Bednar named faculty director, UMICH Votes and Democratic Engagement

May 9, 2024

Political scientist Jenna Bednar has been appointed faculty director of UMICH Votes and Democratic Engagement. UMICH Votes is a non-partisan campus coalition whose mission is to improve the accessibility of voting, foster the confidence necessary to navigate the voting process successfully, and help students understand why their votes matter, for students of all three University of Michigan campuses.

Bednar is a specialist on federalism and democratic structures and norms, and her recent focus investigates how to encourage human flourishing within democratic systems. For five years she directed the Michigan in Washington program. She has also been involved in the framing of the campus' democracy work since 2019. She served on the Presidential Debate Academic Advisory Committee and was instrumental in shaping the 2020 theme semester's curricular and extracurricular programming. More recently, she has served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Ford and has taken the lead in the Ford School's Resilient Democracies efforts.  She is also a member of the Committee on the University of Michigan Principles on Diversity of Thought and Freedom of Expression, chairing the subcommittee tasked with evaluating how the university is living up to the aspirations embodied by the Principles. 

Bednar regards this new role as "an opportunity to support and augment the superb work of the coalition partners, cementing the University of Michigan’s leadership as a model for campus democratic and civic engagement.”

“I am delighted to be able to partner once again with Professor Bednar and to work with the Coalition as we prepare, as a campus community, for the Fall 2024 election season,” said Angela Dillard, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. “She will bring her knowledge, expertise, and collaborative spirit to the coalition's work.”

“It's very good news for our campus!” said Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy. “Professor Bednar will offer thoughtful and visionary leadership to the role of Faculty Director of UMICH Votes and Democratic Engagement.  This appointment is coming at a critical time, heading into the fall elections.”

In order to continue to facilitate the cross-campus organizing and collaborative programming for which the UMICH Votes Coalition has been known, Bednar will maintain her faculty positions in LSA and the Ford School with an administrative reporting line to the Provost Office through the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. She will continue to lead Ford School efforts around resilient democracies, and she will keep the Ford School closely linked with campus-wide work on civic engagement and voting.