This is an era of unprecedented accomplishment for Michigan State, one that is also rich with opportunity and promise. The students arriving on campus this fall will be one of our finest classes. Our graduation and retention rates are examples for others. Increasing numbers of MSU faculty are recognized nationally and internationally for their achievements. Communities, schools, businesses and industries turn to MSU for assistance with some of their most difficult problems. MSU has more students, faculty, and staff engaged in international activities than ever. Dedicated staff are finding new and creative ways to better serve students and stakeholders. And the distinction that you, our alumni, bring to MSU is an ongoing source of pride and strength.
However, we also face serious challenges that arise from the confluence of a weak national economy, significant budget reductions from the State and continuing global uncertainties. Beyond the current budget circumstances are challenges that will re-shape the university, our future and the world in which we live.
While President McPherson carries out his prestigious and vital assignment throughout this summer in the rebuilding of Iraq, here at home “Team MSU” remains committed to moving Michigan State forward. An ongoing partnership with the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and students, with alumni, and with leaders in government, business and industry, Team MSU embodies the spirit and energy that have been our hallmarks and that distinguish us from our peers. As a public research university in the land grant tradition, we strive to balance access, economic competitiveness and the promotion of quality of life—a difficult equilibrium to maintain under current conditions. The economic situation across the nation has put tremendous financial pressure on public universities, where the implications of the word “budget” go far beyond numbers on a page. Along with the dollars and cents, we must balance expectations regarding traditional values and future academic quality.
We are stewards of MSU’s reputation and of the academic standards and programs for which we are known. But we also must meet benchmarks and standards of efficiency that would be exemplary in any organization. We must marshal our resources in ways that enhance the value of a Michigan State education. An MSU degree earned ten years ago is more valuable today than when it was awarded. It is our continuing commitment that the value of the degrees students earn today also will increase in years to come. That is our unique obligation, one that goes hand-in-hand with our responsibility to contribute to society and transform lives by generating and advancing knowledge.
President McPherson and I have great confidence that Team MSU will meet the current challenge. Together we are using this opportunity to enhance MSU’s academic quality and strengthen our land-grant roots as we approach our Sesquicentennial in 2005.
Lou Anna K. Simon
Interim President Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs