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President's Perspective

  • Author:
    Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Published:
    Summer 2010

Some of us more generationally challenged Spartans recall when the phone rang and you always knew where it was—and it was 99.99 percent reliable and you could hear a pin drop.

Well, progress comes in fits and starts, and nobody values mobile connectivity more than me. Our options today for social interaction and networking are so much broader, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sparty now has a little device pocket in his armor, though he probably would be all thumbs.

Many Spartans are early adopters, and I’ll simply point to the MSU Alumni Association’s Scott Westerman. Scott was leveraging Twitter and other social media for fun and profit before most of us even knew what it was. Now, of course, he’s doing it for MSU.

We’ve formed a relationship with enterprise social networking company INgage Networks to enhance our MSU Extension services and facilitate other projects, including work with our academic communications researchers. A number of our College of Communication Arts and Sciences faculty study social networking media, and they’ll have close access to INgage staff working in the building. Increasingly, social media are the subject of academic inquiry, in particular their impact among young people.

For those who aren’t early adopters, we’re offering a New Media Driver’s License course again this summer taught by Richard Cole of our Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing and two digital enterprise executives.

Social media provide another world-flattening set of technologies. You saw the first images of a jet landing in the Hudson River and scenes of strife on the streets of a curtained Iran via social media. Whether you’re embracing it or ignoring it, electronic social media are a force for transformation, and that’s where Team MSU works.

At MSU, we have social media channels to communicate with alumni, students, and the public. Our university-level Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube links are now highlighted on our Web pages for easy access, and they’re complemented by posts, tweets and links from our colleges, departments, faculty and students. You can follow the work of researchers in remote Kenya and China and yes, if you’re a Spartan sports fan, there’s an iPhone application for you.

We’re using social media and digital channels to draw us closer together and also to connect with those outside of Team MSU. Remember our three core values? Quality, inclusiveness and connectivity all work together to make a difference. At Michigan State, there really is an app for that, employing technology that doesn’t change what we do so much as help us to do it better.

We saw it at the Spartan TweetUp last January at the International Center to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief. We see it as our researchers explore how to use social media to improve the rate of organ donation. We see it in the work that Career Services Network does with students and graduates to tap online channels to form their own career and social networks.

So alumni, stay in touch.




Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph.D.

President, Michigan State University