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Mayor Soiseth using stipend to fund public policy research
Award will benefit CSU Stanislaus students, local leaders
Gary Soiseth
Mayor Gary Soiseth

Mayor Gary Soiseth is prepared to literally invest in California State University, Stanislaus students following Turlock City Council’s approval of the Special Research Competition for Public Policy Awards, or Mayor’s Award, which will fund student research using his mayoral stipend.

“While the Mayor’s Award honors my campaign promise, it is more than that,” said Soiseth. “It shows that I want to find real solutions to social, civic and economic issues that challenge our community, and I believe the solutions will be found among CSU Stanislaus Students.”

During Soiseth’s time as an adjunct professor at the University in the political science department, he often conferred with students about local issues that faced them: failing infrastructure, diminishing aquifers, unemployment and underemployment.

“It was during these very animated discussions that I realized the need for a public policy research award,” said Soiseth, “so I pledged to donate my mayoral salary to create this Mayor’s Award to further this discussion.”

Soiseth approached the University in Spring 2015 to explore options for redirecting his mayoral stipend in order to benefit University students and the City of Turlock, thus establishing the Mayor’s Award.

“The University is quite excited to inaugurate this new and newly partnered award with the City of Turlock Mayoral Office. It effectively reflects and reinforces the inherently close and mutually beneficial relationships between the University, the City, and the surrounding region,” said Stephen Routh, professor of Political Science and chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

“Mayor Soiseth’s reaching out to us about his idea of developing such a public policy focused award for our Stanislaus students is a wonderful manifestation of symbiosis in action where two very different institutions work readily together in a manner that both ultimately gain and profit from in real ways,” continued Routh.

Routh said that this award will not only provide opportunities for students to develop academically and intellectually beyond their classes, but also help local governments, political decision makers and their constituents prosper as they gain additional insight and perspectives to local issues.

“The Mayor’s Award effectively publicizes and puts on the front burner for our students and the surrounding community compelling questions of public policy, public issues, and public and private responses to those concerns,” said Routh.

“Supporting students in their educational endeavors is always a good thing,” added Tim Lynch, associate vice president for communications and public affairs. “Those who receive this public policy award may very well form ideas and develop proposals that provide tangible solutions to an array of challenges. Beyond the financial benefits, recipients will see that what they learn in the classroom has direct applications beyond campus. That is an empowering feeling.”

Students will compete for the award through two stages on an annual basis. The first stage will prompt each student to identify a serious and pressing public issue facing local communities in our region, as well as design a research project to help community leaders understand and address key facets of the problem.

During this stage, undergraduate and graduate students from any academic discipline will be invited to submit a research proposal that tackles a local issue that confronts the Central Valley, including, but not limited to, poverty, water policy, homelessness and agriculture issues.

The second stage will require students to develop and conduct the research project to investigate the issue in depth and conduct an analysis of research findings to hopefully produce solutions to these issues that can be implemented by local leaders.

A committee of faculty and staff will screen proposals and recommend them to a final selection committee, which will be chaired by Soiseth and composed of faculty and local community leaders. This committee will review the proposals and then meet with students for presentations.

Each winning proposal will receive funding, which will be awarded on a competitive basis to support the development and implementation of research projects. Awards will be distributed towards the end of fall semester, while research will continue into the spring semester.

“My annual mayoral salary is roughly $8,000, before taxes,” said Soiseth. “I plan to dedicate this amount per year for the duration of my time as mayor, as well as solicit other outside donations.”

“I also plan to make a personal and campaign contribution to this fund,” continued Soiseth.

The City of Turlock Mayoral Office will work with the Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and designees to conduct the annual competition and recognition banquet.

 “The Mayor’s Award is a sign that it is a priority at City Hall to bridge any disconnect between the city and the campus,” said Soiseth. “Turlock is proud to have the university in our town, and I want to make sure the students feel that pride every day.”

Research proposals should not exceed 1,000 words, or five double spaced pages. Participants are required to address submission materials by October to Dr. Stephen Routh, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, CSU Stanislaus. Email submissions should be sent to