UCR Professor of Economics Anil Deololikar began his term as the founding dean of the School of Public Policy (SPP) on Feb. 1. Under his guidance, Deolilikar seeks to address issues that are unique to the Riverside campus and community. The Inland Empire is seen as a petri-dish for the advancement of regional policy-making, with an emphasis on environmental quality and population growth. The Highlander sat down with Deololikar on Jan. 29 to discuss the ways he plans to carve a niche for the SPP.

While other graduate programs focus on one area such as environmental or social policies, Deololikar stated, “Just focusing on environmental policies in isolation of demographic or immigration policies is not going to give you enough leverage. Focusing on the interconnectedness of both of these thematic areas and of regions will be our goal.”

Deololikar praised the term “think globally, act locally,” but also examined how city problems may occur on a statewide level. He discussed how smog in Riverside comes from Los Angeles traffic and how there is an immense reliance on Northern California for an adequate water supply. Enrolled graduate students will be given the opportunity to specialize in the policy problems that are applicable to the surrounding region.

“Many of these policy challenges that our region faces are not very different from the challenges that are being faced by rapidly growing countries like Brazil and China,” he said. Deololikar believes that this focus will provide a larger branch of education for incoming graduate students.

While many problems come from larger areas, UCR’s SPP will also focus on the local level to assist not only UCR, but the Inland Empire as a whole. Deololikar plans to devise a structure for the policies already intact in the region.

“They [UCR] haven’t been able to take the policy dimensions of their research and work with local policy makers and…translate into policy. We’re going to promote a dialogue between UCR researchers and the Inland Empire policy makers,” he said.

Members of the economics department expressed support for Deolilikar’s newly-appointed position and future endeavors.

David Farris, professor of economics commented, “Anil is the perfect person to lead this exciting initiative at UCR. He has been intimately involved in the planning phase for the public policy school, and has all the right credentials to carry it to the next stage: excellent administrative skills, a fabulous record of high-profile publications in the policy area and great connections across the departments and colleges of UCR.”

“From political science, economics, environmental sciences, philosophy, medical and history, we really have an opportunity to carve out a very interdisciplinary program. We have a real opportunity to do something different, innovative and new,” said Deololikar