Greetings from the Dean - The Briefing, February 2021

February 18, 2021

Dear friends,

It has been an historic start to 2021. For all of the pain, fear, and division in our national political climate, we also see so much hope: the inauguration of President Joe Biden, a man of great decency, and Vice President Kamala Harris, another step forward toward justice on the long arc of U.S. history.

We see hope, too, in a marshalling of expertise and willingness to serve in DC that I believe will help usher in real change in our COVID response, racial justice, equity, our climate, and other fundamental challenges. It gives me much hope and pride, for example, to know that Professor Robert Hampshire will be serving in the administration. Robert will serve as principal deputy assistant secretary for research and technology within the Transportation Department.

At the Ford School, we are focused on taking care of our people: checking in, masking up, and staying physically distanced as communities race to get vaccines out. This is an especially dangerous time, but if we are all careful, we have the hope of getting to the other side and getting vaccines to enough people to defeat the virus in the next several months.

This edition of The Briefing touches on how our faculty are applying rigorous analysis and insights to the challenges facing the Biden administration; fantastic additions to our faculty expertise; longtime Ford School leader Paul Courant, set to deliver a prestigious talk; and examples of how our faculty and staff train the next generation of leaders for the public good.

We share, too, free and easy virtual access to an impressive slate of speakers who visit our community. Earlier this week I moderated a powerful discussion with U.S. Representatives Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Peter Meijer (R-MI), two important voices who think a lot about what values and priorities they share across the political aisle.

We also hosted prominent economist Dr. Lisa D. Cook who discussed the connections between economics, diversity, and innovation, as well as Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer who talked about the intersection of national security interests and human rights in the Middle East. 

Tomorrow Dr. Reuben J. Miller will “visit” to discuss his groundbreaking book, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, and next week, the great U-M basketball coach John Beilein will join professor Paula Lantz to discuss the importance of teams in leadership. You can watch past events or register for future events here.

We’re keeping a proud eye on you, too, alumni, and we’re grateful for all you do for our school. My thanks in particular to our six newly-elected Alumni Board members. If you are starting a new job, please drop Career Services a note to tell you how you are doing and update your information! 

Wishing you continued health and success. 


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