Ambassador Levitsky’s gift supports student internships

February 11, 2021

With a generous gift from Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky, a Professor of International Policy and Practice, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy will establish the Joan Levitsky Internship Fund. The Fund, established in memory of Joan Levitsky, will be used to support graduate student internships, particularly those in international affairs. 

“We are grateful for Mel’s generous gift that will support our students in their pursuit of international policy for the public good,” said Michael S. Barr, Dean of the Ford School. “The gift is in memory of his dear wife Joan, who loved the Ford School and our wonderful students, and who helped to build our community in so many ways.”

Photo of Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mrs. Joan Levitsky, and President Bill Clinton
Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mrs. Joan Levitsky, and President Bill Clinton. Brazil, October 1997. (Courtesy / M. Levitsky)

As the wife of a career American Ambassador, Joan made many friends during the couple’s travels and postings around the world. In addition to raising their three boys (Adam, Josh, and Ross) while living overseas, Joan hosted presidents, first ladies, and diplomatic parties in Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, and the former Soviet Union. She represented the U.S. in all of their travels, and even played the master of ceremonies on a trip with Mrs. Clinton to Northeast Brazil.  

When they moved to Ann Arbor in 2006, “she took absolute joy in being part of the Ford School and the University of Michigan community,” said Melvyn. “Joan enjoyed attending events on campus and in the broader community, and she loved hosting and interacting with the speakers and students at our home, just as she did abroad.”

“She was a great supporter of the Michigan Musical Society and Michigan sports,” added her son Ross. Maize and blue runs deep in the family, with Melvyn, their three sons, one niece, a grandson, and two daughter-in-laws all graduating from the university. “The University of Michigan was part of her family too. She had a knack for deeply connecting with the people she met.”

Her son Josh spoke of the symbolism in this gift, connecting his mother’s travels abroad, her intellectual curiosity, and her volunteerism in the community. Her son Adam added, "There is little she would want more with this gift than for a student to use their internship experience to launch a career in international policy." 

A commemorative bench in honor of Joan Levitsky will be installed at the Ford School when it is safe to do so.