Greetings from the Dean

January 30, 2013

Dear Alumni and Friends:

The holiday season has passed, taking with it the first half of the school year. Last semester was a whirlwind of activity, and we’re expecting even more excitement this semester, if January is any indication.

Many of you will recall participating in the Integrated Policy Exercise. Led this year by Elisabeth Gerber, Jack L. Walker Professor of Public Policy, this simulation gave master’s students the chance to role play government officials, community advocates, union reps, the media, and more as they grappled with the very real policy issues surrounding southeast Michigan’s new Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Gov. Rick Snyder had only signed the RTA into law a few weeks before the exercise began; he videotaped introductory comments, and students were excited to engage the opinions and expertise of several policy professionals —many of whom were actual stakeholders in the RTA’s development.

On January 14th we were honored to welcome Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to our Policy Talks @ the Ford School series. Our wide ranging conversation enabled him to share his views on U.S. monetary policy, the debt ceiling, and Federal Reserve independence before taking questions from the audience; he was engaging and gracious. The event was incredibly well attended—in the auditorium and online—with 11,540 viewers of our live web stream, over 2,700 media hits, and more than 4,500 tweets! You can still see the video of our conversationon the Ford School website.

Now we’re in full gear for our celebration of President Ford’s centennial year. Last October the U-M paid tribute to Betty Ford and we were delighted to welcome keynote speaker Nancy Brinker, the Ford Family, and other valued guests to honor this trailblazing first lady.

Kicking off this year’s events, on January 23rd the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) co-sponsored a screening of the documentary Black and Blue : The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward, and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game, followed by a panel discussion with Steven Ford, President Ford’s son, and former Senator Buzz Thomas, grandson of Willis Ward. A part of the U-M MLK Day events, the film reveals the little-known story of a disgraceful, but ultimately inspiring, event in Michigan football history as well as the young Gerald Ford’s integrity.

There are more distinguished and highly anticipated centennial visitors ahead, including Brent Scowcroft, who will dedicate a small replica of President Ford's statue from the Capitol Rotunda on April 16 and Paul O’Neill, who will deliver the charge to the class at the Ford School Commencement in May. Stay tuned for updates.

In this edition of ‘the Ford School Feed,’ you’ll find information on how to join us at our annual reception in Washington, DC, where Ted Truman, Marina Whitman, and I will discuss the global impact of the U.S. economy. You’ll also learn about what Kristin Seefeldt told the New York Times and NPR about debt in America and what Justin Wolfers had to say about last year’s economic news on All Things Considered. And you’ll meet two alumnae who are having an impact on Sandy relief and LGBT equality.

There’s much more inside . Please stay in touch, and I thank you for your commitment to the Ford School.

Sincerely,
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Susan M. Collins
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy