Greetings from the Dean - The Briefing, April 2021

April 21, 2021

Dear friends,

It’s been a challenging academic year, and I’m so proud of how hard our students, faculty, and staff have worked, and the support they’ve given each other. 

The year has drawn to a close with a number of very exciting announcements.  

Two weeks ago we announced a transformational gift from Hal and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust to grow our core strength in social policy and equity work. With the $17 million investment, we’ll establish the Kohn Collaborative, anchored by five professorships and endowed support for graduate fellowships. 

We also announced an expansion of the Leadership Initiative, thanks to generous support from the Towsley Foundation, building on an earlier gift from the Meijer Foundation. We were delighted as well to announce two new appointments for the fall: Morela Hernandez, who will serve as faculty director of the Leadership Initiative, and Katherine Michelmore, an expert on education policy. Finally (for now!), we announced that with other top policy schools, we’re part of a pilot program that will support our master’s students and increase diversity in PhD programs.

Our students are as engaged as ever in campus activities–providing research and analysis to U-M’s Carbon Taskforce and winning 2nd prize at the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As they embark for summer internships and new jobs, I’m really proud of the range of ways our students will be advancing the public good. We will celebrate the accomplishments of our 2021 classes virtually this year. I encourage all Fordies, wherever you are, to tune in and wish our graduates well on May 1st.

Finally, I write today as we're absorbing the guilty verdicts in the trial of George Floyd's killer. Our relief at this particular legal outcome is real. But we must not let up: one just verdict does not correct the overlapping structures and systems that lie at the heart of racial injustice in this country.

We must all redouble our efforts and keep working for an end to racism and racist violence--for just and peaceful communities.

Best wishes,

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