USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy

September 24, 2012
By C. L. Max Nikias

It is a great privilege to welcome you all here to the inaugural symposium of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. We would not be here today without the generous support and unbounded vision of one man: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Governor Schwarzenegger is a strong believer in the importance of expanding dialogue on both a state and global level to tackle the most pressing problems of our time. And he is not afraid to put his money where his political muscle is. The establishment of this institute marks a merger between today’s brightest policymakers with a university that has been a leader in civic engagement locally, nationally, and internationally.

The emergence of the Schwarzenegger Institute at USC could not come at a more critical moment. The world is beset by a myriad of challenging problems, all crying out for serious and sustainable solutions. Governor Schwarzenegger recognizes that efforts to forge answers to complex policy problems have long been undermined by an atmosphere of acrimony and distrust fueled by polarizing political division.

It is time for that to change, and he is the best man to lead this charge. In addition to serving as chairman of the institute’s board of advisors, he is also, fittingly, the inaugural holder of the Governor Downey Professor of State and Global Policy Chair at USC.

Governor John Gately Downey, a cofounder of USC originally from Ireland, was California’s first immigrant governor. Governor Schwarzenegger is the second immigrant to serve in the State’s highest office.

He also has a strong connection to USC. Governor Schwarzenegger is twice a Trojan parent, and he received an honorary doctorate when he spoke at our commencement in 2009.

As a grateful immigrant, it is only natural for him to look outward toward what is good for our region and the world. And as an intellectual anchor for the United States on the Pacific Rim, it is only natural for USC to provide innovative solutions to the world through the Schwarzenegger Institute.

There simply is no better home for the Schwarzenegger Institute than the USC Price School of Public Policy. The Price School is widely recognized as one of the nation’s best in teaching and training the next generation of civic leaders and public servants. And USC boasts some of the world’s leading researchers and scholars in many fields, providing fertile ground to promote collaboration across many different disciplines.

I would like to thank the Schwarzenegger Institute’s Global Director, Bonnie Reiss, and Academic Director, Professor Nancy Staudt, for their invaluable and tireless efforts in setting up this enterprise. Together, Ms. Reiss and Professor Staudt lend tremendous insight and experience to fulfill the institute’s inspiring goals. Further assisting in the institute’s endeavors will be a bipartisan board of advisors that includes accomplished international leaders in business, public service and education.

The Schwarzenegger Institute reflects a need to both raise awareness of today’s most acute problems and to resolve them by building a translational bridge from possibility to policy. It often takes a larger-than-life figure to help address life’s larger issues. In the worlds of fitness, entertainment, and government, Governor Schwarzenegger reached the pinnacles of his pursuits not because he wanted to, but because he had to.

Forty-four years ago, he arrived in America from Austria with little more than dreams. But he rose to become Mr. Universe, king of the box office, and the governor of a state known for being a vital center for ideas and innovation, as well as one of the ten biggest economies in the world.

Like USC, Governor Schwarzenegger knows that nothing is impossible when it is possible to come together — beyond the poisonous atmosphere of partisanship — and commit the necessary drive, vision, and resources to confront and resolve critical problems.

We share a global future. We share a global vision. And through the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, we now share a global forum committed to advancing the human condition.

America makes its greatest advances forward when Americans put their greatest differences behind them. History has shown us this, and it is up to us to show history that we can unite in purpose to engineer progress and fulfill our promise.

Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome the chairman of the institute and the inaugural holder of the Governor Downey Professor of State and Global Policy Chair at USC, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.