Former Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude, a onetime economics and political science professor from Chicago who spent the past 32 years representing parts of the Valley and Westside on the council, has returned to the world of academia.
Braude, who retired in July, has taken a job at USC's School of Public Administration to lecture on politics and serve as an advisor to undergraduate students.
An avid environmentalist who spent most of his years in City Hall leading high-profile battles against smoking in restaurants, oil drilling off the coast and development in the Santa Monica Mountains, Braude quietly slipped into his new job this summer without fanfare.
University officials said they approached the veteran lawmaker after he retired and offered him the title of distinguished practitioner in residence, saying he could use his three decades of real-world experience to teach and mentor students on political science.
Braude agreed and took the job without pay. For now, he won't have his own classes but will lecture for other professors and advise students on their research projects and papers.
University administrators say they hope Braude can be a true-life inspiration for students who have become cynical about their local government and leaders.
"When undergraduates arrive at college, they're often deeply cynical about their ability to accomplish anything in the world," said Robert Biller, vice dean of the School of Public Administration. "The political system seems out of their control, so they don't see it as something they can operate. Professor Braude will be the perfect antidote for that kind of pessimism."
Braude taught at the University of Chicago in the 1940s before moving to Los Angeles to open a venture capital firm. He later was elected to the City Council, representing a district that stretched from Van Nuys to Brentwood and Pacific Palisades.
Along with former Councilman Ernani Bernardi, Braude shares the title as Los Angeles' longest-serving councilman. Yet, most of his greatest accomplishments in City Hall took him years to achieve, efforts such as his successful 18-year battle to ban oil drilling off the Los Angeles coastline. It also took him more than 20 years to persuade the council to approve a ban on smoking in restaurants.
Braude first ran for the council in 1965 on a platform to preserve the Santa Monica Mountains. Days before he retired in July, he was honored by having a portion of the mountains' parkland named in his honor.
The 76-year-old Brentwood resident said he hopes he can teach his students that "one cannot be discouraged by slow progress. In a democratic society, change always occurs in small increments. That is what my career has demonstrated."