Fall 2021 plan

Our approach to the fall semester

On March 12, University leaders announced plans for the 2021-2022 academic year. Many details remain to be developed, but assuming continued positive trends in vaccination rates, we expect that the majority of University courses will be in person, with a small number being hybrid or fully remote, and lots more opportunities for in-person connections this fall.

Ford School leadership teams are working on plans for the school’s fall semester, with input from faculty, students, and staff.

Given the accelerating pace of vaccinations, our base case for the fall looks promising; in addition to much more in-person coursework, we believe that we’ll enjoy being together in-person for more of the advising, community-building, activities, and speaker visits that we value.

The Ford School is a small, tight-knit community, dedicated to the public good. Our plans for next year will be rooted in our values: community, integrity, respect, and transparency; service to the public good; inclusion, diversity, and equity. We’ll put the safety and wellbeing of our people first, and no one will be asked to take risks that aren’t appropriate for their particular circumstances. Each of us will be asked to do our best to ensure the health and safety of others, and to work together to meet our mission to serve, educate, and research for the public good.

We’ll build a plan for next year that reflects those values; is flexible; puts our people first; and positions us for continued excellence in education, research, and engagement. 

We know that there will be some students who are unable to participate in person because of health reasons or travel restrictions. Faculty and advisors will work to ensure that those students can complete their core required courses over the course of the academic year and stay on track with their academic progress. This includes offering some remote participation options for core courses (such as discussion sections) and finding remote substitutions. We also plan to offer a small number of fully remote electives for the fall term.

We’ll do similar work for faculty, GSIs, and staff teams—taking care of folks for whom this pandemic has had differential consequences and building on the many innovations we’ve developed this past year for delivering on our mission.

Staff retreat 2018

Staffing and operations

We're here to help!

Many staff and faculty are working remotely this winter, but we're still "here" to help. Check out our department pages: you'll meet our team members, learn about our roles, and find out how to connect.
Meet our teams
iPhone on a wooden table


Details for the Ford School community

Members of the Ford School community will find up-to-date details, guidelines, and answers to frequently asked questions on our Intranet (Kerberos log-in required).
Access our Intranet
Campus Blueprint

Taking care of Maize and Blue

University of Michigan Campus Maize & Blueprint

Information about vaccines; prevention, testing, and care; a COVID-19 data dashboard; and more. The Campus Maize & Blueprint is the University of Michigan's guide to living, learning, and working together safely.
Visit the Campus Blueprint


Please email fordcovid19@umich.edu with any questions, concerns, or issues.

Current summer 2021 Weill Hall building hours

Our building hours are limited in summer 2021, to allow for cleaning and other health and safety measures.

  • Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 10 pm
  • Saturday closed
  • Sunday - 12-6 pm key card access for faculty & staff; students by special request only

The building will be available via MCard Access only (open to members of the Ford School community and students enrolled in classes at Weill Hall).

Ford School faculty and staff: Full details about how to access the building are available on our Intranet.

Visitors and guests: We are unable to accommodate visitors and guests on campus, so that we can provide the safest learning experience for our students, faculty, and staff.

Student leadership team


BA students

Lily Alexander <lilyalex@umich.edu>
Kristen Bolster <kbolster@umich.edu>
Lucia Lopez <lucialpz@umich.edu>
Trevor Stratz <tstratz@umich.edu>

MPP/MPA students

Justine D'Souza <dsouzaj@umich.edu>
Ying He <yyinghe@umich.edu>
Iqra Nasir <inasir@umich.edu>
J'Taime Lyons <jtaimel@umich.edu>
Danny Park <dcpark@umich.edu>
Judy Lansky <judylan@umich.edu>

Benjamin Levine <bglevin@umich.edu>

PhD student

Peter Martel <pmartel@umich.edu

About the Ford School student leadership team

There are many important channels and mechanisms by which students participate in and contribute to the life, direction and leadership of the Ford School.  This includes elected student government leaders, numerous student organizations, student representatives on key faculty committees, peer advisor positions, and the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) coalition. 

In the summer of 2020, the Ford School—like every other unit on campus—was in a crisis management situation attempting to prepare for a new “public health informed” academic year in a pandemic. Every single thing we do at the Ford School—courses, student academic and career services, research, policy engagement, public events, community building, DEI work, etc.—is having to be redesigned and pivot to include safe and/or fully remote access. This is a huge and ongoing undertaking, and one that requires perspective, voice and creative input from Ford School students.

Not wanting to put even more work on our student government leaders and student organizations who already have important missions and work to accomplish, in the summer of 2020 the Ford School created a new Student Leadership Team (SLT). The  primary purpose of this student team is to advise and assist the administration in pandemic-related shifts and changes in regard to Ford School academics.  Members of the Student Leadership Team are paid for their time and efforts, which include providing direct feedback and ideas, researching approaches being taken at other universities, reviewing draft communications and protocols, and creative brainstorming.

Student Leadership Team members are selected based on prior student leadership experience and a commitment to excellence in student experiences at the Ford School.  Since members of the SLT are not elected by their peers, they should not be considered as representatives for their cohorts or the student body in general. The SLT is simply another channel through which Ford School students can raise concerns, provide input and assistance, contribute creative and helpful ideas and advise the Ford School, with the focus of this group being on how the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing dramatic and fast changes in everything we do.  

Our goals for the academic year

Students outdoors, socially distanced, masked, probably still smiling

1.  Health and safety

The safety and wellbeing of our people are paramount. No one will be asked to take risks they don’t feel are appropriate for their particular circumstances; we know that the pandemic has differential effects on members of our community. Each of us will be asked to do our best to ensure the health and safety of others.

2. Courses 

The Ford School will deliver a first-rate policy education to our undergraduate and graduate students, in a safe, high-quality, flexible manner that is attuned to issues of equity. A team of faculty experts is working hard to inform our teaching plans for the winter, including online, in-person, and hybrid formats, with significant input from students and staff. 

We'll offer a combination of approaches to Ford School teaching in the winter, depending on the type and size of each course, and pedagogical choices. Many courses will provide safe in-person opportunities for small-group discussions, team projects, presentations, etc. 

Every course at the Ford School, even those that can involve some safe in-person interactions, will be designed to ensure full access for all students, which means all courses will also be offered in a remote fashion. All students and faculty will be given the technical equipment, access, and support needed for excellence in teaching and learning.

3. Community 

The supportive, dynamic work that typically happens outside of the classroom at the Ford School will continue in an online format, and where safe and practicable, in person at Weill Hall as well. Our supportive environment includes our best-in-class Writing Center, for example, along with academic advising, Graduate Career Services, peer advising, internships, our leadership initiative, alumni engagement, and more.

We have a terrific lineup of speakers for our Policy Talks @ the Ford School series, as well; the talks will be delivered online for maximum access, but each speaker engagement will include opportunities for behind-the-scenes student and faculty participation in addition to the public talks.

We’re working on new ways to bring the whole school together online in creative ways to build and strengthen our community, and in-person in smaller groups. Our vibrant student organizations will be engaged and leading in a wide range of activities as well, including work on voting rights and other forms of activism, as well as opportunities for socializing online and in small groups. All of this will require social distancing and appropriate public health protocols. 

4. Research and engagement

Our research and policy engagement work will also continue apace, including opportunities for students to conduct research, develop mentoring connections with faculty and policy leaders, engage in vital work in our communities, and more. Last year, our students and faculty leapt into action to serve our communities, through such initiatives as the COVID-19 Corps, and the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project. We anticipate even more active research projects and engagement this winter.

Annenberg Auditorium seats are marked to help students maintain social distancing in the classroom

5. Our building

Weill Hall will be open, with a stackable set of public health protocols designed to reduce risks of virus transmission. This includes use of self-screening, face coverings, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and hand washing, as well as one-way stairwell usage, density controls in the building and in each room, HVAC settings, and other measures. The computer lab will be open under social distancing protocols, and we will be sure to set up procedures for printing and other essential services.  

Winter 2021

Our community

Whether you’re a student, a professor, or a member of our staff team, you’ve chosen the Ford School in part because of our small, warm community. We can’t gather in person this coming year for holiday skits, donuts with the deans in the Great Hall, or faculty lunches. But we’ll continue to find many ways to bring people together: we’ll have a communal, connected year.

The coming year is a vitally important one for our democracy, institutions, and justice here in the U.S. and for communities near and far. These times call for leaders grounded in service and for public policy grounded in evidence.

We're so proud of how our community rallied to support each other this past year—with innovation, teamwork, compassion, and excellence. Ford School students, faculty, and staff will continue to shine through this crisis, and we’ll do it together.
Socially distanced students in masks