Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hagel says Ford’s leadership style needed in these difficult times

In shaping national and foreign policies, leaders must adjust to constant changes and emulate the values and principles of the late U-M alumnus President Gerald Ford, says former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel.

“Leaders have to adjust to the world we live in, and must have two important traits: courage and character,” says Hagel, R-Neb., who gives Wednesday’s Citigroup Foundation Lecture in the Michigan Union Ballroom.

The lecture, sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the International Policy Center, is free and open to the public.

Hagel is a distinguished professor at Georgetown University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He chairs the Atlantic Council and is a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Defense Policy Board.

Hagel served in the U.S. Senate from 1997-2009 and was a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and Intelligence committees. He chaired the Foreign Relations International Economic Policy, Export and Trade Promotion Subcommittee.

Ford’s leadership in difficult times serves as a reference in who he was and what kind of leader he was — a person with integrity, honesty and openness, Hagel says.

“We would do better to connect with Ford’s style of leadership,” says Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran and former deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration.

Policymakers should utilize these traits to do what’s in the best interest of the country, not exclusively for their political parties, he says.

And while it’s healthy to debate opposing viewpoints, the process should not paralyze the nation’s decision process, Hagel says.

The Citigroup Foundation Lecture series brings prominent policymakers from the national and international arenas to Ford School each year to engage students and faculty in dialogue and to give a public address.