UC Riverside announces plans to open new graduate school of public policy

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UC Riverside announced the opening of a new graduate school of public policy on Monday, with hopes that the program will become a center for training real-world policymakers uniquely equipped to work in Southern California.

What makes the school unique, said Anil Deolalikar, director of the public policy initiative and a professor of economics at UC Riverside, is that there is no center that trains policymakers in issues specific to the area east of Los Angeles.

“We have problems of immigration, population growth, environmental degradation, traffic congestion and suburban growth,” Deolalikar said. “We need good policymakers who do not go into politics out of default but are trained to handle policymaking with trained analytical skills.”

UC Riverside will begin building the school by enrolling approximately 30 students into the two-year M.P.P. program — a professional master’s program focused on giving policymakers the practical skills they will need to solve local and international issues — by fall 2014.

Eventually, the school plans to expand to include a doctoral program, along with other specialized professional programs — including an accelerated 15-month M.P.P. for professionals and a public policy doctoral minor for doctoral students in other departments, according to Deolalikar.

Because the new public policy school is a professional program, Deolalikar said it will use Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition fees to generate revenue.

“For master’s programs, students are paying professional fees,” he said. “This is actually a net revenue-generating program. In a budgetary crisis like this, it actually makes more sense to focus on professional programs.”

UC Riverside spokesperson Bettye Miller said the campus has started a search process for the school’s first dean and will select that person from the current faculty. Once the dean is selected, the school will build its faculty by creating joint appointments for existing faculty members from other campus departments.

“We will not need to hire new faculty — we have a ton of faculty interested in public policy,” Deolalikar said. “These are philosophers, engineers, economists — people who are passionate about their subjects and who are interested in public policy. It will be an organic process.”

Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, said that while no immediate plans for collaboration between the two schools exist, it may be something to work toward.

This goal of academic collaboration is a part of Deolalikar’s greater vision for UC Riverside’s new school of public policy.

“Maybe there is something that inland California can learn from China or Brazil, and maybe China and Brazil can learn something from inland California,” he said. “We want the school to work on inland California problems but learn from global solutions. There is a good saying that is very relevant here: Think globally, act locally.”

Contact D.J. Sellarole at [email protected].