2016 Spring State & Hill: Rising inequality

Page 1

From our corner to the four corners of the globe S p r i n g 2016



lit a






















Inside: The power of null / Cents and sensibility / The dawn of policy


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy


n this issue of S&H, you’ll find stories that focus on inequality—a complex, pervasive phenomenon that many view as one of the most important socioeconomic trends of our time. As a Jamaican who grew up in New York City, unequal living standards across countries was a key factor in my decision to become an international economist and to explore the sources of economic growth. A simple economics textbook perspective often argues that inequality fosters growth—creating incentives for innovation—while excessive redistribution hampers growth by stifling those incentives. But research clearly debunks the idea of a simple relationship. There are multiple channels of influence and many types of inequality, including inequality of outcomes and of opportunities, of rights, of influence, and more. What happened in Flint, Mich., less than an hour’s drive from U-M’s main campus in Ann Arbor, is a tragic illustration of inequality of influence. Flint’s residents repeatedly expressed grave concerns about the quality of their water—concerns that were dismissed, time after time, by state and local administrators. This March, an independent review panel (Dr. Matthew Davis, a Ford School faculty member, served on this panel), came to the same conclusion that so many of us did when the news broke last fall—that what happened in Flint was a clear case of environmental injustice. Across the globe, at least in economic terms, inequality has fallen in recent decades, as many developing economies have prospered. However, within many developed and developing countries—including the U.S.— economic inequality has risen. And with slower growth since the financial crisis, addressing some of the troubling issues that come with pronounced inequity is predictably more contentious; it is always easier to craft policies to assist those who are disadvantaged when the economic pie is expanding.

Inequality, and the pronounced disparities we see all around us, did not emerge overnight— and we cannot anticipate quick, easy fixes. But that doesn’t mean we give up. Many Ford School faculty members dedicate a considerable amount of time and energy to exploring these issues in the classroom, and through their game-changing research. Within this magazine, you’ll find several of these stories. The article about Susan Dynarski (p. 8) reminds us of the transformative power of education, as well as the complex challenges of access and opportunity that Dynarski and her colleagues at the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative are working to overcome. The article about Paula Lantz (p. 12) describes a powerful new tool policymakers are using to address problems at an early stage and to prevent more entrenched disparities down the road. The article about Yazier Henry (p. 16) describes South Africa’s intractable inequality, a lasting legacy of apartheid. Related to the topic of inequality, the Ford School has spent the last year working on a strategic plan to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Guiding these efforts is our firm belief that attention to and respect for diversity are integral to the study and practice of public policy. Policies affect people differently—they always have—but they can be structured to ensure broader benefits across populations. Tell us what you think—about inequality, about diversity, about anything that’s on your mind. And if you’re working on issues in these arenas, please share. We would love to hear from you.

Susan M. Collins

Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy

Ford School (@fordschool) March 11 Check it out! Cortney Sanders (PPIA ’13, MPP ’17) talks college as a #firstgen student. http://myumi.ch/6vXMV

spring 2016

President Johnson delivers Great Society speech at U-M, 1964.


The Magazine of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Shaking up higher ed 8 Susan Dynarski’s quest to remove barriers to higher education 2016 DC Trip

State & Hill Dean: Susan M. Collins Associate Dean for Academic Affairs: Kathryn M. Dominguez Associate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement: Paula Lantz Director of Communications/Executive Editor: Laura K. Lee (MPP ’96) Editor and Lead Writer: Erin Spanier Contributors: Alex Berger (MPP ’17), Afton Branche (MPP ’17), Erin Flores, Paul Gully (MPP ’16), Elisabeth Johnston, Cliff Martin, Nicholas Pfost (MPP ’15) Design: Savitski Design Cover illustration: Fotolia Photographer: Peter Smith Printer: University Lithoprinters, Inc.

President Johnson photo: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

Tell us what you think: fspp-editor@umich.edu, or Editor, State & Hill, Ford School, University of Michigan, 735 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091 Regents of the University of Michigan Michael J. Behm, Grand Blanc Mark J. Bernstein, Ann Arbor Laurence B. Deitch, Bloomfield Hills Shauna Ryder Diggs, Grosse Pointe Denise Ilitch, Bingham Farms Andrea Fischer Newman, Ann Arbor Andrew C. Richner, Grosse Pointe Park Katherine E. White, Ann Arbor Mark S. Schlissel, ex officio The University of Michigan, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. Inquiries or complaints may be addressed to the Senior Director for Institutional Equity, and Title IX/Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Office of Institutional Equity, 2072 Administrative Services Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1432, 734-763-0235, TTY 734-647-1388. For other University of Michigan information call 734-764-1817.

$2.00 today 10 Luke Shaefer on the rise of extreme poverty and the policy agenda

Forging a new bond? 12 Paula Lantz explores social impact bonds for prevention

79 cents on the dollar 14 Mary Corcoran and Betsey Stevenson on the stubborn gender pay gap

20 years post-apartheid 16 Transcending South Africa’s violent, lingering landscape of inequality

In addition The dawn of public policy: Pat Crecine, early IPPS, and early IPPSters 4 The power of null: The value of null results in policy research 18 Cents and sensibility: Dominguez on lessons in economics from Jane Austen 20 Through research, activism: Fighting socioeconomic disparities in black communities 22 A retrospective: The Ford School Alumni Board at 25 23

Departments Discourse, Ford School Faculty in the News 21 Soundbites, Overheard @ Ford School Events 24 Faculty News and Awards 26 Class Notes 28 The Last Word 30

gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

45th anniversary of first MPPs By Erin Spanier


he protests started in earnest in the spring of 1965. Operation “Rolling Thunder,” spearheaded by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, commenced on March 2, with massive and near-continuous air strikes of Vietnam. The first U.S. combat troops were sent the following week, and napalm, a flammable gel responsible for deadly and debilitating burns, would soon follow. By the end of March, U-M students and faculty would organize the nation’s first teach-in to protest the war. More than 3,000 U-M students and 200 faculty members would attend. By May, teach-ins had spread to college campuses across America and U-M students were gearing up for new protests. They’d rail against the draft, against defense research, against racial discrimination, against drug laws, against pollution, and more. Rick Curtis (BGS ’70, MPP ’72), who was hired as a residence hall director in 1970, says incoming freshmen didn’t ask about the first football game, or the first college party. They asked about the first student protest. “There had been bombings of buildings, violent confrontations with police,” he says. “It felt like things would spin out of control, as they had at other places.” Emery “Ozzie” Roe (BA ’70, MPP ’72), remembers the internal fervor of the ’60s, too. “We were trying to understand not just social issues, but existential ones. How does this bigger world affect you and where are you in it? How can you be white and not politically active and still be a human being?”

(BA ’70, MPP ’72) remembers working with the Black Student Union to recruit more black students and faculty, and participating in the Black Action

Roger Short

“Vietnam Moratorium,” c. 1969

Movement’s (BAM) week-long strike when administrators disregarded their demands. Short says he wasn’t a revolutionary, but wanted to be sure U-M would be responsive to the needs and concerns of black students. Curtis helped to found Students for Effective Action, an organization dedicated to peaceful, democratic change. Thomas Linn (BA ’70, MPP ’72, JD ’76) became an expert on Selective Service deferments, and counseled U-M students about how to avoid the draft. There were dozens of loopholes, and Linn knew students who took advantage of all of them. There were students who married, or became conscientious objectors, or received a medical exclusion. There was someone who cut off a toe, someone who lost weight, someone who gained it. Roe remembers a life-changing undergraduate course he took with John Patrick (Pat) Crecine , who had been tapped to serve as founding director of the Institute of Public Policy Studies (the Ford School) in 1968. Crecine would invite guest lecturers and policy leaders— including John Steinbruner and Graham Allison—to talk about war and decision-making under pressure. They would talk about the threat of nuclear war. About the Cuban Missile Crisis. About the cybernetic theory of decision-making. “It was transformative,” says Roe. It was Crecine who convinced Roe, and many others, to study policy as the nascent program was launched in 1969. 1969, the dawn of public policy

Pat Crecine was just 28, an untenured assistant professor (about to be promoted), when U-M administrators put him in charge of the new Institute of Public Policy Studies (IPPS).

Jay Cassidy photographs, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


S tat e & H i l l

Black Action Movement picketers, c. 1970

Pat Crecine

Accounts vary. He was magnetic. Handsome. Brilliant. He was a mumbler. A terrible teacher. He was a wonderful mentor. Critical. Empowering. He was personable. Intense. Low key. He was dashing. A visionary in the field. A change-agent. A remarkable man.

Robert Putnam ,

and Jack Walker ; the economists Mike and Sid Winter ; Stephen Pollock , who taught operations research; and John Chamberlin , who taught a new core course in statistics. Scherer

The program was quantitative and rigorous, but it was also applied. There were computer simulations, applied policy projects, case studies, and internships. Ann Branston (MPP ’71) remembers interning during the school year with Don Borut (MPA ’65), then assistant city manager of Ann Arbor, and in the summer with the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, DC.

Crecine wasn’t a radical. He wasn’t an activist. He loved sailing, and football, and athletics. He had a kegerator, and often invited his graduate students over for drinks. But Crecine was someone who cared deeply about social challenges, and he was in the vanguard of an intellectual revolution.

And there was a feeling that with these powerful tools and techniques, students and faculty might help to untangle some of the complex issues of the era—poverty, racial discrimination, environmental degradation, and escalating military conflicts.

Jay Cassidy photographs, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

For more than 50 years, the institute had focused its curriculum on public administration, offering aspiring public servants training in management, budgeting, human resources, and related skills. While U-M’s public administration program and alumni had been immensely successful, some University faculty and administrators felt public servants required additional skills to address the complex national and global challenges that were coming to light in the late 1960s. In time, it would become clear that administration, activism, law, and policy all played a role in affecting change, but in 1969, when the first students enrolled in Crecine’s justlaunched degree program, policy analysis was novel. The still-evolving curriculum combined disciplinary training in political science with courses in economics, statistics, and organizational theory. Early faculty included the political scientists Joel Aberbach , Ron Brunner , Larry Mohr (MPA ’63, PhD ’66),

John Chamberlin (who was then finishing his PhD at Stanford Business School) says the complex challenges of the mid- to late-‘60s, and the exciting new discipline, drove him to choose policy over business. A handful of leading universities were starting, or hoping to start, public policy programs, he says. The University of Michigan was among the very first to do so. ■  Story continues online at Fordschool.umich. edu/news/2016/ippstory

Graduates of the classes of ‘71, ‘72, and ‘73, share your reflections about early IPPS (email fspp-editor@umich.edu) and we’ll add them to the online version of this story.

Ford School Spotlight Three Ford School undergrads—(left to right) Tori Noble (BA ’17), James Hendrickson (BA ’17), and Carson Smith (BA ’17)—won the 2nd annual Ford School Case Competition for their proposal to help the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority increase revenues and build capacity. The competition is a student-led, policy-focused contest organized by the Ford Case Collective.  fordschool.umich.edu/ news/2016/casecomp









gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy



 Read mo r e at f o r d sc h o o l . u m i c h . e d u / i n e q u a l i t y “How poor single moms survive,” Kristin Seefeldt’s latest research featured in The Atlantic

Chronicle of Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed report on Kevin Stange study of attainment gap

The Economist highlights Dean Yang’s research in “Like manna from heaven”

“Gains from economic recovery still limited to top one percent,” says Justin Wolfers in The New York Times

S tat e & H i l l

“The conventional wisdom is that a rising economic tide lifts all boats. It has not worked that way since the 1970s.” S h e l d o n H . D a n z ig e r

President, Russell Sage Foundation Professor Emeritus and Founding Co-Director, National Poverty Center


v e r t h e pa s t 4 0 y e a r s , globalization has

contributed to a decline in manufacturing jobs. Rapid technological advances have displaced low-

skilled workers. Labor rights and the minimum wage have eroded. And welfare reform has weakened the domestic safety net. At the same time, earnings, income, and wealth have been increasingly concentrated as economic and public policy changes have disproportionately benefited the economic elite. The growing gulf between the rich and poor—in America and in countries around the world—demands attention. But what are the causes and consequences of rising inequality? What can we do to address it? And what can we do to reverse the health and educational disparities that both result from and perpetuate the problem? Inside this issue of State & Hill, you’ll learn how Ford School faculty are tackling these challenges through game-changing research and policy engagement.


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Tackling educational disparities “in the classroom, on campus, and beyond” By Greta Guest and Erin Spanier


nce, she was a first-generation college student from a working-class suburb of Boston. Now, she is an internationally renowned professor of education policy with the ear of the White House. So Susan Dynarski knows that education can be transformational. But Dynarski, whose research focuses on educational disparities and how to overcome them, also knows how unusual her own story is, citing “enormous disparities by income—by accident of birth— in who goes to college.” Originally discouraged by the nuns at her school from taking the PSAT, Dynarski later took the SAT and found she was remarkably good at taking tests. Her scores and smarts won her a spot at Harvard, and the financial aid package Harvard offered made it her least expensive option. But as generous as Harvard was to talented, low-income students, it was also a place where Dynarski would become acutely aware of her own socioeconomic disadvantages. Dynarski recalls getting two work-study job options at Harvard: cleaning toilets or washing dishes. Not surprisingly, she chose the dishes, and remembers how quickly it served to divide the classes. Once, after a long shift in the dining hall, Dynarski heard her dorm-mates make a friendly wager over the meaning of a word. “They were betting more than I had just earned and I blew up at them,” she says; her dorm-mates took her out to dinner by way of apology. Dynarski’s father was a high school dropout, and her mother had only taken a few college-level night classes while Dynarski was in high school (her mother never finished the degree). So Dynarski was on her own navigating the Ivy League school experience. In a single semester, she loaded up on an array of tough courses— calculus, physics, chemistry, computer science—and

nearly flunked out. “The dropout rate for first-gens is twice that of other kids,” Dynarski says now, citing research she conducted with Martha Bailey, an associate professor of economics at U-M.  Fortunately, Dynarski would persevere and would eventually give up her work-study post to take a parttime job organizing Harvard’s clerical staff for a union. It was the best move she could have made. “In an alien place, the union staff provided a nurturing, supportive community,” she says. And the union work was equally formative, exposing Dynarski to the powerful role unions can play in driving economic and social mobility. After six years as a union organizer, Dynarski returned to Harvard to pursue a graduate degree in public policy, which offers the means to bring about largescale change. The degree allowed Dynarski to pursue her profound and growing interest in inequality, while teaching her to like some of the more rigorous quantitative courses—like economics and statistics—that had nearly derailed her as an undergraduate student. Dynarski would go on to pursue a PhD in economics from MIT, where she found new ways to illuminate educational disparities through the powerful analytic tools of her discipline. Dynarski’s doctoral thesis, for example, took advantage of a shift in policy to study the effects of financial aid on college access and completion among low-income students (the work was later published by the American Economic Review). Subsequent papers have explored the impact of merit-based aid, the most effective charter school practices, the cost of complexity in the federal financial aid application, rising inequality in higher education, and more.

“Sue Dynarski’s collaboration on the HAIL Scholarship program is helping us reach talented students in all communities in Michigan.” University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel

Schlissel Photo: Michigan Photography

R isin g I n e q u a l i t y


S tat e & H i l l

outcomes. They’ve also spent countless hours training a growing cadre of master’s, doctoral, and post-doctoral scholars to use data like these to tease out the causal effects of policies and practices. More publicly, Dynarski has dedicated hundreds of hours, and racked up an impressive number of frequent-flyer miles, working with policymakers and practitioners in Washington, DC to revamp the financial aid application process so it’s less of a barrier for first-generation college students.

Sensing a theme? You should be. Dynarski’s experience as a first-generation, low-income college student was challenging, but enlightening. There’s a sensitivity—a vitally important perspective— that comes from being a first-generation college student, says Dynarski. Someone who never had to struggle to overcome hurdles might not think to explore them. Those struggles inform your theories, and drive your research agenda. And important new discoveries can emerge. They certainly have for Dynarski.  Last fall, the Chronicle of Higher Education commended Dynarski for shaking up higher ed “in the classroom, on campus, and beyond.” Calling her one of the top ten influencers and agitators of 2015, the Chronicle cited Dynarski’s many contributions to The New York Times as a factor (Dynarski has penned eight columns for the print edition, and many more for the paper’s online policy and politics enterprise, The Upshot). But Dynarski has done far more. Behind the scenes, Dynarski, Brian Jacob, and others at the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative have spent years building a secure longitudinal database that combines student-level data with program data and

Dynarski’s research and subsequent policy briefs and proposals have already inspired several improvements that are making applications shorter and simpler, and saving time for families, colleges, and the federal government alike. Recently, her work also inspired a bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo), that seeks to replace the 100+ question FAFSA with a two-question form.  Back at the University of Michigan, Dynarski has worked with staff and administrators to design U-M’s new HAIL Scholarship pilot for low-income students. The program, launched this fall, attempts to remove real and perceived barriers to higher ed for low-income students across the state. “Sue Dynarski’s collaboration on the HAIL Scholarship program is helping us reach talented students in all communities in Michigan,” says University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, who speaks about the program often and enthusiastically. It will take time to analyze the impact of U-M’s HAIL Scholarship pilot. But the hope, says Dynarski, is to expand the number of high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds who consider, apply to, attend, and ultimately graduate from the state’s first and flagship university—ours. “People from different backgrounds, and the experiences they’ve had, enrich academic research and public policy. And first-gen students bring important perspectives,” says Dynarski. We couldn’t agree more. ■


R isin g I n e q u a l i t y


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Welfare reform redux Luke Shaefer on the rise of extreme poverty, the influence of $2.00 a Day, and what comes next By Erin Spanier


n Tuesday, September 1, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Written by Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin, the book movingly documents the troubling rise of extreme poverty in the wake of America’s 1996 welfare reforms. By the end of the subsequent week, $2.00 a Day had attracted a half-dozen complimentary reviews from some of America’s most prominent media outlets. In a review for The New York Times, William Julius Wilson described it as a call to action. “[O]ne hopes it will accomplish what Michael Harrington’s The Other America achieved in the 1960s—arousing both the nation’s consciousness and conscience about the plight of a growing number of invisible citizens,” Wilson wrote. By the end of the following month, policy leaders were demonstrating a growing interest, as well. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) invited Shaefer to testify before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee at a special hearing on welfare and poverty in America. At that hearing, Hatch described poverty as “crushing,” “remorseless,” and “a critical challenge for our nation,” and expressed a willingness and desire to work across the aisle to address it. And by the end of the third month, $2.00 a Day was recognized by The New York Times among the 100 most notable books of the year. When Shaefer sits down to discuss the work some six months after its publication, there’s a rumor that his book has inspired a $2 billion Obama Administration proposal to establish a new program, the Emergency Aid and Service Connection. Designed to reach families on the brink of crisis, the initiative would provide funds to states to offer shortterm assistance to struggling families before their situations decline. Shaefer confirms the news, and says they’ve heard of other items in the President’s budget that are inspired, at least in part, by the book’s findings, as well. “Now are they going to become law?” Shaefer asks. “That’s a whole ’nother question, of course.”

 Just what was it about $2.00 a Day that captured the attention of so many Americans? Likely a few things. In 2010 the noted sociologist Kathryn Edin, best known for her ethnographic observations of the lives of low-income families, began to notice what felt like a new trend: an increase in the number of Americans with almost no cash income. She turned to Shaefer, a poverty researcher and self-proclaimed “data nerd,” to investigate. Shaefer himself turned to the most rigorous source of income data he knew: the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, known as the SIPP. While he cautions that it’s “far from perfect,” the SIPP captures more income among poor families than any other source available. Adapting the $2.00-a-day metric used by the World Bank to monitor global poverty, Shaefer discovered that since America’s 1996 welfare reforms, the number of households with children reporting cash incomes below the $2.00-per-person, per-day threshold in any given month had more than doubled, with the biggest increase among families experiencing extended periods of poverty. What happened in 1996? Welfare reform replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a termlimited cash assistance program administered by states. Factoring in non-cash sources of support, like food stamps and housing subsidies, makes a big difference, he says. But even then it looked like things were still very much heading in the wrong direction. Of course, as a true data nerd, Shaefer was compelled to look at other sources of data, as well. He looked at emergency food assistance records, homelessness reports, food stamp administrative data, and even the number of plasma donations (many lowincome Americans sell plasma for cash). All pointed to a worsening of conditions among America’s poorest families with children. “We tried to base our case on a lot of different forms of data with a lot of different strengths and weaknesses,” says Shaefer. “When they all point in the same direction, it increases your confidence that what you’re seeing is a real trend.”

S tat e & H i l l

Shaefer testifies at a U.S. Senate hearing on welfare and poverty

Shaefer discovered that since America’s 1996 welfare reforms, the number of households with children reporting cash incomes below the $2.00-per-person, perday threshold in any given month had more than doubled. Trend confirmed, the pair then went to food banks and homeless shelters, and worked with research collaborators in the communities they were studying, to find families living in $2.00-a-day poverty in hopes of learning more about their situations. How did they find themselves in circumstances like this? What did they do to survive? If they had access to in-kind benefits, did it matter that they had no cash? And what were the long-term consequences of extreme poverty? Rae McCormack (names changed), who lost her job at WalMart when she lost access to transportation. Jennifer Hernandez, an asthmatic who became sick while cleaning abandoned homes all winter. Jessica Compton, who donated plasma as much as ten times a month.

on cash assistance for needy families, many states spend them on scholarships, foster care, and social service programs they were likely to run anyway, easing state budgets. Thus, in many parts of the country, he says, TANF “has become welfare for states, not for people.” Shaefer also hopes to work on new legislation to significantly expand the number and range of subsidized jobs in struggling communities across the country. While the subjects of $2.00 a Day would have benefitted from cash assistance, and should have received it, says Shaefer, they dreamed of living-wage work that connected them to society. “This is terribly unempirical,” he confesses, “but I think a core human impulse is to want to make a contribution to the world. To put your mark on it and say look…I rebuilt that house, or I cleaned that apartment.” “Obviously we don’t want families to go hungry,” says Shaefer, but we ought to find ways to create social welfare programs “that enhance dignity, rather than diminish it.” ■

Ford School Spotlight

Their stories, says Shaefer, are the main reason people have been so moved by the book.  What’s next for Shaefer? Quite a bit.

Sidebar Photo: Rasheed Malik (MPP ’16)

“There has continued to be a fair amount of interest in the book and work,” he says. In fact, over the next ten months Shaefer has been invited to share the work with more than a dozen groups, including private companies, professional associations, non-profit social service providers, and government agencies. Beyond that, Shaefer is hoping to work with colleagues on related research projects and with policy leaders on evidence-based reforms. The block-grant structure of TANF, which is up for reauthorization, has created “perverse incentives for states,” says Shaefer. Instead of spending TANF funds

In March, 23 Ford School master’s students traveled to the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance for the annual student-led policy conference and case competition, “Ford+SPPG.” This year’s conference, “Closing the Gap,” tasked student teams with developing holistic, evidence-based proposals to diminish economic inequality in the province of Ontario.  fordschool.umich.edu/news/2016/uscanadaconf


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Testing ‘an ounce of prevention’ with private-sector funds A workaround for cash-strapped governments and underserved populations By Julie Halpert


rofessor Paula Lantz has spent her career focused on how to improve population health and reduce health disparities. “I think it’s shameful that we live in a very wealthy society, yet our population health indicators are terrible when compared to other developed nations,” she says.

Lantz explains that governments often don’t invest in these types of prevention programs because they have limited budgets and prioritize acute problems. But this immediate-needs approach can be short-sighted, she says, pointing to the current crisis in Flint, Mich., as an example.

A case in point: The U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates among Western developed countries. Prevention, says Lantz, holds the key to addressing infant mortality and many other vitally important health problems.

“To save money and not treat the water or the pipes [in Flint], we ended up with a huge crisis down the road that has tremendous human, community, and financial costs.”

This winter, Lantz won a $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to build a health policy research hub at U-M. One of the hub’s main activities will be to evaluate the effect of social impact bonds, also known as Pay for Success programs, a new type of publicprivate partnership designed to prevent problems that can lead to more troubling issues down the road. The Pay for Success model mimics that of venture capitalists, allowing investment banks and foundations to invest in pilot programs designed to prevent problems like recidivism, homelessness, unemployment, and unnecessary foster care placements. If a third-party evaluation shows that a program has met its measures of success and saved the government money, investors are reimbursed and, in some cases, can even turn a profit. The investors bear all the risk, says Lantz. If the program doesn’t end up saving the government money, the government has no obligation to pay. A relatively new model, there are currently only nine Pay for Success programs underway in the U.S., all funding early interventions designed to head off future problems.

While social impact bonds aren’t a magic bullet, says Lantz, they can provide a workaround for cash-strapped governments and underserved populations. One promising Pay for Success program in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, is intended to reduce the number of children in foster care by providing housing and supportive social services for homeless families. Cuyahoga County spends $25 million a year on foster care, Lantz says, so an intervention that keeps families safely together and moves them out of homelessness— all while saving taxpayers money—would definitely be a win-win. Lantz is spearheading a landscape analysis that will review all of the Pay for Success projects that have been launched in the U.S. and other countries to date. “We’re looking at what some of the challenges are with this model and some of the lessons we can learn. There has been a lot of excitement about social impact bonds, but also a lot of question marks,” she says. One Pay for Success program that promised to reduce recidivism among young men at Rikers Island was stopped early when it was determined that the intervention was not working at all, in stark contrast to what was expected when the project was designed. Interestingly, none of the Pay for Success projects launched to date have focused on health disparities or population health—Lantz’s areas of expertise. So Lantz and colleagues want to identify good interventions in the health field that will work as Pay for Success projects. Lantz and her team will also focus on the policies, regulations, and administrative decisions that can be used to foster more successful social impact bonds. ■

Project Welcome Home, California’s first “Pay for Success” program

Photo: Alain McLaughlin

R isin g I n e q u a l i t y


S tat e & H i l l


Ford School Spotlight

Forrest (BA ’13) (far left) and Hunter (MPP/JD ’16) (far right) Cox ,

members of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Kansas, present a “Grateful Nation” blanket to the Ford School. A tribute to “the brave men and women who have defended freedom,” the blanket is on permanent display at Weill Hall. Pictured with Susan M. Collins and Isa Gaillard (BA ’16), co-chair of the U-M Native American Student Association.

Pa u l a Lantz is the Ford School’s first associate dean for research and policy engagement. Her charge: To provide strategic vision and operational oversight for faculty research activities and to enhance the school’s ability to support policy professionals— connecting research to practice.

Policies for health equity


Policies for Action Research Hub, established with a

Seven Ford School students—Kenneth FenneLl , Diego Garcia

three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood

Montufar , Arman Golrokhian , Maureen Lackner , Benjamin

Johnson Foundation.

actionable policy research that will accelerate

Morse , Giorgi Tsimintia , and Harry Wolberg —were named 2016 Dow Sustainability Fellows in January. They will join a growing collaborative community of U-M scholars focused on interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability challenges.  fordschool.umich.edu/

progress toward better population health and health


he Pay for Success landscape analysis described in this article is one of four research activities being undertaken by the University of Michigan’s

“Our goal is to produce innovative, timely, and

equity,” says Lantz, the principal investigator. Other hub activities include a study of state and local “health in all policies” efforts, an examination of interventions that target “super-utilizers” of health care services, and simulation modeling of various policy interventions aimed at population health Huntley Photo: Eric Bronson / Michigan Photography

improvement. The hub will be led by a steering committee with expertise in more than 15 different disciplines, representing nine different schools and research institutes. Lantz’s co-principal investigator is Peter D. Jacobson, a professor of health management and policy in U-M’s School of Public Health.

All-American Max Huntley (MPP ‘17) is the first three-time captain in U-M wrestling history. Last year, he finished eighth in the NCAA with a 3-2 record, fifth in the Big Ten with a 4-2 record, and was 24-11 overall. This March, Michigan Wrestling finished ninth in the nation at the NCAA Championships in New York City.

gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Narrowing the stubborn gender compensation gap


omen’s employment and earnings have changed dramatically since Mary Corcoran , professor of public policy, political science, and women’s studies, began to explore the issue some four decades ago. When Corcoran wrote her dissertation at MIT in 1975, men and women had vastly different experiences in the job market. But women went on to make tremendous gains in the ensuing decades. Corcoran


Women’s increasing human capital—education and work experience—has played an important role in those job market gains, she explains. In the past, the average working woman was less educated than the average working man, so statistically adjusting for women’s educational disadvantage once reduced estimates of the wage gap. Since the 1990s, however, women have been earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at a higher rate than men. So statistically adjusting for women’s educational advantage today reveals a larger wage gap. Another important form of human capital is work experience. In 1978, Corcoran was the first to compile age-representative data showing wage differences by work experience and gender. Back then, she says, controlling for differences in experience explained a large portion of the wage gap, but that’s much less true today, as increasing numbers of women have entered, and stayed in, the labor market. Still, the median woman working full-time, all year now makes 79 percent of what the median man makes. And

Greg Duncan and Mary Corcoran, c. 1981

the situation is even worse for mothers and women of color. So while there’s been significant progress since Corcoran began her career—when the wage gap was estimated at 58 percent—continuing to narrow the gender pay gap remains a stubborn challenge. Where Corcoran has spent much of her career finding ways to illuminate and raise awareness about the gender wage gap, a new Ford School faculty member—Betsey Stevenson —has built her research career examining the impact that public policies have had on women’s employment, including their decision to work or stay at

Ford School Spotlight Last October, Alison Beatty , a PhD candidate in public policy and political science, and 2,095 others brought Rosie the Riveter to life to raise awareness and funds for preservation of the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti. Together, they set a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Rosie the Riveter.

Rosie photo: The Ann Arbor News

Compared to the 1970s, not only are more women working, they are working more hours, their earnings are closer to those of men, and they are working in a broader range of occupations, says Corcoran.

Duncan Photo: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

R isin g I n e q u a l i t y


home, the careers they choose, and how these decisions interact with their family life. She has also been actively engaged in national policy conversations on women’s employment. Shortly after joining the University of Michigan as an associate professor of public policy and economics, Stevenson was tapped to become a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and spent the next two years advising President Obama on issues related to gender equality. Equal pay legislation has been on the books for decades, says Stevenson, but enforcement continues to be a challenge. Some dismiss the extent of the problem by dickering over the credibility of the numbers themselves. Seventy-nine percent is the median for full-time, full-year workers, so of course the numbers vary significantly when you adjust for various factors, including the decisions that men and women make. Some attribute the gap to women’s choices, saying women choose to enter professions—like social work or teaching—that pay less. Interestingly, the pay gap is especially wide in some of the highest paid professions like medicine, finance, marketing, and management.

S tat e & H i l l

work or reducing work hours to care for children, which led to large monetary penalties. Corcoran notes that overall, however, “fewer women are taking time off for child care, and on average, they’re taking less time off when they do.” Whatever the reason for the gap in pay between men and women, policy can be a powerful way to diminish it.

Today, the median woman working fulltime, all year makes 79 percent of what the median man makes.

Stevenson has argued for paid family leave policies, which would make it easier for working mothers to stay engaged with the labor market. She has also argued for family-friendly workplace policies that would help working parents balance job and family demands. And, more recently, she has spoken in favor of increased transparency around pay data, which would make it easier for employees to negotiate for equal pay. This March, Stevenson was asked to testify before a hearing of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about a proposed change to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that would require larger employers to submit pay data.

And some argue that women choose to take more time off for child care, and value workplace flexibility over higher wages.

Stevenson argued that reporting this data would help employers identify troubling pay practices and take action to ensure that they are compensating employees fairly. She also argued that it would help the EEOC more efficiently target investigations, benefiting both taxpayers and employers.

In a study of the career trajectories of lawyers, for example, Corcoran and colleagues Paul Courant and Mary Noonan (MPP ’97, PhD ‘01) found that starting salaries for women lawyers were similar to those of their male colleagues. But 15 years after law school, female lawyers were earning 63 percent of what their male counterparts were earning. An important part of the difference, says Corcoran, was associated with taking time off from

In her testimony, Stevenson emphasized that an important source of discrimination comes from implicit bias—bias that is unintentional. Since awareness is an important tool to combat implicit bias, even reporting broad categories of data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and sex, such as the EEOC is requesting, would help identify pay discrimination and would encourage employers to promote equal pay, as well. ■



gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

R isin g I n e q u a l i t y

Toward a language of greater equality and peace Twenty years after South Africa ratified its post-apartheid Constitution, faculty member Yazier Henry reflects on the country’s painful, intractable inequality By Laura K. Lee (MPP ’96)


ast year, Yazier Henry paid $99 for a DNA testing kit, then dropped a saliva sample in the mail. Six weeks later, the results arrived: 39 percent Asia, 27 percent Europe, 27 percent Africa, 7 percent Pacific Islander. His “ethnicity estimates”—Yazier’s own body and blood— tell a 350-year story of colonialism, slavery, resistance, and liberation. Yazier was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, and some of his ancestors were likely removed by Dutch colonialists from what is now Indonesia: banished for their resistance or enslaved to build the colony at the Cape. He’d suspected as much. But having dedicated his adult life to language and narrative—to intellectual inquiry and teaching on issues related to inequality, injustice, and peace—Yazier was driven to write and to read his own part of the story in full.

Crimes unsettled

After centuries of colonialism, the formalization of apartheid, protests, violent repression, and international pressure, a new hope dawned for South Africa in the 1990s. The apartheid government was defeated. Resistance leader Nelson Mandela walked free from prison in 1990 and was elected president in 1994. Today, that hope is under threat. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, with racialized violence, poverty, and exclusion seemingly frozen in amber. Over half of South Africans live below the national poverty line and more than 10 percent live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 per day.



The “haves” under the apartheid system still hold the economic power, Yazier says, joined now by what he calls “a new political and administrative black elite.”


“For two decades, there has been a global acceptance that apartheid as a crime has been settled in South Africa,” Yazier says. “It has not been settled.” The nation’s extreme inequality is perhaps most readily visible in the country’s strictly delineated, dramatic residential segregation.


Cape Town

Even in context with hundreds of years of colonial land grabs, the apartheid government’s policy of forced removals was particularly brutal. From 1960

to 1983, 3.5 million people were removed by force from their homes and neighborhoods. Yazier’s father, Desmond, was among them. As a boy, Yazier remembers his father sneaking into matches at the Cricket Grounds in Newlands, Cape Town. Newlands, like most of the now lush suburbs at the base of Table Mountain, had been legally declared a ‘white group area’ at the height of the forced removals. Nine miles away, but an economic world apart, Yazier’s mother, Freda, led neighborhood efforts to support the boycotts that were critical to the anti-apartheid resistance—boycotts that included cricket matches. Those clandestine matches provoked the only parental fights Yazier can recall. But it was only after his father’s death in 2012 that Yazier learned that his father had been born in Newlands—the Cricket Grounds had been his boyhood haunt—a family story erased. A rush to reconciliation

Yazier counts the persistence of apartheid-engineered ghettos—and the broader persistence of desperate inequality—as among the enduring, devastating failures of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). While many see the TRC as a watershed landmark in post-conflict justice, Yazier and other scholars increasingly characterize the TRC as a deeply flawed process, bereft of real accountability. Yazier himself testified before the TRC and later worked for the Commission. He remembers the hope he felt, the confidence that he and his colleagues were laying the foundation for a peaceful, just democracy. But today he explains that the TRC identified and catalogued only the most shocking atrocities and some key perpetrators. The result, Yazier says, was to silence both apartheid’s victims, who were told to move on, and its beneficiaries, who no longer felt pressured to discuss their complicity. If you’ve spent time in the classroom with Yazier, you won’t be surprised to learn that when asked what the TRC process could have done to change South Africa’s trajectory, he resists simple answers. Instead, he calls for a new language to be found—one that could transcend the violent, lingering landscape of inequality. It could and should begin, Yazier says, with an

official state apology for apartheid—an acknowledgement that the new state is responsible for addressing the atrocities of the old. “Human rights, democracy, and the systematic creation and construction of atrocity take place over time,” Yazier says, “They don’t just occur, and they don’t just end.” In South Africa and elsewhere, the dominant groups and narratives moved on too quickly, he says, from the social pain, economic costs, and political legacies that persist. The long run

But apartheid did end officially, Yazier notes. “And it’s important to mark that. If we don’t, it’s easy to forget all those who contributed to its end.” He tells a story about an old woman—an activist and an intellectual—who was asked whether, given the grim statistics, life in South Africa is essentially the same as before apartheid’s defeat. The woman acknowledged her economic suffering, but her answer was unequivocal: never again would a white person push her off a sidewalk and get away with it, and think it okay. “Understanding that apartheid was defeated is important. It was defeated.” Yazier takes a lengthy pause. “It did not simply evaporate.” “For peace and equality to be articulated in the long run, there needs to be more in terms of law and policy. Because apartheid colonized not only the land. It colonized our hearts and minds. It wrote itself into our blood.” Liberation, Yazier says, is in this sense also personal.

S tat e & H i l l

Training thinkers and doers

Yazier first joined the faculty in 2007 as a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence and was invited to return in 2008. Although he travels back to South Africa regularly, he’s been teaching at the Ford School ever since. In addition to his research and writing, Yazier sees his work as training students to provide intellectual leadership in the context of ongoing inequality in the world. Reflecting on himself as an anti-apartheid activist at age sixteen, Yazier notes that “sometimes as young people, we want to think of ourselves as the first iteration.” “We had to tell our parents in 1985, no, we will not accept living under apartheid any longer,” Yazier says. “I didn’t finish high school then because at that time, our slogan was liberation before education.” But that was too simplistic, he notes. “The building of the structures of equality, peace, and democracy is continuous. It’s simultaneous and ongoing and you cannot wait for them to be created for you. We are building at the same time as we are moving.” The problems and solutions we face, Yazier tells his students, “do not exist outside of the people and language of their creation. Systems that foster equality and peace are conceived of and built—just like those that produce inequality and pain.” Yazier’s students are writing a new story—a story of a more equal, peaceful, just, and engaged future. ■

“Systems that foster equality and peace are conceived of and built— just like those that produce inequality and pain.” Ya zier Henry


gerald r. Ford School

MeganTompkins-Stange (@tompkinsstange) March 11 First copy of my first (hopefully not last) book arrived - beyond surreal!! Good occasion for #dominicks #GoBlue

Sometimes finding nothing means more Recognizing the value of failure and understanding the null result By Bob Brustman


n 2014, a promising early-literacy program was implemented in seven Michigan charter schools. Over the next year, Brian Jacob , the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy, compared the progress of students who learned reading skills through this new curriculum with a control group of students at the same schools taught through traditional methods. Jacob’s hypothesis? That the students in the new earlyliteracy program would do better than their peers in the control group. But that’s not what the data showed. At the end of the year, Jacob found that the new program had no significant impact on reading performance. These days, social scientists often use experimentation— formulating a hypothesis and gathering data to see if the evidence supports it—to analyze policies and interventions. Not surprisingly, only a fraction of these hypotheses are borne out by the data. But while we regularly hear about experiments that support their hypothesis, we rarely hear about those that don’t, often described as “null results.” While no one knows exactly how many experiments end in null results, we do know that the vast majority of published research findings—in the sciences and social sciences—describe experiments that had positive outcomes. There are a number of reasons for this, several of which fall under the umbrella of publication bias.

the Jack L. Walker, Jr. Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, says that the profession values and rewards theory building. Junior researchers only get credit for null results, she says, if “they have a good explanation, and that explanation advances the science.” Another source of publication bias stems from the academic journals whose editors or referees may be more inclined to publish research that shows an interesting effect rather than research that doesn’t. In 2010, Dean Yang , a professor of public policy and economics, worked with Emily Beam (PhD ’13) and David McKenzie (a World Bank economist) on a new research project designed to encourage rural Filipinos, many of whom live in deep poverty, to emigrate to countries with better job opportunities. The interventions they tested—designed to remove real and perceived barriers to immigration in hopes of increasing remittances (the money immigrants send to friends and family back home)—didn’t prove effective.

Sometimes null results are so surprising, so counter to popular presumption, that they’re even more important than positive ones.

Publication bias

The first party implicated in publication bias might be the researchers themselves. Senior researchers often have multiple projects underway and perhaps even a backlog of research waiting to be written-up and submitted to a journal. Because null results are generally less exciting than positive results, these researchers may simply move on, turning their attention to other projects. For junior researchers, particularly those trying to earn tenure, the situation may be more fraught. Elisabeth Gerber ,

In pitching the work to journals (eventually with success), Yang argued that the research was worth sharing with scholars and policymakers because the interventions and approach were novel. “It wasn’t a situation where we expected to find results and we didn’t find any,” says Yang. “It was more that no one had any idea what we would find.” The value of ‘failure’

“It’s easy to get null results if you’ve got bad measurement or if your statistical model is not specified correctly,” says Richard Hall , a professor of public policy and political science. “There’s a whole range of things that can go wrong.”

Illustration: Gordon Studer, theispot.com


S tat e & H i l l

Jacob Gerber Yang Hall

But if the research, like Yang’s and Jacob’s, is solid and methodologically sound, a null result can be quite interesting, even important, in moving forward understanding. Sometimes, too, null results are so surprising, so counter to popular presumption, that they’re even more important than positive ones.

Sidebar Photos: AE Fletcher

Hall and Molly Reynolds (PhD ’15), who studied the effects of $200 million in issue advertisements during the debate over the Affordable Care Act of 2009, were unable to detect any effect from the ads. “Everyone says all this money matters [in politics],” says Hall. “Maybe it does. But we can’t show it.” Last fall, Brian Jacob discussed “the value of ‘failure’” in an article for Brookings’ Evidence Speaks.

He wrote about experiments like his own analysis of the early literacy program rolled out in Michigan, then he discussed 77 educational interventions evaluated through demonstration trials commissioned by the Institute for Education Sciences. Only seven of these studies, he explained, produced a positive result. “In education research, most things we’ve rigorously tested have not been successful, but there’s value in finding out what doesn’t work,” says Jacob. “That there is so much failure means we should be rethinking what sorts of studies we do and how we develop programs.” “Given the importance of education as a vehicle of social mobility and driver of economic growth, along with the fact that we spends hundreds of millions of dollars on education research in the U.S. each year,” says Jacob, “it is imperative that we do more to learn from these ‘failures.’” ■

Ford School Spotlight In February, the Ford School hosted the J. Ira Harris (BA ’59, HLLD ‘12) Lecture in New York City, featuring a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker . Some 150 U-M alumni and friends attended, along with 15 Ford School students, whose travel was covered by Mr. Harris himself. The lecture was made possible through the generosity of

Harris’s friends on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Harris is a proud U-M alum and a long-time friend of the University and Ford School. In 2002, he established the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professorship of Public Policy, held by Barry Rabe .  fordschool.umich.edu/news/2016/harrislecture


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

It is a truth universally acknowledged… …that Jane Austen’s novels contain a wealth of commentary on the dramatic economic changes of her era


niversity of Michigan undergraduates looking for a friendly and informative introduction to economics might not think to look for it in a course cross-listed in the English department, but they’d find it in at least one: Jane Austen and Economics. Developed and taught by Kathryn Dominguez , professor of economics and public policy, and Adela Pinch, professor of English and women’s studies, the interdisciplinary course covers a wide range of economic concepts including productivity, scarcity, comparative advantage, and more. Adela Pinch, who had taught a course on Austen for many years, recalls inviting Dominguez to offer a guest lecture translating Austen-era incomes and expenditures into today’s dollars. Reading in the course evaluations that a number of students felt it was one of the best parts of the class, she suggested they work together to develop a new interdisciplinary course. Pinch, an expert in 19th century British literature, guides the literary discussions, while Dominguez, an internationally regarded macroeconomist, provides the monetary and economic context.

Sense and Sensibility

Pride and Prejudice

Along the way, students read excerpts from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and John Stuart Mills’ Principles of Political Economy, as well as articles on the industrial revolution, gentlewomanly capitalism, and more. While most of us think of Austen as a brilliant novelist who wrote enduring love stories brimming with social critiques, clever and resilient female leads, and ironic wit, Dominguez notes that Austen lived through a time of transformational political, social, and economic changes that worked their way into her plotlines. Austen also experienced chronic money worries of her own, says Dominguez—worries that would make her highly sensitive to the importance of wealth, and the lack thereof, in one’s life prospects. When one student suggests that the Bennet women might be labeled ‘gold-diggers’ today, Dominguez nods, but says that women’s limited job opportunities and property rights forced them to think that way. “It’s going to make you cry how little [Austen] made off her six novels,” she tells the class. “She’s writing about sums of money that mattered a lot to her personally, as well as to the women in her books.” ■



The major readings, and the economic concepts they introduce, look something like this:

The economic losses suffered by the Dashwood sisters upon the death of their father offer lessons about annuities, purchasing power, and the marriage market.

The circumstances of the Bennet family (including Elizabeth, Jane, and their marital prospects Mssrs. Darcy and Bingley) offer an introduction to inheritance, entails, and the measurement of historical worth.

Emma Woodhouse’s bustling village of Highbury, where the central role of haberdashery shops like Ford’s demonstrate Britain’s growing retail culture, illustrates the rise of the merchant class and consumerism.

Sir Walter Elliot, a profligate spender, introduces us to the aristocracy’s decline. Captain Wentworth, who earns his wealth in the Navy, offers an introduction to financial markets, taxation, trade, and social mobility.

Illustrations: Mary Winkler



S tat e & H i l l

Ford School faculty in the news

“The mantra in Michigan was a job, a better job, a career: Through work you would experience upward mobility. There was never any evidence that was the case.” Kristin Seefeldt on the false promise of U.S. welfare reform, The Atlantic, Dec. 1, 2015.

“It’s hard to regard a colleague on the other side of the aisle as an implacable foe if your kids go to school together or your spouses volunteer [for] the same good cause.” Marina v.N. Whitman on the decline of off-hour interactions between legislators in DC, Detroit Free Press, Dec. 4, 2015.

“It’s not about knowing how to do better, it’s about testing what works. Experiment relentlessly, keep what works, and discard what doesn’t. Following this recipe may yield a government that’s just like Google: clear, user-friendly and unflinchingly effective.” Justin Wolfers on using behavioral economics to promote effective governance, The New York Times, Sept. 25, 2015.

“It’s really important we understand that our perceptions of threat are different, whether we’re thinking about immigration in the abstract or in our own communities.” Mara Ostfeld on her research, which found racial prejudice in American attitudes toward immigrants in their neighborhoods, workplaces, and families, Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2016.

“The tragic legacy of drinking water contamination in Walkerton, Ontario... looms large over Canadian water policy to this day. Just as Flint, Michigan will long be synonymous with these challenges in the United States.” Barry Rabe on potential cross-border environmental collaboration between the U.S. and Canada, Brookings FixGov, Mar. 9, 2016.

“The emergency manager law may have been a racially neutral way to address crucial problems of municipal and school district insolvency, but its consequences were foreseeable and certainly not neutral with regard to race.” Reynolds Farley on Michigan’s emergency financial management system, Bridge Magazine, Feb. 5, 2016.



gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Amplifying policy issues that impact black lives Menna Demessie (PhD ’10), vice president of research and analysis, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation By Afton Branche (MPP ’17) One of CBCF’s newest focus areas is environmental sustainability, a cause not traditionally prioritized by the black community. Demessie has been working on ways to educate the community on why environmental sustainability is an overlooked racial justice issue.


s vice president of research and analysis for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), Menna Demessie (PhD ’10) sifts through data and information on racial disparities and uses her findings to help educate policymakers and their constituents. But finding the right evidence isn’t everything, she says. “Being able to persuade, use strategy, and navigate the reality of politics is just as important as being able to analyze data and write reports,” says Demessie. “Those skillsets have to be partnered in order to change policy.” At the CBCF, Demessie is in an ideal position to pursue those goals. The foundation is a nonprofit think tank that works in cooperation with the Congressional Black Caucus, a membership organization of 46 black Representatives. Both organizations aim to eradicate socio-economic disparities prevalent in black communities.

The CBCF’s work—to amplify policy issues that impact black lives— sometimes requires convening unlike players with united interests.

At U-M, Demessie pursued a joint-PhD in political science and public policy. Her dissertation focused on the CBC and other racial and ethnic caucuses, and examined how effective they were in achieving their policy goals. Since graduation, Demessie has been thrilled to use her research to help the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation move its agenda forward. In addition to her role at the CBCF, Demessie serves as an adjunct professor with the University of California’s Washington Center, where she has taught courses on

“Sometimes you need to bring the right messengers to the table in order to change policy.” Demessie is particularly excited about opportunities to bring underrepresented communities to Washington who are directly affected by what’s on the agenda. In partnership with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, last year she organized a closed door meeting between formerly incarcerated youth and representatives from the Departments of Justice, Labor, Education and other institutional members of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council. “These young people debunk every stereotype about people in prison that you can think of. They intelligently and emotionally talked

U.S. government, foreign policy and the politics of race and ethnicity. Though she describes herself as an academic at heart, Demessie is proud to carry on the legacy of black political scientists who combine activism with academic scholarship. There is a growing need for trained policy analysts and political scientists to use their skills to make a real impact in society and influence public policy, she says. “Our communities need it now more than ever.” ■ Menna Demessie is an elected member of the Ford School’s Alumni Board.

Andrew Kleine (@awkleine) Feb 4 I really enjoyed talking with Ford School students. Hope I can recruit a few of them to Baltimore. @fordschool

Photo: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Demessie (center)

“We are disproportionately affected by asthma, breast cancer, and other illnesses, but they are not often linked directly to environmental factors,” she says. “So we are trying to uncover more data and educate our communities and policymakers about these issues.”

about how our [current criminal justice] policies don’t work. It got people re-energized,” she says. “Sometimes you need to bring the right messengers to the table.”

c. 1992

S tat e & H i l l

Hughes (red tie)

c. 2014

A quarter-century on, celebrating the impact of the Ford School’s Alumni Board A “window on the practice” of public policy First gathering. The first Alumni Board meeting was held in Ann Arbor June 8–9, 1990. Eighteen alumni, representing a range of professions and policy interests, met to discuss the curriculum, connect with students, and begin to carve out their role in the life of the Institute of Public Policy Studies (IPPS), predecessor to the Ford School. The charge. “The advent of the Board is part of what I am coming to think of as the “growing up” of IPPS,” writes Paul Courant in IPPS News (fall 1990). “In addition to being a window on the practice, I hope that the Board will also serve as a door (or, perhaps, as a Star Trek-like teleporter) between IPPS in Ann Arbor and IPPS in the rest of the world.” The evolution. “While we continue to remain available to serve in the advisory role Paul Courant intended, we’ve evolved over time to become a service board,” says Paul Weech (MPP ’81), first and current chair of the Board. “We’ve chosen to lead by participating in a wide range of programs and activities that support the school and its success.” Building community. While Board members have always attended alumni events in great numbers and encouraged their classmates to do the same, they have also founded new events. In 2011, Board members launched Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day, which brings together alumni in cities around the world— New York, Tokyo, DC, San Francisco, and more—to celebrate the legacy of the school and its namesake, President Gerald R. Ford (AB ’35, HLLD ‘74).

Supporting students. Throughout the years, Alumni Board members have supported Ford School students in many ways. They’ve demonstrated the career trajectories possible with a Ford School degree, and have helped hundreds of students explore their career interests by connecting with newly admitted students, attending networking events, identifying job and internship leads, reviewing student resumes, conducting mock interviews, sharing their professional connections, and more. Alumni Board members have also contributed generously to student fellowships and internships and reached out to their classmates to ask them to do the same. In 2006, Jennifer Niggemeier , director of graduate career services and alumni relations, asked Board member Rich Hughes (MPA ‘61), a former vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, to evaluate the fairness of the school’s internship award selection process. “’This isn’t a process problem,’ he said. ‘You don’t have enough money,’” Niggemeier recalls. Hughes started to fund internships in honor of his parents, Al and Flo Hughes, then suggested that his fellow Board members combine their gifts to do more. The first Board-funded internship partnership was awarded to Alana Ward (MPP ‘09), who worked with the Clinton Foundation in 2008. In subsequent years, Board-funded interns have served not-for-profit and public sector organizations in Detroit, Malawi, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, and Washington, DC.

Ford School Spotlight This year’s Integrated Policy Exercise, taught by Elisabeth Gerber , the Jack L. Walker Professor of Public Policy, tasked students with developing a regional economic growth authority. The goal? To augment southeast Michigan’s industrial manufacturing economy with clean energy sector business growth. Some 140 students and 54 outside experts participated.  fordschool.umich.edu/ news/2016/ipe


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Soundbites Policy Talks @ the Ford School


“The United States is in a cyber-war. Most Americans don’t know it, and we’re not winning…. We are losing this fight because we can’t get over this privacy versus security hangover.” Mike Rogers, former U.S. representative (R-MI) and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, “A conversation with former Republican Congressmen,” Nov. 10, 2015.



“[W]ithout an increase in prosperity, we’re going to face an increase in instability.” General George W. Casey, Jr., former chief of staff for the U.S. Army, “Weathering an era of persistent conflict,” Mar. 14, 2016.

“Our current social safety net has become a business subsidy… In 2014, 67 percent of the [households] who used the social safety net had at least one person working full time.” Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, “Pope Francis’ challenge to policy makers: Mend the gaps,” Mar. 9, 2016.

Pritzker Brooks

“We see 50,000 new HIV infections in this country a year. Somebody is not using condoms. So to have a tool that people can use if they’re not going to use condoms is remarkable.” Douglas M. Brooks, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, “Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV prevention in the LGBTQ community,” Nov. 12, 2015.

“Our challenges are too deep, and the players too diverse, for us to depend solely on traditional military and diplomatic tools. In the modern world, commerce must be part of our foreign policy toolkit.” Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, “J. Ira Harris Lecture,” Feb. 11, 2016.

“We applaud innovation, but it can never be an excuse to compromise core labor standards or to leave people behind.” Perez

Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor, “Playing the long game: Creating shared prosperity through conscious capitalism,” Feb. 8, 2016.

“If there’s going to be a real change in policing, then we have to understand that America is rooted and grounded in white supremacy.” “21st century policing: Lessons from Cincinnati,” Feb. 22, 2016.

Pritzker Photo: AE Fletcher

Rev. Damon Lynch III, leader of a class-action lawsuit against racial profiling in Cincinnati, Lynch


Plan for tomorrow’s victors today


HEN YOU CHOOSE TO SUPPORT STUDENTS IN YOUR WILL , you help create tomorrow’s victors: the next United Nations staffer to improve conditions for refugees, the next policy analyst to save U.S. taxpayer dollars, the next city manager to champion regional cooperation. Ford School students develop the ability to think critically and compassionately, to value multiple perspectives, and to craft creative solutions where others see only gridlock. These students—and so many others—will achieve their dreams, and change the world, thanks to you.

MYR A D. LEE (MPP ’ 1 6 ) Supporting U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Inaugural Riecker Michigan Delegation Fellow

Include the Ford School in your estate plans— documenting your intentions with the Ford School— and be sure your gift will have the impact you intend. For more information about bequests and other planned gift vehicles, contact Sue Johnson, director of development, at 734-615-4001 or suejohn@umich.edu.

The permanently endowed Riecker Michigan Delegation Fellowship was established in 2015 through an estate gift from Margaret Ann “Ranny” Riecker, a longtime friend and generous benefactor of the Ford School.

Ford School Spotlight

Ambassador Christopher R. Hill joined this year’s slate of high-profile guests for Policy Talks @ the Ford School. His lecture, “Dayton to Pyongyang: On the frontlines of U.S. Diplomacy” was followed by a free screening of The Diplomat at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater.


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Faculty News Deardorff

The Washington Post reports that ROBERT AXELROD ’s The Evolution of Cooperation is one of the ten most assigned books at Ivy League universities. Originally published in 1984, the book explores how cooperation can emerge in a world of self-seeking egoists—whether superpowers, businesses, or individuals—when there is no central authority to police their actions.

Education as a top ten influencer and agitator. In January, she was one of three-dozen scholars invited to the White House for a conversation on community college research. Dynarski has published a number of policyrelevant papers in Evidence Speaks, a weekly report by the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families, and The New York Times Upshot (see page 8).

Dean SUSAN M. COLLINS has been elected to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, one of 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks that conduct the nation’s monetary policy and help to maintain a stable financial system. Collins has just concluded three years of service as a director of the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and recently served as a member of the search committee for the Bank’s first vice president.

REYNOLDS FARLEY has contributed a number of chapters and articles discussing the Detroit bankruptcy, and the role race played in it, to City and Community (a journal of the American Sociological Association section on community and urban sociology); Reclaiming Integration and the Language of Race in the “Post Racial” Era (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015); and Reinventing Detroit: The Politics of Possibility (Rutgers University Press, 2015).

PAUL COURANT has been tapped to

organize and oversee a bicentennial colloquium on “The future of the social compact with universities.” The June 2017 colloquium is one of three planned for U-M’s bicentennial year. It will explore the roles of universities, in Harold Shapiro’s phrase, ‘as servant and critic of society.’ ALAN DEARDORFF is concluding his term as president of the Midwest Economics Association this April. His presidential address to the 80th meeting of the MEA, “The Topography of the New Landscape of International Trade Negotiations,” will focus on recent trade liberalization initiatives, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In November, SUSAN DYNARSKI gave a talk at TEDx Indianapolis on “Why financial aid is broken and a simple solution to fix it.” In December, she was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher

ELISABETH GERBER and JEFF MORENOFF received a $300,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to begin data collection for the Detroit Metropolitan Area Communities Survey (see fall 2015 State & Hill article).

In December, CATIE HAUSMAN ’s policy piece, “Power of the Atom,” (joint with Lucas Davis) was published in the International Monetary Fund’s quarterly magazine, Finance and Development. RUSTY HILLS spent a considerable

chunk of time “putting PubPol 423 into practice” during the Iowa caucuses. Hills volunteered at a town hall featuring former Florida governor and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush on January 31, then spent the following day making turnout calls to supporters, going door-to-door, and speaking on behalf of Bush at three caucuses in Davenport, Iowa.


BRIAN JACOB received a $486,000 grant

from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to explore how behavioral nudges can impact teacher retention in highneeds Michigan schools. His paper, “Harnessing the value of failure,” was published in Evidence Speaks, a weekly report by the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families (see page 18). In March, Jacob was interviewed by Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity about recent research, with DYNARSKI and colleagues at Michigan State University, on the impact of the 2006 Michigan Merit Curriculum. Associate Dean PAULA LANTZ will be the principal investigator for the newly formed Policies for Action Research Hub at U-M. The new hub will be funded by a three year, $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (see page 12). Ford School alum STEPHANIE LEISER (MPP ’05), who earned a PhD from Washington’s Evans School in 2009, has joined the faculty as a lecturer. She’s teaching PubPol 715, “Budgeting and Financial Planning,” so “it’s alumni news and faculty news, all in one.” KATHERINE MICHELMORE ’s paper (with Kelly Musick), “Change in the stability of marital and cohabiting unions following the birth of a child,” was published in the October 2015 issue of Demography. MARA OSTFELD ’s “The backyard politics of attitudes toward immigration,” was published by Political Psychology in December 2015. SHOBITA PARTHASARATHY received a seed grant from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender for a project that analyzes the gender and caste dynamics produced by India’s grassroots innovation system.

Cecilia Muñoz (@Cecilia44) March 10 SO grateful to James [Kvaal] for his leadership and skill as DPC Dep Dir. Our loss is @fordschool’s gain. We’ll miss you!

Sidebar Wide angle photos: Aubrey Sitler (MPP/MSW ’16); Group photo: Erica Sivertson (MPP/MBA ’16)









H. LUKE SHAEFER ’s book (with Kathy

as the Winter 2015 Emerging Scholar by the Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC) of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Policy Research and Evaluation. Emerging scholars serve three-month terms, and present their research to SSRC users via a webinar. Pilkauskas presented a webinar on “Low-income families and the private safety net.”

Edin), $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, made the New York Times’ list of the “100 Notable Books of 2015.” Shaefer testified before the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing on domestic poverty and the Obama Administration cited his book as a major inspiration for a proposed $2 billion initiative, the Emergency Aid and Service Connection, which would fund and evaluate state and nonprofit approaches to poverty alleviation (see page 10).

BARRY RABE , who is finishing a year-

long sabbatical, recently completed a stint as a public policy scholar at the Wilson International Center for Scholars and began a six-month tenure as a visiting scholar at American University. Over the last several months, his research has been cited by The Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, International Business Times, Newsweek, and more. Joy Rohde ’s piece, “Moving beyond the

Cold War,” was published by The First Year Project in February.

KEVIN STANGE ’s article, “Marginal pricing and student investment in higher education,” with former Education Policy Initiative postdoctoral fellow STEVE HEMELT , was published this spring in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. His article, “College as country club: Do colleges cater to students’ preferences for consumption,” with BRIAN JACOB and BRIAN MCCALL , is forthcoming in the Journal of Labor Economics.



In December, BETSEY STEVENSON penned “How Congress can stop its tax procrastination,” an article for Bloomberg View. The piece criticizes the Congressional holiday tradition of retroactive corporate giveaways, known as ‘tax extenders,’ and the process by which they’re granted. MEGAN TOMPKINS-STANGE ’s first book,

Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform and the Politics of Influence, was released by Harvard Education Press in March. The press describes it as “a rare behind-the-scenes view of decision making” that offers a “thoughtprovoking look at the impact of current philanthropic efforts on education. KAITLIN TONER RAIMI ’s article,

“Understanding and beliefs about smart energy technology,” was published by Energy Research and Social Science. She is part of a faculty team that won a grant from the U-M Energy Institute to explore the influence of carbon dioxide reduction technology information on climate change mitigation support.

Ford School Spotlight Each year, Ford School students work with a faculty member to plan an International Economic Development Program (IEDP) course about an emerging market country. This year’s IEDP focused on Cuba. At the end of the course, 20 students visited Cuba for a first-hand introduction to the nation’s policies, politics, economy, and culture.


gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

Class Notes Bracken / Schneidewind

Peter F. Lydens (MPA ’58) provides pro

bono management consulting services to the city of Mount Airy, NC. He was Mount Airy’s first city manager (1961– 63), and retired there in 2007. Frank Spence (MPA ’60) was

appointed planning commissioner for the city of Astoria, OR, and recently received a 50 Year Distinguished Service Award from the International City/ County Management Association. Jeff Ebihara (MPP ’86), his wife,

Elizabeth, and their daughter, Sophie, attended the 2016 Citrus Bowl. “We made Sophie [who signed a national letter of intent to run track at the University of Florida this fall] sit between us in the U-M alumni section,” Jeff reports. Eric Norenberg (MPP ’87) has been

named city manager of Milford, DE. Its historic downtown, he says, “boasts boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and annual regional festivals.” George Julnes (MPP ’89), a professor

in the University of Baltimore’s School of Public and International Affairs, received the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award from the American Evaluation Association in November. Global Detroit, a nonprofit spearheaded by Steve Tobocman (MPP/JD ’97), was honored to receive one of the firstever Renewal Awards for “innovators, grassroots organizers, and problemsolvers who are making progress against the greatest challenges facing America.” Mellie Torres ’ (MPP ’97) article,

“An exploratory study of the academic engagement and beliefs of Latino male high school students,” was published in Race Ethnicity and Education. Michael Landweber ’s (MPP/MA ’98)

second novel, Thursday 1:17 p.m., will be published by Coffeetown Press in May.



Charles Henley (MPP ’00) was promoted to deputy director of the Metropolitan Transit Authority capital program in New York City. He was pleased to watch U-M hoops and hockey at Madison Square Garden recently.

Bulbul Gupta (MPP ’04) is head of social innovation at Greyston Social Enterprise, a New York benefit corporation. Bulbul also serves as board chair for Upaya Social Ventures and is a policy advisor to Hillary for America 2016.

Sarah Lyberg (MPP ’00) was

appointed assistant chief financial officer for budget at the Department of Housing and Urban Development last summer. This past fall, Sarah was one of 70 federal employees invited to the White House for a thank you from the President for her service.

Kay (Milewski) Kelly (MPA ’05) co-authored a children’s book, Max the Monkey Has MCADD, that was briefly #2 on the Amazon best seller list for children’s health and nutrition (behind the Disney Princess Cookbook). The book describes MCADD, a rare metabolic condition, in kid-friendly terms.

Jennifer Kelley Wilder (MPA ’00)

Ifie Okwuje (PhD ’05) is currently

is director of development for Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), a national non-profit that serves U.S. veterans.

serving the U.S. State Department in Shanghai. She and her family hope to travel throughout China and the region.

Stuart Berlow (MPP ’01) received

Caroline Sallee (MPP ’05), along with

the “campaign manager/lobbyist of the year” award from the American Heart Association.

husband, Jim, and big sister, Eleanor, welcomed Julia Reece, on Sept. 11, 2015.

Jeff Kosseff (MPP ’01) has joined

the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he is an assistant professor of cybersecurity law. Cortney Robinson (MPP ’01) and

his wife, Abby, welcomed parenthood with the birth of their first son, Herman Benjamin Robinson, on Oct. 24, 2015 in Arlington, VA. Sarah Sargen (MPP ’02) welcomed

Lauren Abigail on Sept. 16, 2015. She joins big brother Ian (age 7) and big sister Cate (age 3). José Stevenson (MPP ’03) got married in August; he and his wife live in the Bronx. Last summer, he marked 10 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. Outside of work, José continues to serve on the board of the TriLatino Triathlon Club—a non-profit he helped found. He runs the TriLatino Juniors program for public high school students in the South Bronx, continues do triathlons himself, and is training for his first Ironman.

Larisa Shambaugh (MPP ’05) was

appointed chief talent officer for Newark Public Schools in January. Elizabeth Delgado Garcia (MPP/

MUP ’06) and José Garcia (MPP/ MS ’06) recently moved from the San Francisco Bay area to LA. José is working from the EPA’s southern California field office, managing brownfield grants for Arizona-area tribal grantees. Elizabeth is working for Culver City as an economic development project manager. In October, they and their oldest son, Benjamin Diego, welcomed Mateo Esteban to the family. Andrew Schroeder (MPP ’07) has cofounded a new nonprofit, WeRobotics.org, which helps local communities use robotics technologies for relief, development, health, and ecology. Andrew continues to work as research and analytics director of Direct Relief, and was nominated for the “humanitarian innovation” award at the 2016 Mobile World Congress for his data collection and analysis work to aid Syrian refugees.

Delgado / Garcia



Andreas Hatzigeorgiou (MPP ’08) has been selected one of Sweden’s top economics and finance “Super Talents” by Veckans Affärer. Hatzigeorgiou holds a PhD in economics and currently serves as chief economist of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. Jeremy Borovitz (BA ’09) and

Rebecca Blady, a student at Yeshivat Maharat, will be married in May. Brandy Johnson (MPP ’09) and her

husband, Will Repko, welcomed their son Kirby Daniel on Aug. 1, 2015 in Lansing. “Kirby is being raised in a house divided,” she reports. “Mom bleeds blue and Dad bleeds green!” Nathan Triplett (MPP ’09) accepted a position as political director of Equality Michigan. Nathan and his wife Sarah Gonzales Triplett welcomed their first child, Theodore Charles Triplett, in November. Jessica (Simoncelli) Gershman

(MPP/MUP ’10) and Tom Gershman welcomed their son, Joseph Simon, in December 2015. Joe is enjoying the mild winter in St. Louis, where the family recently relocated from Chicago. Dani Liffmann (BA ’10) is a research associate with the Chartis Group, a national advisory services firm dedicated to the healthcare industry. Matthew Mejia (BA ’12), hired as a policy analyst at the Harlem Children’s Zone in December 2014, was promoted to policy and research associate in October. He sends his love “to the Fordie family.”

Class of 20??

Coats / Vu



Nathan Rix (MPP ’12) and Kristen Riordan were married in December 2015 in Victoria, BC, surrounded by family and friends. Nathan continues his work as a senior policy analyst with the state of Oregon, where he’s “establishing the nation’s third recreational marijuana program.”

Tina Wei Smith (MPP/MA ’13) and Kevin Smith (a 2012 graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School) welcomed Theodore Edward Smith into the world on Nov. 2, 2015. Data: 7 lbs., 6 oz., 20.5 in., with a head full of hair and lots of smiles. Tina is director of the global engagement office at Asbury University.

Andrew Bracken (MPP ’13) and

Sarah Zarate (MPP ’13) was recently interviewed by “Lake Effect,” a Milwaukee Public Radio show, about MKE Plays, a $1.7 million park rehabilitation project she helped to establish in 2015.

Jimmy Schneidewind (MPP/MBA

’15) climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak at 19,341 feet. Jimmy is completing a fellowship with the 2Seeds Network in rural Tanzania, where he is working with poultry farmers to improve production and operations. Peter Coats (MPP/MBA ’13) and his

wife, fellow Fordie Cici Vu (MPP ’13), are living in New York. Their daughter, Daphne, who was born while they were at Ford, is growing up a city girl and “has a deep interest in being an astronaut,” says Peter. Bridget Lavelle (PhD ’13) and her

husband, Matthew Paul, merged their family names to become Bridget and Matthew Pavelle. On Dec. 30, 2015, their daughter, Mauve Elizabeth Pavelle, was born. The Pavelles live in Olympia, WA, where they work for the research and data analysis division of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Stephanie Chang (MPP/MSW ’14)

and her husband, Sean Gray, welcomed Sonya Belle Gray-Chang on August 4, 2015. Donavan McKinney (BA ’14) is

running for state representative in Detroit’s third district. His platform is based on “ensuring high quality education for Detroit students, government accountability, and economic development.” Eric Ferguson (BA ’15) is a research

associate for the Education Advisory Board, a higher education research and consulting firm based in Washington, DC. Qi Zha (MPP ’15) has a new job as an associate at Blackpeak Group, “a strategic advisory firm, based in and focused on Asia.”

Left to right: Kirby Daniel; big sister Eleanor with Julia Reece; Joseph Simon; Cate and Ian with new sister Lauren Abigail (top); Theodore Edward (bottom); and Herman Benjamin



gerald r. Ford School of Public Policy

The Last Word Beth Chimera, David Morse, and Alex Ralph— the Ford School’s writing instructors—chat about the skills they teach, why those skills matter for aspiring public servants, and what they love about the work.

S&H: What kinds of writing projects do students bring in? Chimera: In

a typical workday, I might see eight students back-to-back and one’s writing [a policy memo] about fracking, and one’s writing about mandatory minimum sentencing, and somebody else is writing about immigration policy. That’s one of the things that I love most about this job is how mentally agile it keeps me.

S&H: So students are teaching you; what are you teaching them? Chimera: Part

of the job [for students] is trying to figure out, ‘What does the reader already know? What would this person be interested in knowing? Who is this person delivering these talking points to? And what kinds of resistance do they need to anticipate?’

Students spend two weeks researching a topic, and they know a lot more than they can fit on the


page. Considering their audience also helps them figure out what to keep in, and what to take out. S&H:

Is there room for opinion?

Students are often embodying a role. You have no idea what they actually feel in their hearts about the issue, but they’re doing the strategery behind it. It’s a difficult little dance. You’re trying to convince the reader that you’ve thought carefully about all sides of the issue and can be trusted for the validity and accuracy of your analysis. On the other hand, you’re putting forward an argument that is yours.


S&H: What happens when you come across arguments you don’t support?

We’re not in the missionary business…so as long as nobody comes in saying that they believe the Third Reich is the wave of the future, I’m probably okay.


Chimera: Also,

I notice that some students take a point of view they don’t personally espouse. I think that can be so useful, because it strips away all of the unexamined assumptions.

S&H: I’m sure you love all of your students equally, but really, who are your favorites?

Ford School Spotlight No one really knows when the Ford School put on its first holiday skit-fest, but the tradition goes back at least 23 years. This year’s faculty skit (lead writer Cliff Martin ) featured Dean Collins as Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games. Student skits included the ABC’s of the Ford School (B for beta-coefficient, of course), Ford School Jeopardy, and more.  fordschool.umich.edu/news/ 2015/holidayskits

Morse: I have a special thing about working with our military students. They bring into their work a real awareness of why it’s important, and a respect for the institution and the enterprise.…

Plus, because they’ve been taught to respect authority, they also give me a lot of respect, but I’m happy to pretend that I deserve it. Chimera: You

just like that they call

you “sir.” Morse:

Yeah, they do. I love that.

What other types of writing do you see? S&H:

There are presidential stump speeches, campaign ads, videos, PowerPoint presentations…. For Alan [Deardorff] ’s class, students come in with papers that are almost all graphs. Group:


Do you find that crippling at all?

I tell students that I’m happy to look at it, to lend my observations, but I always say up front, I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to help you with the economic analysis here. Morse:

I say, actually, that I have a lot to offer [laughter]. I quibble with their formulas….


S&H: And you help with the Ford School’s annual skits.

When I first started at Ford, I wasn’t a lot of help to Elena [Delbanco], who had been contributing to the faculty skit for years. But over the years I got to know people and fortunately, everyone has something that can be made fun of. Morse:

We try to make fun of the administration, and there’s sound political theory behind that. The ancient Greeks figured this out. It was the mark of a strong political institution that the leaders could be ridiculed with impunity. S&H:

Sounds like fun.

In the end, the funnest [S&H: yes, he actually said that] thing about this job is that in the classroom and when students come in individually for 30 minutes or an hour my job is to think with them, and to think as hard as I can and as carefully as I can.


We are teaching writing, but ultimately, writing is slow thought. ■

Upcoming events

Commencement and charge to the classes of 2016 Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD ‘97), legal director, Human Rights First Saturday, April 30, 2016  Ann Arbor, MI (livestream) Restructuring student loans: Lessons from abroad Conference hosted by the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative Monday, June 13, 2016  Washington, DC (livestream) Worldwide Ford School Spirit Day Toast the Ford School and its namesake, President Gerald R. Ford Thursday, July 14, 2016  A watering hole near you* Allen Sinai Lecture Lecture by John Leahy, the Allen Sinai Professor of Macroeconomics Thursday, October 20, 2016  Ann Arbor, MI (livestream) Homecoming 2016 Open house activities at the Ford School Friday, October 21, 2016  Ann Arbor, MI Michigan v. Illinois Homecoming tailgate and game at Michigan Stadium** Saturday, October 22, 2016  Ann Arbor, MI

Photo: Michigan Photography

More events, and more event details, available at fordschool.umich.edu/events. *To host a Spirit Day gathering in your city, contact Elisabeth Johnston, manager of alumni relations, at 734-615-5760 or eajohnst@umich.edu **Instructions for purchasing tailgate and football tickets will be available this summer. Check the Ford School website, fordschool.umich.edu, for details.

Joan and Sanford Weill Hall

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage P AID Ann Arbor MI Permit No. 144

735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091

Printed on paper made from 100% postconsumer waste using biogas energy.

Ford Flashback Rick Hall’s first, and last, 8:00 a.m. class

ď ľ

For more stories about inequality, visit fordschool.umich.edu/inequality

Stay Connected


Have you moved, changed jobs, or gotten a new email address? Let us know so we can stay in touch.

Stay up to date on the Ford School between issues of State & Hill by subscribing to the feed, our email newsletter.