Portrait of Dean Barr Ford School of Public Policy Logo

Michael S. Barr

Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

During this time of world-changing events, I am proud that Ford School faculty, students, staff, and alumni helped communities around the world and here at home to navigate the global pandemic. We truly are a community dedicated to the public good. We celebrated the class of 2021’s achievements virtually this spring, and I’m thrilled to say we welcomed our largest incoming masters’ class ever this fall. It’s a joy to be together again. I’m excited to share just a handful of our many exciting updates with you.

U.S. News & World Report again recognized the Ford School as the #1 program in social policy, a distinction held for nearly a decade. We are also thrilled to be ranked #7 among public affairs programs, which includes both schools of public policy and public administration, #4 in health policy, #5 in public policy analysis, and #7 in environmental policy. We’ve added several impressive faculty who will further deepen our strengths, including national security expert Javed Ali; Morela Hernandez, who will serve as faculty director of our Leadership Initiative; and Katherine Michelmore, an expert on equity in education. Celeste Watkins-Hayes began her term as associate dean for academic affairs on August 1. Celeste brings a wealth of experience to the position, a focused commitment to scholarship and teaching, and proven effectiveness as a leader. She will also lead our new Center for Racial Justice, which we launched this fall to further conversation and knowledge about the complex intersections between race and public policy.

Diversity, equity and inclusion remains one of our top priorities. In addition to launching the Center for Racial Justice, we are at work engaging our community to determine our priorities for the next two years. Simultaneously, we are enhancing the ways that our core curriculum addresses structural racism and institutional discrimination. We’re also engaged in a University-wide anti-racism faculty hiring initiative. The Provost selected our Racial Justice in Technology proposal, enabling us to partner with the School of Information and the Stamps School of Art and Design to hire a world-class scholar looking at technology’s role in entrenching and overcoming racial injustice.

This year we were also proud to launch a Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy—a pilot program with other leading policy schools to diversify the pipeline for doctoral studies in public policy. By increasing opportunities in academic policy research for those who come from underrepresented backgrounds, the program aims to help exceptional policy school master’s students to develop the skills, experience, and mentorship needed to prepare for doctoral studies and an academic career in policy.

Two Ford School faculty were recognized by the Provost Office for their outstanding contributions to the University. Brian Jacob received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, and Shobita Parthasarathy was selected for the Faculty Recognition Award. Rick Hall was recognized with two awards from the American Political Science Association for mentoring and career achievements. Additionally, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs recognized the Ford School for creative projects designed to give graduate students experience with topics such as national security, immigration, international development, and human rights.

As always, we have had a busy slate of events through the summer and fall. In July, we celebrated the 11th annual Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day with a virtual event. Featured panelists Ali M. Berri (MPP ’21), Stacy Dean (MPP ’92), Portia Hemphill (PhD ’15), and Alberto Rodriguez (MPA/MA ’93) spoke on leadership roles Ford School alumni have taken to address the pandemic and its impacts across many policy areas. We also celebrated the Ford School’s Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute (JSI) 40th anniversary—a program designed to build diversity in public service—with a virtual event featuring distinguished alumni of the program who have forged careers of tremendous impact and service.

This fall we honored the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by hosting two important policy talks. The annual Rosenthal lecture featured journalists speaking on “Covering 9/11: how the attacks shaped our world today,” and a discussion on “Key developments in counterterrorism and national security since 9/11.” Other policy talks this fall covered topics of business and government, global perspectives on public health, and more.

Our innovative Leadership Initiative has gained critical momentum over the last year, made possible by generous gifts from the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation and the Meijer Foundation. This summer, we scaled up our pilot leadership coaching program and offered all MPPs the opportunity to participate in both group and individual leadership coaching during their internship. We also expanded our use of leadership assessments both within and outside of the classroom.

In closing, I’m delighted to share that last year was our second strongest fundraising year ever. This is thanks to our loyal annual donors and major donors, including a transformational gift from Hal and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust to grow our core strength in social policy and equity work. With their $17 million investment, we have established the Kohn Collaborative, anchored by five professorships and endowed support for graduate fellowships.

All of these initiatives will continue to deepen the impact of the Ford School’s policy work. They are made possible by your continued friendship and support, and I thank you for your investment in our students, faculty, and Ford School community.

With gratitude,

Michael S. Barr
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy

U.S. News & World Report again recognized the Ford School as the #1 program in social policy, a distinction held for nearly a decade. We are also thrilled to be ranked #7 among public affairs programs, which includes both schools of public policy and public administration, #4 in health policy, #5 in public policy analysis, and #7 in environmental policy. We’ve added several impressive faculty who will further deepen our strengths, including national security expert Javed Ali; Morela Hernandez, who will serve as faculty director of our Leadership Initiative; and Katherine Michelmore, an expert on equity in education. Celeste Watkins-Hayes began her term as associate dean for academic affairs on August 1. Celeste brings a wealth of experience to the position, a focused commitment to scholarship and teaching, and proven effectiveness as a leader. She will also lead our new Center for Racial Justice, which we launched this fall to further conversation and knowledge about the complex intersections between race and public policy.

Diversity, equity and inclusion remains one of our top priorities. In addition to launching the Center for Racial Justice, we are at work engaging our community to determine our priorities for the next two years. Simultaneously, we are enhancing the ways that our core curriculum addresses structural racism and institutional discrimination. We’re also engaged in a University-wide anti-racism faculty hiring initiative. The Provost selected our Racial Justice in Technology proposal, enabling us to partner with the School of Information and the Stamps School of Art and Design to hire a world-class scholar looking at technology’s role in entrenching and overcoming racial injustice.

This year we were also proud to launch a Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy—a pilot program with other leading policy schools to diversify the pipeline for doctoral studies in public policy. By increasing opportunities in academic policy research for those who come from underrepresented backgrounds, the program aims to help exceptional policy school master’s students to develop the skills, experience, and mentorship needed to prepare for doctoral studies and an academic career in policy.

Two Ford School faculty were recognized by the Provost Office for their outstanding contributions to the University. Brian Jacob received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, and Shobita Parthasarathy was selected for the Faculty Recognition Award. Rick Hall was recognized with two awards from the American Political Science Association for mentoring and career achievements. Additionally, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs recognized the Ford School for creative projects designed to give graduate students experience with topics such as national security, immigration, international development, and human rights.

As always, we have had a busy slate of events through the summer and fall. In July, we celebrated the 11th annual Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day with a virtual event. Featured panelists Ali M. Berri (MPP ’21), Stacy Dean (MPP ’92), Portia Hemphill (PhD ’15), and Alberto Rodriguez (MPA/MA ’93) spoke on leadership roles Ford School alumni have taken to address the pandemic and its impacts across many policy areas. We also celebrated the Ford School’s Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute (JSI) 40th anniversary—a program designed to build diversity in public service—with a virtual event featuring distinguished alumni of the program who have forged careers of tremendous impact and service.

This fall we honored the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by hosting two important policy talks. The annual Rosenthal lecture featured journalists speaking on “Covering 9/11: how the attacks shaped our world today,” and a discussion on “Key developments in counterterrorism and national security since 9/11.” Other policy talks this fall covered topics of business and government, global perspectives on public health, and more.

Our innovative Leadership Initiative has gained critical momentum over the last year, made possible by generous gifts from the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation and the Meijer Foundation. This summer, we scaled up our pilot leadership coaching program and offered all MPPs the opportunity to participate in both group and individual leadership coaching during their internship. We also expanded our use of leadership assessments both within and outside of the classroom.

In closing, I’m delighted to share that last year was our second strongest fundraising year ever. This is thanks to our loyal annual donors and major donors, including a transformational gift from Hal and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust to grow our core strength in social policy and equity work. With their $17 million investment, we have established the Kohn Collaborative, anchored by five professorships and endowed support for graduate fellowships.

All of these initiatives will continue to deepen the impact of the Ford School’s policy work. They are made possible by your continued friendship and support, and I thank you for your investment in our students, faculty, and Ford School community.

With gratitude,

Michael S. Barr
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy

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