First annual Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day a success

September 7, 2011

Ford School fellowship reached an unprecedented scale on July 14, when alums and current students gathered at locations across the globe to partake in the first Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day.

"Our Alumni Board really took the initiative to reach out and bring together the Ford School community," said alumni relations manager Elisabeth Johnston. "We hope this becomes a tradition that gets bigger each year."

Ford School alums organized get-togethers at nearly a dozen locations around the country, including Ann Arbor, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle.

"Before we knew it, the idea caught on and alums contacted the Board and the Ford School to get involved," said Ford School Alumni Board member Norm Bishara. Among the locations added by enthusiastic Ford School members were Malawi and Tanzania. "We ended up with nearly a dozen official sites across the U.S. and overseas, with many more informal gatherings springing up as well."

July 14 - which would have been President Ford's 98th birthday - was a natural choice to kick off the inaugural event.

"When we started looking for a day to begin this tradition it was obvious that President Ford's July 14th birthday would be fitting," said Bishara, an assistant professor at the Ross Business School. "It also was great timing for current students on their internships to connect with alums."

The Washington, D.C., event at One Lounge DC near Dupont Circle brought together nearly 100 past, present and even future Fordies. "It was great to meet so many generations of Ford students, from people who have been in the workforce for some time to recent undergraduates," said Matt Filter, an incoming MPP candidate who worked in U.S. Sen. John McCain's office

"It was really helpful to see the type of people that come to the Ford School and learn about their career paths and policy interests. It definitely made me more excited about starting classes.

The strong turnout by all sectors of the Ford School family - from PhD students to faculty and staff to current BA, MPA and MPP students - has encouraged the Alumni Board about the prospects of a second celebration next summer.

Said Bishara, "By all accounts the inaugural Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day was a great success and we plan to initiate the event again next year."

Queen Elizabeth toasts President Gerald R. Ford at the Bicentennial State Dinner on July 7, 1976. Photo courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Library.