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President's Perspective

  • Author:
    Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Published:
    Spring 2006

            A handful of themes have come together for Michigan State in recent months, ideas integral to the ongoing initiative that will translate the best of our land-grant heritage into a “world grant” future: economic development in Michigan; the challenge of increasing global competition; and exciting potential of the bioeconomy. Many of today’s challenges do not recognize national borders, and often result from global tensions and pressures, beyond the control of any single institution or even nation to address alone.

            By forming partnerships that reach across cultures and international boundaries Michigan State has been able to focus on a wide range of issues that affect all of us, regardless of race, nationality or background. We’re in the knowledge business, so we learn from our global partners and they learn from us. And by working together, we accomplish more.

            One of the issues that’s having a profound impact—both in Michigan and around the world—is energy. Anyone who’s paid a heating bill or filled up a gas tank in recent months can attest to that. And beyond the cost of fuels, the soaring price of oil—and our country imports some two-thirds of our current needs—affects our entire economy, driving up the costs of a wide range of materials, chemicals, products, processes, and packaging.

            You may have noted that a few weeks ago, after a 30 year effort, the government of Brazil announced its energy independence. Between fossil fuel sources they can extract domestically and biofuel sources that they can grow, Brazil no longer must rely on imports to meet its energy needs. Our vision of a bioeconomy depends upon linking the powerful research capability of MSU with Michigan’s extensive manufacturing capacity and our potent agricultural sector. This innovative idea goes beyond biofuels, to bio-based chemicals and composite materials that can take the place of oil-based products.

            You can read more about our ongoing biotech and biomass work in this issue, as well as at

            The potential for economic development is obvious. We’re building on Michigan’s existing strengths, so we make the most of resources already in place, at a time when our economy is in transition and the state is really looking to its research universities—and in particular, to it’s land grant university—to lead the way. That’s what we’ve always done at Michigan State. We make a difference by moving cutting edge knowledge out of our classrooms and laboratories, then putting it to work in real and practical ways. And as a globally engaged research university, we bring the best of the world to Michigan, and share the best of Michigan with the world.


            Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph.D.

            President, Michigan State University