“More is more”

May 31, 2022

Michael S. Barr’s first term as dean

By Laura K. Lee

In October 2021, the Regents of the University of Michigan approved Provost Susan M. Collins’ recommendation to reappoint Michael S. Barr as Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Ford School for a second five-year term, effective August 1, 2022.

Barr’s first term was a remarkable success. With a leadership style characterized by openness, inclusivity, and innovation, Barr has guided the Ford School through a period of mission-centered growth and impact on the world.

Photo of students and Dean Barr standing in front of a large Block M in the Jeffries Hall Arcade

Halfway through his first term, in March 2020, the pandemic scattered students, faculty, and staff to quarantined homes around the world. Barr’s talents shone in those early days of the crisis and over the many challenging months since. His transparency and empathy and his focus on putting people first earned high praise from students, staff, and faculty. At the same time, the school has remained open to innovation and focused on its strategic priorities—including real impact on urgent challenges such as racial injustice, COVID-19, and threats to American democracy.

NOTE: As S&H went to press, President Biden announced his intention to nominate Barr to serve as Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. If confirmed, Barr would follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Ned Gramlich—stepping down as dean and taking a leave from his U-M faculty positions to serve on the Fed’s governing body.

Here are some school highlights from Barr’s first term as dean.

  • $60 million raised in gifts to the Ford School
  • 6 new endowed professorships
  • Endowed support for seven Ford School-Rackham Master’s Awards, supporting promising graduate students
  • Dean Barr and group of master's students in conversation, outdoors in the parking lot behind Weill Hall, during the Ford School Fall Launch in 2021
    A new one-year Master of Public Affairs program, an undergraduate minor, and new policy concentrations in the Master of Public Policy program
  • Larger annual cohorts in our Public Policy and International Affairs program (up from 18 to 24 participants)
  • Significant progress on the school’s 5-year DEI strategic plan, followed by a new set of priorities that will keep momentum moving forward
  • The Center for Racial Justice, launched in fall 2021 following the hire of professor and associate dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes
  • The Kohn Collaborative, consisting of five Kohn Professors, two Kohn Scholars, and funding for policy impact–launched in spring 2021 the hub was created with $17 million in gifts from Harold and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust and will promote social equity and inclusion
  • Launch and growth of the Leadership Initiative, led by new professor Morela Hernandez, providing all students with critical skills for leading organizations, others around them, and themselves
  • The University-wide Democracy and Debate initiative, co-chaired by Barr: a catalyst for learning, dialogue, and action around the 2020 election and beyond
  • Condoleezza Rice
    Weiser Diplomacy Center—created with a $10 million gift from Ron and Eileen Weiser and launched in 2019 with campus visits from Hillary Rodham Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Samantha Power, Stephen Hadley, Steve Biegun, and more
  • A new Program in Practical Policy Engagement, launched in April 2018 with a $1.5 million gift from the Power Foundation
  • The Conversations Across Differences initiative, designed to model and teach reasoned and evidence-based dialogue and explore issues around identity and difference
  • A community-wide process to articulate the school’s new mission and values statements


More in State & Hill

Below, find the full, formatted spring 2022 edition of State & HillClick here to return to the Spring 2022 S&H homepage.