The Ford Legacy

The legacy lives on

Gerald R. Ford (AB '35, HLLD '74) attended the University of Michigan as a pre-law student majoring in economics and political science—he was also an MVP football player who worked two jobs, including waiting tables at the University hospital and washing dishes at his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon.

In 2000—sixty-five years after his graduation from the University of Michigan—the 38th President of the United States returned to his alma mater for the renaming of the U-M School of Public Policy into the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The aura of President Ford is in these halls."

General Brent Scowcroft

President Ford's legacy is very much alive here at the Ford School, and we are proud to bear his name. The values that distinguished him remain so relevant to policy students: his lifelong commitment to principled public service, his integrity, and his ability to reach across the aisle to forge consensus.

President Ford's closest friends remember him as an honest man, committed to genuine public service. One of those friends is Sanford Weill, who shares the namesake of our academic building with his wife Joan, and was the former CEO and chairman of Citigroup, Inc. In 2000 the Citi Foundation (formerly known as the Citigroup Foundation) generously endowed the Citi Foundation Lecture Series, honoring President Ford’s long affiliation with Citigroup, Inc. and his leadership in public policy. The lectureship brings prominent policymakers from the national and international arenas to the Ford School each year to engage students and faculty in dialogue and to give a public address.

There are numerous examples of the generosity of President Ford's friends here at the Ford School.

Throughout 2013, President Ford's friends and family joined the Ford School community to celebrate the 100th anniversary of President Ford’s birth with events such as the University of Michigan Tribute to Mrs. Betty Ford, a panel discussion of "Black and Blue," and talks by members of the Ford Administration including Energy Czar Frank Zarb, General Brent Scowcroft, Ambassador Carla Hills, 56th Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and 72nd Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill.

Each year our alumni, students, faculty, and friends around the globe gather to toast President Ford’s birthday (actual date: July 14, 1913) at the annual Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day.

Presidential Fellowship

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Ford School and 101st anniversary of President Ford’s birth, we were proud to launch the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Fellowship. Our premier merit fellowship honors the legacy of our namesake president. In keeping with that legacy, the Ford School seeks to inspire the next century of citizens, public servants, and leaders. These endowed fellowships provide in-state tuition, a generous stipend, as well as internship funding and professional development activities, and allow us to recruit exceptionally talented Master’s degree students.

Read about our first Ford Presidential Fellow, Bilal Baydoun, in this article from State & Hill.

Ford Legacy video series

During our 2013 Ford Centennial celebrations, the Ford School produced a series of short films featuring members of the Gerald R. Ford administration and their personal reflections of working with President Ford.


Read more about President and Mrs. Ford

Professor Ford (Heritage Project, May, 2023)
The Ford School's History (State & Hill, Spring 2014)
The People's House (State & Hill, Fall 2013)
Inclusive America, Under Attack (State & Hill, Spring 2013)
Being Ladylike Does Not Require Silence (State & Hill, Fall 2012)
Barry Rabe on Gerald Ford: the Global President (State & Hill, Spring 2012)

Full list of President Ford Centennial events

July 11, 2013: Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day
Ford School alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends around the globe gathered to toast President Ford’s birthday (actual date: July 14) at the 3rd annual Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day.

June 19, 2013: Policy Reflections (New York City)
56th U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Paul O’Neill contributed to the Ford School’s “Policy Reflections” series, detailing their experiences with the Ford Administration.

May 5, 2013: Ford School 2013 Commencement Ceremony
72nd U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and member of the Ford Administration, Paul O’Neill delivered the Charge to the Class of 2013.

April 16, 2013: Statue Unveiling
General Brent Scowcroft delivered remarks at the installation of a scale model of President Ford’s statue from the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

March 28, 2013: CLOSUP in Grand Rapids
Timely discussion of state and local issues, hosted at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

January 23, 2013: Black & Blue
Steve Ford and Buzz Thomas joined the Ford School community for a special screening of the documentary detailing Gerald Ford and Willis Ward’s lifelong friendship.

October 17, 2012: Frank Zarb visits the Ford School
The Ford Administration’s "energy czar" met with students to discuss the difficulties of developing effective energy policy in the United States.

October 11, 2012: U-M Betty Ford Tribute
Family and friends gathered at President Ford’s alma mater to honor the life and legacy of a truly inspiring First Lady.

Ippei Gerald Yamasaki
MPP student Hirokazu Yamasaki and his wife Aya welcomed their new baby boy on January 2, 2014 (right). His name: Ippei Gerald Yamasaki. In Japanese, Ippei means “lucky person” and “being kind to everyone.” His middle name? A tribute to President Gerald R.