USC Announces New Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service

Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer's $59 million gift to establish a new institute will address multiple public policy issues with evidence-based research and train generations of new scholars

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- USC, together with Leonard and his late wife Pamela Schaeffer, is launching a new institute to be anchored in Los Angeles and in the university's new Capital Campus in Washington, D.C. The mission of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service is 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 announced today.

By combining and expanding two outstanding programs — the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service — USC's new institute will be able to significantly increase their scope, size and impact.

"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.

"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." Folt continued, "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 Institute in Washington, D.C.

The institute will create research programs built on the model developed by the Schaeffer Center in which scholars engage public- and private-sector leaders to advance policy solutions based on evidence-based research. The Schaeffer Center is ranked among the foremost organizations of its kind.

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

Public policy training

The Schaeffers' gift also will 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.

The fellowships, which are administered by USC, are open to students across USC as well as those at four other participating universities: Harvard University; Princeton University; University of California, 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.

"The Schaeffer Institute will be an invaluable resource for education and scholarship, not just for Schaeffer scholars and its affiliated experts but for faculty members and students from across USC," said Dana Goldman, dean of the USC Sol Price School and co-director of the USC Schaeffer Center. "Their ability to use our Capital Campus office to more easily engage with policymakers will give them far more impact."

The Schaeffer Institute will be based in the Office of the Provost. Goldman will become the director of the Schaeffer Institute and will remain the co-director of the Schaeffer Center with Erin Trish, associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Health Economics at USC Mann School.

Goldman will step down as dean of USC Price School on July 1, 2024, when the institute is scheduled to open. An interim dean will lead the school while the university conducts a national search for a new dean for the USC Price School.

Erica Lovano McCann, who currently serves as USC's assistant vice provost for undergraduate education, will become the full-time executive director of the expanded Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program.

The Shaeffers' legacy

The gift for the institute is the Schaeffers' single largest to the university. The couple founded several chaired professorships, including the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service. A gift in 2009 enabled the university to create the namesake USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics.

Leonard Schaeffer is one of the most accomplished leaders in American health care, with a career that spans the private, public and philanthropic sectors. He was the founding chairman and CEO of WellPoint, the nation's largest health benefits company by membership, as well as the administrator of the federal Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).

He has served on the boards of numerous business, philanthropic and professional organizations. Schaeffer was awarded an honorary degree from USC and received the inaugural USC Sol Price Award for his lifetime achievements as a business leader, policy expert and philanthropist. He is a USC trustee and chair of the Schaeffer Center's Board of Advisers. He also is a member of the USC Price School's Board of Councilors.

Available for interviews:

  • USC President Carol Folt
  • Dana Goldman

Contact: Emily Gersema at (213) 712-3168 or, or Lance Ignon at (415) 793-8851 or

Cision View original content to download multimedia:

SOURCE University of Southern California

Back to news