I talk a lot about MSU’s extensive engagement around Michigan and how we touch people’s lives in every corner of the state, whether through MSU Extension, our community-based medical education programs, or other means. I also like to talk about how we have extended that land-grant approach to people around the world through our international research and study abroad programs.
As the more relaxed rhythms of summer settle along the banks of the Red Cedar, this is a good time to talk about what we do right here on campus to serve those who aren’t enrolled students.
A lot of our undergraduate and graduate students, of course, find summer term to be a good time to catch up or to pull ahead on credits, but summer is far from sleepy on campus thanks to our many camps and other programs. This is when we can engage with a whole different set of learners, most of them K–12 students here to take advantage of fun and exciting learning opportunities.
To give a sense of the magnitude of the operation, MSU’s Residential and Hospitality Services serves more than 200 groups each summer, not including the many day camps run by various university units. Nearly 30,000 guests stay a total of 122,000 nights in the residence halls, and collectively they eat more than 335,000 meals in the dining halls.
We are pleased to offer our facilities to many outside organizations, and this year we’re hosting competitions such as the 2013 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, which were held in May, and the 2013 World Dwarf Games, coming up August 3-10.
Our own programs generate much of the enthusiasm we see from visitors through the summer. Spartan Youth Programs offerings range from 4-H Fun on the Farm for kindergarteners to Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Hindi language camps for youngsters 7–12 years old to High Achievers, a Gifted and Talented Programs option for high school students.
There are sports and music camps and writing and poetry workshops. There’s our renowned debate program’s summer institute as well as programs for youth focusing on digital creativity. One of our most popular programs, of course, is our three-day Grandparents University in June, which gives alumni a chance to bond in the classroom and on campus with their grandchildren.
All of these programs allow budding Spartans to learn the joys of strolling campus on a balmy afternoon, MSU Dairy Store ice cream cone in hand. As generations of Spartans can attest, joining Team MSU has some special privileges!
Our interactions with the general public and outside groups don’t just happen in summer, of course. We offer a year-round schedule of programs, and we’re adding to it all the time. There’s our well-known Community Music School, now in its new quarters on Hagadorn Road.
And in April we held our first MSU Science Festival, a week of lectures, demonstrations, displays, and hands-on activities around campus to show youngsters how science is a part of our daily lives and, perhaps more to the point, our future. Horticulture and sharks, drone technology and underwater robots, climate change, and science and religion were some of the popular topics.
What our summer visitors have in common with the rest of the student body is an interest in personal growth and intellectual development, and we’re equally interested in helping each of them find personal success. Over time, our land-grant mission of outreach and engagement has embraced both young and old—helping them dream bigger dreams and giving them the means to fulfill those dreams.
Have a wonderful summer. Maybe we’ll see you here, too!