1. Wolverine Caucus – 25 Years

    Mark Rivett posted September 12, 2018

    During the twenty-five years since its inception, the Wolverine Caucus has been a forum where a wide variety of U-M faculty members share their expertise with legislators, lobbyists, advisors and alumni. Their research informs the public policy debates that directly impact Michigan residents.

    In January 1993, then-Dean Garry D. Brewer introduced New Directions for the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the first ever Wolverine Caucus. Twenty-five years later the SNRE has become the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), and thousands of its graduates work across Michigan to protect our natural resources and create a more sustainable future. Professor Brewer’s presentation at the Caucus began a quarter-century of engagement that continues to this day and connects the University of Michigan to state policymakers.

    Garry D. Brewer

    Garry D. Brewer

    “Having wonderful support from the top leadership of the university and also from many new dean colleagues was crucial, and it was given often, constructively, and with good effect. Coming to Lansing for your event was one of the earliest public airings of ‘New Directions.'”
    -Professor Garry D. Brewer

    Many of the topics covered by Wolverine Caucus forums remain relevant for decades, even as times change. Public discussion on environmental issues has only amplified since that first Wolverine Caucus forum in 1993. Themes discussed in the 2001 presentation on Political parties, the Courts, and Legislative Redistricting are as prominent today as they were then. Years from now, what insights might be plucked from the 2018 forum when the robot Cassie Blue walked through the halls of the Michigan State Capitol? Do the 2016 and 2017 forums on the role of 3D Printing in medicine suggest an amazing new frontier in life-saving healthcare technology? It remains to be seen, and the 2019 series, which includes discussions on trade and autonomous vehicles, promises to cover topics grounded in today but facing tomorrow.

    Marianne Udow-Phillips

    Marianne Udow-Phillips

    “I think the Wolverine Caucus is a great platform – a wonderful way for alums to hear about the work of the University, and for U-M to reach out to provide continuing education and connections to our colleagues in Lansing.”
    – Marianne Udow-Phillips

    The relevance of topics at the Wolverine Caucus forums grows with the importance of contemporary issues. Speakers often return again and again as the conversation and policy implications evolve. In June of 2010, Marianne Udow-Phillips, Executive Director of the U-M Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, spoke to a packed room about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She returned five years later, as the national landscape continued to roil with debate over the subject, and spoke again to further inform the discussion regarding the impact of the ACA. She was accompanied by Dr. John Ayanian, the Director of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovations.

    John Z. Ayanian

    Dr. John Ayanian

    “The Wolverine Caucus provided an excellent forum to report on the benefits and challenges of the Affordable Care Act in early 2015, including the launch of the Healthy Michigan Plan that has expanded Medicaid coverage to many Michigan adults. This event brought legislators, their staff members, and other state officials together with alumni and friends of the University of Michigan for an open and balanced discussion of health care reform in Michigan and the nation.”
    – Dr. John Z. Ayanian

    The state of politics has been an ever-present topic of conversation for Michigan dinner tables, and so too has it been an enduring fixture for the Caucus. In 1998, Professor Michael Traugott from the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research spoke to the Caucus for the first time about the upcoming midterm election. He returned to present ten more times and addressed various topics including 9/11, campaign finance, and political polarization. Marking the conclusion of the 2018 series in September he will give his eleventh presentation entitled: Elections 2018: Is There a Big Blue Wave Coming?

    Michael Traugott

    Michael Traugott

    “I always enjoy going to the state capital to talk to Michigan alums about politics because they are an attentive and knowledgeable audience. Many of them either work in state government or for groups that have strong political and policy interests. They always ask good questions, and they expect comprehensive answers. I also think that it is part of my responsibility as a faculty member to engage with the public about my research and explain how it affects their lives.”
    -Michael Traugott

    Whether it’s Smart Cars and College Affordability from the 2014 series, or Youth Violence Prevention and Census Outcomes from the 2011 series, the Wolverine Caucus will continue to connect the depth of U-M expertise and research to the government in Lansing, and encourage open dialogue between presenters, policy-makers, and the community. All events are open to the public, and events are recorded and made available to local cable outlets and on the internet.

    About the Wolverine Caucus:

    Cynthia Wilbanks, University of Michigan Vice President for Government Relations, oversees the Wolverine Caucus. Events are coordinated by Lansing Service Center Director Veronica A. W. Johnson, Ph.D, who created the Wolverine Caucus and has managed the forum since its inception. For twenty-five years the Wolverine Caucus has been an opportunity for the University of Michigan, legislators, and the community to engage with each other on a myriad of important issues affecting the State of Michigan.

    Veronica A. W. Johnson, Ph.D

    Veronica A. W. Johnson, Ph.D, Director of the Lansing Service Center

    “Over these years the Wolverine Caucus has been an important platform to bring UM expertise on issues impacting every sector of society.

    In addition to policymakers, the Wolverine Caucus programs engage countless U-M alumni who work in and around state government, as well as informing citizens on many topics, and sharing with many via social media, YouTube, and public television broadcasts.

    We are grateful for the invaluable partnership of the Wolverine Caucus Co-Chairs Craig Ruff and Tom Scott in helping to identify relevant topics as they come to the forefront, making our forums very timely with current policy debates.”
    -Veronica A. W. Johnson, Ph.D

  2. The School of Natural Resources (and Environment) Thoughts on Creating New Directions

    Mark Rivett posted July 26, 2018
    Garry D. Brewer

    Professor Emeritus Garry D. Brewer, Yale School of Management

    Former Dean of SEAS Returns to Michigan with Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future

    By: Garry D. Brewer

    The School of Natural Resources (and Environment after 1992) has a long and distinguished history. It is perhaps the oldest public natural resources professional school and program in America. Only Yale’s School of Forestry, in the private sector, has similar longevity.

    For many different and complex reasons, SNR had fallen on hard times in the late 1980s. State funding for its public universities was falling dramatically which resulted in both great financial and operational stresses but also a need in the short term to selectively weed out programs, departments, and even schools to preserve core strengths. A dramatic effort at the U of M to wage a unique fund-raising campaign of some $1.2+ billion dollars developed to shore up long term and independent financial foundations. “Hard times” for SNR meant faculty, staff, and other reductions. It also meant a serious discussion among Regents to simply close the place down.

    However, with the imminent capital campaign getting underway several of the Regents, along with President Jim Duderstadt and Provost Gil Whitaker, decided in 1991 to give SNR a three to five year reprieve so it might find new directions to revitalize.[1] I was honored to be invited to take on these responsibilities in summer 1991 and became the Dean of SNR in January 1992. My family and I moved to Ann Arbor in August to settle in and also to give me several months to figure out what might be done in the “new directions” department.

    It didn’t take long to see the enormous potential and to develop a plan and strategy for renewal. Having wonderful support from the top leadership of the university and also from many new dean colleagues was crucial, and it was given often, constructively, and with good effect. Coming to Lansing for your [Wolverine Caucus] event was one of the earliest public airings of “New Directions.”

    Four or five interrelated substantive areas emerged. Each eventually developed and evolved over the following capital campaign and ever since.

    • Business and Environment
    • Pollution Prevention/Sustainability
    • Ecosystem Management
    • Environmental Education
    • Landscape Restoration

    Business and the Environment built on work I started at Yale University in 1985 with the creation of a joint degree between the School of Organization and Management and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies—a three-year program yielding an MBA and one of several professional resources masters degrees.[2]

    Michigan’s premier university had an equal chance to offer comparable opportunities to its young leaders, and CEMP aimed to provide them. The core idea of CEMP, for Corporate Environmental Management, was to create as many opportunities as possible for emerging business and environmental leaders to learn, work, and share together “in the classroom, not the courtroom,” as the banner for the program stressed. Dean Joe White in the Business School was a tremendous booster of this initiative. He introduced me to several of his prime alumni donor prospects with interests in environmental and management issues and values. He invited me to deliver the 25th annual prestigious McInally Lecture to make the case for joining business and environment constructively, which I did in “A Time for Creative Coexistence.”[3]

    Early support and validation for the core ideas of CEMP came from JoAnn and Stuart Nathan (BSES ’62 and BBA ’62, respectively) in the form of funds for the CEMP Initiative Lectureship Fund which brought corporate and environmental leaders to Ann Arbor to share their own experiences bridging the gaps between two such different worlds. I still remember JoAnn’s reaction when I described CEMP to her and Stuart: “That sounds just like our marriage!” He is a successful real estate developer and she is a landscape preservationist. Their enthusiasm at the early stage provided a critical boost to CEMP and several other of the New Directions. For CEMP this meant endowment funds to create the Max McGraw Chair between the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) and the Business School. For a newly emerging National Pollution Prevention Center within SNRE, this meant potential longer term and sustainable linkages once its initial five-year grant ended.

    The National Pollution Prevention Center (NPPC) emerged from a national competition US EPA had initiated in 1990-91. The nascent field now known as industrial ecology focused on the prevention of pollution, but offered even more ambitious prospects now being realized in what is called “sustainability.” Professor Jonathan Bulkley of SNRE was an environmental engineer with a particular skill in seeing the full picture here. His young protégé and co-principal investigator, Greg Keoleian, was a recent U of M Ph.D. in engineering who possesses enthusiasm and exceptional skill in joining engineering to environmental purposes and goals. SNRE became a world-class player in all matters “sustainable” largely based on this initiative and subsequent developments thus enabled.[4]

    Ecosystem Management, the third New Direction, meant to take advantage of powerful intellectual currents flowing to reimagine and reinvent traditional disciplinary approaches of the sort structuring professional and management natural resources education and research. Focusing on trees or fish or bears and so on to the exclusion of where they and lots of other living things coexist was of course necessary, but it is also totally insufficient. The bigger picture(s) demanded by the ecosystems management approach stress this. Human beings, incidentally, are central and critical elements in all ecosystems, although this “human dimension” had long been overlooked or neglected in more traditional approaches.

    William Searle, a U of M grad and also a successful pharmaceutical executive, had long appreciated many of the key ecosystem ideas because of his hunting and fishing passions. Or, as he once told me in more or less these terms, “If we don’t take care of these places and animals, there won’t be anything left to hunt or fish.” The same sentiment was earlier expressed by President Theodore Roosevelt and is manifest in his pioneering work to establish national parks, forests, and other protected places. Bill Searle and his family funded and so created the “TR Chair in Ecosystems Management,” possibly the first of its kind at any American university.

    Environmental Education, typically focused on school-aged kids, had received federal attention and assistance with legislation in 1972. The US Department of Education had tried lots of different approaches, models, and methods but had not figured out what worked well and why. A national competition to help resolve some of these problems resulted in 1991 with the $5 million award to SNR to create the National Center for Environmental Education and Training (NCEET) for a five-year period. Professor William Stapp, a beloved SNR faculty member and pioneer in what is now called “experiential environmental education” took the lead here. Of course environmental education became a new direction, and several corporate leaders, including General Motors, responded generously to assist us.

    Landscape Restoration is at first glance an unlikely new direction, although on further inspection it turns out to be a unique strength to develop. The School of Natural Resources uniquely houses a substantial program in landscape architecture, granting professional degrees in landscape architecture as well as a doctoral, Ph.D. program in the subject.[5] Besides providing assistance to LA, as these programs are called, I saw the possibility of merging many of its intellectual and professional strengths with other new directions in business and environment, ecosystems, and ultimately sustainability.

    Because no other unit at the U of M had taken major responsibility for a technical measurement field known as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) I was able to convince both Jim Duderstadt and Gil Whitaker that a neutral “country” in the larger campus world might operate as an honest broker, on the lines of Switzerland, to provide a focus and training/research facility for everyone on campus. With help from several other deans, who had not be able to “take over” themselves, this compromise was accepted and fulfilled as the campus-wide GIS Laboratory in the Dana Building, SNR’s home.

    Comparable cooperative arrangements with several other schools and departments also helped put SNR (by then SNRE) back on track as a key player in all things environmental/sustainable. The most substantial of all these was the wonderful initial gift of $5 million from Fred and Barbara Erb and their children to create the Erb Institute for Environmental Management, now grown into a world-class leader in all things “sustainable.”

    The Erb Institute is in many ways the best possible destination for all the little seeds and hopes I planted when talking to everyone in Lansing so many years ago. I thanked you at the time for the opportunity to share the hopes and promises, and I wish to thank you again for being part of a wonderful Michigan story.

    Go Blue!

    Garry Brewer
    Suttons Bay, MI

    [1] Philip Power, Paul Brown, and Shirley McFee in particular provided critical support.
    [2] Master of Environmental Science, Master of Environmental Management, Master of Forestry
    [3] “Business and the Environment,” Dividend (Fall 1992): 19-30.
    [4] Keolian is a now a full professor and a leader in the Erb Institute for Sustainability.
    [5] Harvard University is one of the very few institutions granting Ph.D. degrees, and its programs are not located in a professional natural resources school.


  3. Wolverine Caucus: Elections 2018

    Mark Rivett posted June 26, 2018

    Is There a Big Blue Wave Coming?

    Tuesday, September 25, 2018

    Featured speaker:
    Michael Traugott, Research Professor in the Center for Political Studies

    Mackinac Room, 5th Floor Anderson House Office Bldg.
    124 N. Capitol Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933
    11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

    View PDF

    View PDF Presentation

    University of Michigan Alumni and friends who work in and around the State Capitol are welcome to participate in the Wolverine Caucus. Our mission is to provide diverse forums at which University of Michigan friends can meet one another, enjoy fellowship, exchange views, and learn from the world-class talents of the University of Michigan.

    Returning by popular demand, Professor Michael Traugott will dissect the latest trends and data behind the various factors that will influence voter behavior during this year’s important midterm elections. Historically, the U.S. President’s party in influences outcomes in off-year elections – as does the strength of the economy. Is there any evidence that there are changing sentiments in our state and nation, and we ask if there might be significant change on the horizon. Professor Traugott will help us sort through the reality and the rhetoric.

    Michael Traugott

    Michael Traugott is a Research Professor in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Trained as a political scientist, his research interests include campaigns and elections, public opinion, and political communication. Dr. Traugott is the author or co-author of nine books and more than 75 journal articles and essays. He is the past president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR). He has a BA from Princeton University and an MA and PhD from the University of Michigan.

    For more information or to receive announcements of upcoming programs, call the UM Lansing Service Center at (517) 372-7801 or email Dr. Veronica Wilkerson Johnson (veronicj@umich.edu) or Angela J. McCullum (amccullu@umich.edu)


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