Bass accepted a full scholarship in 2011


Photo of the exterior of the School of Social Work. It's mainly  made of red bricks. There's a sign that says "USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work." There's also trees and street lights in the photo.
Marilyn Louise Flynn awarded current mayoral candidate Karen Bass a scholarship worth up to $95,000 in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times. (Charles McCollum | Daily Trojan file photo)

Los Angeles mayoral candidate and congressmember Karen Bass accepted a full USC graduate degree scholarship from former dean of the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Marilyn Louise Flynn in 2011, according to a Los Angeles Times article published Wednesday.

According to the L.A. Times, Bass did not directly apply for the social work school, yet Flynn awarded her the scholarship. The House Committee on Ethics approved Bass’ request for the $95,000 scholarship, which Bass was initially unsure about.

Last month, federal prosecutors indicted Flynn for allegedly awarding a full scholarship and teaching position to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ son in exchange for government contracts given to USC in 2017 and 2018. 

On Oct. 21, Ridley-Thomas pleaded not guilty, and, on Oct. 26, Flynn pleaded not guilty. 

Although Bass has praised USC in the past and met with University leaders at Capitol Hill and on USC’s campus, the L.A. Times reported that Bass denies ever putting forth legislation to benefit USC.

Bass originally applied for a graduate degree in public administration at USC, believing that she would be able to attend school for free because of her previous involvement at USC as a clinical instructor and physician assistant in the 1980s.  

However, when Bass discovered she would be required to pay her own tuition, Bass decided not to apply. Flynn heard about Bass’ interest in graduate school and offered Bass a joint degree in social work and public administration with a scholarship worth up to $95,000, according to the L.A. Times. 

In an email to the Daily Trojan, former vice dean of the USC School of Social Work R. Paul Maiden and Bass’ first year academic advisor wrote that “Karen Bass was a sharp student! She was also quite motivated to expand her advocacy work in the area of child welfare services.”

According to The Times, Bass said Flynn offered the scholarship to her because of her focus on foster care.

“I wanted to make it a prominent issue. I did in Sacramento, I planned to do it in D.C.,” Bass said to the L.A. Times.

In a statement to the Daily Trojan, the University said that while it cannot speak for the School of Social Work’s policies from a decade ago, the school is now under new leadership that is “reviewing every aspect of the school’s operations.”

“The university also is reviewing its policies to see if they can be further strengthened to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest,” the statement read.

Flynn’s attorney Vicki Podberesky and Bass’ Director of Operations for Bass Jonathan Aquino did not respond in time for publication.