said Amaya, who delivered an impassioned statement to the regents that day, along with Alarcon and other advocates.

At the close of the session, the board voted unanimously to find a pathway to enact the groundbreaking policy. It established a working group that set out to tackle the legal and political ramifications within six months.

“Absolutely, it is our intention to find a way to allow employment opportunities for all our students, regardless of their immigration status,” Regent John A. Pérez said after the meeting. “This is too important to get wrong.”

‘This could set a huge precedent for what happens next.’ — Student leader Karely Amaya

Alarcon and Amaya credited the vast array of forces that came together to create a campaign that ended in “yes.” The UCLA Labor Center and UCLA Law were key allies that provided expertise and resources, and endorsed the strategy of letting undocumented students’ voices lead the way.

“The beauty of our campaign was that we weren’t looking at this just through the lens of student organizing. We weren’t looking at it just through a lens of the law and immigration and labor law,” Alarcon said. “We were also looking at it through the lens of politics,” aware that the window of opportunity to act on immigrant rights would be impacted by the 2024 U.S. presidential contest.

Lessons learned in their public policy coursework helped shape the campaign, the students said.

“This showcases the incredible policy work our students are engaging in outside of the classroom,” said Kevin Franco, director of student affairs for UCLA Luskin Public Policy. “The work that Carlos and Karely are doing is crucial.”

The student leaders, each of whom came to the United States as young children, had been speaking out on behalf of the undocumented population for years. Their paths first crossed when they were undergraduates, Alarcon at UC Riverside and Amaya at UCLA.

Both were part of the 2021 Dream Summer fellowship program, hosted by the UCLA Labor Center’s Dream Resource Center to empower immigrant youth to address the needs of their community. And both were accepted into the Master of Public Policy program at UCLA Luskin, Amaya in her first year and Alarcon preparing to graduate this week.

At UCLA, they launched the Undocumented Student-Led Network, uniting peers from across the UC campuses, and settled on their top priority: allowing students to work so that they could sustain themselves, pay tuition and continue their education.

“Our message was, ‘Hey, we’re your students. You accepted us into this prestigious university. You put us on your brochures. But I don’t have the same opportunities as my classmates,’” Amaya said.

As a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Alarcon is eligible for a work permit. But Amaya is one of tens of thousands of California students who were shut out of DACA after it was halted during the Trump administration and remains tied up in the courts. As a result, she said, she was unable to accept an offer to work as a graduate student researcher, which would have fully covered her tuition.

The Undocumented Student-Led Network set out to address that inequity, and quickly learned that UCLA Law was already on the case. Its Center for Immigration Law and Policy had developed a novel legal theory arguing that individual states are not bound by the decades-old federal law barring the hiring of undocumented residents.

Twenty-nine respected immigration and constitutional law professors from universities around the country signed a letter endorsing the legal analysis, a pivotal part of the campaign’s multi-pronged approach.

“We realized that it’s going to take a whole strategy, an implementation plan,” Amaya said. “We’re going to organize undocumented students. We’re going to build power. We’re going to continue reaching out to the media to report on this, and we’re going to meet with state legislators, nonprofits, different actors. We need all of our allies to show up for this.”

Their efforts paid off. The October launch of the campaign was accompanied by a New York Times piece laying out the issues. A nonprofit donated $30,000, allowing the team to purchase shirts, banners and other campaign materials aimed at underscoring their message and building community. Momentum grew, leading to the UC Regents’ action on May 18, which made headlines across the country.

The vote means the students’ work will continue. Representatives from the Undocumented Student-Led Network and other student organizations plan to meet regularly with the regents’ working group. And Alarcon and Amaya have high hopes that California will be a model for action that eventually opens the door of opportunity for students beyond its borders.

“This could set a huge precedent for what happens next,” said Amaya.