Emergency Fund Will Support UCLA Luskin Students

UCLA Luskin has launched two new funds to support students experiencing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Luskin School Student Emergency Fund focuses on providing emergency support and technological tools to students with financial need. The Luskin Undocumented Masters & Ph.D. Student Support Fund focuses on undocumented graduate students who have been hit hard by the pandemic but are ineligible for federal assistance. The funds are aimed at alleviating financial stress so that students can focus on academic success — in particular, on learning how to make an impact on the world with a UCLA Luskin education. Donations to the Luskin School Student Emergency Fund will be matched by a UCLA Luskin board member, including a dollar-to-dollar match up to $5,000 and an additional $5,000 if the fund receives donations from at least 100 donors. That fund will provide laptops, access to strong internet connections and other technology upgrades to students in need, in addition to emergency financial assistance. “Now more than ever, strength of community is imperative as we brave through this unique period of history,” Dean Gary Segura wrote in an open letter to the UCLA Luskin community. “We look to our alumni, parents, staff and friends to come together, for both keeping camaraderie for each other and to support our students.”


Gilens on the Disproportionate Influence of the Wealthy

A New York Times article discussing the dangers of private campaign funding cited Public Policy Professor Martin Gilens’ research on the disproportionate influence of wealthy Americans in politics. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case allowed corporations to spend freely on electioneering, making it easier for wealthy individuals and corporations to translate their economic power into political power. The article cited a dinner party last year at the Trump International Hotel, where wealthy donors spoke to President Trump about their corporate interests. They included the owner of a steel-making company who urged the president to let truck drivers work longer hours, even though studies show that driver fatigue is a frequent factor in fatal crashes. In their 2017 book “Democracy in America?,” Gilens and co-author Benjamin Page illustrate the disproportionate influence that the wealthiest Americans exercise in politics. According to Gilens, wealthy Americans are particularly successful in blocking even broadly popular policies they don’t like.

Shell Family Endowment Supports Public Affairs Undergraduates

Laura Shell, a member of the UCLA Luskin board of advisors, and her husband, Jeff, have established an endowed scholarship to support students in the Luskin School’s new undergraduate program. The UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match Initiative, which matches gifts for such scholarships at 50 percent, will establish the Shell Family Centennial Scholarship Matching Fund. The funds will support scholarships for students who have declared the new Public Affairs major and have demonstrated financial need. The first recipients of the scholarship will be announced in 2020. “We want to make the excellent college education provided by the UCLA Luskin School possible for students without the worry of tuition,” Laura Shell said. “We are thrilled our contribution will support the education of future leaders in our community, who will undoubtedly work in public service after graduation.” Shell, who earned a B.A. in political science from UCLA and a master’s in public administration from USC, has maintained a 25-year career working in local government and with environmental organizations. The Shells’ gift is part of a network of support inspired by the launch of the UCLA Luskin undergraduate program. In June 2018, Richard Lieboff endowed the Gene Dudley Centennial Scholars Undergraduate Scholarship in memory of Llewellyn Eugene “Gene” Dudley. That gift was also matched by the UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match Initiative.