Greetings from the Dean - The Briefing, October 2020

October 5, 2020



Dear friends:

The start of this semester has certainly been like no other. We're in stressful and difficult times. Many of us are deeply worried about health and safety, about racial justice and policing, about care for our children and parents, about our democracy. There is much uncertainty across our nation and world.

Here at the Ford School, our faculty and staff have made supporting our students and caring for each other our top priority. 

We’ve welcomed outstanding, full cohorts of graduate and undergraduate students to the Ford School. Our students give us hope and heart. They’re working hard within and outside courses to become the smart, ethical, service-driven leaders that our world needs. Student organizations have brought people together to engage the new cohorts and build the community we’ve valued. And a newly formed Student Leadership Team now advises and assists our administrators in navigating pandemic-related challenges to our teaching and learning. 

The coming elections have been a key focus, of course. Learn more here about our efforts to support and encourage voting (and watch some terrific voting PSAs created by students in Edie Goldenberg’s innovative course on political speech.) I’m co-chairing the University of Michigan’s theme semester on Debate and Democracy, a campus-wide initiative exploring issues of speech, what it means to be a member of a democratic society, and democratic engagement from a global perspective. Students can participate in Democracy Cafes, write their own lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, or hear from top experts on issues of national importance. 

Together, we’re working to live up to our mission: we’re building a community dedicated to the public good. 

Our alumni, donors, and friends are very much part of that community. To keep you better engaged and informed, we’ve overhauled our electronic newsletter, and you’ll now get The Briefing (formerly known as ‘the Ford School feed’) every other month. 

In this edition of The Briefing, we highlight our public events calendar, which is jam-packed this fall, with all events available for viewing online. This Friday, October 9 we’re hosting the Secretaries of State of Michigan and Ohio for a bipartisan discussion of voting rights and access.

We want alumni to be involved: please join us in particular for two special opportunities to connect with each other and with our students. This Wednesday, October 7, following the public Policy Talks event about the federal deficit with Maya MacGuineas and Larry Summers, please join us for a special community breakout session. On October 27, join us for a community conversation about the film ‘John Lewis: Good Trouble.’

You can read about our recently announced NASPAA  2020 Social Equity Award, which recognizes the work of Poverty Solutions. The Ford School continues to deepen its longstanding strength in social policy through significant investments, including the recent addition of three new professorships to advance social equity and inclusion, made possible by generous gifts from Hal and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust.  

Read here, too, about our plans to expand our Leadership Initiative. With support from the Meijer Foundation, we’ll grow our efforts to help students develop leadership skills needed for outstanding public service. 

 I hope you’ve explored our brand new website. I’m so excited by how well it captures the energy and inclusivity of our community. Please let us know what you think! The site was funded with generous support from the U-M Office of the Provost, and by gifts from Jim Hudak (MPP '71), Ian and Nancy Ashken, Liz Schrayer, and the Kresge Foundation through a designated gift by Steve Hamp.

Visit our new site often and follow our social channels to stay up-to-date on what our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are doing in key areas of impact, like democracy & debate, racial justice, Detroit, diplomacy, and COVID-19. 

I know many of you are working in similarly critical areas of impact during these difficult times. Please feel free to reach out and let us know what you are doing. Thank you for all that you do to make our world a better place. My best wishes to you, your family, and your friends. 


Michael S. Barr
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Frank Murphy Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
Roy and Jean Humphrey Proffitt Professor of Law
University of Michigan