PPIA 2012 Summer Institute: Now a 31-Year Ford School Tradition

July 27, 2012

For 31 summers in a row, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy has hosted top students from colleges across the United States as part of the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute, a national program that encourages diversity in public service. Launched by the Sloan Foundation in 1981, the highly competitive PPIA program helps students from underrepresented minority groups prepare for graduate school and, ultimately, taking leadership roles in the public sector.

Each year, the seven-week program provides rigorous preparation for graduate programs in public policy, and this summer was no exception. Classes introduced students to timely policy topics; Dean Susan Collins taught a module on international policy, while Matthew Davis taught health policy. And because preparing students for graduate-level coursework is a central goal, students also took modules in statistics, taught by Justin Thomas, and microeconomics, taught by LSA's Janet Gerson. Devi Glick (MPP/MS SNRE '12) and Devin McMackin served as student tutors.

Since the program's inauguration three decades ago, the Ford School is one of only two schools that have never missed a summer. Although there were several planned extra-curricular activities—this year included a visit to "The Big House," Michigan Football Stadium and a tour of the River Rouge Factory in Dearborn—eighteen students arrived on campus in early June ready to get down business.

"They had so much drive and ambition," says Kersta Gustafson, Ford School PPIA program coordinator. "But they also had so much spunk and personality," she adds. "It was a great mixture of work and play."

A highlight of the program is the policy lecture series, including talks by Ford School faculty members John Chamberlin, Sheldon Danziger, Alan Deardorff, Ann Lin, and Marina Whitman. Guest lectures were delivered by a spectrum of policy practitioners, including Raphael Bostic, former assistant secretary of policy at HUD; Nancy Fahey of the Congressional Budget Office; David Lehrer from the Government Accountability Office; and Farouk Ophaso (MPP '06), a staffer for the Senate Budget Committee—and a Ford School PPIA alum.

The PPIA summer institute comes to a close on July 27. The Ford School bids farewell to this remarkable group with a reception in Ford School's Great Hall and a final banquet. Word around the school is the 2012 cohort has been particularly memorable. When asked to evaluate the program, participant Prabhdeep Kehal explained simply, "The people truly made this program—the cohort, the faculty, and staff. I would do this program all over again."

[Learn more about the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) program]
[View the PPIA Flickr album]