Perspectives — A Forum for RAND Guest Speakers

Answering the Call

Commencement Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Pardee RAND Graduate School

With exhortatory refrains urging graduates to “be the answer,” speakers at the June 12 commencement exercises of the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) capped a series of events marking the school’s 40th anniversary. Commencement speaker Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, received an honorary degree, as did Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus of UCLA, and Ann McLaughlin Korologos, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and former chair of the RAND board of trustees who continues to serve as a member of the board.

“We chose people who’ve been the answer, who’ve made the world a better place,” said Susan L. Marquis, dean of the school. “Now it’s time for our graduates to ‘be the answer,’ too. It’s time for them to stop just studying problems and to start fixing them.”

The anniversary events included panel discussions for alumni, donors, students, and families, along with the kickoff of the PRGS alumni association. A discussion of health care quality emphasized that people need to be convinced of a problem before being convinced of a solution. As a case study, the speakers noted, RAND’s quality assessment tools have altered the nature of the U.S. health care debate since 2003. A discussion of the role of analysis in policymaking underscored the growing importance of listening to those with differing opinions and the need to ensure that analysis is delivered to senior decisionmakers.

PRGS was founded in 1970 as one of eight U.S. graduate programs in public policy created to train future leaders in the public and private sectors in policy analysis. The school has the nation’s largest doctoral program in public policy. Its faculty is drawn from the researchers at RAND. On June 12, a total of 33 doctoral degrees and 30 master’s degrees were awarded. square

“The real world of policy analysis and development is far messier than that found in textbooks. The brute reality, as written by [Harvard political scientist] Graham Allison, is that politics and government are inherently controversial. Public service is not simply a noble calling. It is a combat sport.”

— Susan L. Marquis, dean, Pardee RAND Graduate School, in her commencement remarks

Graduates gather around Albert Carnesale, Admiral Mike Mullen, Susan L. Marquis, James Thomson and Ann McLaughlin Korologos.
PHOTO BY DIANE BALDWIN
Graduates gather around Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles; Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; Susan L. Marquis, dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School; James Thomson, president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation; and Ann McLaughlin Korologos, former U.S. Secretary of Labor. Carnesale, Mullen, and Korologos received honorary degrees.

“‘Being the answer’ is about more than just having the right answer. 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. I’m a Navy guy. I grew up on the sea, learning diplomacy with every port call. And I have found that no e-mail, no phone call, no PowerPoint slide can adequately substitute for face-to-face conversations. We can never — no person, no organization, no nation — go it alone. Those days are gone.”

— Admiral Mike Mullen (right), chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his commencement address at the Pardee RAND Graduate School on June 12, 2010

 
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
PHOTO BY DIANE BALDWIN
Doctoral degree candidates proceed to the commencement ceremony.
PHOTO BY GREG MANCUSO
Doctoral degree candidates proceed to the commencement ceremony.
 
Dean Marquis greets those who have assembled for the commencement ceremony.
PHOTO BY DIANE BALDWIN
Guests dine in the upper courtyard of the RAND headquarters campus.
 
Dean Marquis greets those who have assembled for the commencement ceremony.
PHOTO BY GREG MANCUSO
Dean Marquis (at podium) greets those who have assembled for the commencement ceremony.
Jeffrey Wasserman, Pedro Jose Greer Jr., Sean O'Neill, Elizabeth McGlynn, and Neeraj Sood.
PHOTO BY DIANE BALDWIN
Jeffrey Wasserman (left), a 1988 PRGS graduate who is now on the PRGS faculty and is a coleader of RAND’s COMPARE initiative, moderates a discussion of health care quality with Pedro Jose Greer Jr., assistant dean of academic affairs at Florida International University College of Medicine, a member of the PRGS Board of Governors, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Sean O’Neill, a PRGS student and M.D. candidate at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University; Elizabeth McGlynn, a 1988 PRGS graduate who now holds RAND’s distinguished chair in health quality; and Neeraj Sood, a 2003 PRGS graduate who is now an associate professor in the pharmaceutical economics and policy program at the University of Southern California.
 

“If your best analysis points to solutions that are taken off the table because they are ideologically suspect or simply because they’ve been embraced by the opposing camp, then the public interest suffers. You will need to take particular care that your own thinking and work transcend ideology. By doing so, you will be doing both what is right and what is needed.”

— James A. Thomson, president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation, in his commencement remarks