Dean Michael Barr: 2019 Ford School Commencement

May 4, 2019 0:22:02
Kaltura Video

Dean Michael Barr speaks during the 2019 Ford School Commencement. 


Thank you welcome everyone those of you
who are still standing please have a seat.

It's great to see everybody here welcome
I'm Michael Barr I'm the Joan and

Sanford while dean of the Gerald R.
Ford School of Public Policy It

was a real pleasure to see many of
you yesterday at our open house

at the Rock and graduate ceremonies or
this morning at the big house and

it's my honor to welcome you here this
afternoon on behalf of the entire Ford

school community for

I'm going to begin by briefly introducing
the members of the platform party up here

with me today with more to say
about our speakers later with me on

stage is our keynote commencement speaker
distinguished journalists Michele Norris

thank you are so

honored to have Michelle with us
this evening this afternoon and

look forward to her remarks
were honored to be joined by

region of the University of
Michigan ambassador Ron wiser

thank you region Wiser is a leader

in business philanthropy and politics he
and his wife Eileen have been incredibly

generous friends to the University
of Michigan and of the Ford School

in particular Ron we're really thankful
to have you here this afternoon.

I'm delighted to welcome another longtime
University of Michigan leader Rob Sellers

thank you Rob is the vice provost for
equity and inclusion and the Charles D.

moody collegiate professor of psychology
and education that Rob thank you so much

for being here and also for representing
the University of Michigan leadership.

I'm pleased to be thanked

I'm pleased to be joined as well by
a number of my faculty colleagues at stage

right is Elizabeth Gerber our associate
dean for research and policy engagement.

Thank you next to
Liz Ford School Professor John chary John

thank you John directs our new wiser

diplomacy center in our International
Policy Center and he's going to be reading

names of our graduates as they cross the
stage you'll see he's very good at that.

On my left we have Sharon Messina who is
the director of undergraduate programs.

Thank her Fessor Brian J.

could represent the leadership
of our Ph D. program

thank you and our associate dean for
academic affairs and

director of our master's programs
Professor Paul Ince thought.

Thank You may be able to tell
from the applause Paul is

the elected speaker from the students
on behalf of the faculty.

Finally elected by their classmates to
provide the student commencement addresses

our soon to be forward and P.P.
graduate Jose Javier the high and

I'm the one

thank you and

our and R.B.A. soon to be graduate
I guess as of this morning have

is now a graduate that's with
the present University said.

During fish.

The WITH thank

you we are gathered this afternoon to
recognize and celebrate the accomplishment

of 166 outstanding students
smart driven Don't cry yet.

You're supposed to cry at the end.

Smart driven public minded people
who are believing our communities in

the next half century.

Thank you

I have the honor of talking about these
students what they've learned here what

they've brought to us what they've
learned what we've learned from them and

a little bit about what we know about what
they're going to do next let me start by

sharing our schools mission statement
what our faculty and students and

staff believe and do the Ford school
at the University of Michigan

is a community dedicated to
the public good we inspire in perfect

diverse leaders grounded in service
conduct transformational research and

collaborate on evidence based policymaking
to take on our communities and

our world's most pressing
challenges yes we do.

Yes we do our world indeed
faces a time of truly daunting

challenges outside this auditorium
spring has finally arrived just in time.

Campus is full of flowers and buds and
happy faces celebrating accomplishments

and that is as it should be but
we are a community steeped in policy and

politics and so we know that our world
indeed faces many daunting challenges

here in the U.S. and around the world the
democratic institutions and global norms

that we've relied on to build to build a
better world are in many ways under attack

from Zina phobia racism anti-Semitism
from leaders who have no respect for

democracy or fear it from corruption and
skyrocketing inequality

the post-war global order the rules
based international system our

commitment to fight bigotry our dedication
to the civil rights tradition to embrace

difference our openness our vitality
our shared values emerging from

the wreckage of World War 2
are in many ways all at risk

graduates none of this is new to you it's
why you came to the ford school to take

responsibility for the Times in which
you live you've inspired me every single

day of the past 2 years with your
energy your passion your empathy and

creativity I believe in you I believe in
your capacity and your conviction and

your preparation to take on these pressing
challenges our school is named for

one of the University of Michigan's most
distinguished graduates the 38th president

of the United States Gerald Ford
in 1975 is

the Vietnam War ground to an end
President Ford faced a refugee crisis and

he rose to the challenge many
in South Vietnam Laos and

Cambodia had been allies of the United
States and they sought asylum here in this

country we were in some large measure
responsible for the conditions they fled.

Ford created an interagency task force
that managed the resettlement of more than

of time because he believed it was

the right thing to do coming on the heels
of a devastating deeply divisive war

Ford's efforts to help refugees were
not popular with the public nor

with Democrats nor
with Republicans in the Congress nor

with many in state houses around
the country but he pressed his case just

none the less it just burns me up these
great humanitarians President Ford

was quoted as saying of those
opposed to opening America's doors

they just want to turn their backs he
said we didn't do it to the hungry

we didn't do it to the Cubans and
dammit we're not going to do it now.

Today issues of immigration and
asylum building walls or

building bridges are all too relevant
once again and they will be among the top

issues today's graduates will face
leading on leading on in the years and

decades to come there are an estimated
$25000000.00 refugees around the world and

more than half are under the age of

asylum policy those are all and
part political issues there's room for

plenty of reasonable disagreement about
particular policies or the right number

of people to admit and what for what for
what reasons for example the burdens and

the benefits that new immigrants bring to
our communities the role that principled

foreign policy can or cannot play in
supporting just unstable governments and

societies around the world these
are all valid policy debates but

here are 3 principles that I
believe should guide us 1st

a fundamental recognition of the humanity
of each and every human being.

in places of relative safety and

security should feel a profound sense
of gratitude to our country and

responsibility for those less fortunate
and 3rd that our differences make a strong

our differences make a strong you can see
it right here in the Ford school community

where a stronger wiser more caring
community because of our differences

because of the unique contributions of
every single member of our community

members of our classes of 21000 hail
from over 20 countries they speak

dozens of languages they include
a graduate a dreamer who earlier

today gave a truly beautiful speech at the
University's graduation in the Big House

declaring herself quote undocumented and


They include in our community descendants
of enslaved people whose brutal journeys

to America cry out for justice who
unpaid labor built this country

who sacrifices and injustices
in indignities day after day and

decade after decade have worn on and
without recompense

they include Midwesterners Southerners
red staters and

blue staters rural and
urban citizen and non-citizen black and

white and brown and
every shade of the human condition.

Students who worked in the White House for
President Trump and a student who is

the Easter Bunny for President Obama's
egg roll on the White House lawn.

Thank our Ford school

community includes a senior member of our
faculty who led and built this school for

many years the daughter of immigrants from
Jamaica a beloved teacher who emigrated

from Cape Town South Africa a staff
leader whose parents came to the U.S.

fleeing religious discrimination in
the Middle East a faculty member whose

research demonstrated the huge positive
impact refugees have right here in our

community in southeast Michigan myself
whose grandparents fled the rising tide of

anti-Semitism in Poland in the 1930 S.
coming 1st to Israel and

then to the United States with my father
after World War 2 on a boat filled with

oranges and old merchant marine
to the Port of New Orleans and

so many more of our faculty students and
staff all contributing to our strength

our differences make a strong immigrants
and children of immigrants make

America stronger with their talents and
drive they bring us friends in far places

they help us understand and succeed in
those far places when we negotiate and

trade among the Vietnamese refugees
that President Ford welcome to

the United States in 1975 when more than
$3000.00 orphans evacuated from Saigon as

a major North Vietnamese military
offensive approach that city

in April of that year Gerald and
Betty Ford traveled to California to

meet one of the cargo planes filled
with those young children and

babies President Ford entered
the plane and carried the 1st baby off

himself there's a photograph of him
sitting on a bus headed toward the hangar

he's cradling one of the Vietnamese babies
in his arms bottle feeding the orphan.

President Ford was leading he was using
his power the power of his office

to show the capacity for American
leadership and generosity and humanity

he took responsibility students
it gives me great inspiration and

hope to know that soon you you will
be the ones out there leading and

that you will lead like Gerald Ford
with compassion and heart

with analytics Yes with empirics Yes but
driven by our shared generous

understanding of the human condition
how we prepared our graduates for

that let me tell you a little bit about
our curriculum for both our graduate and

undergraduate students we start with a
shared understanding of an belief in facts

and today's graduates have learned
to analyze complicated data sets

to think analytically to
evaluate benefits and

cos they know their stuff that's
a strong foundation to build on

we stress communication skills and so
they learn to speak and write clearly and

we've taught leadership our graduates have
been taught to listen and to talk and

to think critically ethically and
compassionately and

let me tell you a little bit more at this
point about our world class faculty and

our outstanding staff who work so

closely with our graduates
these past 2 years our faculty

hold joint appointments all over campus
in politics in political science and

sociology in economics and in so many
more disciplines in departments around

the school and around the university
their expertise is both broad and

deep their thoughtful enthusiastic
teachers and mentors they're doing

cutting edge research and they're actively
engaged with critically important public

policy challenges here in our community
across the nation and around the world.

Therefore schools professional staff are
a source of the school strength that well

our terrific staff Trimix
recruited they counseled and

they supported today's graduates let
me ask all Ford school faculty and

staff now to stand and please join me
in thanking them for all that they do


There are others who deserve thanks in
recognition and that's all of you in

the audience and family and friends who
are watching on line you've raised these

students to care about what matters
you've nurtured them counseled them and

consoled them they wouldn't be here
without you graduates please take

this chance to thank your loved ones for
their support over the years

thank you.

Today 91 of our students have earned
a master's degree they hail from 10

different countries and speak 23 different
languages a 3rd have earned dual

masters with other schools the law school
of public health social work the School of

Information engineering the business
school and many more they include

the chair of the Washington County Board
of Commissioners of R.C. aflat athlete and

captain in the US Army for those of you
who have seen their class photo I feel

like I might need to explain that they
do not actually include a walking bagel.

Members of this group led a fantastic
course and study trip to Morocco they

led a successful charity auction to raise
funds for a youth program in Detroit and

afterwards led a rousing singalong
on a bus back to the present.

They've been intentional about their
education in their career preparation

they've led by action by
putting their heads down and

getting to work this group also overcame
a lot of personal adversity and

through it all they took care of each
other let me tell you now a bit about

the 72 students who have earned a Bachelor
of Arts in public policy they are very

smart very enthusiastic group they have
been part of one of the university's

finest liberal arts traditions in small
classes with Michigan's top faculty R.B.A.

curriculum train students to think
critically and across disciplines to

understand policy challenges and
to develop solutions today's B.A.

graduates include $175.00 Beta Kappa
is in 18 Angel scholars they include

a student chosen to speak as I've said at
the university's honors convocation last

month another who spoke this morning at
the University's commencement ceremony in

the big house and you'll hear more from
our B.A. students in just a moment

they write for the Michigan Daily and
The Detroit Free Press that campus wide

student government ran track participated
in Razzi in the marching band and

advocated passionately for
the causes they believe that they

helped an arbor massively improve student
voter turnout during last fall's election

these students have improved our
school in the university but

what's truly remarkable to me is that
somehow they've managed to do all that

without ever once checking their email.

It's pretty stunning.

We celebrate as well to students who have
earned Ph D.'s one in public policy in

sociology and the other in public policy
in economics those are pioneering programs

for students who want to pursue research
careers in a traditional social social

science discipline and to see themselves
as deeply committed to the study and

improvement of public policy.

Taken together the classes of 21000
are serious students hard workers and

dedicated leaders
graduates you are amazing.

But let me give you 5 tips to help
you on the path from here the 1st

I've said already we'd like
Gerald Ford find your passion

take unpopular stand when you know they're
right take responsibility number 2.

Work hard really hard really really

really hard Anything worth doing
requires an enormous amount

of hard work number 3 don't be a jerk.

That might seem like one of these
norms we've lost but it's not and

I really implore you to be kind to
your colleagues and friends number 4

empower yourself you can do
anything don't talk yourself down

talk yourself up we're facing enormous
challenges and you can make the difference

Lasley a number 5 love your
team you can't do it alone but

you don't have to build a team around you
that will help you solve our most pressing

challenges together as your time
at Michigan draws to a close I

know you're thinking a lot about your team
about the classmates you've worked and

studied and become lifelong friends with
you're excited yes about new challenges

new cities but I know I miss you'll miss
a lot of things about your days here in

Ann Arbor at the very
least Dominic's Rick's.


Calculus with Carl Simon.

Sticks with John Hanson.

You missed the patient year of Cory
stark stork in the water guide of our

writing center team and so
many other beloved teachers and mentors.

You won't miss the stressful hours
perhaps in the computer lab or

debating endlessly about whether to
provide forks in the student lounge.

But you might miss naps in the reading
room the excitement of exploding water

pipes in the Great Hall or
the occasional wind chill day off

of course for most of you you'll miss each
other most next year your friends and

classmates may not be
just down the street but

I promise you that the ties you've made
here ties forged in mutual purpose

in hard work as well as in fun will
endure and will help sustain and

propel you graduates we are proud of
you and we're all going to miss you

congratulations and
best wishes to the classes of 2019 go blue

Thank you.