RAND Office of Media Relations
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July 17, 2004
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — New York Stock Exchange Chairman John Reed delivered the commencement address today at graduation ceremonies for the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS), which awarded a record 20 doctorates in policy analysis.
Reed, who is also the retired chairman and co-CEO of Citigroup, challenged the new graduates to move policy analysis in support of decisionmakers in both the public and private sectors to new levels of insight and usefulness.
Both public and private organizations operate at the frontiers of their competence, and are always short of "good people" and always confronting an array of seemingly intractable problems, Reed said. RAND, which pioneered much of the quantitative fact-based analysis that should underlie decisions of importance, continues to be vital in improving our capabilities and in training the professionals who are essential in dealing with the complexities and subtleties of our information-rich world, Reed said.
Reed said the PRGS graduates and others of their generation will be essential to moving the frontiers of public policy and decision-making forward. There is nothing more important to the workings of our society, he said.
The commencement was held at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Calif., not far from Santa Monica where PRGS is located. The graduate school is part of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.
Honorary degrees were awarded to: Paul O’Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury and former CEO of Alcoa; and James Q. Wilson, professor emeritus of management and public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Reed and O’Neill are members of the RAND Corporation Board of Trustees. Wilson is member of the PRGS Board of Governors and is a former RAND trustee.
PRGS offers the only accredited doctoral program based at an independent policy research institution. Founded in 1970, it has awarded 174 Ph.D.s in policy analysis, including those awarded today — more than any graduate school in the world.
This year’s dissertations by the new graduates cover a broad range of topics including: the placement of inner city drug treatment centers, the kindergarten entrance age, factors influencing breastfeeding in the United States, health maintenance organizations, the design of clinical trials, melanoma screening, life insurance, local responses to chemical terrorism, the Chinese economy, Air Force purchasing and supply management, preparation of U.S. diplomats, and dealing with the impact of a deadly asteroid on Earth.
RAND Corporation president and CEO James A. Thomson told PRGS graduates today: “There are only 20 of you, but you will have an impact on the shape of the world far out of proportion to your numbers. And PRGS can take some credit for that, because it has given you the policy analysis skills to make your mark.”
“You’ve spent the last few years working on RAND research projects, studying some of the greatest challenges facing the world,” Thomson continued in addressing the graduates. “You’ve been trained not just to study what happened in the past, but to make new things happen in the future. You believe fiercely in getting out of the ivory tower, getting your hands dirty in the real world. You won’t just wait for the future to come to you — you will work to help create the future.”
PRGS currently has a record enrollment of 85 students and the entering class for the upcoming academic year will be the largest since the school was founded — 26 students, chosen from about 800 applicants.
The PRGS doctorate in policy analysis is designed to train creative thinkers to play important roles in solving major problems facing the nation and the world. PRGS emphasizes interdisciplinary study and teamwork in research, and students work as research assistants at RAND to combine their classroom learning with practical experience in cutting edge research.
Today’s commencement exercise was the first since the RAND Graduate School was renamed the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, in honor of a former RAND employee who donated $10 million to the school last December. The gift was the largest ever made by an individual to RAND and is one of the largest gifts ever by an individual to a single Ph.D. program in the United States.
Frederick S. Pardee worked at RAND from 1957 to 1971 and has had a longstanding interest in improving the human condition and in the future. After leaving RAND, he became a successful real estate investor. He previously made $15 million in gifts to establish research centers focusing on the long-term future at both RAND and Boston University.
All PRGS students receive fellowships that pay for all tuition costs and health care, and a stipend based on the work they perform on RAND research projects. Past graduates of PRGS have gone on to careers in government, business, nonprofit institutions and academia.
PRGS has expanded its mission with programs like the Volcker Initiative for Public Service. The initiative builds upon the recommendations of the National Commission on the Public Service, which was headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker and commonly referred to as the Volcker Commission. Funded by a $600,000 gift from Volcker, the initiative is addressing issues including: how to make government more efficient; how to attract and retain innovative leaders; and how to measure and improve productivity.
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