Greetings from the Dean

June 15, 2010

Dear Alumni and Friends,

This edition of the feed offers news about a number of exciting activities at the Ford School. We have pictures from our 2010 Commencement celebrations. President Barack Obama, of course, delivered the University address, and some 80,000 members of the U-M community poured out to hear him. You can read about the recent "energy security crisis" simulation the CIA ran at the Ford School. Our students were thrilled to participate—on a Saturday morning—and we look forward to having the CIA back again next year. We also have an article about the geoengineering technology assessment faculty member Shobita Parthasarathy and her students conducted for the Government Accountability Office.

Another article points out some of the fascinating work our international interns are doing. Each summer, the Ford School sends its MPP students out to intern at organizations worldwide. This internship—a required component of the degree program—is a wonderful opportunity for them to try out a field of interest, improve their practical skills, put academic concepts to test in real-world situations, and assist some very worthwhile organizations with projects that they might not otherwise be able to undertake. We’re incredibly proud of these students and pleased to share news about the projects they engage in and the organizations they serve.

This summer, some of our master's students will intern for the mayors of Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago; others will intern for state and federal agencies; and an impressive number will intern for international organizations. There are inspirational stories behind each of these internships—and we wish we could share them all—but for this edition of the feed, we decided to highlight the work some of our international interns are doing.

Speaking of internships, I also want to announce that the Ford School has received a generous gift from the foundation of U-M alumnus David Bohnett (MBA '80) to establish an exciting internship and fellowship partnership with the Detroit Mayor's Office. The Motor City, as we all know, has faced some huge challenges with education and unemployment, but these same challenges have opened the door to innovation, creating many opportunities for entrepreneurs and reformers. David Bohnett joins us in our belief that the city will emerge better and stronger from this crisis. To help speed that recovery, the David Bohnett Public Service Fellowship program will provide generous academic fellowships to two competitively selected master's of public policy students each year, for the next three years. As part of their study, each of those students will engage in a paid 10-week summer internship with Detroit Mayor David Bing, assisting with a variety of public policy initiatives. We look forward to reporting about their good work in the years ahead.

I'd like to share, too, some information about the Ford School's newest center. Last fall, with support from the provost's office and the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the school was able to launch the first known university center focused on public policy in diverse societies. The goal: to shed light on how public policy can most effectively navigate the opportunities and challenges posed by societies that are becoming increasingly diverse.

This year, the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies has hosted a number of talks at the University of Michigan. Scott Page, a professor of complex systems, political science, and economics at U-M, spoke about how the experience of innumerable minds can enrich the public policy decision-making process. John Garcia, a professor of political science at the University of Arizona, spoke about the 2010 Census and the challenges associated with accurately counting a diverse public. And, more recently, Harold Ford, Jr., executive vice chairman of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, spoke about his experience as a five term U.S. Congressional Representative for Tennessee. Each of these lectures was well-received by the U-M community, and each opened up new avenues of discussion and deliberation for our students and faculty.

In addition to these talks, the center launched a grant-making program to support University of Michigan students and faculty in their efforts to conduct research and programming related to diversity and public policy. I'm delighted to report that seven winning grant recipients will receive funding for their projects this year. While I don't have space to report on each of these, let me give two examples to illustrate the type of research and programming the center is supporting.

One of the programs funded, proposed by some of our own Ford School students, is "Diversity Talks," a lunchtime seminar series organized by Students of Color in Public Policy. This University-wide lecture series will explore issues of race, underserved communities of color, and public policy. One of the research projects funded will investigate local, state, and national policies designed to support nonresidential fathers' involvement in the lives of their children. Because more than two-thirds of African American children are born to unmarried mothers, and because poverty and behavioral problems are more common among children and youth in female-headed families, this is an important policy area of concern, and one that is increasingly receiving attention from policymakers across the nation. I hope to share news of the results of these initiatives next summer.

In closing, I want to let you know that the Ford School is putting out a call for real-world policy projects that we can assign to our master's students in the newly revamped Applied Policy Seminar, now called Strategic Public Policy Consulting or SPPC. While students have a great group of projects to get them started next fall, we have room for more in the winter term. Please give some thought to whether or not your organization has a project our students could tackle in the classroom. While we can only accept a few each term, we are looking for worthwhile projects that create benefits for the organizations that submit them, and valuable learning experiences for our students.

Best regards,