Taubman Center aims to expand

The Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions will “be much more ambitious” going forward, James Morone, the center’s new director and professor of political science, public policy and urban studies, told The Herald as he prepared to introduce former President Bill Clinton at a Taubman Center event in New York Wednesday night.

Morone replaced Marion Orr, professor of political science, public policy and urban studies, at the center’s helm July 1.

Morone aims to broaden the Taubman Center’s focus to encompass international politics and to create new partnerships with places across campus — including the Watson Institute for International Studies, the Swearer Center for Public Service and the School of Public Health — that already engage in public policy work. “Empowering people to make change, to make the world better, is just so important and that really is the mission of Taubman,” Morone said.

As director, Morone said, he hopes to align students, faculty members and staff members with resources that can facilitate their work, adding that he sees the center as a tool students can use to help make a difference in their communities. “Every individual, I believe, has not only a responsibility towards their community but also the possibility to really make a difference,” he said.

Ross Cheit, professor of political science and public policy, described Morone as “an all-star teacher” and said he was “very hopeful” about his selection. As chair of the Department of Political Science in the late 2000s, Morone was energetic and inclusive and “had a sense of vision for the department,” Cheit said.

Under Morone’s leadership, Cheit expects the Taubman Center to have more of a global emphasis, a shift “in keeping with the goals of the University,” he said.

Morone expressed a desire to expand the center’s global reach because “public policy no longer stops at the water’s edge,” he said. He added that he would like the center to have “have a real imprint and voice in the national debates as well as those within the state.”

In response to past criticism of its polling practices, the center will conduct a “close overhaul” of the system, Morone said.

The center should also rethink its graduate program, Cheit said, though he added that he is unsure what form those improvements should take. “There’s been a sense for a while that the University should do things to improve that program,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Taubman Center under (Morone’s) leadership,” wrote public policy concentrator and former Undergraduate Council of Students President Todd Harris ’14.5 in an email to The Herald. Harris wrote that he hopes the center helps students take advantage of opportunities to participate in and discuss local and state public policy issues. Such opportunities allow students to “both apply their learning and simultaneously work to find solutions to community problems,” he wrote.

Looking ahead, Morone said he is optimistic about the center’s expansion and future. “We’ve got great hopes,” he said.

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