Joan and Sanford Weill Hall at night.

In No. 48’s Footsteps

Fellowship support at the Ford School honors one of U-M’s most beloved alumni

What does it take to become a Wolverine captain, a decorated World War II veteran, and a U.S. President? Taking on all three roles in one lifetime requires the kind of leadership ability that defined President Gerald R. Ford (BA ’35). On the 100th anniversary of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, U-M donors set out to honor the remarkable life and legacy of the school’s namesake. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellowship celebrates President Ford with an effort to endow two full graduate fellowships for the most exceptional Ford School applicants.

Gerald Ford at jersey retirement ceremony.
The late President Gerald R. Ford (AB ’35) at his number retirement ceremony at Michigan Stadium, October 8, 1994.

Support for the fellowship has been abundant and generous. In the early stages of fundraising, the Meijer Foundation offered a $1 million matching incentive for donors.

Since then, major gifts from Peter and Joan Secchia, Regent Ron Weiser (BBA ’66) and Eileen (MMus ’75) Weiser, Paul and Nancy O’Neill, Mike (BBA ’72) and Sue Jandernoa, Jim (BGS ’77) and Kathy Hackett, and Lynn and Stuart White have ensured the fellowship’s growth. Additional gifts from Margaret (MD ’85) and David (BS ’81, MD ’85) Thompson, Jim Hudak (MPP ’71), John (BBA ’68, MBA ’67) and Janet Baab, Marty and Susan Allen, and President Ford’s children, Michael, John, and Steve Ford, and Susan Ford Bales have pushed the fund to even greater heights.

“There may be no greater honor than to have a school bear your name. Such recognition means all the more when it comes from an institution that you love, and when it is dedicated—not to me personally—but to the cause of public service to which I have devoted most of my life.”

 

– President Gerald R. Ford (AB ’35)

Today, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellows exemplify the president’s commitment to bipartisan cooperation and civility. With full support, these students can fully engage in the school’s many events and activities, participate in unpaid internships that offer invaluable professional experiences, and serve in leadership roles in the school’s many student organizations. In President Ford’s name, these fellows will go on to build their own legacies of leadership. Much like their alma mater’s namesake, they analyze issues creatively and objectively, identify actionable policy solutions, and build the kind of bipartisan consensus that helps a healthy democracy flourish.

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