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President's Perspective

  • Author:
    Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Published:
    Spring 2005

            The 2004-05 academic year seems to be flying by, with Spring Semester already behind us.

            Commencement was a powerful experience this year, featuring two outstanding speakers—poet/author Maya Angelou and the director of the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhouni. Their remarks embraced many of the fundamental concepts that MSU was founded on and that continue to shape the university today.

            Dr. Zerhouni talked about the enduring quality of universities and the universal human need to find answers to questions. He encouraged us to think boldly, think broadly, and invest in our collective future.

            Maya Angelou, a captivating speaker with tremendous personal magnetism, charged each of us to be a light for others, to be a “rainbow in the clouds.” It was a call to action that echoed the heart of MSU’s land-grant mission: giving something back and making a difference.

            As our Summer Semester gets underway, the renovations to Spartan Stadium are almost done, and the original Sparty statue has been removed from his long-time home at the intersection of Red Cedar, Chestnut and Kalamazoo, in anticipation of his permanent relocation to the stadium this fall.

            Dr. Kim Wilcox from the University of Kansas has accepted the position of Provost, and is expected to begin August 1st. He’ll also be making some visits to campus before then. Kim is a Michigan native, born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, and an MSU alum (Class of 1976). Last time he was here, he lived in Holmes Hall and worked as a cook in the cafeteria. He returns to “Team MSU” to take on a somewhat different set of responsibilities, bringing with him great credentials, broad experience and tremendous energy. I’m really looking forward to working with him.

            I also want to extend a special thank you to John Hudzik for all of his hard work as Acting Provost during this time of transition. He hit the ground running and took on a lot of tough issues in a relatively short period of time. We appreciate his strong commitment to MSU.

            Building and fostering economic competitiveness has always been an essential part of Michigan State’s land-grant tradition. A few weeks ago, MSU unveiled a partnership with the cities of Lansing and East Lansing to establish a regional SmartZone as the basis for a coherent and systematic plan for economic development in the mid-Michigan area.

            The SmartZone is the first step in working with a wide variety of stakeholders to use MSU research and expertise to identify commercial opportunities and to help attract and grow businesses and revitalize the region. The MSU Foundation, MBI and the University Research Park will all play key roles.

            In coming weeks, we’ll focus on a variety of issues, including offering policy makers in Lansing some new ideas for developing a solid, objective approach to funding public higher education in order to meet the recommendations of the state’s Cherry Commission on higher education and harness the power of Michigan’s research universities to fuel economic development.

            Right now, our sesquicentennial activities are in full swing, with some exciting events on the schedule, including the return of an old favorite. Watch for those on the Sesquicentennial Celebration website at

            We’ll also be updating you on the progress of our Capital Campaign toward meeting our billion dollar goal by this fall.

            And as we move ahead, you’ll hear how MSU will be expanding its global presence in China and Brazil, and more specifics on how we plan to make Michigan State University—already one of the top 100 research universities in the world—the land-grant university for the 21st century and the exemplar of the land-grant university for the world.

            This is a great time to be a Spartan!


            Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph.D.

            President, Michigan State University