Skip navigation

From the Editor - Winter 2021

Spartan Alumni Magazine Fall 2020 Cover

From the Editor - Winter 2021

Game Changers

I do a lot of my best thinking just by writing, and I’ve thought deeply about the pandemic and how it is impacting Spartans—our alumni, students, faculty and staff. A key question being asked by many leaders here at MSU and at other organizations is how the pandemic can serve as a driver of change. When we decide to come together to solve problems, we find that we are more creative and find new ways to reframe and create a new normal. We find that we are not alone; we are in this together. Our founders had this in mind when they established what is now Michigan State University.

After all, stepping up to challenges and positioning education as an asset for great change in the world is built right into the Spartan DNA—our Spartan Will that often drives us to tackle society’s unmet needs. The winter 2021 issue looks at our mission as well as the Spartan drive to find solutions and the courage to follow one’s passion.

I hope you enjoy reading about the greatest contributions of our faculty innovators and the inspiring Spartan alumni who follow their hearts, and at times an unconventional path, to make a difference in the world.

Stephanie Motschenbacher signature



Stephanie Motschenbacher. 
Executive Editor, Spartan Magazine




I had to write and tell you how much I enjoyed the fall issue. I read every word. I have never felt so proud to be an MSU graduate and academic specialist. The alumni and faculty profiles were so interesting and inspiring. And I loved the side notes on little known facts. And I never realized the extent of MSU’s high rankings nationally and in the world.

But my favorite thing was from the article about the vet in Alaska who named her Montessori-styled dog school Muttessori.

Well done!!

Frana Potter, ’64,’79 , BATH, MI


I wish to commend you, and your staff, on the fall M.S.U. Alumni Magazine. It is the finest issue in the 55 years that I have been receiving my humble opinion.

Keep up the great work. I look forward to meeting up with fellow Spartans when our world gets back to normal.

Go Green!

Donald Payne, ’63, ’65, FARMINGTON HILLS, MI


I am a proud Alumni of MSU and a Spartan for life.

In August of 2020, I returned to the classroom and ventured into my 17th year in education as a state ranked level five teacher who will be on the frontlines educating in-person and virtually during a global pandemic.

I would like to make a small request of the MSU Alumni (Office); please consider focusing on educators and public servants in your next MSU Alumni magazine issue.

We are the real leaders.

I would like to stand with my MSU peers and honor those who keep serving the community despite our current historical challenges.

We are Spartans. We are Spartan strong.

Thank you!

Kelly Susanne Geer, ’91, MEMPHIS, TN


As a current medical student, I felt compelled to write an open letter to the Spartan community regarding racial inequality and police brutality.

First, I see MSU as one of the most culturally and racially diverse areas in Michigan—it is one of the reasons why I choose to study at Michigan State.

After months of protests and stories of innocent African Americans being lynched, it’s harder to not lie awake at night, afraid that you might lose a friend because of racism. Safe at home we watched the news reports about what happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Elijah McClain and Philando Castile. Imagine what you might feel if that happened to your best friend, your favorite teacher, your family.

If the last few months have made anything obvious, it’s that people who are Caucasian can no longer be silent. A great place to start is by confronting your own racial biases and finding ways to overcome them.

Taylor Casey, ’22, College of Osteopathic Medicine student, EAST LANSING, MI


On July 9, I was a guest on MSU Facebook Live program, Go Green, Go Live. The subject was a conversation with MSU Today producer, Russ White, about being ‘Black in America.’ On July 16 this interview ran on WKAR-FM, the MSU 50,000 watt radio station. WKAR is where Tanya, my wife and fellow Spartan, started her broadcast career when we were both students. On July 22 I submitted an essay titled ‘An American Reckoning on Race’ to be published in the University of Colorado ‘Coloradan’ magazine. This essay and my audio recording of this essay were published in November 2020. From ‘Black in America’ to ‘An American Reckoning on Race’ the long arc of history is bending toward justice.

Philip S. Hart, Ph.D., ’70, ’74, LOS ANGELES, CA


Thanks for the article by Dan Smith on William Beal. My grandfather, Huber Shull, graduated M.A.C in 1906, with a B.S. in agriculture. I’m sure he must have had a class or two with Professor Beal. Whenever I return to East Lansing, I visit the botanical gardens, and try to imagine what the campus was like when my grandfather was there.

Roger Shull, ’62, VOLENTE, TX


Many thanks for the articles about William James (WJ) Beal. My husband, Allen Beal, also a MSU alum (1963), is a distant cousin of WJ, whose father was the brother of Allen’s 2nd great-grandfather. WJ Beal also loved researching family history and, as a genealogist, I’m indebted to him for some wonderful Beal family stories. Many members of our Beal family are MSU grads and proud to be linked by heritage to WJ Beal and the beautiful Beal Botanical Garden. Thanks again! Go green!

Julie Beal, ’63, ARIVACA, ARIZONA

Author: Stephanie Motschenbacher, '85, '92