The University Record, September 18, 2000

Celebrating the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

  • Ford: ‘Can’t imagine a better place to hang around’
  • Panelists compare Ford administration policy-making environment with that of today

    Former President Gerald R. Ford (left), with President Lee C. Bollinger and Henry Kissinger. Kissinger delivered the keynote address at the ceremony. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

    President Lee C. Bollinger and Gov. John Engler. In opening the naming ceremony, Bollinger noted that serendipity may have been at work many years ago, as Gerald R. Ford was born the year before the founding of the now-named Ford School of Public Policy and moved to Grand Rapids the year of its founding.

    A naming is rare, Bollinger said, and with this naming ‘we accomplish a blending of relationships that have continued over decades.’ A person’s character is significant in public policy, he noted, and while policy-making has many components, ‘who the person is is important. We are fortunate to enter this relationship with President Ford.’

    Engler cited Ford as ‘a hard worker, a distinguished leader among leaders known for his integrity, whose advice is still sought.’ Ford’s tenure marked a time of healing for the country, and the naming of the School for Ford is appropriate for a unit that will train future leaders. ‘This adds to the University’s sterling reputation,’ the governor said. ‘I can’t think of a better legacy for Ford.’ Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

    Dean Rebecca Blank and Gerald R. Ford. Blank, in her second year as dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, shared the excitement of the directions in which the School is going, including building domestic and international policy programs, reaching out to the citizenry and policy officials, creating state and local policy centers, and recruiting new faculty.

    ‘We celebrate being named for a man who represents what public policy is all about,’ she said. ‘We have much to learn from him; his name is much to live up to.’

    Blank also cited recent gifts to the School totaling $6.6 million that provide a start on the School’s $30 million fundraising goal. ‘Between the gifts and state support,’ she said, ‘the School will be an important player in the policy world.’ Blank also is the Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor of Public Policy and professor of public policy and of economics.

    Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

    Many members of the Ford family attended the ceremony last week, including Betty Ford (center), Juliann Ford (left) and Susan Ford Bales. Also attending were Vaden Bales, Jack Ford and Ford’s brother, Mike. Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services

    Provost Nancy Cantor noted that the naming ceremony provided an opportunity to ‘celebrate the growth and maturation of the school, which is an exemplary model. Public policy is interdisciplinary,’ she noted, and only large research universities can bring together programs such as the U-M’s. Ford ‘is an ideal model for practicing public policy,’ she noted, because ‘he listened to different voices.’ Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

    Omorotimi Lewis of the Ford School’s Class of 2000 represented alumni at the program. Lewis had returned to school after working for several years, and following a trip to South Africa this past summer now works in New York City. Lewis thanked Dean Rebecca Blank for Blank’s ‘commitment to help the school realize the next stages of its potential.’

    Public policy may seem a nebulous term to many, Lewis noted, but it really ‘is a collective responsibility of people and of government to care, to make a difference. Ford understood and practiced the fine art of policy-making and continued after he left office. He is a model for us and this is a turning point for the School.

    ‘There has been much invested by students past and present,’ who have made contributions in a variety of settings, she added. ‘As I return to the workforce I am looking forward to the future of the school.’ Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

    Regent Rebecca McGowan represented the Board at the ceremony, noting that she enjoyed working closely with the School and its people. Citing the rigor of the academic program, an excellent faculty and a diverse student body, she said the School stands poised to ‘reinvigorate the University’s commitment to public policy and service.’ Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services