School of Public Policy Founding Dean Named

Economist Anil Deolalikar will lead the new graduate school as it focuses on research and training public-policy professionals to solve problems of the Inland region

Anil Deolalikar

Anil Deolalikar named founding dean of the School of Public Policy. Photo by Peter Phun

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Anil Deolalikar, an economist known internationally for research that seeks solutions to poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy, has been named founding dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside, effective Feb. 1.

With the appointment of Deolalikar, currently a professor of economics at UCR, the School of Public Policy is on track to enroll its first class of graduate students in Fall 2014. Student recruitment likely will begin a year from now.

“I am very excited about the research the School of Public Policy will undertake to solve problems faced by our region, our state and our world,” Deolalikar said. “ ‘Think globally, act locally’ is a concept that is important to emulate. Water scarcity, climate change, poverty, and inadequate access to health care and education are issues faced by this region and rapidly growing, developing countries.”

The school will focus on a range of social policy issues, especially population growth and movement, and environmental quality. UCR’s location in Inland Southern California makes the campus uniquely situated to address such concerns. Key policy issues often require a regional approach to be effective.

Interim Chancellor Jane Close Conoley said the new graduate school will advance the campus’s commitment to community service not only by dedicating first-rate research to tackle the region’s issues in depth, but also by producing graduates trained in the analytical and management skills needed to solve those problems.

“The Inland region continues to be among the fastest-growing in the state,” Conoley said. “It lacks individuals with the skills to evaluate and address deep-rooted problems at the city, county and regional levels. The policy problems facing this region are shared by many rapidly growing communities around the world. The work of our researchers and graduates will have local and global impact.”

The mission of the School of Public Policy is to prepare students to pursue careers in local, state and national governments, and in nonprofit organizations; to facilitate research by multidisciplinary teams at UCR on substantive public-policy problems; and to maintain dialogue with policymakers in the region and the state. Whether faculty research is conducted locally or half-way around the world, the results will benefit Inland residents, Deolalikar said.

“Poverty issues in the Coachella Valley and Imperial Valley are not that different from Mexico, Brazil and China, for example,” the economist said. “The question is, what can we learn from poverty solutions elsewhere, and what can we teach others?”

Deolalikar’s experience as a developmental economist, public-policy advisor to governmental and international economic development agencies, and university administrator are essential in guiding the School of Public Policy to success, said Dallas Rabenstein, executive vice chancellor and provost.

“Anil Deolalikar was instrumental in the development and approval of the School of Public Policy and has been involved with UC-wide strategic planning,” Rabenstein said. “He has published four books and more than 60 articles in the areas of economics of child nutrition, health, education, poverty, and social protection in developing countries, issues that the Inland region shares as well. We are very pleased that he was selected to serve as founding dean.”

Among Deolalikar’s initial responsibilities will be seeking approval of the school’s academic curricula from the UC Riverside Academic Senate and working with UCR Advancement to identify and raise external gifts for the new school. At maturity the school will accommodate a graduate student population of 30 doctoral and 120 master’s degree candidates. Classes will meet initially in existing campus facilities.

Initially, the School of Public Policy will offer a Master of Public Policy and an M.D./M.P.P., the latter to be offered in conjunction with the School of Medicine. A Ph.D. and a Ph.D. minor in public policy will follow. The M.P.P. degree may be completed in two years by full-time students, or in up to four years by mid-career, public-policy professionals. Also planned is a 15-month Executive M.P.P. program, a fast-track for experienced professionals working in government, nonprofit and community agencies. In addition, nondegree certificate programs will be offered in select areas for professionals working in the public sector who are interested in career enhancement.

Students will choose from four areas of specialization: environmental and sustainable development policy, population and health policy, higher education policy, and immigration policy.

The graduate school was approved by the UC Board of Regents in 2008, but its launch was suspended a year later when the economic crisis resulted in severe cuts to the 10-campus university. Former Chancellor Timothy P. White announced the launch of the school and the search for a founding dean in September 2012.

The school’s research will build on existing strengths at UCR as virtually every existing school and college at UCR has assets that will interact with and help to strengthen the school, Deolalikar said, citing ongoing research in the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development; One Health Center of the UC Global Health Institute; School of Medicine; Center for Disease Vector Research; Center for Ideas and Society; Center for Environmental Research and Technology; Water Science and Policy Center; UC Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC-MEXUS); Center for Conservation Biology; and the California Community College Collaborative (C4).

“The policy challenges this area faces are huge — environmental issues, suburban sprawl, traffic congestion, public transportation, health, education, including higher education, immigration. A lot of research here touches on those problems,” Deolalikar said. “What we need to improve is how to translate that research into real-world solutions.”

Much of his career has been spent doing just that.

“As a developmental economist you work on issues that affect people’s lives, such as poverty, health and illiteracy,” Deolalikar explained. “I was drawn to real-world problems, and when I started working with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and governmental agencies like the United States Agency for International Development, that began shaping my research.”

Deolalikar was among a handful of international economists who developed the first India State Hunger Index, which helped the government of India identify states where hunger and malnutrition were most severe. He also was one of about 50 economists invited by the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 to recommend the most cost-effective solutions to 10 of the world’s biggest problems. His research team of eight international scholars recommended that vitamin A and zinc supplements be provided to combat malnutrition among 140 million children around the world.

Deolalikar earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University, a Diploma in Economics from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He also served as a postdoctoral fellow in economic demography at Yale University.

He joined the UCR faculty in 2003. Prior to that, he taught at the University of Washington (Seattle) and the University of Pennsylvania. His administrative experience at UCR includes serving as associate dean of the social sciences in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, co-director of the One Health Center in the UC Global Health Institute, director of the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, and interim dean of the Anderson Graduate School of Management. He is co-editor of The Journal of Asian and African Studies and The Journal of Developing Societies, and was elected in 2007 as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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Additional Contacts

Anil Deolalikar
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E-mail: anil.deolalikar@ucr.edu

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