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$59 million gift from Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer for new institute focusing on public policy issues
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$59 million gift from Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer for new institute focusing on public policy issues

USC announced the establishment of a new institute focusing on public policy issues to be anchored in Los Angeles and at the university’s new Capital Campus in Washington, D.C.

Launched with a $59 million gift from Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer, the Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service aims to “strengthen democracy by training generations of public leaders and advancing evidence-based research to shape policy that addresses the nation’s most pressing issues,” USC President Carol Folt said.

The institute combines and expands two programs — the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service.

“The newly formed Schaeffer Institute accelerates USC’s capacity to develop effective academic leaders and to forge critical high-impact partnerships with influential policymakers and organizations,” Folt said in a statement.

“There are times in the life of a university when a vision and an opportunity align to become a powerful force to serve the public good,” she said. “And our students and our nation need this now more than ever.”

The institute is the first major research and education facility to be headquartered at USC’s Capital Campus, which Folt opened in Dupont Circle last spring.

Schaeffer said the new institute has the potential to have a long-lasting impact at a time when the United States needs it most.

“Our country is experiencing a series of challenges that are unique in our history,” he said. “We are facing many difficult issues around the world — climate change, pandemics, violent conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, and world trade and economic problems, to name a few. Here at home, we are experiencing the loss of faith in science and government. The institute will have the faculty, students and postdocs to provide the analysis and facts necessary to counter erosion in public discourse and promote more effective policy solutions.”

The $59 million gift will fund the build-out of the seventh floor of the Capital Campus, which will be dedicated to the Schaeffer Institute. According to the university, the institute will also have offices on the USC University Park Campus.

The Schaeffers’ donation will also provide a permanent endowment for the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service, the fellowship for undergraduate students to work in local, state, and federal government offices, according to USC.

The fellowships, which USC administers, are open to students across USC as well as those at four other participating universities: Harvard University, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Virginia. The gift will allow at least 50 students from across the five universities to participate in the fellowship every year, officials said.

Leonard Schaeffer was the founding chairman and CEO of WellPoint, a health insurance company. He is a professor at USC and was elected to the university’s  Board of Trustees in 2013.


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