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Ford School and Department of Economics receive joint professorship in Applied Economics and Public Policy

July 1, 2008

University of Michigan alumna Gail R. Wilensky (AB '64, AM '65, PhD '68) is a nationally recognized economist, skilled in the analysis and development of policies addressing health care reform and changes in the health care environment. She is currently a Senior Fellow at Project HOPE, an international health education foundation. Among her many professional activities, she recently co-chaired a Department of Defense task force on the future of military health, and served as a commissioner on the President's Commission on the Care of Returning Wounded Warriors and as a commissioner on the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health.

Because she believes that it is essential for students to have access to faculty who are top-rated applied economists with strong policy interests, Dr. Wilensky is giving $2 million to establish the Gail Wilensky Professorship in Applied Economics and Public Policy, which will be a joint appointment shared by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Department of Economics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She is also providing financial support for graduate students in Economics, which will be matched by President Mary Sue Coleman's Challenge Fund.

According to Dr. Wilensky, "We must continue to provide the very best education possible for generations to come because they represent the future of effective policy development and policy implementation."

Dr. Wilensky credits her education in economics and her early collaborative work at the Institute for Public Policy Studies (the predecessor to the Ford School) for her professional achievements. "I am very grateful for the education and experience I received while at the University of Michigan," she said. "The skills I learned equipped me to be actively involved in health care policy development, analysis and reform."

"Gail Wilensky is the quintessential example of what an interdisciplinary, liberal arts education can do for an individual," said LSA Dean Terrence J. McDonald. "She has been extremely prolific due to her ability to analyze a given situation and make a decision regarding the best possible outcome. Her vision and generosity will provide tremendous opportunities for Michigan students."

Dean Susan M. Collins of the Ford School said, "I greatly appreciate the generous support that Gail has directed to establish a joint professorship in economics and public policy. Gail's life work has seamlessly crossed both of these arenas, and it will be our privilege to have a professorship that bears her name."

Dr. Wilensky has served as Deputy Assistant to President (GHW) Bush, advising him on health and welfare issues, directed the Medicare and Medicaid programs from 1990-92 and chaired the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission from 1997-2001, which advises Congress on Medicare payment policies. In February 2008, she delivered a public lecture at the Ford School entitled "The Politics of Health Care Reform." Audio from the event is available online.