Ten years after they created a research center at USC dedicated to advancing health policy, Leonard and Pamela Schaeffer have renewed their investment with a donation of $17 million.

The new gift will support efforts at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics to solve health care issues and transform the health care system. A partnership between the USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC School of Pharmacy, the center pursues interdisciplinary research on societal challenges like rising health care costs, chronic disease and population health.

“The USC Schaeffer Center reflects Leonard’s commitment to challenge old ways of thinking, as well as his determination to improve the lives of others,” said USC interim President Wanda M. Austin, who announced the gift during a recent celebration of the center’s 10th anniversary.

“He has served the public and raised the bar for success in the marketplace, and now he and Pamela are giving back in a sustainable and substantive way with this generous donation,” she said.

“We are so grateful that the Schaeffers are part of USC, and that Leonard is so active in our community.”

Leonard Schaeffer holds the Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair and is a professor at USC. He was elected to the USC Board of Trustees in 2013.


USC Schaeffer Center gift honors late provost

Specific goals for the new funding include enhancing the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, a collaboration with the Brookings Institution that seeks to infuse the national debate around health care with evidence-based analysis. It will also establish the Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics and Law in honor of the late USC provost. In addition, the gift will support the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program, which introduces undergraduates from USC and other leading universities to government work through high-level internships and professional development initiatives.

“At the USC Schaeffer Center, we strive to be the premier source of independent and rigorous research leading to transformative policy solutions in health care,” said Dana Goldman, the Leonard D. Schaeffer Director’s Chair and Distinguished Professor of public policy, pharmacy and economics at USC. “This new gift from the Schaeffers will help us extend our reach even further into the public and private sectors, bringing our evidence-based expertise to bear on some of the most challenging health care issues facing society today.”

Research findings from the USC Schaeffer Center have informed the decisions of government and business leaders and earned citations in dozens of federal reports, from the White House to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Center experts are regularly contacted by the media to comment on health care policy and other economic challenges. The center has also convened hundreds of events on pressing issues like Medicare drug pricing and trends in insurance premiums.

“I am very proud of the work that the center has done in its first decade and the impact it has had on policy,” Leonard Schaeffer said. “Under the leadership of Dana Goldman, the center is addressing some of our nation’s greatest challenges and identifying solutions based on evidence.”


New support builds on legacy of philanthropy by Schaeffers at USC

Their latest gift brings the Schaeffers’ lifetime support of USC to nearly $50 million. They established the center in 2009 and endowed it three years later with a $25 million gift.

In addition to his leadership positions at USC, Leonard Schaeffer is a senior adviser to a private equity firm and serves on the boards of numerous philanthropic, business and professional organizations. He is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

He was the founding chairman and CEO of WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurance company, and a recognized expert in health policy and health economics. He served in the federal government as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now known as CMS) and assistant secretary for management and budget at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Schaeffer received an honorary doctorate from USC in 2015, as well as the inaugural USC Sol Price Award for his lifetime achievements as a business leader, policy expert and philanthropist.

— Eric Lindberg