Dornsife installs political consultant as new chair

first_imgThe Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences officially installed Professor Robert Shrum as the inaugural Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at a reception at Town and Gown on Wednesday afternoon.Shrum, who was announced as the chair in January, started working at USC in June. He is currently teaching an Applied Politics course titled Great Races: From City Hall to the White House.The Warschaw Chair was endowed by a donation from the late Carmen Warschaw ’39, a honorary USC Trustee and leading figure in the California Democratic Party.“This gift allows the Dornsife College to support an outstanding faculty member who bridges the gap between political theory and student involvement in the democratic process,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett in her speech on Wednesday.Shrum, who does not have a Ph.D. degree, will bridge that gap by bringing his extensive experience in politics to students. He is a well-known political consultant who worked on Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and John Kerry’s 2004 run, in addition to 30 victorious U.S. Senate campaigns and eight winning gubernatorial runs. He is well known for writing Sen. Edward Kennedy’s concession speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention after Kennedy lost the nomination to Jimmy Carter. For the past nine years, he has been working as a professor at New York University.The chair, which was established in 2008, was not filled until earlier this year as administrators and Hope Warschaw, the daughter of Carmen and Louis, sought to find the right person.“All of a sudden, it occurred to me that [Shrum] embodied everything my mother was looking for in a chairholder,” Hope Warschaw, who first met Shrum in 1979, said.Though Carmen Warschaw has since passed away, Hope Warschaw remembered her mother’s commitment to politics.“Those of you who knew my mother knew she had two great loves besides her family: USC and politics,” Hope Warschaw said.Shrum, exhibiting his Trojan pride with cardinal-and-gold-striped socks, used his speech to talk about the current state of politics. In addition to praising the qualities of authenticity and candor in politicians, he also spoke about how technology has affected the field.“In the end, social media may prove to be direct mail on steroids. So while the techniques move on, I believe the device of message endures. To explore that with students … for me this is not a job, but a privilege,” Shrum said.After Shrum’s remarks, Dornsife dean Steve Kay presented him with an actual chair marked with the seal of the university. Shrum joins 32 other endowed chairs at the Dornsife College.Shrum will teach three courses a year at USC. In addition to his Applied Politics course and the class he will teach in the spring, Shrum will also be leading a Maymester course in Washington D.C. Shrum has also already begun leading a political speaker series in partnership with the Unruh Institute, another USC institution that has benefited from the Warschaws.“My parents were instrumental at USC starting the Casden Institute and the Warschaw lecture series, and they helped reenergize the Unruh Institute,” Hope Warschaw said of her parents’ other contributions to the university.The family and Shrum’s influence were evident at the event. In addition to Dornsife faculty and university administrators, the diverse crowd that came out to honor Shrum included USC Trustee Robert Padgett, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and L.A. County Supervisor candidate Bobby Shriver.Shrum said he’s the one who is honored by his position, however.“[USC is] a wonderful place. It is the happening school in L.A., in California and one of the really rising schools in the nation,” Shrum told the Daily Trojan. “It’s an amazing place. I’m privileged to be here.”last_img

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