The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy returned to where it all began on Jan. 31, as hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends gathered in the John Ferraro Council Chambers at Los Angeles City Hall to kick off celebrations for the school’s 90th anniversary. (See video.) Political leaders were also in attendance, including California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, and senior advisors to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Kamala Harris, and others.
Dean Jack H. Knott explained that it was at City Hall where the first classes were held by what was originally called the USC School of Citizenship and Public Administration, reflecting the founders’ interest in civic engagement and the role of citizens in public policy.
“They didn’t want a government that aggrandized itself, but rather one that worked to improve the quality of life for people and their communities,” Knott said. “That mission still defines our school to this very day. We take an interdisciplinary approach to solving the governance, planning, development and policy issues confronting society.”
Near the end of the Progressive Movement, citizens’ and women’s groups asked USC to help educate public officials with the goals of improving governance, reducing corruption, and engaging citizens and business leaders in the political process.
On Feb. 28, 1929, the USC Board of Trustees authorized the establishment of the school, which became only the second public affairs school in the nation and first in the West.