Announcing the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service

February 8, 2024

Dear Trojan community,

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. Our longtime trustee Leonard D. Schaeffer and his late wife, Pamela, have given USC that opportunity with a transformational $59 million gift to establish the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service. This new institute, which will be anchored at the USC Capital Campus in Washington, D.C, will educate the next generation about government service and will conduct research to support evidence-based policy.

This is one of the largest gifts ever pledged toward higher education programs in public policy and government service. It is a bold and lasting commitment by the Schaeffers to support evidence-based policy and to educate students to be responsible, involved citizens.

Less than a year after opening the Capital Campus, USC is poised to accelerate its influence and impact by promoting and developing strong academic leaders and forging critical partnerships to address the nation’s most pressing issues and opportunities.

The new institute, which will open on July 1, will be home to both the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics (Schaeffer Center) and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service (Schaeffer Fellows). The institute will build on the Schaeffer Center’s mission to engage public and private sector leaders in productive dialogue – with the goal of advancing policy solutions based on compelling evidence.

The gift is the latest chapter in the Schaeffers’ generous history of philanthropy at USC and will include an endowment for the Schaeffer Fellows program. Established in 2015, the program supports 50 undergraduate students annually across five universities, including USC Schaeffer Fellows who intern in local, state, and federal government offices and participate in a variety of professional development opportunities. The program also supports a summit in Washington D.C. that helps these students explore public service and network with public service leaders.

Leonard is deeply committed to everything he does. He was one of the first to champion USC’s bold plan to establish an east coast home in the nation’s capital. Leonard’s own interest in public policy was supercharged when, as an undergraduate, he was chosen for an internship with Illinois Senator Paul Douglas. As his own career progressed, Leonard made mentorship and giving back top priorities. Over the years, he’s often told students in the Schaeffer Fellows program that his network is their network. Their success is a vital benchmark for him.

As well as serving as a USC trustee, Leonard serves as the inaugural chair of the USC Health System Board. He has been an invaluable partner to me and to the university’s entire leadership team.  

When Leonard and I discussed his vision to help us build out the Capital Campus, one person, Dana Goldman, the dean of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, stood out as the ideal choice to be the inaugural director of the Schaeffer Institute. I am pleased to announce that Dana, who has served as co-director of the USC Schaeffer Center, will take on this new, expanded role beginning on July 1, 2024. We will have more on the transition in the coming weeks.

I want to thank Leonard for his faith in what great universities can do, and Dana for his enthusiasm to lead this new institute. We are excited to begin this new era of national and global impact for USC.  

Thank you and Fight On!


Carol L. Folt