Series: Admissions

Final Q&A: Meet Dean Barr

January 6, 2022 0:58:13
Kaltura Video

Hear about his priorities for the school and what he’s most excited about for the upcoming year. January 6, 2022.


0:04:33.0 Beth: Hi everyone. My name is Beth Sebastian the Director of Admissions and Recruiting here at the Ford School, and I wanted to say thank you for joining us this afternoon. And hello, from Ann Arbor. We are very, very excited today to be joined by Michael Barr, who is the Dean of the Ford School, and he's gonna talk about some of the things that he's excited about as we look forward to this winter semester and certainly next year, our hope is that you'll also, be very excited by some of these new opportunities, but we also hope to have time to answer any questions that you might have about the school, the admissions process, or anything in between, so if you wanna drop questions in the chat or... We will have an opportunity at the end to ask questions as well, so I'm gonna kick this off by saying hello to Michael, and thank you for joining us.

0:05:26.5 Michael: Hey Beth.

0:05:26.6 Beth: It's nice to see you. And Happy New Year.

0:05:29.4 Michael: Happy new year to you too.

0:05:33.5 Beth: We just started winter semester yesterday, and the weather is unfortunately living up to the winter designation, which is to be expected, but I just wanted to kick us off by asking you to talk with our guests about some of the things that you're excited about we had a pretty busy semester in the fall, lots of exciting stuff, so maybe just reflect on what's happened up to this date this semester and in this year, and... We'll start off there.

0:06:05.5 Michael: Sounds great, Beth. And let me start by just inviting those of you who are with us today, if you'd like to turn on your video while we're talking, I think it'll add to the more informal feel of this discussion this morning, and we'll have an opportunity for you to ask questions. And it'd be great to see everybody... I know some people can't because of the circumstances of where you are... That's fine too. But if you're able to do that, that would be terrific. Beth, I would also say the weather doesn't bother me at all, I actually... I took an awesome run this morning and it was so beautiful with the snow falling and anyway, it's just a delightful time of year to have all of our students back in person and working and studying and learning together, so I'm really happy that we are where we are, in the semester, even though the world around us is of course a very difficult and complicated place, we can talk about that. The fall, I think was really terrific in a lot of ways, I might just mention three things that I was personally excited about from the fall, and we can... Beth if you have other things you wanna dig into, we can do that too, but...

0:07:27.2 Michael: One really exciting thing is that we had a formal launch of our Cone Collaborative for social policy. Hale and Carol Cone are supporters of the school and they provided a generous new gift to support our social policy work at the school, including a new professorships, new student-supported research funding, and we had a ceremony where we invited Luke Schafer to give a talk. Luke is the inaugural Cone professor of social policy, and he talked about his amazing engaged work that has made such a difference I think at the local level, the state level and the national level.

0:08:12.5 Michael: I think it's pretty rare to have somebody of that experience who can bring together both the absolute excellence and in academic rigor in terms of his scholarship, and also deep engagement in the world in a mutually reciprocal beneficial way, and Luke has that and our faculty are known for that, and it's a hallmark of our work. And so it was just great to have Luke be able to talk about that work to launch the Cone collaborative. The second thing that was really exciting is we launched our Center for Racial Justice, this is a center that Celeste Watkins Hayes leads, Celeste is also our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and she joined us just a year and a half ago, and has been a total power house, just absolutely wonderful to have by my side with Luke, the three of us leading the school together, my two associate deans and myself, and so Celeste has launched the Center for racial justice, really exciting set of initiatives, and one of the things that they're doing that they started this fall, is a series on the racial foundations of public policy, and they had a set of wonderful speakers come through who are really, I think just deeply inspiring and also helpful and substantive in the work.

0:09:47.6 Michael: And the third thing that I was super excited about this fall is that we've been able now with bringing on board Marella Fernandez as our new director of our leadership initiative, to expand leadership opportunities for all of our graduate students, so that's built into the curriculum in our course work, and it's also I think in a really innovative way, providing opportunities for our Master's students to get one-on-one personalized leadership coaching, and I don't think any other school does that, and it's been a phenomenal thing to watch, we've been building it slowly on a pilot basis for the last three years, and then this year, we're able to offer it to every student, and I'm really excited about that, so anyway, those are just three examples and of things from the last year that I might highlight.

0:10:44.7 Beth: Yeah, thanks, Michael. You and Luke and Celeste definitely form a pretty great trifecta for us at the Ford School, so we're glad to have you. And I know in a couple of our earlier webinars, we heard from Luke and Celeste about ways that students can get involved with the work of the Center, so if anybody wants to take a look at those webinars or... I'm sure that they would be happy to talk with students as well, and the Leadership Initiative is very exciting.

0:11:12.2 Beth: So we're sitting here on January 6th, and for those of us in the US, we know it marks kind of a dark day for us, one year from the attack on the US Capitol, which certainly shook many of us. I'm just wondering if you would reflect a little bit, Michael, on the importance of policy education and why this work is so important and why we get excited that students decide to come and join us.

0:11:43.3 Michael: Yeah, it is the anniversary, I think of a very troubling day in our democracy. January 6, the attack on the Capitol marked a particular low point in our ability to have evidence-based policy making, to reason with each other across our differences, to have faith in and believe in our democracy, and unfortunately, those issues have not gone away. January 6 was a particularly bad moment in that, but the basic threats to our democracy are still here, and we need students who want to focus on strengthening our democratic institutions and who wanna get involved in public policy making and who want to get engaged in the world and I think that makes a huge difference. One of the reasons this has been a very tough couple of years for our country with the global pandemic, with threats to our democracy, with a very long delayed awakening to the need to deal with issues of racial injustice in our society. And the thing to me that has been a gift is to be part of this community at this time, working on those issues. I would not want to be anywhere else. It's just a fabulous community and one that is genuinely committed to tackling these issues, and despite all the personal things going on in people's lives, given the pandemic, our students and our faculty, our staff, we're focused on helping communities get through this moment and...

0:13:38.3 Michael: So for me, at least, that's what this is all about, it's all about having a shared commitment to the public good...

0:13:47.2 Beth: And I do think it's incredible that we have this community that we can sort of rely on and reflect together, but you had a pretty interesting career in DC before you did some academic stuff and then you went and did some policy stuff and you came back to the academic... So just wondering if you'd reflect a little bit on, you know, that path, and how you feel each part of it has contributed to your success? 

0:14:22.4 Michael: Well, I guess I don't think about it as my success, but as...

0:14:25.2 Beth: Our success.

0:14:28.4 Beth: What amazing teams I've had a chance to be part of, doing this in different ways, I very much deeply value my government experience, the ability to affect large changes at scale in ways that you can mostly... Only do in the government sector, and so I learned a tremendous amount from those experiences. I feel very honored to have been asked to serve in the Clinton administration and the Obama administration, and I deeply value the teams that I was able to work with and build in those institutions. I think we got some pretty good things done for the country, I also really value the academic experiences that I've had that have given me grounding to be able to help answer those questions in a way that is serious. When I was at the Treasury Department we used to have this expression like, What's your ratio of views to knowledge, and if you had a lot of views and not a whole lot of knowledge, you were not taken that seriously, so we really emphasize that. One of the foundational things is making sure you have the analytics skills and a the domain knowledge to be able to contribute effectively, and then of course, on top of that, you need other skills, you need the skills of writing and communication effective to be able to make a difference in that...

0:16:12.4 Michael: And you need leadership skills, the ability to talk to people who are different from you. And have them be able to listen to you, to be able to lead teams, to be able to lead yourself, these are all skills that are teachable skills, and so this third phase of my career we're in helping to build a community that is focused on those skill building for the next generation of policy makers, to me is just in a very exciting place to be, so I deeply value all three parts of my professional career and feel like I've learned a lot from each of them.

0:16:54.0 Beth: Yeah, and I know... And when I talk to our alums, how much they value and use all of those skills that you mentioned, the quantitative analysis and the writing, and I think that the wonderful thing for students is that regardless of the area of policy, whether it's international policy, whether it's environmental policy, there's experts here on faculty to work with them and help them think about those issues while still working on those underpinnings of the skills that they're gonna use in those various places. So many of our guests joining us today are thinking about maybe joining us next fall, so I'm wondering, if there are things on the horizon that you would highlight or you would like to talk about at this point.

0:17:39.8 Michael: Well, I think we're gonna continue to build out a lot of the measures I've talked about, continue to deepen our work on leadership, deepening our work on racial justice. I think those of you who work in the racial justice space know that that work is never completed, and so we view our work on racial justice as being just absolutely integral to the school and something that we are gonna continue to work on and build into our classes. We are in the middle of a quite extensive review of our curriculum to make sure that we're giving people the foundational skills they need and the space.

0:18:21.0 Michael: We have a series coming up this winter, and that is an international counterpart to the domestic racial Foundation series that I mentioned before, so we're gonna have a series co-hosted with the center for racial justice and the Weiser diplomacy Center. John Chachari and Susan Paige are putting together a terrific line-up of speakers who are focused on the international dimensions of racial justice issues, both in US foreign policy and more broadly. So I'm super excited about that. Actually, we're kicking off this semester with some really interesting and fun talks, one is a Dan grades, who started his career as a community organizer and is now the Deputy Commerce Secretary, who's gonna be talking with me on MLK Day about his experiences and work for the last 30 years, we have a terrific panel coming up with faculty experts on economics, so Justin Wafers, Betsy Stevenson, John Lehey, Katherine Dominguez, who are all Ford School faculty, are gonna do a panel that Luke Schafer is moderating on how do we think about where we are in the economic cycle now, what are people saying about inflation, how do I understand what's going on in the labor market is really... Are we really at full employment or is there more that we do, what are the differential race gaps and gender gaps going on in a labor mark and how do we make sense of them and what policies would be effective? 

0:19:53.1 Michael: So I'm really exciting about that. And we continue to do some terrific hiring, we're actually very focused this winter on continuing to deepen our faculty, we had some great faculty hires in the last year or two, Celeste Wakantes, Marella Hernandez, Kathy Mikamo, Jobida Ali, Susan Paige, I can go on, but we have some terrific work we're doing this year on thinking about hiring for next year, so I'm excited about that as well.

0:20:31.6 Beth: Thanks that's great. And one of the things that I really appreciated about Celeste with kicking off the center for racial justice is how intentional she's been in involving the entire community, the students, the staff and thinking about crafting the goals for that center and how they'll interact and different types of activities, it's really been terrific to watch as she's been very thoughtful about how she launches that Center.

0:21:01.4 Michael: Yeah I totally agree and students have had a real opportunity to engage with that and to offer their suggestions and advice and actually as part of the student engagement process, students gave us a whole bunch of good suggestions for speakers, and one of those is gonna be our commencement speaker this spring, an indigenous rights activist named Julian Noise-cat who I'm super excited about is gonna be our commencement speaker this spring.

0:21:33.5 Beth: Yeah, I saw that announcement that came out, I think yesterday, so that's pretty exciting, and I'm sure...

0:21:38.2 Michael: He's a total, total superstar.

0:21:40.6 Beth: That's exciting. So I just wanna pause and tell our guests that if they would like to ask questions, they can drop them in the chat, you're welcome to raise their hand and we'll call on you. Whatever you feel comfortable with. I do see that we've gotten one question thus far from one of our students, what do you find the most challenging part of entering and succeeding in the public policy field? 

0:22:10.6 Michael: That's a great question. That's a great question. I think that students who are getting launched in their career kinda tie themselves in knots, thinking about getting the exact right job, and my experience is that you're gonna have lots of different kinds of jobs over your careers, even more so than... I had a lot of jobs but even more so than my generation, you're gonna have many, many different kinds of opportunities, so the important thing is to figure out what you're passionate about, what do you care deeply about that you wanna make a difference on, and finding a place to do that where you can have mentors, could be peer mentors, people at your level, it could be somebody you wanna work for, but those two things, I think when you're starting out, if you can find those two things, then you'll work your way through your path and continue to find interesting opportunities that you can be open to over time.

0:23:26.0 Beth: And I know that we had an earlier webinar also with our Graduate Career Services staff, so there's some resources there for folks if you're interested in gathering information about how we support students in the internship and job search, but I think you're right that it's certainly our experience that those underlying skills can help students navigate a variety of different positions and different organizations as they go through their career.

0:23:56.2 Michael: Yeah, for example, one of the things, Beth, that employers tell me all the time about our students is they write so well.

0:24:06.7 Beth: Me too.

0:24:07.8 Michael: So that's a skill that we're helping students develop, that is applicable across all the different kinds of jobs you might have, and employers are really, really happy to see [chuckle] our students with those skills.

0:24:20.6 Beth: Yeah, and I think our writing instructors are such terrific people, so just invest in our students, so we're really, really fortunate in that.

0:24:30.2 Beth: So we're at a juncture here, we're almost at the two-year mark of pandemic, so could you reflect a little bit about... Obviously, there's been a big impact on learning and classroom spaces and that sort of stuff, and just wondering your thoughts about the impact of the pandemic on education, and I guess both the pluses and minuses, right? I mean, not everything has been negative. I think we've found some new ways to do things.

0:25:00.5 Michael: We've learned a lot. Yeah. That's right, Beth. I won't sugar-coat it, it's been a very tough two years with the global pandemic for everybody, not just in our community and at the university, but across the world, and the pandemic has affected different communities quite dramatically differently. I mean, huge racial disparities, for example, and outcomes for the pandemic. I would say in terms of our own community, in terms of our own work at the Ford School, it was very tough in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit, very difficult for that, but we've learned how to adapt and to have in-person education in a way that works, that is productive and engaging and that brings us back together again in a way that I think is really vitally important, so it was amazing to me, in September, and wonderful to welcome everybody back to Weill Hall for in-person activities and classes, and obviously, there are precautions you take, we're wearing masks, the community is 98% vaccinated, we're about to... And there's a vaccine requirement, there's a booster requirement, so we're gonna have people boosted as well in the next few weeks, and so it's a safe environment to be operating and even though we're in a pandemic with those precautions in place, with masking, with vaccines, with boosters.

0:26:50.6 Michael: And it's, I think, really important to have that in-person connection. So we're back in person now. I know different schools have done different things, and you guys might not know what we're doing, but yesterday, we started classes again, and we're back in person together, and this is my office at Weill Hall, and I value that a great deal. Again, not just the classroom experience, but the ability to have the extracurricular activities that we all love and enjoy we're doing in person, again, with modified structures to make sure we're safe. But those, I think, are really valuable. They're valuable socially, they're valuable in terms of people's mental health, they're valuable educationally. So that's what we've been doing now.

0:27:38.0 Michael: Now, we've also learned some, I think, very cool things about ways to offer aspects of what we do remotely in addition to having in-person interaction, so obviously, this webinar is an example of the ways we do that. We're doing events in a wide variety of formats, some in person, some hybrids, some remote. So we did an event, for example, fully remote event with Trevor Noah of The Daily Show, and it was great. A handful of students got to ask Trevor Noah questions. It was all on Zoom, but we wouldn't... Trevor Noah wouldn't have been able to come, take two days to come to Ann Arbor before this became prevalent, but he was willing to take an hour with us on Zoom and do this great event with our students. And then we had 12,000 people watching it across the University of Michigan at the same time. So we do know some things about remote access that we're taking advantage of, as well as the in-person activities that we're doing.

0:28:41.8 Beth: Yeah. I think that discerning the sustainable accommodations and what we can use to supplement our learning in the future will be really a valuable lesson from this. So another really good question...

0:28:52.9 Michael: Say even on things like Student Services and Graduate Career Services, this fall we started offering a mix, so instead of just remote or just in person... We used to be just in person, then we had a year we were just remote. And now we have a mix of services, so for example, we have Graduate Career Services staff who are offering evening hours on Zoom, which we wouldn't have done before, and it's another way that students have a little bit more flexibility and accessing the services they need.

0:29:26.4 Beth: Yeah, and it has been interesting to see how that... And you can adjust your services to the comfort of the individual you're interacting with, which is, I think, really a plus.

0:29:35.1 Michael: Yeah.

0:29:35.5 Beth: Another really good question in the chat, so we talk a lot about evidence-based policy making, but evidence hasn't always been valued in certain circles. So the question is, how have you dealt with the disconnect between policy and theory and policy and practice? Which I think is a really interesting question.

0:30:00.7 Michael: Yeah, I think it's important for us that our students understand the environment that they're going out into and that our students have the skills required to navigate that environment, so it's not enough, it's really super important to have really strong analytic skills, but that's not enough. To actually get that translated into a policy, you need, so as I mentioned, the domain knowledge, in particular, share your working, and you need the communication ability to write and to connect verbally with others, and you have to be able to do that in an environment in which trust is at a low level and in which we have this difficulty speaking across difference, and it's a skill to be able to speak in a way that somebody who disagrees with you is willing to hear you, and it's a skill to be able to listen to somebody who you disagree with deeply and to hear them, and that's a skill that we teach. So I'm very encouraged by our ability to have people go out into the world and be effective because they have strong analytic grounding and the domain knowledge and have communication skills and they have the leadership and management skills required to navigate that world, including the diverse and complicated world we live in today.

0:31:33.8 Beth: Yeah. So another question that I hear often and I think you do as well, so what makes the Ford school different from the other policy schools out there? There's lots of great programs.

0:31:46.0 Michael: Yeah.

0:31:46.4 Beth: So what makes us different? What sets us apart? 

0:31:51.4 Michael: Beth, I'll say what I think about it, but you should feel free to weigh in with your own perspective, but for me, we are really a close-knit community with a shared mission, so it feels that way when you're in the school, that we're in this together. Not that we all agree on everything, but that we all share a mission to advance the public good, and we're doing it in a community that's a close-knit community, so you have really close access to, not just each other, which is a really important resource, but also to faculty and to staff who are deeply committed to teaching and learning and engaging with our students. So for me, I would start with, it's a super close-knit community.

0:32:46.3 Michael: The second thing I'll say, and I mentioned this in the context of Luke's talk, I go talk around the country a lot, and I connect with fellow deans around the country a lot. I think we have a really special combination, not saying it's the only one, but a very special combination of the top academic rigor in the field and deep connection to community on a mutual respectful basis, and I think both those things are really important for our community. We engage a lot in Ann Arbor, in Ipsy, in the city of Detroit, in the state of Michigan. So our students and our faculty are doing a lot of very important hands-on work that makes a difference on the ground directly in our communities, and we do that in a way that is, again, mutually respectful and reciprocal, so we acknowledge and understand that we're learning from the communities we serve. I think that's a very special combination, and academic institution and something I'm very proud of and excited about.

0:33:53.4 Michael: I think, as I mentioned at the outset, third, we have a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and racial justice. That permeates our work, and it is not a class you take on the side, it's what we do.

0:34:13.4 Michael: And then lastly, I'd say, I do think we have a special sauce now on leadership. We're offering a combination of coursework and extracurricular supports, like individualized leadership training that no other school is offering. So anyway, to me, those are the things I would highlight, but I'd be happy to be corrected or learn your list as well.

0:34:39.7 Beth: No, I think those are all things that I've... And just to give some context, right? Your Center for Finance, Law & Policy, working with entrepreneurs in the city of Detroit, the Youth Policy Lab, certainly, the work on Poverty Solutions, right? There's real projects the students have an opportunity to work with community members and provide service. I think one of... This may sound a little rose colored glasses, but from my perspective, I think one of the things that makes this a really special community is whether you're interested in climate change, you're interested in health equity, or you're interested in improving education, right? Our students are interested... In a faculty, are interested in making the world a better place. They're interested in tackling the issues that be-double communities and individuals and trying to find solutions that can be put into place, and that's a really special group of people, and I feel privileged to work with that group of people, and I think that's probably true of the faculty and the rest of the staff as well.

0:35:44.1 Beth: The other thing I always highlight is, our placement here at the University of Michigan and the law barriers to being able to take classes, right? There's so many... I can't think of really any students that haven't taken classes outside of Florida, other graduate schools here on campus, I mean, you have a special relationship with the law school, but we have faculty who are joining putting into all these different places, but so many of our students take advantage of those, whether it's through a graduate certificate or a dual degree or just taking classes, so the richness of the academic environment here, I think, is pretty amazing.

0:36:21.8 Michael: I think that's right, Beth. I probably should have mentioned that, that the interdisciplinary breath of the university is just an enormous strength. It's actually what brought me to the University of Michigan, in the first place, 20 years ago. I was working in Washington DC at the Treasury department, this is back in the '90s, and I had a chance to work with Ned Gramlich, who was the Director of the Ford School. Before, it was the Ford School, and Ned was a member of the Federal Reserve Board, and I was actually a pretty low-level treasury person when I started, and we became good friends, and he was so warm and welcoming and generous with me and treated me as a partner, but as we got to know each other and I talked about this next phase of life, I wanted to go into academics, he talked with such love and admiration about the place of the Policy School in the broader university interdisciplinary environment, and the opportunities to do really cutting edge empirical work, which is what I wanted to do. So that was... Michigan was my top choice, and I was extremely fortunate to get a job on the faculty, on the Michigan Law Faculty, when I first started. Now it's 20... I can't believe it. It's 21 years ago.

0:37:49.2 Beth: Time goes a little too quickly.

0:37:53.1 Michael: It goes really fast. But I do think that that's a very special opportunity, and as you mentioned... So in addition, being Dean, I run a Center on Finance, Law & Policy, and one of the things that we do, I started this project about five years ago now with colleagues, we have opportunities for students from not only the Ford School, but also the Law School, the Business School, and the Stamps School of Art and Design, as well as the School of Information and Engineering. Students are working with faculty under faculty supervision to help minority entrepreneurs and neighborhood-based businesses in the city of Detroit, and it's been amazing to see the work that's come out of that.

0:38:35.7 Michael: I'm not able to teach in it because I've got these other obligations now, but it's a phenomenal project and fabulous faculty working and great students, and we have undergrads and grad students from these programs engaged in the work, and I think it's made a real difference in Detroit, the Detroit small business space in the last five years, but there are lots of opportunities in other programs too, that as you mentioned, the Poverty Solutions, Luke Shaefer runs is deeply engaged work, the Youth Policy Lab and Education Policy Initiative, are doing phenomenal work with partners, both government and non-profit on issues of youth development, child development, workforce development, education. The Detroit Metropolitan Area Community Studies and the work of CLOSUP is really phenomenal, so lots of opportunity to get engaged.

0:39:35.9 Beth: Yeah, for sure. I always enjoy listening to you talk about Ned, because I don't know if I ever told you this, but he taught my Benefit-Cost Analysis when I was in his class, and I just...

0:39:43.1 Michael: Oh, no, I didn't know that.

0:39:43.8 Beth: I just have this picture of him. He'd get excited 'cause we're finally getting something. He'd be like, "We're cooking with gas."


0:39:50.3 Beth: . That might be a little overstatement, but he was a pretty prefect. Yeah.

0:39:54.3 Michael: Right. As he put his foot inadvertently in a trash can, right? [chuckle]

0:39:57.5 Beth: Yes, oftentimes. But he was a splendid man.

0:40:01.6 Michael: Yeah, just lovely.

0:40:03.2 Beth: Yeah. So I understand that... Forgive if I say this wrong. Is it Jugaad? Please unmute yourself and ask your question, and correct me if I'm not saying that name right.

0:40:16.0 Jugaad: Yeah, no, that's totally fine. It's pronounced Jugaad.

0:40:18.7 Michael: Jugaad.

0:40:20.0 Jugaad: Nice to meet you. I am hopefully joining in the fall for the graduate program, and the question that I have is, how would you define a competitive and successful student in the public policy program, whether that'd be in the classroom or out of the classroom? 

0:40:40.1 Michael: That's a great question Jugaad, and I hope you do join us. I would start with somebody who is open to learning, and I say that because the work that we do at the Ford School is hard. There's not any... Two ways about it. We have students who come in with lots of different backgrounds, some of them are killer smart in math, and some people have no math at all, and the work is hard for both of them, so... [chuckle] So somebody is open to learning, and if you have that disposition coming in, then you'll do great. So that's where I would start. Somebody who wants to make a difference in the world, and again, is willing to work hard to do that. Somebody who is not a jerk... We're a pretty special community, and we like to have people in it who care about each other and who wanna work together as a community, again, even when there are big disagreements about really important things. So be open to learning, be willing to work really hard, don't be a jerk. I think those three things will make you an excellent student.

0:42:13.3 Beth: Agreed. And also, I think that there's lots of opportunities for students to get involved outside of the classroom. There's lots of student organizations, there's student government, there's organizations across campus. So being willing to sort of step out of your comfort zone, if you will, and try some new things. I mean, that's what graduate school is for, is to sort of stretch your wings a little bit and learn new things and meet new people, so. Try to do that as much as you can, I think. So there's a question about what a typical week looks like for a student in the program, so it can be, as you mentioned, hard and time consuming. Anything else that... I can sort of talk about... So the students can typically take...

0:43:02.9 Michael: That's it, why don't you walk through what a typical first semester schedule might look like, for example? 

0:43:10.0 Beth: Yeah. So for students in the MPP Program, it's a 48-credit degree, so you can get it... You can get your degree completed in four semesters by taking an average of 12 credits, which is roughly four classes. Some students will take more than that, there's no additional tuition incurred if you go beyond the 12, up to about 18, so lots of students may want to explore a little bit and add in an additional class or two. I would say the first year is definitely the more challenging of the two, because you get a little bit less choice about what classes you take. You're gonna take that set of core classes. You're gonna take Stats and program evaluation, and a micro-economic sequence, so it's a lot of problem sets and a lot of time in the classroom. I think the second year tends to have a little more flexibility, you take classes that are maybe of more interest to you, or at least more aligned with your career goals.

0:44:09.0 Beth: The majority of students, I would say, probably work part-time, 5-10 hours a week. There's lots of folks that have work study opportunities, our research centers actually do hire a decent number of Ford School students, there's lots of opportunities in the research centers. Well, if you're at Ford and across campus. I mean, Michigan is a big Research one university, so it's not simply opportunities here within the Ford School. So lots of opportunities, if that's something that you wanna do. So it definitely is... There's a lot of resources that students will take advantage of, we mentioned the writing center. All of our core classes also have graduate student instructors in sign, they run review sessions, so lots of support available. But those problem sets do tend to take up a fair amount of time in those first couple of semesters. Trying to see, I don't wanna jump over any questions here.

0:45:14.1 Michael: Yeah, you're probably better than I am at looking in the chat.

0:45:21.9 Beth: [laughter] Just as students think about going back to grad school, so many of the students that come and join us have been out for anywhere from a year to five years to more, so how can students go about being ready to hit the ground running if they decide to go back to graduate school in the fall? 

0:45:45.9 Michael: Well, I do think that it's typical for students to be out of school for a significant amount of time before coming back to grad school, and I think that's super healthy. I don't know that, for most students, the thing that they'll need to get ready is to come in to school with the perspective that I shared with Jugaad before that, being open to learning, willing to work hard and not being a jerk will get you well prepared to join our program, some students who haven't had the same math background or statistics background can brush up a little bit in the summer, we do offer a very short prep course in the summer that I recommend the students take if they're not feeling fully comfortable, and we're looking at expanding that a little bit for students with less background, most students are coming from full-time jobs, so there's not a lot of extra spare time to do things to get ready, and we understand that, and having you come into the program. So I guess I wouldn't... That's maybe not as much as people wanted, but that's sort of how I think about it.

0:47:10.5 Beth: Yeah, and I think that there are also... Right, and we have a series of newsletters that we send out over the course of the summer with suggestions, so it's a cumulative process, it's just sort of a re-adjustment of your mindset to a certain extent. So I know we're getting kind of close to the end of our time, I just want to put out one more call to see if anybody had any last minute questions, and if you've raised your hand and I haven't seen you, I apologize. It looks like, okay, if I say this wrong, I apologize. Nyako, please correct me how you say that.

0:47:49.4 Nyako: Hello.

0:47:51.8 Beth: Hi there.

0:47:54.4 Nyako: Yes, it is evening here in Niger so I'll say good evening.

0:48:00.5 Michael: Good evening.

0:48:02.4 Nyako: Yes, so I have just a few questions but first of all, when I was applying I was told that U of Mich is really difficult to get. So I was a bit scared but I said, Well, I believe I'll still make it to joining the whole 2022 class. So I want to find out the typical number of applications you receive each year and also how many get admitted. The second one too is, what is the preferred student profile? Do you look at those who are mostly in academics or those who had some kind of working experience. Then the very last one I was going to ask is, I went through the faculty... The research interest of the faculty members, unfortunately I found that, I couldn't find my research interest directly coinciding with a faculty member, so I want to find out what really maybe my chances may be. Thank you.

0:49:23.7 Beth: I think I can tackle most of those. So we have the two master's programs, we have the Masters of Public Affairs and the Master of Public Policy, the MPP program is the larger program. In a typical year, we have anywhere from 600 to 800 applications for that program, and for the MPA, which is a smaller program, we have between 100 and probably 150 to 175 for that, the entering MPP classes, around 105 to 110. We admit probably about 350 students for that. For the MPA, it's a smaller... So our cohort size there is about 24 to 30. So the admit pool there, it's a little bit smaller, maybe around 50, in terms of... So one thing I will highlight, and Michael, I'll be happy to have your comments about this, the masters having an exact research match with a faculty member probably is not quite as important in a master's... It's not a doctoral style of education where you're working directly with a faculty mentor, right. So you're gonna find faculty members that share some of your research interests, there may be active over here on campus that are not at Ford, but also elsewhere that share that research interest, so it's not... Having that exact research match probably isn't quite as an important in a master's program as it would be in a doctoral program, if that makes sense. Would you say that's right, Michael? 

0:50:58.1 Michael: Yeah, I think that's right, Beth. And just to emphasize what you said too, that you might not have an exact fit with a member at the Ford School, but the Ford school person who is broadly in that area would be able to connect you with faculty elsewhere on campus. Let's say you have a particular interest in, I don't know, the architecture of rural housing. There's somebody in the Tordman School of Architecture who works on that. Our faculty would be able to connect you there, you could take a class in that, in addition to your Ford School classes. So one of the nice things about being at the University of Michigan is we have this graph of excellence across the university, you've got more than 100 departments that are in the top 10 in the country, in many places in the world, it's easy to connect with somebody somewhere on campus who has the very particular experience that you'd like to learn from.

0:52:03.8 Beth: Yeah, yeah, it looks like David has his hand up.

0:52:10.5 David: Hi there. Yeah, thank you. Yeah, thank you both so much. It has been a really thoughtful conversation about the school and your experiences. Some part of my question's been answered, I think just for that follow-up, but I'll go ahead and if you have anything to ask or to follow up with. I'm interested in drug policy, and so being interested in drug policy means that I'm also interested in all the implications of that. So how does smart drug policy interacts with Smart labor policy with recovery ready workforce initiatives from the Biden and Harrison's administrations, first year priorities, and then also the Public Health Dimensions of smart drug policy, harm reduction of that RSS set aside in one of the more recent bills going through Congress and so social policy there. And so I guess what I'm wondering, is a degree, an MPP from the Ford School going to set me up for this specialty focus, give me the opportunity to really specialize in this area and then also be equipped with the range of knowledge I need to be effective in all of these policy areas.

0:53:42.8 Michael: David, that's a great question that... My answer to that is yes. So I've had a chance to hire quite a number of students in the course of being a faculty member, and then quite a number of graduates at all stages of their career as a policy maker in Washington, and I found the MPP degree to be a terrific preparation for the people I've hired into those jobs, it's not the only degree that I hire from, I have hired from. Obviously, you want people with a range of skills when you're working in a big complex problem in the government, you want lawyers and economists and public policy people and psychologists and so on, but I find the MPP degree to be a really terrific degree for preparing people for a career, whatever the specialization is down the road, because you learn a set of skills that are broadly applicable to solving difficult problems, I mentioned, I kind of think about our curriculum is falling broadly into these four buckets, so there's analytics, skill building, there's domain knowledge, there's communication and writing, and there's leadership and management.

0:55:12.1 Michael: And the domain knowledge is a piece of that, but it's only one piece of that, and you can get that domain knowledge sometimes by working directly with a Ford School faculty member with precisely an alignment of interest with you, and sometimes you can get that domain knowledge elsewhere on campus, the issues that you're talking about with criminal justice and how they intersect with other parts of the economy is an area that is extremely important on campus at the University of Michigan. David Thatcher on our faculty is the person who spends most of his time working on criminal justice issues, but many of our faculty as you say, work on these issues as part of what they do. Jeff Monof, for example, is another member of our faculty who is a sociologist, and one of the areas that he studies is the prison system, prisoner re-entry, citizen re-entry issues and the like. And Jeff teaches a course, not every year, but most years, he teaches a course called Inside Out, which is taught with prisoners in one of the local prisons and students from the University of Michigan taught in the prison.

0:56:45.9 Michael: With COVID, that's not been possible the last bit of time, but it's I think a really interesting class and Jeff's done a really fascinating work on what it takes to have effective citizen re-entry, but those are just two faculty who happen to be part of the Ford School, if you look more broadly across the university, you could stay on campus for 10 years and not take all the classes in this area. There's a project that's part of LA for example, called The Casserole State, a project that brings together interdisciplinary scholars working on these issues from lots of different perspectives. Earl Lewis, who is a member of our faculty, and also in African-American studies and in the History Department, works on a very wide range of issues, including reparations and slavery, water writes, the future of work, but part of his work has been on criminal justice issues, so you would be... You'd find lots of ways to get engaged on those issues.

0:58:03.6 Beth: Yeah, and the thing I really appreciate about your question, David, is I think it really highlights the way that we want our students to think about policy issues, right, because no policy issue is solely an economic issue, they're not solely a sociological problem, so we really appreciate the fact that you are thinking about it from so many different perspectives because it's complicated. If it's a very complicated issue, I know that we are nearly at time, so I just wanna highlight two things, one, there was a question about how soon we get back to folks, just wanna reiterate the application deadline is January 15th, which is this upcoming Saturday.

0:58:48.5 Michael: It's okay to turn your application in early.

0:58:51.1 Beth: It is, it is. We know not lots of folks will, but it is okay, and if you have our [email protected] we're happy to answer any questions that you wanna send our way, or you have... You're also welcome to give us a call. We try to get admissions decisions out by early March, and then we will have what we call our Spring Preview or day for admitted students, probably in early April. So that's sort of our rough timeline, but I just... Thank you so much, Michael, for taking time to join us today. I know that you have lots of things on your calendar, so I appreciate your time and all your insight into the questions from our guests, and please just stay in touch with us, let us know what you need, looking forward to getting those applications. And have a good rest of your day. Take care. Bye-bye.

0:59:50.5 Michael: Thanks, Beth. Thanks, Trish, and thanks Chris behind the scenes for organizing us.

0:59:56.1 Beth: Bye guys.

0:59:56.2 Michael: Take care.