How a USC Alumna Promotes Bi-Partisan Discourse

As we live in this extraordinary time in our history, we need our elected officials to engage in more solutions-oriented conversations that lead to positive change. To achieve this, USC Dornsife alumna Lisa Korbatov (B.A. ’86) advocates for bipartisan conversations and political diplomacy through her support of the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future.

A Brief History

As a USC Dornsife student who supported Ronald Reagan during his presidential re-election campaign, Korbatov felt more often than not that she had to conceal her political opinions. While she rarely sought to persuade others to adopt her views, she did seek the “intellectual flexibility to speak openly” about her stance on politics.

Innately diplomatic, Korbatov believes in civil discourse. She has remained faithful to her belief in bipartisan discussions and promotes the tolerance and respect she searched for in her youth and as a mother to three daughters with differing political views.

As Korbatov’s daughters grew older and carried their political beliefs with them to college, she saw in their campus experiences, similar to hers, that students often dwelled in political “echo chambers” of their own beliefs that did not engender civil discourse between people whose opinions differed. Even now that her daughters have graduated, Korbatov still makes a concerted effort to promote tolerance for all viewpoints, specifically at institutions of higher learning. She does so by supporting programs like the Center for the Political Future.

Center for the Political Future

The USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future is led by political experts Robert Shrum and Michael Murphy. Center Director Shrum, who holds the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife, has been described as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party” by the Atlantic Monthly. Co-Director Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political consultants. Despite standing on opposite ends of the political aisle, Shrum and Murphy have cultivated a healthy professional relationship, as well as a lasting friendship.

In accordance with USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller’s Academy in the Public Square Initiative, the center is a place for political operatives, professors and politicians from all walks of life to come together through forums, discussions, workshops and panels where the most pressing political issues can be discussed openly. By hosting these discussions and exposing students to the professionals within the political sphere, the center seeks to shift the focus from partisan divide to the preservation of our democracy by training the next generation of political leaders to participate in respectful debate with those of differing viewpoints.

Why Korbatov Supports the Center

The Center for the Political Future’s dispassionate approach to politics is the determining factor in Korbatov’s dedicated support of this program. She respects and appreciates the center because it “challenges [students], but respects all views.” The center gives students the opportunity to face counterarguments, perhaps for the first time, which enables them to find the strengths and weaknesses in their own beliefs. Concerned with what she perceives to be the tendency for true bipartisan debate to be silenced, Korbatov hopes through her philanthropy and active participation she and the center can continue to create a space for effective political discussion.

In an ever-evolving society like ours, political change is inevitable and civil discourse is critical. Through its wide array of workshops and lectures, the Center for the Political Future promotes such conversation, helping to bridge the divide and create a more respectful and efficient political environment. Without the support from donors like Lisa Korbatov, this necessary center could not exist.

“Lisa Korbatov has been remarkably generous to the Center for the Political Future and passionately committed to its bipartisan mission to model and advance civil politics where we respect each other even if we differ on issues,” said Shrum. “She has even been a panelist for one of our programs. We are grateful for her support, her wit, and her perspective.”



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