Greetings from the Dean - The Briefing, January 2023

January 27, 2023

Dear friends, 

Happy New Year from the Ford School! 

We are incredibly proud of our alumni, and the impact they have on the public good. I am so happy to announce that our Alumni Board has named the recipient of the 2023 Neil Staebler Distinguished Service Award—our top alumni award bestowed for dedication to excellence in public service. This year, the award goes to Michigan State Senator Stephanie Chang (MPP/MSW ‘14). Read more about Senator Chang and this award here, and please join us in person or online on March 6 to congratulate her during a special Policy Talks @ the Ford School event on environmental justice.

Our Policy Talks series continues to attract outstanding speakers. In December, Towsley Policymaker in Residence Judge Laurel Beatty Blunt joined me for a conversation about what policymakers need to know about the criminal justice system. Then, in an event that earned international attention, FBI Director Christopher Wray visited and answered faculty and student questions about cybersecurity, civil liberties, TikTok, and more. 

In January, we hosted several inspirational speakers, including former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, on MLK Day; the brilliant  journalist and educator Jelani Cobb; and Angela Harrelson, the aunt of George Floyd, who found an unexpected path toward activism. I encourage you all to watch the videos from these and other Ford School events and check out our calendar of upcoming offerings.

There’s plenty more to enjoy and learn from in this edition of The Briefing

A series of student research projects with the Port of Monroe on economic impact, environmental analysis, and more led to state legislation to support the maritime industry in Michigan. 

Thanks to our Program for Practical Policy Engagement and other dynamic research centers, that kind of real-world student impact and learning is growing. We’ve posted this terrific roundup of hands-on student learning projects from last fall. Take a look at the incredible range and impact our students have on real-world policy communities. Could your organization use the talents of Ford School students? Reach out to [email protected]

Hear from our talented faculty on giving Puerto Ricans voice in the policymaking processes, policing mental health crises in New York City, and evaluating options for abortion policy.

Finally, you can now go back to class with beloved Ford School facultyLiz Gerber, Paula Lantz, and Shobita Parthasarathy—who have created online courses on the future of mobility, data analytics in the public sector using R, and justice and equity in technology policy. The courses are free for those in our U-M community and can be audited for free by all.

We have so much more on the horizon, including Giving Blue Day on March 15th—a day to show your support for the work of the Ford School and our students.


Celeste Watkins-Hayes,

Interim Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Director, Center for Racial Justice
Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor
Professor of Sociology
Research and Community Impact Fellow, Anti-Racism Collaborative