Advancing the public good: Steady and true

State & Hill, spring 2024
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Portrait of Celeste Watkins-Hayes

Warm greetings from Ann Arbor!

This edition of State & Hill sings the praises of public servants—at a time when the profession is under attack. We present eight MPP alums: professional, creative problem solvers who have dedicated their careers to federal and local government service. Read also the perspectives of five of our faculty members who share why public sector leadership matters and how they challenge our students to make difficult tradeoffs and get the facts right. Read more


In praise of public servants

Fifty years ago, President Ford wrote to the heads of federal departments and agencies in defense of the Civil Service Act and an apolitical public sector workforce. 

“I am convinced,” he wrote, ”that a strong career service is one of the greatest strengths of our democratic process and one of the best guarantees of sound, effective, and efficient government.” 

What spurred his letter? The Federal Civil Service Commission had recently uncovered evidence that the Nixon Administration had tried to place political appointees into the legally nonpartisan civil service. 

Today, proposals such as the Heritage Foundation’s Policy Project 2025 seek to fundamentally change the governance landscape, and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump has promised to convert as many as 50,000 civil servants into political appointees. Max Stier of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service has warned that those policies would be “a very large earthquake,” upending the professionalism, expertise, and commitment to the public good of the federal workforce. Similar challenges continue to play themselves out in state capitals and in local public sector entities, such as school boards and county health departments.

In this issue of State & Hill, we uplift voices from our community to illustrate the value of a professional, well-trained, dedicated workforce—serving us all in federal, state, and local governments across the U.S.


Steady and true

A life of public service, in quotes and pictures

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gerald Ford’s presidency
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Steady and true

Public sector consulting

What’s next for private public service
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In addition

Meet new assistant professor Yousif Hassan

Expert in AI, equity, and science and technology studies joins the faculty
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It's all about equity

Liz Gerber sees key role for governments in the transition to electric vehicles
Read more

Go abroad, Blue!

Over spring break, annual policy study trips took graduate Fordies to Colombia for the International Economic Development Program and undergrads to Brussels for the BA Global Engagement Seminar.
View the photo album


Fordies in the news
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Highlights from Policy Talks @ the Ford School
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Faculty findings

Parthasarathy on innovation, Cohodes on charter schools, and Thacher on policing
Read more
Illustration: Jordan Wilson

The TEAM, the TEAM, the TEAM

From the early September opening kickoff through the cold January day when the championship victory parade rolled by Weill Hall, the 2023 Michigan football season was a thrilling, satisfying roller coaster ride here in Ann Arbor and for Wolverines around the world. Gerald R. Ford was a leader on Michigan's national championship winning teams in 1932 and 1933, and in all, was part of 16 of the program's 1,000+ wins.
Illustration of Gerald R. Ford walking out onto Michigan Stadium

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Dean: Celeste Watkins-Hayes; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs: Jenna Bednar; Associate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement: Jeffrey Morenoff; Director of Communications/Executive Editor: Laura K. Lee (MPP ’96); Managing editor: Rebecca Cohen (MPP ’09); Art lead: Madison Brow; Contributors: Javed Ali, Catherine Hausman, Paula Lantz, Katherine Michelmore, Natasha Pilkauskas, David Pratt, Daniel Rivkin, Tracey Van Dusen, Jordan Wilson; Class Notes editor: Elisabeth Johnston; Photographers: Francisco Kjolseth, Daryl Marshke, Erin Kirkland, Amy Beck Harris, Jon Hanson, Michigan Photography; Design: Savitski Design; Printer: University Lithoprinters, Inc.

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Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091