Letter from Dean Barr

June 10, 2021

Dear community, 

After a chaotic 2020 election cycle, policymakers are getting down to the difficult business of leading, making decisions, and implementing policy. With a commitment to the public good, members of our community are taking part in this process and doing the serious work of public service every day.

I offer my best wishes to the Classes of 2021, who helped each other and so many others along the way during the crises we’ve weathered this past year. They are resilient and strong, and I look forward to hearing about their many future successes as they take on the great challenges that face us.

Our faculty are very much engaged—informing, guiding, and even implementing policy. We announced in April that Robert Hampshire was appointed assistant secretary for research and technology in the U.S. Department of Transportation, and he will serve as chief science officer under Secretary Buttigieg. In February, Shobita Parthasarathy testified before Congress about equity in technology. The New York Times and many other outlets cite Luke Shaefer’s research as a marker that led to the passage of important elements that reduce child poverty in the American Rescue Plan. On a much lighter note, his co-authored book, $2.00 a Day was recently featured as a clue on Jeopardy!

This summer, our graduate and undergraduate students are already doing work to advance the public good—interning at a county public defender’s office, in the U.S. Department of Education, and at the Asia Society Policy Institute, World Bank, and the German Marshall Fund. 

This fall, we look forward to more in-person experiences with our students, including many exciting public events. We continue to build on our strengths; after nearly a decade ranked as #1 in social policy we’ll launch a new Center for Racial Justice as well as the Kohn Collaborative, a major social justice hub. Look for more on those exciting developments in the months to come.

In this edition of State & Hill, we share stories that may hit close to home for many of you—about the role and experiences of our federal workforce and perspectives from experienced alumni about what it takes to govern in our challenging political climate. You can read about how our faculty are thinking about the erosion of trust in our federal and state governments. You’ll also read about ways in which members of our community are creating new opportunities for the next generation of policy leaders at the Ford School.

We still face many challenges, but I’m hopeful. I deeply appreciate the many ways in which our students, faculty, and alumni do real good in a world that sorely needs their talents and commitment. 


Barr Signature






Michael S. Barr
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Frank Murphy Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
Roy and Jean Humphrey Proffitt Professor of Law
University of Michigan

Below, find the full, formatted Spring 2021 edition of State & Hill.

Click here to return to the Spring 2021 S&H homepage.