In my State of the University address delivered in February, I started by quoting from the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…,” noting how fitting this statement was to Michigan State University at this time in our history. The economic challenges the state, nation and MSU have been facing over the past year have been difficult and will continue for a while longer. However, in the midst of these turbulent times, MSU has also had some extraordinary achievements that serve as signs of hope for a brighter future for Michigan.
In December, the U.S. Dept. of Energy awarded the $550 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) project to MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). Awarding this important science project to MSU recognizes not only the strength of NSCL but also the capacity of the state of Michigan itself. It acknowledges one of the state’s most important natural resources: human capital. FRIB (pronounced F-Rib) will be a magnet for talent and opportunities, attracting researchers and students from around the world to Michigan.
The construction of this highly specialized facility will provide hundreds of jobs for Michigan workers over the next decade and a vital stimulus to the state’s economy. While we recognize that FRIB is not a singular solution to the university’s or the state’s current challenges, itcan be a catalyst for the additional changes we need to support Michigan’s turnaround. The facility will have long-term and profound economic impact.
We ended 2008 on a high note with the announcement of FRIB, and kicked off 2009 with another win for Michigan’s economy when MSU was selected by IBM as the location for a new global delivery center, the first of its kind for IBM in the U.S. The facility, which will be located on the second floor of the former MSU Credit Union headquarters, will focus on upgrading software for IBM systems used by state government and by corporations around the state.
One of the many reasons IBM selected MSU was because of our long tradition of and commitment to international engagement, and our understanding of the global environment in which they conduct business. IBM expects to start operations in the first quarter of this year, with 100 workers projected to be on board by June. State of Michigan estimates predict up to 1,500 new direct and indirect jobs over the next five years.
Universities are the engines of innovation and drivers of prosperity; at MSU we take this responsibility very seriously. We are committed to continuing our partnerships with individuals, organizations, and agencies throughout the state in efforts to develop strategies that will move Michigan forward. The FRIB and IBM projects are but two examples of the work we are doing every day to help transform Michigan’s economy, create jobs for its workers, and foster prosperity for its citizens.
There is no doubt that Michigan confronts a dramatic crisis. I am more convinced than ever that the problem-solving, innovation, and opportunity creation of a world-class research university like MSU can help lead our state from crisis to hope, from today’s difficulties to tomorrow’s dreams.
Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph. D.
President, Michigan State University
G. L. Kohuth/University Relations
Construction is ongoing at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (above). Like NSCL, FRIB will provide a unique environment for collaboration across disciplines to push the bounds of rare isotope research at MSU. In the main photo, NSCL staff engineer Craig Snow (seated) reviews components for a new particle detector with assistant professor Abigail Bickley and graduate student Krista Cruse (pointing).
Credit: Greg Kohuth