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Student Profile - Gregory Smith

Student Profile - Gregory Smith

HOMETOWN: Maraval, Trinidad and Tobago

UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE: BSC in Mechanical Engineering and MBA in Supply Chain Management, Howard University

CURRENT: MPP ’17 Candidate at the Harris School

How did your undergraduate experience shape your decision to go into public policy, and, specifically, to come to Harris?

I had always wanted to be involved in this idea that I had of both Caribbean unity and economic advancement. While in undergrad, and getting my MBA, I thought the process of achieving that was by doing business and finance. It was over time while working in strategic management after graduation, that I realized that just having a business degree is not going to be enough to achieve these social goals or social missions. I knew everything there was to know about business and finance, but not about policy. That shaped my decision to go back to school. I worked in Chicago originally after leaving my MBA program. While I was in Chicago, I was thinking about coming back to school and to go into policy, and I came to a recruitment  session at the Harris school— that caused me to be more interested based on their description of the programs. The approach here is very analytical and rigorous, compared to other schools— I thought I would benefit from that specific approach.

How has Harris shaped your interest in economic policy?

When I first came to Harris I was almost completely interested in economic development in the Caribbean. My interest has since bloomed to not just economic development or the Caribbean, but social impact as a whole. I got very interested in social impact bonds and financing, and that whole field. Being at Harris and the University of Chicago has expanded my interests. I believe the Caribbean as a region has an opportunity to expand only through cooperation, or through an economic bloc. We don’t have the scale to be truly competitive in the global market—but with a community we have more of an impact. I’ve built a quantitative skill set to understand how these global relationships work, and how I can apply that to my interest in the Caribbean region. Taking classes at Harris, like poverty and economic development, have helped me understand what works to alleviate poverty, and the research that has been done to show the impact of interventions to aid poverty. In general, my economic and micro-statistics courses have helped me to understand how to measure this impact. It’s one thing to want to do good stuff, but it’s very difficult to measure the impact social change has— I think the Harris School does a great job of showing students how to actually measure this.

Can you talk about your involvement with Team Harris and how that has been a part of your Harris experience?

There’s a lot of things I like about the Harris school, but of course there are improvements too. One of the things we can improve on is representation of minorities. Obviously I’m international, but I went to a historically black college, and lived in the United States for a long time. I definitely identify with the challenges and the cultures of those who identify as minorities in the United States. I feel a strong connection to issues affecting these communities. I realized there were not that many people from this background at the Harris School. If you don’t have people from these backgrounds represented in the policymaking, how can they help the communities with similar backgrounds? I joined Team Harris specifically to help recruit more people of color to the Harris School, which has been the biggest benefit to me. It’s also just fun to talk to other people who are passionate about recruiting new people to Harris, being brand ambassadors, that sort of thing.

You’re heading into the consulting field at Deloitte Consulting. How will you apply what you’ve learned at Harris outside of the educational setting?

My role at Deloitte will be as a strategy consultant, specifically deployed to state and local governments. I’ll be working on projects at that level. I worked with the state of IL to implement a state-wide resource planning system. My role was to be the go-between for the technical consultants typing into computers and the state representatives with real day-to-day concerns. My Harris degree helps me to speak to people at a state and local level to speak to their concerns and also translate what we’re doing into something that’s beneficial for them. I chose Deloitte because they have a really strong global footprint, especially in the Caribbean. My vision for my role in Deloitte is to parlay my experience from the state and local levels in the US back to my ultimate goal of being a part of the Caribbean growth and expansion.

As you near the end of your time as an MPP candidate, what are some words of wisdom you might pass along to incoming candidates at Harris?

Two things: Go to math camp, prep classes, and make sure you come to participate; because it was definitely helpful to get back into the educational setting after working for a few years. Take advantage of extracurriculars, guest lectures, etc. That has helped shaped my experience holistically. If you never participate outside of class, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Also, I’m a co-chair of the Community Action Bureau. We work with non-profit organizations on the South Side and match students with these organizations to help advance or achieve the organization’s mission. Often these non-profits are so mission-driven that they don’t have time to do the stuff that the Harris School is good at, like organizational management or impact measurement. So we bring Harris students in to help them develop these tools. That’s something I’m really passionate about, and I hope we can get interest from prospective students to be involved. It helps apply what you’re learning on a practical level.

*Featured in this photo: Members of Harris student group Minorities in Public Policy (MiPPS). L to R: Riddhima Mishra, MPP'18; Jasmin Dial, MSCAPP'18; Tadelech Mengesha, MPP'17; Janelle Highland, MPP'17; Gregory Smith, MPP'17; David McMillon, PhD'21. MiPPS recently hosted Michael Tubbs, the first black mayor of Stockton California, on campus for a discussion on his experience running for office. Learn more here. Photo credit: Lauren Daurizio.

Alumni Update

Alumni Update

Julie Cooper MPP 2014

HOMETOWN: New York, New York

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in International Studies from the University of Chicago

Current Employer: Policy and Real Estate Analyst at Development Strategies, Inc. (St. Louis)

From your undergraduate experience with the University of Chicago, was it natural that you applied to Harris, or were you looking at other public policy schools?  

I actually took some time off between undergrad and grad school. I worked for five years for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, and I was looking to go into a career in foreign policy. I had applied to a number of grad schools that were more in the international relations/foreign policy space. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something a little bit broader— I didn’t want to just focus on foreign affairs. I was pretty familiar with the Harris School because I had some class space in undergraduate there. I knew it would be a good program because I knew the university and the caliber of academics there. I knew they were doing some really interesting stuff—they were just getting the Energy Policy Institute off the ground when I started there. It came to me as a great opportunity for the next phase in my career.

What was your MPP focus? You have interest in urban development and energy efficiency what grounded your Harris experience?

 I definitely started out thinking I would be more focused in energy policy. I had a fellowship with the Energy Policy Institute when I started. As I went through that experience, I started to do research on the energy efficiency programs, particularly targeted at low-income housing or families—helping to make their living spaces more energy efficient. I just realized that energy policy itself wasn’t what my interest was in. My interest was in community development and urban development, and energy was a piece of that, but I was looking for something a little broader about cities and communities. So I shifted a little in my second year and was more grounded in looking at urban issues—for example, I did the Municipal Finance Certificate Program; I took a class on housing policy and transportation policy. That really did become the focus of my studies there. It took me the first year to really figure that out, but since the first year is more focused on the core, that gave me the chance to figure out where I fell in the policy world.

 How did your experience at Harris lead you to your current career path?

What our company does is grounded in working with our clients—whether they’re developers, cities, institutions—helping them to utilize their assets to have the best outcomes for their organizations. There’s a couple ways that Harris helped me. When I started out with this job, I was kind of doing more data analysis— collecting demographic information, socioeconomic information to understand “what are the trends in this community? What are the particular needs?” More focused on housing than anything, but the data analysis field that I got out of Harris—particularly in the econ and stats classes—just made me very comfortable in working with data and numbers. I’ll understand what the story is and what conclusions we can start to draw from these numbers. As I’ve transitioned to project management and strategic planning, I think one of the things that always comes back to me from what I learned at Harris is always looking at all sides of an issue, and thinking about what are some unintended consequences of particular strategies that an entity might undertake. And always thinking about who are the different players that might be impacted, and thinking about the levers—what are the levers that we can press to make a difference? I think a lot of that came out of what I learned at Harris—really thinking about all sides of an issue, and being mindful that nothing is what it seems on the surface. That’s had a big influence on how I approach my job now. I see how much my employer appreciates that—I can do critical thinking around data; it’s an important skill when you go out into the professional world.

What were some non coursework-related activities or events that were influential during your time at Harris?

 I was involved with the Harris Energy Association— it was an HSO [Harris Student Organization]. It was an opportunity for students interested in energy policy issues to get together; they used to have an event called Energy On Tap, where they’d get together at the pub and would have a topic to talk about over beers. What we did was bring in an expert to have an informal conversation with over pizza and beer, and give us an opportunity to hear about what was going on in the real world of energy policy. We did an event with a congressman from South Carolina, and he was at the Institute of Politics one of the quarters, and we got in touch with him and he came over to the Harris School to have a casual conversation about his experience, what he was doing as an advocate for different efficiency programs and alternative energy funding. The HSOs helped you to see the real-world application of policy work and be up-to-date with what was going on in the real world. The benefit of going to the University of Chicago can’t be overstated. The breadth of courses you can take, professors you can interact with, speakers that they bring to campus, are a huge benefit to the Harris students and really enhance what they are doing with their Harris work.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective Harris students?

I would say a couple things. One is that, from a course-taking perspective, I highly, highly encourage prospective or current students to seriously consider taking at least one practicum course. Those courses were perhaps the most impactful of the experiences I had at Harris, because you are out in the field, and seeing what real communities and organizations are faced with. It gives you a perspective on why you’re doing policy—there’s a real world out there that we have a chance to make a difference in. And then, based on my own experience, I would say it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what kind of policy you want to study. You have time to sample and get involved—don’t feel like you have to go in and stick with something. I obviously didn’t and it ended up really working out. Just be open-minded and don’t feel too much pressure to fit in to one slot.

Waitlist Information

Waitlist Information

Many students currently on the waitlist have contacted our office with questions regarding the next steps with the waitlist. We wanted to provide some additional insight and share the information below: 

  • All waitlisted applicants will be reviewed with newly submitted applications in the final application round. The deadline for that Round is March 26th. If you are on the waitlist and preparing to submit new documents we recommend submitting that information by then.  
  • Waitlisted applicants who are admitted will receive an updated letter to their account. Students who are not admitted will not see a change to their account

 Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I do next?

          If submitting additional information please submit the form here. Some students have sent us updated information directly to harrisadmissions@uchicago.edu but if you are able to fill out the form as well that will be helpful. We encourage you to contact our office to determine how to strengthen your application, but to also continue to attend webinars and events near you that may be helpful. Please register here: http://whypolicy.uchicago.edu/recruitment-schedule/

What is my number on the waitlist?

            Harris does not rank applicants on the waitlist.

How often should I contact your office?

            We encourage you to contact our office to confirm your interest in Harris as well as to speak with an admissions staff members to discuss options for strengthening your application. If you have new information you would like to share you can email harrisadmisions@uchicago.edu

When will I know if I am admitted?

            Students admitted in Round Two will be notified in late-April to early-May.

Chicago Event TONIGHT - 1871

Chicago Event TONIGHT - 1871

We’re experiencing a great response for our event exploring the latest trends in social impact investing and startups at 1871, one of the largest technology incubators in the United States. If you can’t make it…you can follow in real-time viaFBLive

You’ll hear from UChicago faculty, alumni, and seasoned entrepreneurs about how startups can reshape government and the social sector. We are delighted to welcome the following panelists:

We have a great mix of alumni, current students, and civic leaders who may meet the next value-added investor, must-hire, collaborator, or future client.

With most governments and non-profits facing fiscal constraints, the ability to develop new models to drive innovation from within or through a startup is even more critical which is why UChicago focuses on supporting the ecosystem needed to help entrepreneurs.  Over the next few months, Harris will be sharing plans to working more closely with 1871 providing our students with more access to leading-edge social impact startups.

Pearson Update

Pearson Update

Pearson post from Rebecca Rosen

We’ve received some questions from students lately asking for more information about The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts.  Harris is in the process of launching a new website with additional details on Pearson, but Rebecca Rosen, Director of Operations, provided the details below in order to give our students some additional insight. 

The Pearson Fellows program

The Pearson Fellows program is open to Master of Public Policy students. Fellows are selected based on a student’s leadership, academic aptitude, and dedication to global conflict resolution through demonstrated experience and/or coursework. Evaluation also includes a student’s grade point average and GRE score, which may be supplemented by fieldwork directly related to conflict resolution. Potential Fellows can declare their interest during the application process found here. Please note you must first be admitted to the MPP program.

As a Pearson Fellow, the Institute will provide mentoring opportunities for you to work and meet with academic leaders at the Harris School of Public Policy, the University, and beyond. There will be intimate discussions with key public policy leaders in the diplomatic, military, humanitarian, and political communities. At Harris, you will have the opportunity to take courses taught by The Pearson Institute faculty on the study of peace and conflict and the political economy of development that demonstrate our data-driven philosophy.  

In addition, The Pearson Institute also hosts series of public events that we hope you will attend. Just this week, The Pearson Institute announced they will host Sergio Jaramillo, the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace, on Monday, April 24th at the University of Chicago. This event is open to the public and for those of you who may not be able to make it to Chicago, it will be live webcast as well. For more information and to register for this event please visit this page.

If you have any additional questions regarding The Pearson Institute, please email pearsoninstitute@uchicago.edu Thank you for your interest!

Update- Scholarships

Update- Scholarships

Many students are eager for more information on scholarships, and I know I made an announcement at Admitted Student Day that we would have a form ready for you to complete this week. You can find that form here. Some notes:

  • There is a spot on the form to indicate the date by which you need a decision. Of course we understand everyone would like a decision right away, but we were hoping students would use this to indicate if they are under a deadline for another program or scholarship. Outside of these circumstances, please allow two weeks for the committee to review your request.
  • When completing the form, please keep in mind that we are looking for new and updated information.
  • We encourage you to only submit this form once. If there is other information you are waiting on that may impact the content you submit in this form, it would be best to wait until you have complete information.

So, why did I set up the lead photo with the tag line "Why I study Public Policy?" for a blog post about scholarships? Our team knows you are about to make a major career and life-changing decision. We know this is an investment both of your time and money, and we think the question can serve as a reminder of the goals you will achieve with a public policy degree. 

Also - I just loved the comment from the student who answered this question with "Watched too much West Wing." I mean, who hasn't? 



Admitted Student Day

Admitted Student Day


There was much anticipation leading up to Admitted Student Day, and it was wonderful to finally meet so many of you in person. A big thank you to those of you who have already submitted our Admitted Student Day Survey - we've been happy to receive positive feedback and some great suggestions for the future. Keep an eye out for pictures on our Facebook page! 

Two important follow up forms are below: 

Thank you all again for attending last week! We know many of you traveled some pretty great distances to be here and we are pleased we had such strong attendance. 

Faculty Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight

Post from Emma (she's been super productive while others were wrapped up in ASD planning, thanks Emma!) 

Professor Ariel Kalil recently gave a lecture this February in Luxembourg on the relationship between inequality and child development. Kalil is a professor at the Harris School, as well as the Director of the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy. The lecture series, sponsored in part by the European Investment Bank Institute, was titled “Inequality and …?”, featuring a broad panel of researchers focused on diverse concepts of inequality. Professor Kalil spoke on the role of parenting and familial socioeconomic status in creating inequalities amongst children. Kalil advocates for the investment in parents themselves to address achievement gaps— so that parents may then invest in their children. Kalil is a co-director of the Behavioral Insights and Parenting (BIP) Lab, which looks at the ways in which parents invest in their children, particularly through the lens of behavioral tools. The research at the BIP Lab focuses on early literacy rates, early math activities, and engagement with Head Start, amongst other grant-funded research. The research team at the BIP Lab is a collaboration between academics, staff, and PhD students. If you are interested in gaining field work experience, and have a focus in child development, behavioral economics, etc., you may find more information about opportunities with the BIP Lab here!

Center for Data Science and Public Policy

Center for Data Science and Public Policy

Post from Emma

The Center for Data Science and Public Policy (DSaPP) is a collaboration between the Harris School and the Computation Institute to thoroughly engage data science with policy research. Their projects range from the areas of criminal justice to environmental policy to community and economic development. The Center also sponsors the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship, a summer program that trains aspiring data scientists to pair their field talents with social impact through partnerships with nonprofits and local government. Last March, DSaPP made headlines through its work in predicting police misconduct. The Center’s researchers put together an algorithm to predict police misconduct through a data set of interactions between police and the public in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can read more about the algorithm and the DSaPP’s methods here.

Paczki Day!

Post from Emma

New Orleans may have Mardi Gras, but here in Chicago, we celebrate Paczki Day! The “Fat Tuesday” tradition is celebrated in Chicago, thanks to the large Polish community throughout the city. Paczki (pronounced either POWNtch-key or PONtch-key) are delicious pastries filled with jam, frosting, preserves or custard, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top. Many Polish bakeries in Chicago are fresh and family-owned, with a loyal neighborhood following. Check out a comprehensive list from the Chicago Tribune to find the closest bakery near you. Be sure to get in line—bakeries are making paczki in the thousands to prepare for the tradition!

Van Jones and S.E. Cupp

Van Jones and S.E. Cupp

Post from staff member Imran Khan

On Friday, CNN contributor Van Jones and conservative political commentator and columnist S.E. Cupp participated in a panel discussion hosted by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. The panel was moderated by current IOP Director and former Senior Advisor to President Obama David Axelrod. Speaking to an audience of students, faculty members and residents of the community, Jones and Cupp discussed – amongst many ideas – the history of our nation’s political system, its current state and what challenges our country will face in the years ahead.

Drawing on his childhood upbringing through his years working in the Obama Administration, Jones opined on the state of America's two-party system, suggesting that today's politics had forsaken virtuous principles such as honesty and nobility all together. Cupp seemed to agree postulating that both the Republican and Democratic parties had become "cartoons" of their respective political ideologies. She elaborated further on the political disconnect, pointing to the Republican Party's desire to take seats in Washington rather than take positions on the issues and noted it was "profitable to disagree in politics today". While Cupp and Jones differed in their political views, both found common ground on the importance of our political institutions and recognized that while cultural change is inevitable, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to democracy.

Perhaps Jones said it best when he speculated that, "the politics that will make a difference has yet to emerge." After the event was all said and done, one thing was clear - we are the ones creating our future and therefore we must hold ourselves accountable.

For upcoming IOP events check here.

Riding the Tiger

Riding the Tiger

Post from current student Divyasha

In the world of ambiguity – keep “Riding the Tiger” or be swallowed

 Last Tuesday, Dr. Wilfried Aulbur addressed a packed room of students, faculty and administrators at Harris. Dr. Aulbur is Managing Partner at Roland Berger, a leading voice in businesses in emerging market and author of “Riding the Tiger, how to execute business strategy in India”. He discusses nuances of an auto engine with the same ease that he talks about negotiations with stakeholders in a business deal. What I liked about the talk is his ability to ‘zoom in’ – with incredible mastery over technical intricacies, and ‘zoom out’ – weaving several years of strategy consulting experience into his judgment.

Throughout the candid conversation, Dr. Aulbur drew on his personal experiences of working with bureaucrats, businesses conglomerates and new ventures and spoke about navigating through the barriers in doing business in India. Integrating aspects of thought leadership, innovation, flexibility, and community welfare into his talk - the optimism he shared about the Indian growth story was really inspiring.

This talk truly resonates with my decision to choose Harris - it’s curriculum. One of the core aspects of the Chicago Harris Curriculum – it supplements deep academic research with interaction with governance and industry leaders who offer relevant and actionable insights on how to apply a theoretical framework in real world policy challenge.

For someone like me, who is interested in working at the intersection of business and policy in developing economies, Dr. Aulbur’s thoughts on VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) markets is definitely one of the highlights in my 6 months at Harris.

Divyasha Ray (MPP’18), is a data-driven student at Harris who strongly believes in the correlation between ambiguity and life

MACRM - Alum Profile

MACRM - Alum Profile

 Mariella Gonzales MACRM ‘16, PhD (expected 2020)

HOMETOWN: Lima, Peru

UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE: BA and MA in economics, Universidad del Pacifico

PREVIOUS EMPLOYER:  APOYO Consultoría and Ministerio de Transportes y Comunicaciones

Why public policy?

When I was working as a consultant, I realized that some political decisions are not made with good evidence in a developing country. I really wanted to help my government make sound decisions, so, I decided to work in the public sector at the Ministry of Transportation and Communication. But, in order to implement high-level policy decisions, I felt I still needed to develop more technical skills.

Why did you choose the MACRM Program at Harris?

I was torn between pursuing an MA or a PhD. The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy offered something in-between an MA and a PhD: The Master of Arts in Public Policy with a Certificate in Research Methods (MACRM). This was the best way for me to figure out what I really wanted. I also felt that Harris offered an excellent balance between theory and applied research. It was definitely at the top in terms of offering a quantitative background. I already have an MA in economics and wanted something very quantitative. There is no other program like the MACRM program. You can have a strong background already and you’ll still learn so much.

You are now in the PhD program. Did you find that the MACRM prepared you well for the PhD?

The MACRM program is great training for anyone interested in pursuing a PhD. The program lasts fifteen months. During the first year, you take the same classes as the PhD students and you have to work on a research project of interest. My project was devoted to figuring out if being located near, or being involved in, mining has an impact on election outcomes in Peru. After the first year, you present your work in front of your classmates and faculty. It’s an excellent experience for preparing the foundation of your research. That was when I realized I wanted the PhD.

The MACRM program allows its students, after the first year, to apply to the Harris PhD program and move directly into that program, if accepted. That’s what I did.

 Was there a particular faculty member at Harris that most supported you?

I took a class with Professor James Robinson called “The Political Economy of Development.” He gave me a lot of feedback on my research project that was incredibly helpful. Honestly, all the faculty members at Harris offer you feedback along the way. I feel very supported at Harris.

What should others interested in the MACRM program know?

It’s a challenging program. At the same time, there is so much reward. You will actually be at a PhD level because you are taking PhD classes with PhD students. You will also be Involved in different research projects that will give you strong tools for research, as well as faculty recommendations should you choose to pursue the PhD.

You came from Lima, Peru. Was it hard to make Chicago your home?

Even though moving to Chicago was my first time living on my own and it was a huge change, Chicago is my home now. I love this city. Chicago is such a big city that offers anything that you need. I also enjoy Hyde Park. There is a lot so close to the University.

Get to know Chicago!

Get to know Chicago!

Post from our writer Emma

Five Classic Chicago Neighborhoods

An essential step in moving to Chicago is deciding not only the location of your neighborhood (North-East-West-South sides), but choosing the character of the neighborhood itself.

Pilsen - Located on the city’s Southwest side, Pilsen is known for its ties to the Mexican-American community in Chicago. The neighborhood itself is a work of art— mosaics and murals adorn the buildings and streets. If you’re hungry for authentic, fresh Mexican cuisine, check out the famous Nuevo Leon Restaurant—and be sure to take a bag of homemade tortillas to go.

Ukrainian Village - This West Side neighborhood— once home to the city’s Ukrainian and Eastern European enclaves— has become one of Chicago’s trendiest new neighborhoods in recent years. The architecture and residential buildings preserve the look and feel of the Eastern European settlers in the early 20th century— so much so, that the city has recognized its historical significance with a Landmark status. With a series of diverse restaurants, hip bars, and traditional art museums, the Ukrainian Village has created a perfect blend of old world and new.

Hyde Park - If you want to stick close to the University of Chicago campus, look no further than its home location in the quintessential South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park and Kenwood. Characterized by wide, leafy streets and historic and eclectic homes, Hyde Park is known for its strong sense of community pride and artistic culture.

Uptown - Home to some of the city’s most vibrant music buildings (the Riviera, Green Mill, or Aragon Ballroom), this North Side neighborhood changes block-by-block. Argyle Street houses some of Chicago’s best and most authentic Asian cuisine.

Lakeview - This popular North Side neighborhood includes Wrigley Field and is often referred to as Wrigleyville. With street festivals, miles of bars, Wrigley Field, and more, there’s always something to do within the Lakeview community. And, of course, as the name denotes, you’re never too far from the Lake Michigan beachfront.

If you're interested in learning more about Chicago neighborhoods you might enjoy this article from TimeOut or the information on Chicago neighborhoods from Choose Chicago. (We hope you Choose Chicago too :) ) 


Caffeine on Campus

Caffeine on Campus

Caffeination is a state of perpetual existence for most graduate students. If you’re like me, you cannot even be bothered to get out of bed and make coffee until your second or third cup. For those of you who dwell in cafes and are fueled by java—this blog post is for you. I’ll be detailing some of the caffeination stations on campus and give you a top 6.

My criteria are Grounds (coffee and location), Service, Cost, and Everything Beyond—food and music and other X factor.

6: Hallowed Grounds: Out of the undergraduate run coffee-shops, I most prefer Hallowed Grounds. It has a decent atmosphere being located in the second floor of the Reynolds Club and the dark-wood gives this space a cool ambiance. Despite having some comfy couches and pool tables, this space is more often a study spot than a chill space—although, does serve both purposes. Great music and kind baristas. Could use better beans. If you come at off-hours the coffee may have sat for an hour or more.

5: Harris Café: This café is a surprisingly good spot for some Joe as the coffee is really well brewed and quite tasty. Obviously, convenience plays a huge role in this decision—you won’t even have to leave Harris in the winter. That being said, I wish there were a bit more food options. The X-factor landing Harris Café at the 5 spot: drinking your coffee with your colleagues.

4: Fabiana’s Bakery: This hidden gem was almost excluded from the list to keep it more of a secret. They have incredible cake. This is my go to spot for something sweet with my coffee. I cannot emphasize this enough. Cake. Coffee could use some work. The cake will make you forget.

3: Grounds of Being: This Divinity school coffee shop is often filled with graduate students, while being kept a secret from the undergraduates. They have a great selection of coffee and tea, including a yearly contest to find the best beans. Great brew, good food options, and despite being in a basement it is a decent space. Often crowded—for a reason.

2: Dollop: Dollop wins this spot cleanly by providing incredible coffee. This coffee shop really does its role well and has great coffee brews and espresso drinks. The food options are good and insomnia cookies is right around the corner. The only minuses: the cost and that over 800 undergraduates live above and frequently occupy the café.

1: Plein Air: This is my favorite. A classy coffee shop with incredibly crafted espresso and coffee with sparkling water on tap. The service is wonderful and their menu is incredibly tasty. A very cool spot connected to the Seminary Coop bookstore with indoor and outdoor seating. A must visit spot and will likely land in a top-5 if I rank Hyde Park restaurants.



Harris Event with Bob Holden

Harris Event with Bob Holden

Credit to our writer Emma for this post!

Harris has numerous unique events open to students and we like to share regular updates on these events to let you know some of the opportunities you have at Harris. Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden gave three lectures as the first in a series with the Harris School’s Executive-in-Residence program. Holden focused on the revival of the Midwestern economy in a global age, with an emphasis on collaboration between states in the region. A career politician, Holden spoke on his experience working on various levels of state government, from staffing positions to the governor’s seat, and on how his approach to campaigning won him an election as a Democrat in a Republican district. The Executive-in-Residence program brings government officials and industry leaders to the Center for Municipal Finance, where they will meet with students, policy experts, and give lectures on campus.

Read more about the event here.

1000 Cups of Coffee

1000 Cups of Coffee

Well, maybe not 1,000 cups of coffee, but reading hundreds of applications, discussing in committee, reviewing scholarships, and issuing admission decisions as scheduled (less than a month after the application deadline) has required a few extra cups. That being said - here we are, two days from the decision release, impressed, moved, and humbled by your accomplishments thus far and plans for the future. Just a few examples of some of the accomplishments you shared with us:

  • Working with organizations to deliver thousands of meals to children in need, and recognizing that while the policy was well-intended, marketing issues prevented parents from knowing about the program and remote or unsafe locations prevented the delivery of meals. But then - you collaborated to solve the issues and improve the policy. As you've heard us say at Harris- policy is not about feeling good - it's about doing good. 
  • From our Teach for America alum - so many stories of specific examples in which you witnessed a policy failing your students. Unsafe crosswalks - even after students have been hit by cars. School boundaries that enforce class and race divisions. Lack of family engagement. In your essays you emphasized that while you had a positive impact on your students, you feel called to make changes on a policy level that will positively impact entire communities.
  • In a volunteer role, leading outdoor extended trips with groups of teenagers to help them build and grow their confidence, using outdoor activities to help empower disadvantaged youths. 
  • At least two essays detailing the circumstances in which you and your colleagues were accused or suspected of espionage while conducting research and investigative reporting in a foreign country. 

And you recommenders! Some of our favorites:

  • "An influential game changer."
  • "She'd be such an asset at your school, and even more importantly she'll be such an asset to your profession."
  • "I hope you will let her fire burn at your institution - things will be all the brighter for it."
  • "Best student I have ever taught."
  • "I cannot imagine a better candidate." 
  • "I have never known a student better equipped to excel in graduate school."
  • "He is a teacher and learner who works to make each class the best it could be. He is grounded in commitment to public service."

Although we credit the the caffeine consumption, it has really been your passion, enthusiasm, and drive to tackle complex policy issues that fueled us through these last few weeks. We are very much looking forward to personal conversations with all of you, and hope to see you at our Admitted Student Day on March 3rd!


A Beginner’s Guide to Chicago (Sans Tourists)

A Beginner’s Guide to Chicago (Sans Tourists)

Post from Emma Richardson- 

Chicago will be the backdrop to your Harris experience — so utilize it! Between the museums, (championship-winning) sports teams, restaurants, and parks—all stretching across some seventy-seven diverse neighborhoods— the city that you will call home has something to offer for everyone.

Music in Millennium Park - From June to August, enjoy free music concerts on Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in Millennium Park. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and some friends to experience a variety of genres throughout the summer, from indie rock to Southern soul to R&B.

Chicago Cultural Center - Known as the “People’s Palace”, the Chicago Cultural Center is a quintessential feature in the city’s renowned architectural history. With its Tiffany glass dome and mother-of-pearl mosaics, simply walking around the building itself is worth a visit. However, the Center also boasts free admission to a diverse series of music and art exhibits through the year.

Medici’s on 57th - Chicago is probably best known for its world-famous “deep dish” style pizza. End the thin crust debate by getting a pie at Medici’s on 57th. Located in Hyde Park, this staple of the community has been serving up Chicago-style pizza for over fifty years. Bring your own bottle, write a message on the wall (if you can find space), and check out the bakery next door— if you have room, that is.

Lake Michigan - This one speaks for itself. Throw away your pool membership, and head down to one of Chicago’s beautiful public beaches. North Avenue and Oak Street are popular north-side destinations, and South Shore and 57th Street are prime south side locations. If you have a four-legged friend, be sure to bring them to the Montrose Dog Beach near Montrose Harbor.

Improv - If you’re a fan of Chris Farley, Mike Myers, the Belushi Brothers, Tina Fey, Amy Poheler, or laughing in general, explore Chicago’s famous improv comedy scene. While name-brand venues like The Second City are a must-see experience, don’t forget to check out the iO or Annoyance Theater for late-night laughs.

Sports teams - Here in Chicago, we take our sports seriously. If you don’t want to shell out the cash to see championship-winning teams like the Blackhawks or Cubs, check out your neighborhood bars— it’s often just like being at the game itself! Local pride runs deep, so don’t look for a Sox bar in Wrigleyville!

And don’t forget— the best sightseeing tour guide is the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Simply hop on the “El”—Chicago’s famous elevated transit system—and take in all that the city has to offer. Seeing the city from above the tracks will create an authentic experience that will stay with you long after you get off at the next stop

All Students

All Students

We wanted to take a moment to share with you some recent responses from university leadership and the Harris community to the potential changes in immigration policy being discussed in the U.S. President Zimmer and Provost Diermeier shared their thoughts in a letter you can read here, while the Harris community had a student-led discussion and display of support you can see in the above photo and facebook post here.

Student Post

Student Post

Please see below for a guest post from one of our graduate student workers, Hayoung. 

Faculty in Focus: Ryan Kellogg

Last Thursday, I had a sweet opportunity to attend our first monthly Faculty in Focus lunch, with Professor Ryan Kellogg.  Professor Kellogg talked about his two main research areas: the economics of shale oil and gas development based on his recently presented paper titled “Welfare and Distributional Implications of Shale Gas” at the Brookings Institute’s spring conference on economic activity in D.C. He spent time explaining the economic consequences of the shale gas boom in the U.S. natural gas market in 2007 and 2013. It was very interesting to learn about the growing economics of private mineral leases for shale gas and uncertainty in the future gasoline prices. He also noted the substantial financial benefits of fracking shouldn’t leave out of the discussion the environmental damage the drilling process causes.

The event was surprisingly interactive as a lot of the audience frequently asked questions and Professor Kellogg answered them honestly and intentionally. Outside of the lecture, he also shared his background; how his degrees in engineering and economics and his professional working experiences in oil and gas companies like BP shaped his research interests in energy economics and environmental policy. Overall, we enjoyed this special learning opportunity from our awesome faculty!