The 2015 Ford School Commencement ceremony. Senator Debbie Stabenow gives the Charge to the Class. May, 2015.
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[ Applause ]
>> Welcome everybody, and please be seated. I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sandford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. And it was wonderful to see so many of you at our Graduation Open House at Weill Hall yesterday. Thank you for joining us there, and thank you so much for being with us here this evening. Tonight, it is truly an honor to welcome you here to Rackham for our 2015 commencement ceremony. I'd like to begin by introducing to you the members of the platform party. With me on stage is our keynote commencement speaker, the senior senator from the state of Michigan, Debbie Stabenow.
Senator Stabenow, we are honored to have you here and we look forward to your remarks just a little bit later in our ceremony. At stage right, is Professor John Ciorciari who will be reading the names of our graduates as they cross the stage. To John's left is Janet Weiss, the Dean of the Rackham Graduate School, and the university's vice provost for Academic Affairs for Graduate Studies. Well, officially Janet is here to represent the University of Michigan, but it is our great fortune to count her as one of the Ford school's own faculty as well. And we are very honored that Janet could be with us here today. Welcome.
We're joined by two other distinguished faculties, our Associate Dean Alan Deardorff.
Professor Carl Simon, who has been elected by our graduating students to develop--to deliver the faculty commencement address. And finally, elected by their respective classmates to provide the student commencement addresses, are soon to be Ford School MPP graduates, Kim Meinert.
And BA graduate Laurel Ruza.
Now, if you notice Kim and Laurel using their phones on stage, I just wanted to reassure you that they're not playing Candy Crush or on Facebook. They're sharing their views of the audience for those who are tuning in online, and I also wanted to explicitly welcome those who are tuning online. We're delighted that you could be here with us as well. Well, after two years of course work, collegiality, career planning, the classes of 2015 are about to graduate and leave the Ford School. Commencement is a really good time just to pause and look back. For you, the graduating classes, you're likely thinking about--thinking back on why you chose to come here in the first place, to the Ford school, and to a degree in public policy. And commencement is also a very good time for family and friends finally to learn what your Ford School degree exactly means, or as you might have heard that question, just what is a school of public policy anyway? Well, as dean, it is my pleasure--I'm delighted to get the chance to tell families and friends who are gathered here today about the Ford School, about why these students came here, what they've accomplished and what we know that they will do in the world going forward. Well, at its core, the Ford School's mission is to improve human lives, to advance the human condition. That's what public policy is. It's the scaffolding of society. It's the structures and institutions that we build together and that bind us together as a community. Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams once wrote, "The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporate it into our common life." Well, in so many ways, the life that we live today is a result of public policy decisions. Ten, 30, 100 years ago, public policy was instrumental in delivering America from the great depression and rebuilding Europe after 1946, and radically reducing disease in this country, providing safe food and clean water, expanding civil and human rights. Public policy provides the infrastructure that is enabling the delivery of aid and rebuilding support to earthquake survivors in Nepal, and courageous public policy must be a key element if we are to address the despair and the anger playing itself out this week in the street of Baltimore. Undertakings like these, take time and collaboration. And just as they shape the world we inherited with its many freedoms and choices, they will shape the world of tomorrow. They were and are actions rooted in a simple principle of decency. Today's public policy graduates were part of the school as we celebrated back to back centennial years. 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of President Ford's birth. And throughout 2014, we celebrated the centennial of the Ford School itself. Founded in 1913, the Ford School was the first program in the country to train public administrators. And then in the late 1960s, we were the first to bring rigorous social scientific methods to bear on deep rooted social problems. But now, technological and demographic developments are dramatically shifting the ground beneath our feet, speed, scale, scope, we all can see and feel our world becoming smaller, more and more interconnected. Our world is changing at breakneck pace. Last month, I heard the mother of one of our graduates reflecting on the value of a Ford School degree. She talked about that pace of change. She said, "Change is coming. It's inevitable." The question is, what kinds of people do we want shaping that change? Well, my answer is you. That's who we want shaping that change. [Applause] I want Ford School alumni shaping that change, and I believe that we have prepared you to do just that because we provide our students with the analytic and creative skills to harness the complexity of the 21st century society. We teach our students to analyze complicated datasets, to evaluate benefits and costs, to speak and write clearly and persuasively, to think critically, ethically, and compassionately recognizing that there are multiple perspectives, to craft and enact creative solutions where others may only see dead ends. That's our curriculum. That's the professional toolkit that our students take into the world. And those are the tools of business, finance and nonprofit enterprise as well as the tools of the public sector. As 21st century complexity and change royals, one thing is really very, very clear, what we teach here will be an ever more urgent demand. Our alumni are serving in public office or managing campaigns. They're helping rebuild Detroit. They're leaders in the state department, Homeland Security, international aid agencies, the National Science Foundation, DTE Energy, Accenture, and so many more. Those are the sorts of careers, the talented and courageous people who will be tackling big problems for the next half century. That's the group that you are joining now as an alumnus of the Ford School. Our school is led by its excellent faculty. They hold joint appointments ranging from economics, political science, sociology, math, and history to business, social work, education, natural resources, information, urban planning. So their expertise at the Ford School is both broad and deep. Their thoughtful enthusiastic teachers and mentors, and they're actively engaged with critically important public policy challenges. I'd like to give just a few examples from right here on the stage. Carl Simon uses dynamic modeling to investigate lethal infectious disease like drug resistant staph infections that target the most vulnerable patients in hospitals. Sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, AIDS and avian malaria which has wiped out many of Hawaii's indigenous birds. His transformational research identifies the factors most responsible for fuelling the spread of these dire infections so that policymakers can better target their responses. John Ciorciari is one of just 32 faculty members across the nation to have been awarded the inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.
>> Yeah. [Applause] For investigations that will help address threats to US democracy and the international order. He will spend his fellowship year examining the strengths and the shortcomings of shared sovereignty agreements used by the United Nations and the US government to promote global economic development and enhance human rights. Janet Weiss is Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. During her tenure at the university, she has launched a number of new programs that create conditions in which students can best learn and thrive. Outside of the university, she has consulted with a wide array of local state and federal agencies on the design and evaluation of policies affecting children, education, mental health, and social services. And after a decade of service as the Dean of Rackham, Janet will step down this summer and then after a well-earned sabbatical year in Washington DC, she will return to our active faculty. Please join me in thanking Janet for her outstanding leadership of the University's Graduate School.
Alan Deardorff is an internationally regarded expert in trade policy in comparative= advantage. Throughout his career, he has consulted for the World Bank, USAID, United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, the US Departments of Labor, State, Treasury, and more. He is also the man to whom I and scores of Ford School student have turned for advice and guidance. Alan has been our Associate Dean since 2007. It is been a pleasure for me to work with him and I'm deeply grateful to him for all that he has done to serve our community, always willing to pitch in with humility and a great sense of humor. I'd like to give our students and faculty and me as well a chance to thank Alan for his service.
Our graduates who've been prepared for their careers too by the work of terrific professional staff, a team that keeps the education, research, public service and engagement missions of the Ford School moving forward. We really couldn't do all of the things we do without their great work. So I'd like to ask all of our faculty and staff who are here with us to please stand.
[ Inaudible Remark ]
[ Laughter ]
Please join me in thanking them.
Well, there some more thank yous that are very important here. Our graduates did not arrive at the accomplishments that they have done alone. We are also joined by some 700 members of the families and friends here tonight, along with perhaps 400 others who are tuning in live stream. I know that all of our graduates value the love and support that you have provided over the years. So graduates, please take this chance to thank your families and friends. Thank you so much.
And now I'd like to talk a bit about you, our graduates, about what you've accomplished and what you've given back during your time at the Ford School. Let me start with one of our newest PhD graduates, Ann Fitzpatrick, who earned a doctorate in Public Policy and Economics. And her dissertation is titled three essays on health and development. She will start her career this fall as an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Congratulations Ann.
We have 92 students receiving a master's degree tonight. These students are wonderfully diverse. They speak in outstanding 29 different languages and they hale from 11 different countries. Many of them have already finalized their immediate employment plans despite a very challenging federal hiring climate. And to the parents in the room, please accept my personal reassurance that we will continue to work with and offer support to our graduates and all of them, will find worked in city, state, or federal governments, in the private sectors, think-tanks or NGOs whether in here in the US or abroad. We also have 58 students graduating today with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy. And they have received more than your typical undergraduate education. In small classes with some of the University of Michigan's top faculty, are BA curriculum trains students to think critically and across disciplines to understand the policy challenge and develop solutions. These are serious students, hardworking and curious. Our BA graduates boost 10, five Eta Kappas and they're wearing the gold cords tonight and 15 Angell scholars. They include both the student body president and the vice speaker of the assembly. These students are truly the leaders and best across a wide range of campus activities, taken together the classes of 2015 are creative, they're giving and they are absolutely leaders. From the day that they entered the school, they've volunteered in large numbers and in so many different ways, welcoming incoming classes, serving on school committees, leading student organization, supporting our public lecture series and more. The students organized in major charity auction featuring community contributions like curling lessons, salsa lessons, a pie every month for a year, a faculty hosted wine tasting, and a calendar called "Men of Ford". That calendar by the way was bid on and purchased by one of our own faculty members.
With the proceeds going to charity. So whenever I see it hanging in Carl's class, I will be funnily remind Carl's office. I will be funnily reminded of the class of 2015.
We have benefited from their creativity. This class launched our first ever case competition and it was an incredible success. They device what they called "The Last Lecture" bringing together some favorite faculty for one final hour of instruction. They launched a newsletter for issues related to international students and created an active group called "Forties for Inclusion". Each of those initiatives was new to the school and driven by student creativity and leadership. Henry David Thoreau once said, "It takes two to speak the truth, one to speak and another to hear". The courage to speak and the courage to truly listen, that's so important. I have never seen a group of student so willing to pursue heart truths together. The Ford School has had an extraordinary year of challenging and moving conversations about identity, race and racism, inspired in large part by the unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri, Statin Island, North Charleston, South Carolina, Baltimore, and more. Some of those events and conversations were organized by school faculty and administrators, but many others were student initiated and student led. Students bravely shared deeply personal often painful experiences. And I believe that they were heard. I believe those conversations change the school and perhaps change all of us as well. The courage to tackle deeply difficult issues, coupled of course with trademark Ford School sense of fun and camaraderie. Those threads are how I'll remember these students in the years to come. And so to our graduates, I say on behalf of the Ford School, thank you for all that you have contributed to the shared community. It has truly been a pleasure to work with you and to get to know you. Well, I know that most of you have very mixed feelings about what today represents. You'll miss your friends and classmates, you'll miss FSPP drama. You'll miss box after box of free Cottage Inn Pizza. And surely, you'll miss the ongoing adventures of "Kirby the Dog". But despite all of those losses, today is also full of such promise. The promise of new work, new cities, new friends, new challenges and new opportunities to demonstrate your courage. As President Ford said to our students in 2006 as we celebrated the opening of Weill Hall, "My fondest wish is that you never cease to dream, that you never yield to the councils of despair or expediency for the ultimate test of leadership is not the polls you take but the risks you take. Political courage can, for the moment, be self-defeating but the greatest defeat of all would be to leave without courage for that would be hardly leaving at all." Graduates, we are so proud of you. Congratulations and best wishes to the classes of 2015. Go Blue.
And now I would like to introduce our commencement speaker, Senator Debbie Stabenow. We are fortunate in the State of Michigan to have a US senator who is as passionate about policy as we are here at the Ford School. Among the policies that Senator Debbie Stabenow has fought for in Washington, are affordability tax credits to bring healthcare coverage within reach of low income Americans. The most far reaching improvements to the quality of mental health care in a generation. The 2014 farm bill, which makes one of the most significant investments in land and water conservation in decades. She is a strong advocate for making college more affordable and addressing burdensome student loan debt that many students face when they graduate from college. Senator Stabenow serves as ranking member of the Senate Agricultural Committee, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus, Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and is a senior member of the Finance, Energy, and Budget committees. These leadership roles give her the opportunity to shape policies in area that are critical to Michigan and the nation's future including manufacturing, Great Lake's agriculture, healthcare, and energy. Here to deliver the charge to the class of 2015 is our US senator, Debbie Stabenow.
>> Well, thank you. Thank you and good afternoon. The first question I have is, where do I get my Men of Ford calendar?
OK, I'm going to get one. And one pie a month? What was that? I want it. I tell you, there is creativity in this room. This is great. It really is wonderful to be here with you. And to Dean Susan Collins who laid out such a wonderful picture of what is happening and all of the amazing things happening that are represented here on stage, as well as with all of you. It just reminds me of just how proud I am of this wonderful Ford School. And I want to thank also Dean Janet Weiss. Thank you for your leadership. I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you in Washington as you come in to talk about children and what we need to do to lift children out of poverty and give them an opportunity to succeed. So I'm looking to your voice and the opportunity to do that. To all of the great faculty who have been mentioned and the staff who have taught you and challenged you and supported you, thank you for doing that. And having sat in the audience as a parent here at the University of Michigan, I have to say thank you to parents and families, and friends who are here to celebrate with you as well, and most importantly to each of you, way to go. Congratulations. You did it.
I so admire all of you and the leadership here at the Ford School for your deep commitment to public policy which I share. And I'm excited about having the opportunity to work with the dean to create more opportunities in DC for students to be able to come in and be part of what is happening. And the dean went to all kinds of things that are being focused on and the expertise here. I just want to add a couple of areas that I'm very passionate about and have been proud to be a partner with the university on and that's the--from the battery hub that is on campus to the center for lightweight materials in Corktown. To all the advance manufacturing alternative energy efforts going on that literally are going to change the world that are happening right here. To the world class medical research that is happening right here on campus, breakthroughs and everything from [inaudible] to clinical depression, from diabetes to cancer. I want to thank this university for understanding that when we talk about healthcare we need to include healthcare above the neck, as well as below the neck. The whole body is something that we need to be focused on.
So if you want to think about inspiration, all you have to do is walk through campus and there is inspiration all around. I've also been really pleased to hear about so many other things that you're doing internationally. The Ford School students who are able to go to Rio to learn about the challenges that comes from Brazil's economic development and the social issues they face. I've had the opportunity myself with my agriculture head on to be able to do the same. And I have to say I am in awe and greatly admire the 16 Ford students who made the film about race. Drawing on your own personal stories and reflections, it was a powerful testimony and I will not forget it. Thank you for your courage.
As Ford graduates, you have a group of alumni that you will join who are doing amazing things. And I know all of you whether you are going from here to the private sector or nonprofit or NGO sector, or course in public service in government that you will make a difference. You'll have different titles. You'll have different opportunities, but today I want to speak just for a moment about a title that we all share. A title you share with your parents, your family, the faculty, you and I together. And that is American citizen. There is not a more powerful title that we share than that of citizen. Through your identity as a citizen of this country, you have a voice and a responsibility to be engaged in the important debates all around us on so many things, but particularly about the proper role and the functions of our democratic government together. Franklin Roosevelt once told the country to remember that government is ourselves not an alien power over us. And the ultimate rulers of our democracy are not the president, they're not senators, they are not members of Congress but the voters of the country, the people who choose to participate as voters. President Lincoln expressed the sentiment even more concisely in the words that we all know. The ideal of government is of the people, by the people, for the people. Easy to say but a lot of hard work to make that a reality. We get so wrapped up in politics and certainly where I am in Washington that too often we forget why we have this democracy. Why we have this thing called government? We need to remind ourselves that we have it because there are certain things that we need to do together because it's impossible to do it by ourselves. Now, there's lots of great things we can do as individuals and that doesn't undermine anything in terms of our own individual hard work, our ingenuity, our freedom to have new ideas, create ideas, develop businesses, develop all kinds of entities. But there are some things that we can only do together and our democratic form of government is the process. It's not a thing. It's not the evil thing, a great thing. It's a process. The organizational structure through, which we make decisions about those things. We can't protect the air by ourselves. We can't take this room and divide up then you're going to say, "OK, you are responsible for that air and you're responsible for that air." And so we can't do that. We can't protect the Great Lakes--our beautiful Great Lakes that for those of us who live in Michigan--in our DNA. We can't do that by ourselves. We can't protect our water and make sure it's safe to drink by ourselves. We can't build roads and bridges by ourselves. You can't just build the road right in front of your house and hope somebody connects it to something else. We can't stop a major house fire or forest fire by ourselves. We can't keep our country safe from terrorist attacks by ourselves. And we can't perform life-saving medical research that saves lives like what is being done here at this University by ourselves. We do these things together because one way or the other, we all benefit. Finally, in America, our government has been given the responsibility to make sure our public policies match our public values. We believe in freedom and equality, but we had to fight a war to end slavery. Pass laws to give women and people of color the right to vote. Civil rights laws and voting rights laws and equal pay for equal work, all of which we are still struggling to make a complete reality today. And access to economic opportunities. So everybody not just a few but everybody has a fair shot to work hard and make it in America. We all benefit from that. We believe in the value of education, yet too many of our children walk through unsafe neighborhoods to get to schools that don't have the basic tools they need to be successful. We need to fix that together. We believe in the need for higher education, yet way too many students graduate, buried in debt that stops them from buying a house or starting a business or economically moving ahead. We need to fix that together. Are we true to our American values when we spend more of our tax money in a young person in prison than we spend on a young person being able to go to college? We need to tackle the issues of climate change and continue to tackle access to healthcare and mental healthcare. We need to tackle the balance and have the debate about the balance between national security and personal privacy, which gets tougher and tougher all the time, and the challenges of keeping our middle class strong while competing successfully in a global economy. We have a responsibility together to tackle all of these and more to the democratic process called government and public policy. And to solve these challenges, we really do have to be able to listen to each other, respect each other's views, and find common ground. For example, if I want to find common ground with each of you, I probably wouldn't start by talking about the fact that I went to Michigan State University.
But I would instead, as you noticed earlier, talk about my son who went to the University of Michigan and how we both can't stand the buck ice.
That's common ground. Now, I know that when I'm talking about working together, Congress may not be the first image that brings to mind. And I will be the first to admit, members of Congress don't work together nearly enough. Even though I tried hard everyday and have had some successes. But while it's popular to talk about how our political leaders used to be civil toward one another, I just want to put that a little bit in perspective and challenge it based on our history. Look at the two leaders in the United States Senate, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. They may have fierce arguments over policy but their rivalry has never escalated into an actual gun duel.
Like it did in 1804, between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Now imagine this. Hamilton, one of our founding fathers and the Secretary of the Treasury shot Burr dead, and he was the Vice President. I don't think house of cards could even come up with the plot risk quite like that. There are intense floor speeches today but nothing compared to what happened in 1856 when a congresswoman from South Carolina violently beat a senator from Massachusetts with a cane and send him to the hospital. The war of words today between Republicans and Democrats has not erupted into a Civil War that killed 620,000 Americans as the debate over slavery did in Lincoln's time. So, I have to remind myself that we really have made some progress, even though it feels like it's hard sometimes to see it. And while government will never be perfect with the involvement of all of us with you, it can and always will be better, the key we'll be focusing on your title of citizen. If we can stay focused on our rights and responsibilities as citizens, then we can have the debates that are necessary to find common ground on the most challenging issues that face us. It's also important not to allow yourself to be discouraged by problems that are complicated and hard to solve. I've been involved in public service for many years and I know first hand that when people of good will come together and want to solve a problem, it can be solved. We have to create that political will and resolution and willingness to come together to solve the big problems in front of us. And that's why I'm so pleased to be here with you today. Not just at any graduation or with any graduates, I've spoken at a lot of graduations but I'm so glad to here with you, because to me, you are special because you have chosen to focus your time, your intellect, your energy and public policy. The process of making our communities, our families, our country, our world better. We need you now more than ever. And I am very excited about the differences you are going to make. Congratulations.
>> Thank you so much Senator Stabenow. It is now my pleasure to welcome to the stage the members of the Amazin' Blue. Amazin' Blue is the University of Michigan's oldest co-ed acapella and ensemble. And they will perform two classics from the Michigan's songbook. Welcome.
[ Pause ]
[ Music ]
>> Thank you very much. Each year, the Ford School's graduating students, are asked to elect people to play key rules at commencement. One faculty member is chosen to speak to the classes. And both sets of graduating classes choose a representative students speaker. As the faculty speaker, the classes of 2015, elected Professor Carl Simon. Carl is a professor of Mathematics, Economics, and Public Policy. He directs our Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program. And he was the founding director of the university's Center for the study of Complex Systems. Carl received a 2012 Rackham Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award for his long-time commitment to research and teaching. Carl taught calculus to many of today's graduates. No easy subject. And it's a tribute to Carl's popularity and standing among his students that perhaps despite his course, they chose him to deliver the faculty address. And so know I am delighted to invite Carl Simon to the podium.
>> I'm really honored by your invitation to speak at your graduation this evening. To go from being the teacher of the class you dreaded the most [inaudible] alpha, to being asked to give a last lecture on the omega, it's I think the highest honor a teacher could ask for and received. And I thank you. I have a little bit of a cold so I'm going to really need this microphone. And the seven hours that I've been allotted to address you--
>> Seven minutes, Carl.
>> Seven minutes.
But I actually we have a serious commencement thought that I'd like to leave you with. Sort of the last link in polling your Ford School education together, in the past few years you've learned crucial technique and ideas of what leads to good policy practices and how to press for their acceptance and passage. For example in the core courses of the MPP program, you learned from Sharon Maccini and Alan Deardorff, and Dean Wang how to take economic considerations into your policy analysis. You learned from Brian Jacob and Sue Dynarski how to use this economic analysis to evaluate conflicting policy proposals. You learned from Jay T, John DiNardo, Cathy Hausman how to use statistics to interpret and organize the data that might support your policy proposals. You learned from Shupeda Parcesoraty [assumed spelling], Susan Walt [assumed spelling], Barry Rabe how policy proposals become law in Lansing and Washington. You learned from David Moore, Alex Ralph, Beth Kimra [assumed spelling], how to present your policy proposals effectively. How sad for [inaudible] families what you did the last few years. But there still one important piece that I think you need to consider. And I realized this. The other day when I got cut off by a van, whose bumpers sticker read everything is connected.
Actually, I believe that, heart and soul. And that's what I wanted to ask you to believe and think about. To how--knowing these techniques is one part, but understanding that the world you're going to deal with is made of components that are connected to each other. It's really important. And there are number of my colleagues, Paul Coran [assumed spelling], Barry Rabe, Gil Oldman [assumed spelling], who really feel this and teach it and use it in the research in their daily lives. The unintended consequences of forgetting that the world we want to fix, is one big connected system. Think of a subway map, for example Washington DC, Chicago Illinois. Even better, the map on the last page of the delta flight magazine that shows all the cities and the arch connecting them. You know, a small disruption at one point can cause ripples of inconvenience at other points. How many of you in the last years have actually experienced disruption just because some point in the network that you have to deal with was affected? I call this the DDP syndrome for the most famous instance in which scientist eager to wipe out very particular agricultural pest, ignored the food chains that those pest sat in, and nearly wiped out the US eagle population and caused many, many more agricultural problems than they had solved. Sadly, there are plenty of examples and I want to give you some others to think about. When he arrived in Australia in 1857, Thomas Austin asked his nephew in England to send me a few rabbits, so they could continue his passion for hunting. He wrote and I quote, "An adoption of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home. And in addition, add to a spot of hunting." Ten years later, the continent was overrun by millions and millions of rabbits and those rabbits still cause ravaging local--they are still ravaging local ecologies. An American counterpart--do you think of one? A strong American counterpart is the introduction of the European starling into Central Park, New York. Somebody in the policy decision decided that we should experience the birds in Shakespeare's place--Henry IV in fact. Well, there are place--there are farmlands where starlings blackened the skies and they're responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of crop damage because someone didn't think of the consequences of their action. Policymakers eager to stop congestion have a favorite panacea build another lane. That really works. People who hadn't--you know, when that new lane is there at huge cost, people hadn't take an expressway. Take it. People hadn't driven before drive and so usually the congestion gets worse. Maybe a slightly more provocative example is electric cars, OK? We all care about climate change and realize that technology can save us. So what if you're the secretary of state of Michigan or Ohio and want to make it a policy that people in your state drive electric cars? Disaster. Because electric cars run on electricity, and electricity is generated especially in Ohio by very dirty power plants and the amount of carbon in the air would skyrocket. If you don't take that, those consequences into effect, or a policymaker who is worried about crime in a neighborhood. OK, what are the usual solutions? More policemen? Mandatory census? None of this work. They're all efforts--you know, the end result, there are more people in prison and prisons are, in fact, schools of crime. If you want to see a system's approach, look at Senator Stabenow's efforts to change the experience and possibilities of youth in impoverished cities. That's taking a system's approach and looking at the whole. Regulation and deregulation are common indicators and examples of unintended consequences. I'll give you one from each side of the aisle. President Reagan deregulated the airline industries, so they'd be more competition and lower prices. There are few airlines and how many people felt they paid competitive prices coming to join your students today?
On the other hand, President Clinton thought he's going to save the banking industry by getting rid of the Glass-Steagall Act, OK, and open up banking to many more possibilities. OK, the ends result? It played a role in creating that permissive blending environment that led to the mortgage crisis. Fortunately, one of our own former deans, Ned Gramlich, was very instrumental in trying to put the brakes on that but he was a voice crying in the desert. Two last examples, both from area of replete with unintended consequence is health policy. Hospital, for example, might have a policy of ordering their physicians to use the strongest possible antibiotic to beat ear infections. How could that backfire? Well, we're an arm's raise with a drug-resistant bacteria. We do not want to pull out and overuse our strongest medications now because we're barely hanging on in that race. A similar example would be demanding that your company or your policy firm have antibacterial soaps throughout the building. Those soaps are drugs and they too promote drug-resistant bacteria. Think about these when you think about policy and use these tools. Their bottom line, you've learned some really powerful things here at Ford School. Apply them carefully, but remember, as that bumper sticker said, "Everything is connected." So, homework problem. If you go about your jobs and see examples of both systems approaches and failure to use systems approaches, send them to me, OK? It's actually part of my work. And if I get a chance to talk again, I'll probably use them.
What other words of wisdom can I offer? I don't know. I hope many of you went to the commencement ceremony this morning at the big house. I certainly did and enjoyed it. Paul Sagan's [assumed spelling] plea for joy, I thought was pretty moving. And so, was Aries [assumed spelling] plea for keep on learning. Some lessons I hope you learned from my calculus class, four in particular. Should I ask you what they are?
First, when things get out of hand, hit it with a log.
It's a joke, don't worry. Second, don't forget to check the boundary conditions. Third, don't forget the second derivative. And fourth and most important, start your day with Algebraic aerobics.
Should we show him what we mean? Come on. Stand up everybody. Everyone stand up. Unless you forget. Audience. Come on, parents. We got a word, exercise. Ready? X squared. Minus X squared. X cubed. Minus X cubed. X squared. E to the X. I have two new ones for you. Are you ready? The cusp and the inverse of X squared.
Now, are you ready? Let's put them together. X squared. Minus X squared. The inverse. The cusp. Sing with me. YMCA. YMCA.
I love you class of 15. Thank you.
>> Well, I'm sure that if you asked him, he will suggest a place to reconvene for the other six and a half hours of his remarks. Thank you Carl. Now we will hear from the student elected to speak from the bachelor's class of 2015, Laurel Ruza. Laurel came--
[ Cheering & Applause ]
Laurel came to the University of Michigan after graduation from West Bloomfield High School where she was president of the Law club and captain of varsity tennis and varsity golf. She distinguished herself as a leader during her time here at Michigan. Laurel is vice speaker of the Central Student Government Student Assembly and she is the campus organizer of U of M for the It's on Us campaign. Laurel has completed internships with the Peter's from Michigan campaign, the White House office of National Drug Control Policy, the Department of Justice, and Jewish Women's International. I'm very pleased to welcome Laurel to the podium. Laurel?
>> Thank you Dean Collins and Senator Stabenow and Professor Simon. I didn't prepare the YMCA but I can try. Entering the Ford School PA program, I wanted to solve the world's problems. I wanted to further women's rights. I wanted to ensure healthcare is accessible for everybody and I wanted to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in America. Then I started Public Policy 320, the introductory course that all incoming Ford undergrads must take. And for my first memo, I chose the topic of fracking. The second I solidified that choice, I literally thought what the frack is this?
Let me tell you, fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high pressure water mixture is directed at the rock--all right, I'm not go any further with that. But the point is I was confronted with my first challenge in the Ford School. I'd recommend a policy on an issue in which I had to consult the voices and the perspective of the various communities affected by fracking and I had to rationalize these experiences with economic and political justifications. This process enabled me to challenge my preconceived notions of fracking and allowed me the space to recommend the policy that promoted more than just one narrative. Like my 320 class, the Ford School strives to create a space for us to grapple with the challenges of policy-making. Policy issues we study are more than just abstract things we discussed in the classroom. These policies affect people on this campus, across the country, and around the world. This past year, we've seen everything from issues surrounding police brutality, campus sexual assault prevention, to reforming our immigration system, as well as climate change. But the necessary conversations to have around these policy issues are not easy. They're challenging and oftentimes uncomfortable. The results in incoherent questions written down on my iPhone at 3 a.m. that I subsequently attempt to sort out by harassing Professor John Ciorciari, Professor Mara Ostfeld [inaudible], because I figure what are office hours for if not to solve all my life crises. For instance, with the mod in eight other students, we created a self-initiated discussion group called Public Policy Acts on reasons for violence and its relationship to law and power. But Public Policy Acts is better understood around the Ford School community as a collective existential crisis every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the 5th floor conference room. It was after one of our discussions that I woke up on February 11th, it was around 3:37 a.m. I'd say, and entered into my phone "To affect change, do our means needs to be radical or should we compromise on those means to engage those less radical than us and move forward together?" The conversations that arise out of questions such as these are often avoided because they are difficult. About this year there have been a lot of discussions about how we do and don't engage as a community. The Ford School has enabled me to not hide from these conversations but rather face them head on, changing the framework to see challenges as opportunities. It is in these spaces that through hearing other's perspectives and experiences I have gained a sense of empowerment to in the words of Professor Megan Tompkins-Stange, let the dilemma grip me. It's my responsibility as someone who has only lived one reality and does not know the realities that others have lived to hear those experiences and support those voices in order to challenge and to change policy to ensure that I am not just making policy for people who looked like me.
Empowerment and communal leadership foster the ability to create spaces in which we can challenge our own values and ideas. Leadership is not the side dish to policy's main plate. It is, in fact, the reverse. It is this type of leadership that enables us to be conscious of how we influence whether policy is used to move us forward or hold us back. Having spaces where we are empowered to ask why, how, and for whom are we creating policy and to use our answers to these questions to create long-lasting and inclusive policy that pushes us forward. This year, members of the Ford School community engage in important and sometimes painful conversations on issues that affected the lives of many in our community. From the Diversity Student Coalition let dialogue to community conversations, to the student film walking the line of blackness. These student-facilitated discussions allowed community members to share personal experiences surrounding identity and its impact on their realities. Hearing this perspective, challenged and expanded my understanding of policy-making. So, as we graduate and begin the next chapter of our lives, I urge you to not just take what exist but to challenge it, to lead through empowerment so that all voices are heard. Continue creating spaces and opportunities for yourself and for others to wake up at 3 a.m. to question, what ignites a culture shift, what voices aren't included, and what even is public policy? This is how we will turn our frustrations and our challenges into constructive action. Well, our actions may not all be the same, we must each find our own. The Ford School community equipped us with the tools to craft our own constructive action. And as leaders and policymakers, it's on us to support, to listen, and to act. Thank you to the Ford School community. Thank you parents and to all of those who supported us. And congratulations graduates. Go Blue.
>> Thank you very much Laurel. The MPP and MPA class of 2015 has elected Kim Meinert to speak on their behalf. Kim earned a bachelor's degree with a double major in Comparative American Studies and Creative Writing from Oberlin College, where she was also a varsity student athlete on the swim and dive team. After graduation, she went to work for the free clinic of Southwest Washington as a grant writer and a coordinator of programs designed to expand access to healthcare for the low income uninsured. Kim spent several years in public service with the Oregon Department of Human Services and then joined the Ford School, where she was named both a Hockett Family fellow and a Rollin M. Gerstacker fellow. Kim completed her internship last summer at the White House Domestic Policy Councils Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity. Kim, it is a pleasure now to welcome you to the podium.
>> Dang, I'm really struggling to follow Laurel. Thank you for that speech Laurel. I think yet again, that proves that the bachelor's students win. And the Ford School bachelor's students have it together way more than any of the master's students ever did when we were 22 years old. So, congratulations.
And thank you Dean Collins for that kind introduction. You know, just now I think that's only the second time I've ever shaken the Dean's hand. And I still remember the first time I shook her hand actually. It was during a preview weekend for admitted master students. And Dean Collins told me not to come to the Ford School unless I was committed to public service. I remember that moment with Dean Collins as a first of many moments or I saw just how much the Ford School is full of people who care very deeply, passionately, and critically about improving the world through the innovation and administration of policies that affect the public. For master's students, we kick-off or our graduate school career with the course called Values and Ethics in Public Policy. The semester starts off with a classis moral dilemma commonly known as the train problem. It goes something like this. There is a train barreling down the tracks, out of control, unable to stop. Ahead on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move and the train is headed straight for them. You realized that you are standing next to a lever that could divert the out-of-control train. If you pull this lever, the train will switch to a different set of tracks and avoid those five people. However, you notice that there is a person stuck on the other track, too. You have two options at this point. One, you do nothing and the train kills all five people. Two, you pull the lever, you divert the train, you save five people but you kill the one unsuspecting person who was minding their own business. What would you do? What if that one person on the other track were your friend? What if that one person were your child? Is it worth the lives of many strangers in order to save the one person you are connected to? So here's the spoiler alert if ever you go to grad school. There is no right answer to this dilemma.
Either way there is a harmful outcome. And throughout our time at Ford School, we learned to think about increasingly complex problems where it is hard to know the right answer, or to know whether we are even in a position to know what is right and what is wrong. Inevitably, somebody somewhere is going to disagree with you and usually for some pretty valid reasons. So rather than deciding what is right, it seems we must strive for decisions that result in a best case scenario, decisions where we improve the lives and outcomes of a community without reducing the well-being of anybody else. Economists might call that a Pareto improvement.
Others might simply call that responsible public policy. And now that we are graduating with immense privilege, from one of the nation's elite universities, I posit that we are no longer in positions to pull the lever on the train tracks. Now as public policy specialist, the question is no longer whether we pull the lever at all. The dilemma becomes why are those people stuck on the tracks in the first place, and what policies are in place preventing them from existing in a space where they may live without constant fear that the train, the very thing that is supposed to help move them forward might actually hurt them. And furthermore, why are there only two tracks? And what would it take to create more?
Or perhaps most importantly, it seems to me the dilemma becomes, now that it has come to this, what do we do next? Fortunately for me, I did not study transportation policy at Ford School so levers and tracks will not be my immediate policy problem. But I think if we look around and we think about what's going on in the world right now, in the last week, in the last year, and in the last century, I think we all know that I'm not actually talking about transportation policy. So this is going to be all of our immediate policy problems. Wouldn't this be much more a pleasant if I talk about what was very celebratory about this day, how we are all standing in the bright light of the academy, looking optimistically towards the horizon, smiling about what the future holds? Well, sure, of course it would. But that's kinds of what I'm doing. It seems to me that what gives me hope is the very fact that we are prepared to roll up our sleeves. We have extra wings on our things now.
Like right here.
To call a spade a spade and reach across the aisles in order to address this complex politically and comfortable policy issues. Our analytical rigor that we learned at the Ford School is exactly what we need in order to go forth and take these politically and comfortable situations, these fragile conversations and hold them up to the light exposed and examined and ask real questions. And then we can reframe the discussion, ask more questions, propose solutions, and then actually do something about it. We're not just staring at levers. Together, we have the capacity to collaborate with a common goal of addressing public policy issues that are hindering our progress as individuals, as communities, as nations, and as global partners. So at best, may our efforts improve our communities without harming others. And at worst, may these efforts change the tone and the framework of our conversation. And if at any point in time, it turns out that our efforts have harmed others, let us be strong enough to recognize that there is just as much merit in stopping and asking for help with creating a new path. So independently and together, we walk forward into this late, knowing it is our privilege and our responsibility to think creatively, to examine every angle, and to innovate in public service. Right now and tomorrow and ongoing and forever, go Blue. Thank you and congratulations.
>> Thank you very much Kim. We are now at the moment that family and friends have been looking forward to all evening. And our graduates are ready to come to the stage to receive official congratulations on a job so very well done. This year, the names will be read by John Ciorciari. John is assistant professor of public policy. He teaches courses on politics, political institutions, and post-conflict law and transition. John has an undergraduate and a law degree from Harvard, capped by a master's degree and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Oxford. I'm very pleased to introduce John Ciorciari, to call the names of our graduating students. And I'd also like to invite the members of our platform party to step forward and help congratulate our graduates.
>> Thank you and good evening. To begin, I'll call our graduate earning a doctoral degree. I'd like to welcome Mary Corcoran to the stage. Mary is a professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Women Studies. And she will hood our graduate.
And our graduate is Anne Fitzpatrick who's earning a PhD in Public Policy and Economics.
Now we'll welcome our graduates receiving a Master's Degree in Public Policy or Public Administration. Katie Agrua [assumed spelling].
Merinne Afferwork Allino [assumed spelling].
Sequin Un [assumed spelling].
Imad Onsauri [assumed spelling].
Josef Asizi [assumed spelling].
Miguel Bonia Sarazaga [assumed spelling].
Nikita Briar [assumed spelling].
Lauren Bordet [assumed spelling]
Cessy Orla Ellison Burns [assumed spelling].
Christina Campagruca [assumed spelling].
Cezanne Charles [assumed spelling].
Erran Chen [assumed spelling].
Genevieve Zitran [assumed spelling].
Kathy Collins [assumed spelling].
Jessica D'etre [assumed spelling].
Kay Du [assumed spelling].
Nathan Gyre [assumed spelling].
Rey Coi Goicochea [assumed spelling].
Michelle Gonzales [assumed spelling].
Brendan Hall [assumed spelling].
>> Hitomi Hayachi [assumed spelling].
Robert Hein [assumed spelling].
Dan Hichudarise [assumed spelling].
Jessica M. Hill.
Luke Horner [assumed spelling].
Kazuki Ito [assumed spelling].
Syrus Jaden [assumed spelling].
Naza Jaferian [assumed spelling].
Daniel Kaplan [assumed spelling].
Jonathan Keith Sager [assumed spelling].
Pradeep Singhal [assumed spelling].
Kelsey Kennedy [assumed spelling].
Monove Korana [assumed spelling].
CJ Labasi [assumed spelling].
Michelle Majors [assumed spelling].
Brendon Malone [assumed spelling].
Matthew Manning [assumed spelling].
Judith Sara Margallene [assumed spelling].
Lauren Martial [assumed spelling].
Heroco Mawatari [assumed spelling].
Adrianna McIntyre [assumed spelling].
Conner Mackay [assumed spelling].
Kimberly Un Meinart [assumed spelling].
Geraldine Linda Montessinos [assumed spelling].
Kyle Kay Murphy [assumed spelling].
Mortisa Nazare [assumed spelling].
Annalides Ochoa [assumed spelling].
Kathleen Odell [assumed spelling].
Shentaro Okabi [assumed spelling].
Paula Osborne [assumed spelling].
Patricia Paula Padia Lara [assumed spelling].
Stephen Paparo [assumed spelling].
Bethany Paton [assumed spelling].
Nicholas Fost [assumed spelling].
Erin Pido [assumed spelling].
Shanera Evan Pierce [assumed spelling].
Juliana Pino Alcaras [assumed spelling].
Noel Pulaski [assumed spelling].
Risky Samuel Potra [assumed spelling].
Sy Dutchue [assumed spelling].
Garrett Quenneville [assumed spelling].
Brock Redpath [assumed spelling].
Kiana Elaine Shelton.
Amy Sutkowski [assumed spelling].
Shinya Takebe [assumed spelling].
Elizabeth Tiffany Urschel.
Amanda Van Dort.
Anita Veeramani [assumed spelling].
Julia Chandler Winfield.
Qi Zha [assumed spelling].
And now we'll welcome to the stage, students receiving the Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy.
Trip Brennan .
Chelsea Alexandra Davis.
Ethan Robert Fitzgerald
Tracey Fu [assumed spelling].
Courtney Livingston Green
Suzanne Midori Hunter Hirasuna.
Craig Thomas Kaplan.
Kathy Koziara [assumed spelling].
Cameron Rose Maisch.
Daniel Alejandro Morales.
Abigail Kaitlin McKinney Orrick.
>> Abbey Roggenbuck.
Paul Adam Sherman
Tess Van Gorder.
Madeline Willis. Madeline Wills, I'm sorry Madeline Wills.
>> Well, if I could ask all of the graduates to please stand and face your guests in the audience. If the BA students--at this time, if the BA students would please move the tassel on your mortar board from the right to the left. And now, I am so proud to present to you the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy classes of 2015 graduates. Congratulations.
Wow. Wow. Well, I would like to thank all of you again for being here with us on this very special day. I'm going to ask you to stay in our seats until the classes have exited. We have light refreshments in the lobby and I hope you will stay, take pictures, enjoy the company and the lovely day. Again, thank you so much. Fabulous job to our graduates. Go Blue.
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[ Music & Noise ]