June 17, 2010
The world's increasingly complex problems require bold leaders who can be objective and build relationships with others, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
Mullen was the featured speaker June 12 at the Pardee RAND Graduate School commencement ceremony at the RAND Corporation's Santa Monica campus. A total of 33 doctoral degrees and 30 master's degrees were awarded during the ceremony, which was attended by more than 300 people.
RAND is a nonprofit research organization. The Pardee RAND Graduate School, which offers doctorate studies in policy analysis, has commencement exercises every two years.
"The education you have earned here has positioned you to lead the changes of the future," Mullen told the graduates. "And bold leadership is certainly in order. We need leaders with strength of character, broad perspective and sharp insight. Simply put, we need you."
"Back when RAND was born, our enemies were fairly obvious," Mullen said. "We knew who the bad guys were and how they were planning to fight us. That knowledge didn't make our security tasks any easier, but it certainly focused our operational planning. Those days are long gone. Today we face borderless, transnational threats in our neighborhoods, nations and global commons—the seas, the skies, space and cyberspace."
"And our enemies wield destructive yet frighteningly simple weapons like fuel-laden aircraft and remotely detonated bombs and they can unleash them from a cell phone or with the click of a mouse."
"To really help us—the strategists, the policymakers and especially the operators and the people we defend—analysis must be timely, nonpartisan, adaptive and objective," Mullen said. "All in keeping with our volatile security environment, our unpredictable world and its broad range of actors and cultures."
Mullen also stressed the importance of building relationships with others, saying, "the most rigorous, well-reasoned, quantitative analysis in the world will fail and fall on deaf ears if the analyst ignores relationships. The importance of understanding challenges from someone else's perspective becomes more and more evident to me with each passing day."
James A. Thomson, president and CEO of RAND, praised the graduates for choosing to dedicate themselves to understanding the complexities of the world's challenges.
"They have become the leaders who help shape solutions that acknowledge the multifaceted problems and messy realities of our times, yet also acknowledge our aspirations for a better, smarter and more humane world: a world where decisions are made not for political expedience or partisan gain, but based on facts and analysis and best practices," Thomson said. "A world where decision-making is as rational, informed and realistic as humans can be, and yet guided by a vision of what could be."
Susan L. Marquis, dean of the school, said the graduates were not content to simply study the world's pressing problems, but to be the answer to those problems.
"The leadership and service you are called to will not be easy," Marquis said. "The brute reality, as written by Graham Allison, is that politics and government are inherently controversial. Public service is not simply a noble calling. It is a combat sport. Your service will require integrity, persistence, understanding, courage and vision."
Honorary degrees were awarded to Mullen, Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus of UCLA, and Ann McLaughlin Korologos, former U.S. Secretary of Labor.
The Ph.D. recipients are: Alisher Akhmedjonov, Ricardo Basurto, Margaret Blume-Kohout, Ze Cong, Lindsay Daugherty, Michael Egner, Diana Epstein, Meenakshi Fernandes, Jordan Fischbach, Stephen Gayton, Jeremy Ghez, Myong-Hyun Go, Eric Gons, James Griffin, Qian Gu, Sara Hajiamiri, David Howell, Thomas Lang, Xiaoyan Li, Ying Liu, Yang Lu, Qiufei Ma, Patricia Jane McClure Burstain, Silvia Montoya, Jeffrey Peterson, Bogdan Savych, David Trinkle, Anna-Marie Vilamovska, Lynne Wainfan, Jennifer Wong, Nailing Xia, Yuhui Zheng and Xiaohui Zhuo.
The commencement ceremonies marked the capstone of the school's 40th anniversary celebrations. The school was founded in 1970 as one of eight graduate programs in public policy created to train future leaders in the public and private sectors in policy analysis, was the only program specializing in the doctorate degree and the only one based at a public policy research organization. The five-year program is designed to produce an elite class of policy leaders, people whose careers will be distinguished by the caliber of their thinking and actions.
With 110 students, the Pardee RAND Graduate School is the nation's largest program in policy analysis. Its faculty is drawn from the more than 950 researchers at RAND, a nonprofit research organization that marked its 60th anniversary in 2008.