Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan plans to open the Weiser Diplomacy Center with a $10-million gift from U-M alumni Ron and Eileen Weiser. The center will serve as a hub for engagement with the foreign political community.
“The Weiser Diplomacy Center will enhance the University of Michigan’s and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy’s ability to advance international understanding and develop policies that improve lives around the globe,” says Mark Schlissel, president of U-M. “I thank former ambassador and current regent Ron Weiser and Eileen Weiser for their generosity, vision, and commitment to U-M.”
The center will be housed in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and bring diplomats and foreign policy experts to campus. It will also support professors of practice in international diplomacy and offer workshops, simulations, conferences, and internships to students.
“This new initiative will help train a new generation of informed, principled, and entrepreneurial students committed to international affairs,” says John Ciorciari, director of the International Policy Center at the Ford School. “It will also help connect the academy to the world of foreign policy practice to generate new ideas for addressing the many global challenges we face. No comparable concentration of diplomatic expertise exists at any university in the Midwest.”
The Weisers say they want to prepare students in a world of quickly shifting foreign policy with new ideas and engagement with scholars and policy experts.
“Under the leadership of Dean Michael Barr, the Ford School is well-positioned to become the best public policy school in the country,” says Ron Weiser, founder of Ann Arbor-based McKinley Inc., a national real estate investment firm. “I am pleased to provide resources to help in this important field. Diplomacy is not just relationships between countries, it’s about relationships between people … it can change the direction of a country, affecting tens of millions of people.”
Weiser was appointed by then-President George W. Bush to serve as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia from 2001-2004. He earned the highest award given to non-Slovaks in the country – the White Double Cross.
“Ron and Eileen Weiser’s generosity and vision will dramatically expand the Ford School’s ability to teach our students about the vital role diplomacy plays in international affairs,” says Michael Barr, the Joan and Sanford Weill dean of public policy at the Ford School of Public Policy. “The Weiser gift will build on our strong faculty and programming in international politics, international development and international economics.”
The Weisers have committed more than $89 million to U-M to date.