Ford Research Center Spotlight: Education Policy Initiative

In addition to Ford’s premier BA, MPP, MPA, and PhD programs, our school is home to fifteen research centers doing critical work on pressing issues facing Michigan, the U.S., and the world. 

In today’s research center spotlight, we’re looking at the Education Policy Initiative (EPI). One of the distinguished faculty members leading EPI, Professor Sue Dynarski, recently teamed up with fellow researchers from Harvard and the University of Virginia to draw attention to the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of inequities in education. Low-income students’ access to technology and college application resources (counselors, teachers, etc.) have been disrupted, widening the gap in college attendance between low-income students and peers from higher-income households. 

In particular, Dynarski and her colleagues argue for federal intervention to provide the funding and resources needed for schools and students to emerge from the pandemic poised to rebound and thrive.

This is just an example of the incredible work being done at the Ford School. We’re so proud of the faculty and students working to devise innovative solutions to our biggest challenges.

For more on EPI’s research, initiatives, and events, check out the center’s website, and stay tuned for more research center highlights!

Michigan Hockey 101

Athletics may look a bit different this year, as Yost Arena is noticeably empty of fans, but it’s always a good time to root for the Wolverines! Once things start to reopen, you’ll be eligible as Ford students to purchase tickets and attend home games. 

Some UMich Hockey basics:

  • The Wolverines play at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, a venue with a capacity of 5,800. 
  • Since 2017, Mel Pearson has served as head coach, replacing longtime coach and former NHL player Red Berenson. 
  • Like other UM teams, the men’s hockey squad competes as part of the Big Ten athletic conference.
  • The University of Michigan boasts an elite hockey program with dozens of alumni going on to play in the NHL, including about twenty current players.
  • UM’s main rivals in hockey are the Michigan State Spartans, with whom we play an annual game at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

It’s hockey season here in Ann Arbor, and our boys in Maize and Blue are off to a roaring start. Currently sitting at 12-8 on the season, the Wolverines have faced off with Big Ten rivals such as Notre Dame, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Most recently, the team split an away series with the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, dropping the first game 3-2 while emerging victorious in the second with a score of 6-0. 

Life at the Ford School can be hectic with plenty of assignments, exams, readings, and classes. Because of the fast-paced environment we inhabit, it’s important to take some time to destress. Setting your book aside and watching a hockey game on the Big Ten Network may be just the respite you need. 

Be on the lookout for future posts about life at the Ford School!

Research Center Highlight: CLOSUP and the Redistricting Process in Michigan

At the Ford School, we’re exceedingly proud of the incredible work carried out by our numerous policy research centers. Critical issues facing our state, nation, and world, are examined thoroughly by dedicated teams of faculty, subject experts, and students. 

This week, we wanted to highlight an upcoming event from Ford’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). 2020, despite the pandemic, saw the completion of the national census. The data compiled will help officials at the state and federal level determine district boundaries for the next ten years. 

In Michigan, 2018’s Proposal 2 created the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) to draw district lines. As part of this reform to the state constitution, keeping together Communities of Interest (COIs) is a high priority in redistricting. To help us better understand what a COI is, CLOSUP is hosting a February 25th webinar to provide citizens with the information they need to make sense of the new redistricting process in the Great Lakes State. 

For more information on this and other events happening at CLOSUP, visit their website

Presidents Day 2021: Reflecting on Gerald Ford

This Presidents Day, the Ford School is taking a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of our namesake, 38th U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. His story in many respects embodies the Ford School’s commitment to public service.

A lifelong Michigander from Grand Rapids, President Ford attended the University of Michigan and led the school’s football team to two undefeated seasons culminating in national titles.

After completing his degree at Michigan and receiving his juris doctor from Yale, Ford enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in the wake of Pearl Harbor and served in the war’s Pacific Theater. Upon his return home, he married fellow Grand Rapids native Elizabeth “Betty” Bloomer, with whom he would raise four children.

In 1948, Ford was elected to represent West Michigan’s fifth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, going on to hold the seat for twenty-five years. His tenure in Congress saw him serve on the Warren Commission in the wake of the Kennedy assassination and vote in favor of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. His service culminated in an eight-year stint as House Minority Leader.

The resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew elevated Ford to the nation’s second-highest office as the Watergate scandal was unfolding. Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation installed Gerald Ford as the 38th president of the United States, becoming the first commander-in-chief from the State of Michigan. In his first speech to the nation, Ford affirmed his commitment to the values that had guided his life and career, saying “I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it…It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.”

His time in the White House coming to a close in 1977, Gerald R. Ford’s career in public service and elected office was a recurring tale of patriotism, humility, and compassion. His legacy is demonstrative of the University of Michigan’s commitment to civic leadership and serves as a powerful example for policymakers who have followed him. His steady leadership during a period of tumult in America offers a guide for us as we weather the storms of today.

From all of us here at the Ford School, happy Presidents Day.

Meet a Fordie: Jamie Lyons-Eddy MPA ’21

In this installment of our “Meet a Fordie” series, we have one of our MPA students, Jamie Lyons-Eddy, sharing their background and reasons for coming to Ford.

Where are you from?

I’ve lived in Michigan all my life. I was born in Flint, and lived a few places before settling in Troy, where my husband and I raised our kids. We’ve been here for over 23 years now.

What were you doing before you came to Ford?

I was a math teacher with an engineering background, but immediately before coming to the Ford School, I was the Director of Campaigns and Programs for Voters Not Politicians. I was one of the founding members of VNP, the nonpartisan grassroots group that brought thousands of people together across Michigan to put redistricting reform on the statewide ballot in 2018. After the ballot proposal won, VNP went straight to work to support and defend Michigan’s new independent redistricting process, and continues to bring Michigan voters together to fight for structural democracy reform.

Why did you choose Ford?

I was already working for good-government reforms in Michigan, but with my background in math and science, I wanted to build the skills and knowledge to develop policy, analyze complex data, and manage and lead more effectively. I was excited about the one-year MPA program which would allow me to study at the nationally recognized Ford School, which was close to home and wouldn’t require me to take too much time out of my career. Because of the pandemic, I ended up doing all my coursework online, so I could have studied anywhere! But I’m very glad I chose Ford. The faculty is stellar and as a side benefit, I’m learning a lot from my MPA and MPP colleagues.

What do you want to do with your Ford degree?

I’ve already had the privilege of working with thousands of motivated people to bring critical reforms to Michigan’s state government. But there’s much more work to do. At the local, state, and federal level, we must ensure that everyone has access to the ballot, that all votes count equally, and that our elected officials answer to the people. I look forward to getting back to the work of fixing what’s broken in government, and I’m certain that what I’ve learned at Ford will help me be more effective in helping to make positive change.

Be on the lookout for upcoming student spotlights in the weeks and months to come!

February in Michigan: Things to Do

Even in a year without a pandemic, it may seem tricky to find activities to do in Michigan during the cold months of winter. Luckily, the Great Lakes State is filled with natural wonders, exciting attractions, and plenty of other opportunities to experience the crown jewel of the Midwest. Whether you’d rather stay warm or brave the cold, there’s something here in Michigan for everybody.

For Outdoorsy Folks: 

  • Michigan is home to 103 state parks managed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Our state is home to numerous miles of hiking trails and breathtaking scenery. Adding to the allure, quite a few of the state’s nature areas are within a short drive from Ann Arbor. Visit the DNR website for more information on MI state parks. Be sure to bundle up!

For Those Looking to Stay Warm:

  • For fans of art, the Saginaw Art Museum, located an hour-and-a-half north of Ann Arbor by car, has an exhibit showcasing African-American fine art. The exhibit, entitled “WONDERFULLY MADE: THE ANTHONY AND DAVIDA ARTIS COLLECTION OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN FINE ART,” allows visitors to view the extensive art collection of Flint natives Anthony and Davida Artis. This collection will be on display through the end of March 2021. Masks and social distancing will be in place to protect visitors and staff. Tickets can be purchased online or upon arrival.
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts is offering visitors a chance to see “DETROIT STYLE: CAR DESIGN IN THE MOTOR CITY, 1950–2020.” This exhibit seeks to showcase the transportation innovation that has set Michigan’s largest city apart. For more information, check out this link.

These are just a few of the activities February in Michigan has to offer. We’re lucky to live in a state with so much to offer. Even while we’re doing what we can to keep everybody safe, Michigan still has plenty of avenues for adventure and entertainment. 

U-M DEI Strategic Plan

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are at the heart of the University of Michigan’s vision for student life and academic success on campus. The university is currently in the fifth year of its five-year strategic plan to promote these values. In addition to a campus-wide plan, every school, college, and unit at the University of Michigan drafted DEI plans specific to their own circumstances. Students and faculty alike complete yearly educational trainings on myriad topics including gender-based and sexual misconduct prevention. Each year, the university releases a report detailing progress made during each step of the strategic plan.

In year four, Michigan made progress as a campus community in implementing or continuing programs designed to make the university a more welcoming and safe place for all our students. Re-opened in 2019, the Trotter Multicultural Center resumed its provision of student support services and academic courses. This is just one of the many efforts undertaken by UMich in recent years to improve life on campus. Check out the report on year four here.

Be on the lookout for more information on the university’s DEI strategic plan and its progress. 


Meet a Fordie: Conor L. Hicks (MPP ’22)

Hi! I’m Conor Hicks. I’m a first year MPP student here at the Ford School. This has been a year unlike any other, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the people I’ve met and the topics I’ve explored. 

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Redmond, Oregon, a small town about three hours southeast of Portland on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. My family has lived in Oregon for seven generations and first settled in the state after heading out west on the Oregon Trail in the early 1850s. 

What were you doing before you came to Ford?

I came to the Ford School straight from undergrad. Before moving to Ann Arbor, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. During my time as a BC student, I interned in the Capitol Hill office of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and worked in political communications for a summer with the National Democratic Training Committee in Chicago, Illinois. I was also a member of the College Democrats and sang tenor in the University Chorale of Boston College. 

Why did you choose Ford?

When I started looking into graduate school programs, I wanted a school that offered a good combination of theoretical and hands-on approaches to understanding public policy. At Ford, I’ve been able to learn from faculty at the top of their respective fields about contemporary debates, gain historical context for the policies of today, and engage with my peers in a virtual policymaking simulation on climate migration (Ford’s Integrated Policy Exercise). On top of this, Ford’s Social Policy program is the best in the country. As someone particularly interested in education and labor policy, Ford was the perfect fit for me. 

What do you want to do with your Ford degree?

Once I complete my time here at Ford, I hope to work for a nonprofit organization or with the state or federal government on education equity. I’ve always been fascinated by the legislative process and would jump at the opportunity to work on public policy in the office of an elected official. 

I’ve loved my time at Ford so far. Ann Arbor is a perfect setting for me to pursue my passion for public service and I can’t wait for the semesters ahead. If you’re thinking of applying to join us here, I’m looking forward to meeting you.

If you’re interested setting up a time to talk to a current student, visit our student ambassador page to connect with a Fordie today. And stay tuned for more posts in our “Meet a Fordie series!”