Skip navigation
Return to Issue

President's Perspective

  • Author:
    Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Published:
    Winter 2009

            Michigan State University has long been a globally engaged institution and a leader in enhancing the educational experience for our students through study abroad programs, interaction with international students on campus, and through participation in research activities in communities throughout the world.

            Since the mid-1950s, with the establishment of the Office of International Studies, our involvement in global communities has steadily expanded. In the 1950s and 1960s, MSU was involved in the creation of institutions of higher education in Brazil, Colombia, Okinawa, Nigeria, and Pakistan; the MSU African Studies Center was founded in 1960, and has long been distinguished by its focus on Africa’s human needs; in 1980, MSU sent its first delegation to China, established the Office of China Programs in 2005, and opened the MSU China office in Beijing in 2006; and, in the fall of 2008, MSU welcomed its first group of students to MSU Dubai.

            In November, members of the Board of Trustees and I visited Dubai to celebrate the official inauguration of the MSU Dubai campus. There was a great deal of energy and excitement among the students and faculty as they shared with us their experiences since starting classes in August. Our programs in Dubai benefit not only the students there but also help to further internationalize the campus in East Lansing by connecting our students with this strategically important and rapidly growing region in the Greater Middle East. MSU Dubai will help Michigan State establish a world-class model for global engagement that is firmly rooted in our land-grant values and dedicated to advancing knowledge and transforming lives throughout the world.

            Our commitment to preparing our students to be successful in the competitive global marketplace and strengthening our collective futures in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world has been consistently recognized by the Institute of International Education. In the organization’s annual Open Doors report, released in mid-November, MSU ranked number one in study abroad participation among all public universities in the United States for the fourth straight year.  In addition, the report ranked MSU ninth in the nation among public universities in total international student enrollment.

            Michigan State students are given opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures from the first day they arrive on campus and throughout their MSU career, enriching their educational experience and their lives. In areas as diverse as food safety, education, technology, and economic development—and in countries as far-reaching as Rwanda, India, Nicaragua, and China, as well as right here at home—Spartans are conducting and applying innovative research as they work to improve the lives of millions of people every day.

            The examples featured in this issue of the MSU Alumni Magazine offer just a few examples of the extraordinary work Spartans are doing on every continent to develop sustainable solutions that address the world’s pressing problems.




Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph. D.

President, Michigan State University