Faculty/Instructor Profiles, Research

Michigan’s Economy, School Reform, Presidential Approval, and More: MPP Faculty Research—and Influence—Pressing Policies


Prof. Sarah Reckhow (L) recently gave a presentation on how foundation-funded research affects education policy to the American Political Science Association. Prof. Charley Ballard (R) spoke on the radio program “Current State” about Michigan’s economic outlook.

Students in Michigan State’s Master of Public Policy program have the privilege of learning from faculty who are researching and influencing some of the most important policies in Michigan and the United States.

Prof. Charley Ballard directs MSU’s quarterly State of the State Survey, the longest-running and most widely cited ongoing effort to monitor the opinions of Michigan residents on important social, political, and economic issues.  Ballard recently spoke on the public radio program Current State about how Michigan’s middle class is shrinking. But despite this fact, he says the results from the most recent survey show Michiganders are more optimistic about their finances than they’ve been in a decade. “Is Michigan’s economy back? This is a classic case of a glass that is half full and half empty,” Ballard told MSU Today. “Although the state’s economy has made big strides in the past six years, the losses of the first decade of this century were huge, and continue to resonate.”

Prof. Ballard and fellow MPP professor Paul Menchik also have worked together on two forthcoming papers (based on research that several MPP students contributed to) regarding changes in income inequality in Michigan and throughout the United States from the 1970s through the 2000s.

Prof. Ron Fisher recently published an article in the industry journal State Tax Notes about perceptions of gasoline taxes—a major issue in Michigan, where residents have repeatedly highlighted poor road quality as one of the state’s most pressing issues, but who in May also voted down a ballot proposal to raise road repair funds by increasing the sales tax.

Prof. Sarah Reckhow’s research on how politics affects philanthropist’s choices about funding K-12 education initiatives was recently highlighted in the Washington Post. She’s also currently carrying out research funded by a $277,895 grant from the William T. Grant Foundation into how foundation-funded research affects education policy; Prof.  Reckhow and two coauthors recently presented preliminary findings from this research at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

At the same conference, Prof. Charles Ostrom presented a working paper titled “Explaining Approval for Clinton, Bush-43, and Obama: A Regime Switching Model.” Ostrom and his coauthors are investigating why the relative importance of factors such as the economy, war, and scandal varies across different presidential administrations in terms of these factors’ effects on the public’s approval of the president.


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