For the People


On Oct. 10, 2019 — the eve of National Coming Out Day — the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer [LGBTQ] civil rights organization) will co-host a forum for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Part of the Luskin Lecture Series, the conversation will take place in Royce Hall and will give candidates an opportunity to speak about their policy platforms and plans to move LGBTQ equality forward.

It’s one of the latest examples (and they are legion) of the university’s ongoing contribution to the national dialogue on the meaning and promise of democracy. Providing an open forum for the exchange of ideas on how we should govern and be governed, in fact, lies at the very heart of a public university’s mission. Even more importantly, UCLA also serves as a launching pad for turning those ideas into action.

“For me and for society, having an outstanding and successful public university enhances the democratic concept,” says Meyer Luskin ’49, the philanthropist for whom the public affairs school and lecture series, among other campus entities, are named, adding that a “successful and creative public university” is, itself, an indication of a healthy democracy.

The university has been particularly powerful in advocating for those whose voices have historically had difficulty being heard.

In 2000, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies Professors Jeannie Oakes Ph.D. ’80 and John Rogers founded UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), with the goal of using UCLA’s research capacity and commitment to confront what may be the most pressing public issue in Los Angeles and in California today: bringing communities together to address the critical problems of public education. IDEA faculty, postdoctoral scholars, staff and graduate students partner with young people, parents, teachers and grassroots organizations to conduct research on the conditions of education and the challenges to educational change.

At UCLA Luskin, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy aims to understand and transform the divides and dispossessions, the color lines, of the 21st century. At a time of unprecedented income inequality in the United States, the institute is part of a growing effort of rigorous analysis of the processes through which such inequality has been produced.

The university also can serve as an inspiration for others to realize their version of the American Dream. Every winter since 1995, former Democratic candidate for president and former governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis has headed west to teach two courses at UCLA: “California Policy Issues” with Professor Emeritus Daniel J.B. Mitchell, and “Institutional Leadership and the Public Manager.”

One of many students Dukakis has mentored is Jimmy Gomez ’99, now a California congressman. After graduating from high school, Gomez found himself at a dead end and working at Subway, until a friend dragged him to Riverside Community College. Then he transferred to UCLA just as Dukakis became a visiting professor. Gomez took “California Policy Issues” and, at Dukakis’ encouragement, went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Returning to California, he won three terms as an assemblyman and was elected to Congress in 2017. “I think our course had a major impact on his decision to pursue public service,” Dukakis says.

State-of-the-Art Workspace


The UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios in Culver City will provide artists fully equipped spaces in which to work and give visitors a look behind the scenes.
UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
The UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios in Culver City will provide artists fully equipped spaces in which to work and give visitors a look behind the scenes.

With internationally-renowned faculty and alumni, the UCLA Graduate Art Program has long been a standard-bearer in training the next generation of thoughtful, provocative and influential artists. Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, the program continues to be the most competitive M.F.A. program on the West Coast.

By this fall, graduate students will be making work in studios commensurate with the stature of their program when the new UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios in Culver City open. Designed by Los Angeles–based architectural firm Johnston Marklee and Associates and jump-started with a generous $20-million lead gift from alumna and art dealer Margo Leavin ’58, the new space offers 42 individual studios; flexible fabrication spaces, outfitted with the tools and technology to make art within the department’s six areas (ceramics, interdisciplinary studio, new genres, painting and drawing, photography and sculpture); an entry garden and gallery; and an artist-in-residence live/work space, where visiting artist faculty will teach, live and work within the facility. The 48,000-square-foot facility is located in Culver City’s Hayden Tract, long a destination for architecture buffs because of its many buildings designed by Eric Owen Moss ’65. Of late, the area has become a hub for tech companies and buzzy restaurants, so no doubt L.A.’s culturally curious will turn out in droves for the next graduate student open studios to see these spiffy new student workspaces and experience a behind-the-scenes look at the practice of art-making.

The studios will help UCLA’s graduate fine arts program sustain its preeminence, continuing to deliver the highest caliber education to some of tomorrow’s most important artists.

Star Power


Mark Morris
The W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii houses the two largest telescopes in the world. The place where the laser beams converge is the center of our Milky Way galaxy, where a “supermassive” black hole is located.

By some accounts, less than one-third of the world’s scientists are women. Women are less likely to enter and more likely to leave STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and math. But not astronomer Andrea Ghez.

As a kid, Ghez wanted to be a ballet dancer. But when her parents brought home a telescope, she began studying the night stars, and her career was born.

Since joining UCLA’s faculty in 1994, Ghez has become a superstar after proving the existence of a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

A MacArthur “Genius” grant winner and the first woman to win the Crafoord Prize from the Crafoord Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Ghez inspires women in sciences. “It’s been a priority to bust that concept that it’s not just boys who do science. UCLA is a great environment [that] encourages young girls to understand that this is a playground that they can come play in.” About a third of the scientists at the Galactic Center Group that Ghez founded are female.

Alongside Ghez, UCLA’s female STEM influencers include Jayathi Murthy, UCLA’s first female engineering dean; Engineering Professor Ann Karagozian ’78, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Caltech; and Physics and Astronomy Professor Smadar Naoz, who serves on the Physical Sciences Diversity Committee. UCLA STEM students have formed Women Advancing Technology Through Teamwork, which hosts “tinkering workshops.”

And off campus, Diana Skaar ’00, M.S. ’08, M.B.A. ’08, in charge of business development for Google’s “X” lab, aims to impact the next generation of female scientists as a member of Cartoon Network’s STEAM Advisory Board.

Hooked on Technology


Brian Stauffer

Henry Samueli ’75, M.S. ’76, Ph.D. ’80 found his calling in a 7th-grade shop class. The teacher had assigned the class a standard electronics project — to build a rudimentary crystal radio receiver — but while paging through a catalog, a more sophisticated DIY Heathkit radio kit caught Samueli’s attention. He convinced his teacher to let him attempt to build the more challenging radio instead.

“At the end of the semester, I plugged it in and music came out,” he says. “That hit me right there. The fact that this pile of parts that I knew nothing about, that I could put together, solder wires together and sound comes out magically from the thing, it hooked me. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer, because I was determined to figure out how that radio worked.”

“At the end of the semester, I plugged it in and music came out,” he says. “That hit me right there. The fact that this pile of parts that I knew nothing about, that I could put together, solder wires together and sound comes out magically from the thing, it hooked me. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer, because I was determined to figure out how that radio worked.”

Samueli went on to earn a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UCLA, and in 1985, he became a professor of electrical engineering at his alma mater. In 1991, Samueli and his first Ph.D. student, Henry Nicholas ’82, M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’98, co-founded Broadcom, a semiconductor company that makes technology for wireless and broadband communications.

According to PC Magazine, “He changed the way we connected to the Internet, inventing the single-chip cable modem, which provided 50 megabits per second, or 1,000 times faster than the 56k dial-up available at the time.” Samueli is a named inventor in 75 U.S. patents, and Broadcom remains responsible for much of the technology that powers smartphones and other mobile devices that are so essential to modern life.

A World of Good


Reed Hutchinson

Sept. 29, 2018, 10th annual Volunteer Day, became a global day of service with far-reaching results as Bruins tackled projects around the world.

Already one of the world’s largest university-related service days, the most recent UCLA Volunteer Day invited employees, alumni and other off-campus Bruins to organize events anywhere in the world. They put together community service projects that spanned the globe.

While the event still primarily affords freshmen and new transfer students the chance to make volunteering one of their first UCLA activities, “expanding the event to a global day of service [made] an impact around the world,” says Karen McClain ’85, the lead organizer of the event and senior director of athletic partnership and strategic initiatives for Alumni Affairs. “It also spread one of our True Bruin values: a commitment to service.”

Bruins completed projects at 70 locations that included schools, homeless shelters, veteran sites and food banks. In the Namibian village of Kasote, for example, Eunice Lee ’17, an English teacher in the Peace Corps, led volunteers in a trash clean-up project. In Hong Kong, volunteers conducted a blood drive; in Taipei, they cared for shelter dogs. Bruins in Minnesota restored a monarch butterfly habitat, while volunteers in Pennsylvania organized food donations at a pantry.

In Los Angeles, volunteers advanced an ongoing project to transform a rundown garden at the Veterans Administration. “It’s more than picking up trash,” says Matthew Proctor, a Marine Corps veteran, UCLA senior and president of UCLA’s Student Veterans of America chapter. “We’re planting a garden and building a place to have a community. It’s really nice to have people who aren’t militarily connected help us.”

Additional projects included organizing supplies at a homeless youth shelter in Hollywood and sorting food donations at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Bruins have worked approximately 330,000 hours on more than 400 projects. Their efforts represent an estimated $8.5-million value to the community, but the rewards are priceless.

Flipping the Script


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Crazy Rich Asians was a movie featured in the diversity report because of its diverse leads and crew.

The first UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, in 2014, showed the percentages of minority or female actors, directors, writers and executives in entertainment to be dismal, far less than their percentage of the U.S. population. But the research also provided proof of a trend that would help change inclusion in show business.

“Every year, the data have shown that film and television content that features diverse casts typically makes more money and enjoys higher ratings and audience engagement,” says Darnell Hunt M.A. ’91, Ph.D. ’94, the report’s co-lead author and dean of the UCLA College’s Division of Social Sciences.

Today, after moviegoers and viewers of broadcast, cable and streaming television made hits of shows that featured multicultural casts and storylines, the trend has become industry truth. But the percentage of minorities and women in Hollywood still falls far below that of the total U.S. population.

Forty percent of all Americans are people of color, and more than half are female. Yet the 2019 study, focused on 2017, shows that minorities made up just 19.8% of film leads, 21.5% of broadcast scripted leads, 21.3% of cable scripted leads and 21.3% of digital scripted leads. Women represented 32.9% of film leads, 39.7% of broadcast scripted leads, 43.1% of cable scripted leads and 42.8% of digital scripted leads.

Future reports will focus on practices that are proven to increase diverse inclusion. As Hunt has observed, “There can be no reform without a reckoning.”

Reasons to Smile


UCLA School of Dentistry

The research conducted by UCLA’s School of Dentistry is out of this world, literally. The school has become a trailblazer in research, sending 40 mice into space in 2017 to test a bone-building drug that the school helped develop, based on the NELL-1 protein discovered by a dental school researcher. A collaboration with NASA, the research could help combat the effects of osteoporosis.

Researchers at the school are also pioneering a new way to detect lung and pancreatic cancer — diseases that often require an invasive biopsy. The salivary diagnostic technology called EFIRM (electric field-induced release and measurement) provides the most sensitive and accurate detection of cancer fingerprints in saliva. This promising research may take us one step closer to using saliva to detect cancer mutations.

In addition, wiping out tooth decay may soon be as simple as rinsing once with a mouthwash, thanks to a targeted antimicrobial technology pioneered by the school’s researchers. The school’s research has impact that goes well beyond the oral health profession.

The school is also dedicated to serving others. Starting in the second year, dental students provide vital care at local clinics through the school’s community- based clinical education program. The school is a regional destination for advanced treatment for patients who are developmentally disabled. And in 2017-18 alone, students, residents and faculty provided care during 150,000 patient visits.

This year, the school’s Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center celebrates 50 years of serving populations who otherwise could not afford dental care, among them the elderly, homeless, minorities and children.