USC Price School of Public Policy

Shaping the World

A Message from USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott

In this uncertain and politically tumultuous point in our country’s history, it’s important to think about the different ways that each person can engage with and impact our democracy. At USC Price, we are obligated to do more than ponder: it is our responsibility, as an institution, to advance civic education and engagement.

With that in mind, I am once again pleased to share with you some recent examples of how the Price School is informing the public and policymakers about vital issues as we continue our efforts to shape a better world.

Our Featured News section leads off with the announcement that our METRANS Transportation Center has been awarded a $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to lead a multi-state study aimed at solving a range of transportation challenges. For an insightful take on these tumultuous times, I invite you to read about the recent George Washington Leadership Lecture, which featured NPR’s Mara Liasson on “Navigating a New Reality: Politics in the Era of Trump.”

In another example of our wide-ranging collaborations, the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation is joining with the Urban Institute and other organizations in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, which furthers the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. And, the work of Price alumni ranges widely as well, and I hope you enjoy reading this Trojan Family Magazine article about how some of our notable graduates are making Southern California a better place to live.

Knowledge in Action begins with congratulations to the Ross Minority Program at the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate for earning a 2016 Design & Philanthropy Award from the Southern California Development Forum. The prize came with $10,000 in support of the program’s important work in fostering diversity and responsible urban development.

Do the wealthy really give more when income inequality is high? Assistant Professor Nicolas Duquette presented the surprising findings of his research at a recent USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy seminar.

This election year featured a historic California Senate race in which two democratic candidates, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, faced off. The USC Schwarzenegger Institute convened the campaign managers to address how the state’s top-two open primary system shaped this unique race.

USC Price thrives on tackling big questions, and Assistant Professor Michael Thom has started a fresh outlet for such inquiry through a monthly student forum with the theme Should the Government …?, which tackles issues from minimum wage to school choice.

The latest examples of USC Price’s Global Reach include our four-week executive training program for 19 public officials from the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV. The seminars addressed the importance of public-private partnerships to cultural and creative institutions. Professor Eric Heikkila, director of USC Price’s Office of Global Engagement, also delivered the keynote address at the 2016 International Symposium on Emergency Management in Fuzhou, China, highlighting how digital technology can improve disaster response. And, I also pleased to travel with numerous USC Price faculty to the 2016 Energy Policy Forum in Berlin, where we were joined by experts from the Tsinghua School of Policy in Beijing and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin in discussing the energy policies needed to meet this challenge.

In terms of our Student Impact, the latest team in USC Price’s longstanding yet innovative nonprofit management class gave away a $10,000 grant to transform an empty lot into a verdant garden that will provide food, opportunities — and hope. I also hope you enjoy the inspiring story of dual master’s student David Markovich, who, motivated by a neurological disorder that temporarily took away his ability to walk, developed the concept for a product to help paralyzed people stand and move in the shower. Called the ShowerBalance System, the device won the Brighten Award for Entrepreneurial Gerontology.

This issue’s Alumni Spotlight shines on Stonish Pierce, MHA ’05, who helped launch the Presence Center for Cancer and Specialty Care in Chicago. Then it highlights Ivory Chambeshi, MPA ’14, MPL ’14, for an enlightening interview about her work as founder of Urban Rising Group, which bolsters small businesses, nonprofits, and public agencies.

In more Alumni Updates, our heartiest congratulations go to Compton Mayor Aja Brown ’04, MPL ’05, for winning the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, which honors Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service. Plaudits go out as well to Jordan Blair, MPA ’07, Cornelious Burke, MPA ’10, Christina Elliott, MPA ’12, Eli Owen, MPA ’16, and Fabrizio Sasso, MPA ’14, for being honored at the Sacramento Business Journal’s40 Under 40” awards.

In Research News, we are pleased to announce that T.J. McCarthy won the 2016 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award from the Military Family Research Institute for co-writing “War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill,” published in the journal Demography.

The USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy partnered with the Kresge Foundation to examine the revitalization of Detroit and the lessons it holds for other American cities and national urban policy. The analysis was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

John Romley is the lead author of a study, published in the journal Pediatrics, finding that U.S. families provide nearly $36 billion annually in uncompensated medical care at home to children who have special health care needs, such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis

Adding to the body of evidence that statins — common, low-cost anti-cholesterol drugs — show promise for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Julie Zissimopoulos is the lead and corresponding author of a study published in JAMA Neurology. According to a study co-authored by USC Schaeffer Center Director Dana Goldman and published in PLOS ONE, for older Americans, an aspirin per day may extend lives by reducing the risk of heart attack and even preventing some forms of cancer. Neeraj Sood is principal investigator and senior author of a study, published in Health Affairs, showing that the privatized Medicare Advantage results in greater savings, more efficient quality care, and better patient outcomes for knee replacement and other common procedures than traditional, fee-for-service Medicare programs.

In Awards & Notes, I share my memories of the late USC University Professor of History and Public Policy Kevin Starr, who also served as state librarian from 1994 to 2004. All of California mourns his passing.

In happier news, we congratulate Jane Pisano, a senior fellow and former dean at the Price School, on becoming president-elect of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA), beginning in March 2017. Congratulations as well go to Paul Danczyk, director of executive education of the USC Price School in Sacramento, on being elected ASPA vice president.

In closing, I want to emphasize how extremely proud I am of the work that Price students, faculty, staff, and alumni do to engage in issues of governance and public policy. While it’s impossible to know what the coming years will bring, be assured that the Price School will remain a proponent of evidence-based analysis, an advocate for the betterment of all communities, and a supporter of the expression of diverse and honest ideas and knowledge about governance, and sound and fair public policy. As always, thanks for your friendship and support.


Jack H. Knott, Dean
C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Chair and Professor
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy