School of Public Policy Celebrates Launch of Master of Public Policy Program

Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the California State Senate, will deliver the keynote address Sept. 25

Section of state Capitol dome with flags

UCR will celebrate the launch of the School of Public Policy on Sept. 25.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Poverty. Water scarcity. Immigration. Education. Health care. Crime. UCR’s School of Public Policy will offer aspiring policymakers and current practitioners innovative ways of thinking about solutions for these and other complex regional problems.

UCR will celebrate the launch of the university’s newest professional school and its inaugural class of 29 students in the Master of Public Policy program on Friday, Sept. 25, in an evening event to which numerous regional policy makers, legislators and families of admitted students have been invited.

Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the California State Senate, will deliver the keynote address. De León (D-Los Angeles) is the first Latino to be elected president pro tempore of the state Senate in more than 130 years. He was elected to the Senate in 2010 after having served previously in the Assembly. In 2012 The New York Times called his efforts to provide retirement security to millions of low-income workers “a model for addressing a national problem.”

Kevin de León

Kevin de León

Like many UCR students, De León was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He earned a degree with honors from Pitzer College.

“As we wrestle with 21st century challenges such as climate change, quality education and access to health care, it is important that the next generation of policy leaders develop powerful new ideas that provide imaginative, innovative solutions,” De León said. “I look forward to attending the launch of the UCR School of Public Policy’s Master of Public Policy program and engaging in meaningful conversation about how these students – and Inland Southern California – can play an important role in shaping California’s future.”

With more than 4 million people and 52 cities, the two counties comprising Inland Southern California are two of the state’s largest in terms of geography and population. Riverside County is California’s fourth-largest county by population; San Bernardino County is the fifth-largest.

“The future of our region and state is being shaped now, and the new UCR School of Public Policy aims to be a national model for developing solutions to improve our quality of life and economic prosperity,” said Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox. “The school’s research agenda will benefit the region for years to come, and graduates of the Master of Public Policy program will play key roles in shaping a new narrative of a vision for Inland Southern California’s future.”

The UCR School of Public Policy will take a global approach to addressing regional and local policy challenges, unlike many other policy schools, said Anil Deolalikar, founding dean of the school. Students and faculty researchers will engage broadly with diverse communities including civic, business, labor, government, education and health organizations. Most important, he said, is the emphasis on training effective policy leaders who will implement new approaches to improve Southern California. Nearly half of the students enrolled in the M.P.P. program are employed, many of them in public agencies, the offices of elected lawmakers, and nonprofits.

“We recognize the transformative changes that our state is facing,” Deolalikar said. “The UCR School of Public Policy is taking leadership as the only public research university in Inland Southern California by using our region as a living laboratory to tackle California’s toughest challenges through evidence-based research and bold, forward-looking policy solutions.”

The School of Public Policy also will serve as a place where “critical and strategic conversations among researchers, policy makers, and practitioners” can take place, he said, noting that the school hosted a public hearing of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs in April. And an on-going series of seminars and public lectures addresses a variety of topics such as water scarcity, immigration, health care, affordable housing, and the impact of the growing goods movement industry on Inland Southern California.

Three campus research centers currently affiliate with the School of Public Policy:

  • The Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, which is led by Ronald O. Loveridge, former longtime mayor of Riverside and past president of the National League of Cities. The center conducts and disseminates research on issues of suburban growth and the impact of this growth on social, environmental, and transport systems.
  • Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies, which was established by the California Legislature in 1993 to conduct research on crime prevention and work with local governments in the region to develop and evaluate evidence-based policies aimed at preventing youth violence and crime.
  • One Health Center of the UC Global Health Institutes, which focuses on reducing the rate of disease and death resulting from malnutrition, unsafe water, and animal- and vector-borne diseases.

Later this fall the School of Public Policy will launch the Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty. Funded by Richard Blum, former chairman of the UC Board of Regents, and matching contributions from the UC Office of the President and UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, the initiative will support research focused on addressing poverty and inequality in Inland Southern California and offer courses in global and regional poverty, student internships, a regular seminar series, and an annual poverty policy forum.

Deolalikar, a developmental economist, noted that one in five San Bernardino County residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012. In eastern Riverside County, the Coachella Valley includes some of the poorest towns in the nation, inhabited primarily by migrant agricultural workers, which coexist alongside some of the most affluent communities in the country.

The Blum Poverty Initiative will enable the establishment of an interdisciplinary, undergraduate minor in poverty, development of a lower-division course on global and regional poverty designed to meet a general education requirement, and a specialization in poverty and sustainable development within the Master of Public Policy program.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
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Additional Contacts

Anil Deolalikar

Karthick Ramakrishnan

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