2021-22: Another Academic Year Come and Gone

No matter how much we might wish otherwise, all good things must come to an end. It’s the last day of another semester at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. As final examinations get under way, some students are turning their attention to the next academic year while others (like me) prepare to venture out into the world with the skills they’ve learned. 

The end of a school year can feel bittersweet. We look forward to a brief respite from the stresses of academic life, the constant deadlines, and the routine of class schedules. At the same time, we know all too well the sense that the book is closing on a distinct chapter in our lives. 

This bittersweetness is present in any year, but perhaps particularly at the end of this one. Coming off two semesters disrupted by the pandemic, we finally had the chance to return to Weill Hall and learn alongside one another rather than through the confines of a computer screen. We were able to attend in-person gatherings, laugh at each other’s stories, and commiserate about the challenges we faced. After a period of extraordinary upheaval, we got to experience the joy of genuine human connection. 

Despite the curveballs we’ve seen as a community, state, country, and world, in many ways this year has been a gift for those of us fortunate enough to spend time at this special place. It isn’t often in life we have the opportunity to spend two years surrounded by passionate, dedicated future leaders committed to creating a better world. 

As I look back on my two years at Ford, I’m exceedingly grateful for the kind, talented individuals I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned, and the commitment this community has shown to meaningfully improving people’s lives.

With my time coming to an end here at Ford, my thoughts turn to our incoming cohort and the countless future Fordies down the road. This school has offered a warm, welcoming environment in which I have learned, laughed, and thrived. For every person who chooses to study at this remarkable institution, I hope you find the same sense of belonging and community that I have. Go Blue.

Admissions Season 2022

Hello from Ann Arbor, Michigan! Since the application window for the Ford School’s MPP and MPA programs closed on January 15th, our team has been hard at work to verify the receipt of all required materials and prepare for the admissions process. 

At Ford, we are extremely fortunate to receive applications from numerous eminently qualified, talented individuals with a deep passion for public service. Our admissions team is dedicated to giving each application a holistic review to assemble diverse, dynamic cohorts for our graduate programs. 

We know that prospective students are eager to know the timeline for decisions, so in this post we wanted to give some insight into the calendar going forward. 

Throughout the month of February, applications will be reviewed by the committee to select individuals for admission. Prospective students can expect to receive admissions decisions by the end of the second week of March.

Following the release of decisions, the Ford School will host a Spring Preview for admitted students on Friday, April 8th, 2022. Newly-admitted Fordies will have the chance to learn about life at the Ford School and the incredible community found at Weill Hall. 

As always, keep a lookout for updates from the Ford School. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at fspp-admissions@umich.edu.


Meet a Fordie: Alex Perez-Garcia (MPP ’23)

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We’re in the early weeks of another semester here at the Ford School. As students get settled into new routines and new schedules, let’s meet one of the remarkable MPP students from the 2023 cohort: Alex Perez-Garcia!
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Where are you from?
My family lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, but for the last nine years, I’ve lived in Chicago, Illinois, before relocating to Ann Arbor last year.
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What were you doing before you came to Ford?
Before coming to Ford, I was Associate Director of Development and Communications at Disability Lead, a grassroots disability rights nonprofit, where I was a founding team member and grew the nonprofit startup organization through high-quality strategic fundraising and community outreach. Outside of this work, since 2019, I’ve also worked with underrepresented, first-time progressive political candidates to build the capacity of their campaigns by providing compliance, financial, and fundraising services.
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Why did you choose Ford?
I chose Ford because of the enduring sense of community. It’s clear from every interaction I’ve had in the classroom or with student leadership groups that Fordies deeply care about each other and hold a deep commitment to social change. The conversations I’ve had here aim to challenge and progress the status quo making it a ripe environment to train future policymakers.
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What do you want to do with your Ford degree?
My academic interests lie at the intersection of social and health policy, focusing on mental health and disability policy. After spending the last five years working in the nonprofit sector, I hope to pivot to the public sector. Ideally, I hope to work at the federal level on mental health equity and justice related issues.

Research Center Spotlight: P3E

The Ford School is home to numerous research centers on the leading edge of policy innovation. This week, we’re training the spotlight on the Program for Practical Policy Engagement. That name is most certainly a mouthful, so people usually refer to it as P3E. Led by Director Elisabeth Gerber, P3E works to form a bridge between the research being conducted here at the University of Michigan and the real-world policy arena. At P3E, the goal isn’t to simply study policy issues, but rather to take action to address them.

P3E’s mission revolves around three pillars: engaged learning, policy research, and policy impact. 

  • Engaged learning: P3E provides Ford students with invaluable opportunities to apply the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. Students are partnered with community partners and government entities to make a lasting impact. In addition, students are paired in mentorship programs with distinguished policy professionals to receive guidance and support as they work within the community.
  • Policy research: P3E encourages students to utilize their research skills to grapple with and propose solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our state, country, and world. Undergraduate and graduate research fellows work alongside public, nonprofit, and philanthropic community partners to delve into various policy issues. 
  • Policy impact: P3E’s “Getting Stuff Done” workshops bring together Ford School students with dedicated policy professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds to discuss how to put ideas into action. Workshops help students learn best practices for communicating your vision to stakeholders and the media, how to devise effective advocacy strategies, and so much more. All of this programming is aimed at giving Ford students the tools to pursue public policy for the public good.

P3E is at the forefront of policy change here in Michigan and around the country. While there are countless reasons to come to the Ford School, P3E and the other research centers are reminders of the important work being done here in Ann Arbor to make the world a better place.

That’s all for this week from “Inside the Ford School.” Stay tuned for more information about all that’s happening at Weill Hall!


“Meet a Fordie” Student Spotlight: Sydney Thompson (MPP ’22)

Where are you from?
I grew up in Metro Detroit and went to the University of Michigan as an undergraduate.

What were you doing before you came to Ford?
I was previously working at the healthcare software company Epic on the population health team. On this team I managed software development for social determinants of health workflows that assessed patient social needs and connected them to community resources through community health workers, care managers, and social workers.

Why did you choose Ford?
I chose Ford because I loved the close-knit community. I feel like I am part of a group of incredibly talented and passionate people that work to raise each other up and help one another academically, professionally, and personally. Ford’s emphasis on interdisciplinary policy design also attracted me to the program.

What do you want to do with your Ford degree?
I want to work in the public sector at the local level. I have experience with and am passionate about food policy, sustainability, and process improvement (government accountability and performance). I plan to work as a program manager in one of these areas for a city.

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Faculty Spotlight – Professor Barry Rabe

At the Ford School, our guiding principle is a dedication to the public good. Our faculty and students work every day to develop innovative solutions to the daunting challenges in our world. At this moment in history, perhaps no issue looms larger than human-induced climate change. 

In 2021, we’ve received numerous reminders that we can’t delay in tackling the climate crisis. Devastating wildfires in the West. Catastrophic hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. Unprecedented flooding in major cities here in the Midwest and up and down the Eastern Seaboard. These are just a few examples of the “new normal” we face with our changing climate. The decisions we make in the next few years will reverberate for decades to come. At Ford, we know we can’t afford to wait. 

Enter: Dr. Barry Rabe, PhD. A leading scholar on the political feasibility of carbon pricing and the regulation of short-lived, intensive carbon pollutants like methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Professor Rabe serves as an excellent representation of the Ford School’s commitment to public service. In addition to his research and teaching here in Ann Arbor, Professor Rabe remains actively engaged in policy making at both the state and federal levels. When not teaching courses around campus, he frequently travels to Washington, D.C. to meet with public officials and discuss paths forward on addressing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Professor Rabe’s work has been recognized in the field for his contributions to the study and development of creative climate policies. He is the recipient of four American Political Science Association awards and was most recently presented with the 2021 Distinguished Research Award by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) at the organization’s annual conference. 

Here at Ford, we’re incredibly proud of the remarkable work being conducted by our faculty, students, and staff. As this semester unfolds, stay tuned for more information about the important conversations happening at Weill Hall. 

Research Center Spotlight: International Policy Center

Here at the Ford School, we know that effective policy making requires a global perspective. To find real solutions to our most daunting challenges, we have to look beyond Michigan and the United States to draw lessons from around the world. At the International Policy Center (IPC), Ford School faculty and policy experts conduct rigorous, interdisciplinary research on some of the world’s most complex issues. 

Led by Dr. John Ciociari, the IPC’s mission is to foster important discussions about international policy issues. Through seminars, workshops, and experiential learning opportunities, IPC gives Ford students unparalleled insight into the world of international affairs. 

As part of the center’s research, IPC provides Ford School PhD students with Research Scholar awards and other financial support programs to help fund their academic pursuits. In addition, Ford students can take advantage of IPC’s three overseas learning courses. Students travel to China, Costa Rica, and other locations around the globe to better understand the realities of the policy issues they study here at Weill Hall. 

At Ford, we’re extremely proud of our ever-growing network of research centers dedicated to finding innovative ideas to solve seemingly-intractable problems. As the academic year unfolds, you can expect additional research center spotlights that give you a quick overview of the exciting work being done in Ann Arbor. 

There’s always something going on at the Ford School. Keep checking the “Inside the Ford School” blog to stay up to date with the latest events and developments!

Inside the Ford School: Michigan Football 101

It’s the first day of Fall here in Ann Arbor, which means college football is in full swing. While last season looked a bit different due to public health restrictions, Michigan Stadium is open again and fans can be there in person to watch the Maize & Blue take to the turf. 

If you’re new to the University of Michigan, the hype around football can be a bit overwhelming. Game days in Ann Arbor brings tens of thousands of people from all over the country and world to our little corner of the Great Lakes State. So whether you’re returning to the Ford School or setting foot here for the first time, let’s do a crash course on the basics of Michigan Football. 


  • The University of Michigan’s athletic teams are known as the Wolverines, known for their distinctive winged helmet design and bold maize (yellow) & blue uniforms.
  • Since 2015, Jim Harbaugh has served as head coach of the Michigan football team. Previously, Harbaugh was head coach of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinal football team. A “Michigan Man” through and through, Harbaugh previously played for the Wolverines as a quarterback from 1982-1986. 
  • The Wolverines play at Michigan Stadium (known as “The Big House”), a massive 107,601-capacity arena that is the largest stadium in the U.S. and the third-largest in the world. 
  • The Wolverines play in the Big 10 Conference and have major rivalries with the Michigan State Spartans and the Ohio State Buckeyes. 
  • The Michigan Wolverines are one of the most successful collegiate football programs in history, holding the record for all-time wins and claiming 11 national championships. 
  • On any game day, you can be sure to hear “The Victors”, the famous fight song of the university. 
  • The only Michigander to serve as president of the United States, our namesake Gerald R. Ford, played football for the Wolverines in the early 1930s before attending Yale Law School and enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

The 2021 season for the Michigan Wolverines:

  • The team is currently 3-0 to start the season after wins against Western Michigan, Washington, and Northern Illinois. 
  • This weekend at 3:30 PM ET, the Wolverines will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan Stadium for the annual Homecoming game.
  • After their undefeated start to the season, the Wolverines are currently ranked 19th in the nation in college football. 
  • Going forward, the Wolverines are set to face the Michigan State Spartans (Oct. 30), the Penn State Nittany Lions (Nov. 13), and the Ohio State Buckeyes (Nov. 27) in Big 10 matchups sure to entertain. 

We could go on and on, but hopefully we’ve given you enough of the basics to really ace those on-campus conversations throughout the season. Stay tuned for more from “Inside the Ford School”.

Inside the Ford School: Policy Pitch Competition Recap

With the semester underway and students, faculty, and staff returning to Weill Hall, the Ford School’s annual Policy Pitch Competition returned for the fourth time on September 14th. Every Ford School MPP student is required to complete a ten-week summer internship between their first and second years in the program. The Policy Pitch Competition gives Fordies an opportunity to share their experiences working in the policy world and reflect on the skills developed and lessons learned. 

At this year’s event, twelve second-year Fordies put on a show for the audience and judges. We’re so lucky to have such a talented, passionate student body here at Ford, and this event was yet another reminder of the special people who make the Ford School what it is. 

Fordies in the Fall 2021 Policy Pitch Competition:

  • Marissa Uchimura, REDF 
  • Maheen Zahid, Save The Children 
  • AJ Convertino, NASA 
  • Kristina Curtiss, City of Detroit 
  • Yasin Shafi, CARE 
  • Bethany Haddad, State of Michigan 
  • Priyanka Panjwani, GAO 
  • Clare Knutson, City of Detroit 
  • Linh Tran-Phuong, City of Chicago 
  • Pisacha Wichianchan, FINRA 
  • Doug Ortiz, Detroit Future City 
  • Justine D’Souza, GAO 

A panel of three judges (Ann Arbor City Councilor Linh Song, Washtenaw County Commissioner Justin Hodge, and Sam Geller ‘17 of the City of Detroit’s Budget Office) evaluated the student presentations and declared Marissa Uchimura, Linh Tranh-Phuong, and Pisacha Wichianchan as first, second, and third place winners, respectively. Audience members were given the chance to vote for their favorite presenter, with Bethany Haddad being crowned the winner of this prize. 

We’re so proud of the students who took part in this event and shared their internship experiences. With the fourth annual event being such a success, we can hardly wait for year five in 2022! 

Be on the lookout for more events happening at the Ford School!

A New Semester at the Ford School

It’s the start of a new semester here at the Ford School and the doors of Weill Hall are finally open once again. For the first time in months, Fordies are coming together in person to dive into the challenges facing our community, state, country, and world. 

Students from numerous backgrounds returned to Weill Hall, some fresh off summer internships, others new to the area and ready to embark on the exciting challenge offered by life at the Ford School. 

Though the semester is in its early days, events are already underway on campus to help Fordies connect with one another and the broader world of public policy. 

Last week, students, faculty, and staff got together outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and some ice cream at Ford’s Fall Launch & Ice Cream Social. On Thursday, UM students had the opportunity to hear from the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission about the new process for mapping Michigan’s congressional and legislative district boundaries for the coming decade. 

As we kick off Week 2 of the semester, we’re celebrating the Michigan Wolverines’ dominant 47-14 victory over the Western Michigan University Broncos last Saturday. Here’s hoping for another win this weekend as the Wolverines take on the Washington Huskies. Go Blue!

Distinguished alumni, faculty, and leaders from a variety of sectors are always coming to campus to discuss the topics of the day. Be on the lookout for exciting Ford School and UM events in the coming weeks!