“Sustaining the environment is the greatest inheritance one can leave to children, and the most enduring gift to community and nation.” -Meyer Luskin
Meyer Luskin is no stranger to breaking down barriers and building bridges. His experience as a UCLA student and lifelong Angeleno served as inspiration for establishing a world class research center, one that would create a new model of problem solving by uniting the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders to address the most pressing issues confronting our community, nation, and world. "I live and work in the community and wanted to give back in a creative way that had not been done before," says Mr. Luskin.
As a UCLA undergraduate, Luskin was not a traditional student. He was a student athlete—on the boxing team —who commuted to campus, often with five other students, from the working class community of Boyle Heights. After beginning his studies at UCLA, he left to serve in World War II. Despite the barriers, Luskin persevered, eager to return to UCLA to complete his degree in economics. "The education was wonderful and the stimulation was great," states Luskin. In particular, Luskin "valued the interdisciplinary education" that he received.
While not every economics major also has a strong background in history and philosophy, Luskin found these subjects not only fascinating but ultimately influential in his career as a businessman. In particular, Luskin credits the philosophy of inductive logic and probability for helping him problem solve, think rationally about business decisions, and to know what can and cannot be controlled. This philosophy has also helped him to remain notably humble and grateful for all he has achieved. According to Luskin, "persistence is important but there is also an element of luck [to success in business]. One has to be thankful that situations beyond one's control work out. Ultimately, success is doing something that you enjoy doing."
As the longtime President and CEO of Scope Industries, Luskin values and exemplifies environmental sustainability. His company, which converts food waste products into animal food, certainly embodies the slogan reduce, reuse, and recycling. Yet Luskin also realizes that "no one company has so much knowledge in so many disciplines as is needed to comprehensively address complex issues like environmental sustainability."
He and his wife Renee thought of UCLA as a place uniquely able to harness knowledge across fields. "New knowledge and solutions have to come from a comprehensive viewpoint... and at UCLA there is such great brain power across a wide variety of fields."
Renee and Meyer Luskin established the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation in 2008 with support from the UCLA Chancellor's Office. Since then the Center has set an ambitious goal to produce cross-discplinary research that will help Los Angeles and the rest of the country reach the Holy Grail of environmental sustainability. This is critical because as Luskin notes, "Sustaining the environment is the greatest inheritance one can leave to children, and the most enduring gift to community and nation."
Currently, five Luskin scholars are conducting world class research to translate into real-world policy solutions. Current initiatives include: Sustainable Energy, Smart Water Systems, Climate Change Planning, Nanotechnology Enviornmental Health & Safety, Electric Vehicles & Alternative Fuels, and Complete Streets.
"I want the Center to make a significant impact on the lives of the people around us. The Center is already achieving this and is headed exactly where it should be headed. I am very excited about the future of the Center."