The University Record, November 22, 1999

School of Public Policy named for President Gerald R. Ford

By Theresa Maddix

President Lee C. Bollinger, President Gerald R. Ford and School of Public Policy Dean Rebecca Blank at last week’s Regents’ meeting. Photo by Bill Wood, Photo Services
President Lee C. Bollinger, School of Public Policy Dean Rebecca Blank and the Regents brought President Gerald R. Ford close to tears with their strong words of thanks at the Regents’ Meeting Nov. 18, where the naming of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy was approved.

Bollinger spoke of Ford as the “type of person we would like to hold up to our students as they think about public policy and the country.” He has, more than any other public figure, “exuded in his person a cutting middle ground,” Bollinger said, quoting poet Seamus Heaney.

Blank took the opportunity to lay out the goals for “the newest and smallest school” at the University. They include:

  • An appropriate undergraduate component.

  • Revising and revamping the Ph.D. program.

  • Creating closer connections with other schools on campus.

  • Moving into the School’s new wing in Lorch Hall.

    ‘This is the right time for a new name and Gerald R. Ford is the right name. His career is a hallmark of commitment to public service, synonymous with what we want our students to learn.’ Photo by Bob Kalmbach
    “President Ford honors us by giving us his name and I hope that over time we will in turn honor him through the excellence of our programs and through the commitment of our faculty and our students to promote and analyze effective public policy,” Blank said.

    Each of the Regents spoke to Ford:

  • “Your generation has been described as a generation of giants,” said Regent Laurence B. Deitch. “I see you as a giant of that generation.”

  • Regent Andrea Fisher Newman spoke of her experience seeing President Ford on campus when she was a student, “walking across campus with Secret Service in tow.” She spoke of the “realization that a former University of Michigan student has become the president of the United States, allowing us to only imagine what we could become.”

    Commenting on the turmoil of his presidency, she told Ford, “In a time of national cynicism, you healed a nation in torment.”

  • Regent Katherine White said, “You have committed your life to public service and in this service you have embraced working together on a bi-partisan basis for the good and the sake of the nation. It is an honor to have your name on our school and I hope that having your name there will encourage the students to commit their lives to public policy.”

  • Regent David Brandon followed, saying, “The fact that you came here and contributed what you did during the time you were here and later went on to change our country and our world has really made this place a more meaningful place, a more important place and a more fun place for people like me.”

  • “I’m privileged just to be here,” said Regent S. Martin Taylor. “With each passing year your stature grows and grows among all of us. As we come to appreciate and understand your courage, your leadership and your service to us I think we will be forever indebted to you for the generosity of your selflessness in bringing our country together in a time of turmoil.”

  • “It’s not Lee. It’s not Dean Blank. It’s not the Regents,” emphasized Regent Daniel Horning, “This is your Michigan family saying thank you.”

  • Regent Rebecca McGowan closed the Regents’ remarks saying, “We admire especially those who choose public life for their careers. It is an honor to trust this noble school to your name.”

    Regent Olivia P. Maynard was unable to attend the meeting.