Spring 2007 has presented Team MSU with a wide range of emotions. In January the Board of Trustees proudly announced the new home of the MSU College of Human Medicine will be named “The Secchia Center” in recognition of a gift from alumni Ambassador Peter F. Secchia and his wife Joan.
In February more than 60 representatives of MSU student organizations kicked off the “I Stop Hate: MSU United” initiative, with the intent to ensure a campus climate of respect for and appreciation of difference. The efforts aim to foster a more inclusive environment on campus and to promote better understanding of diverse viewpoints. One of the banners stated: "We believe a strong, vibrant learning community comes from the many perspectives we each offer. Our differing perspectives help to make MSU a great university. While we will at times disagree, our disagreements will not be used as a basis to do harm to one another. We commit ourselves to celebrating a community where mutual respect and intellectual discourse, shaped by our differing perspectives, guide how we deal with issues and with each other.” Their efforts support the vision of an inclusive MSU community, as outlined in my Statement on Diversity and Inclusion (http://president.msu.edu/message_092106.php).
March brought an exciting time for our athletic teams when gymnastics, wrestling, women’s basketball, men’s basketball and hockey were all invited to participate in NCAA tournaments. MSU also hosted the NCAA women’s basketball tournament’s first- and second-round games. The Breslin Center drew the largest total crowd of all sites, with 21,340 fans passing through the turnstiles during the three sessions of the four-day event.
In early April, Team MSU saw a Cinderella story come to life with the Hockey team earning the NCAA Championship. This was a wonderful example of our land-grant philosophy coming to life; where the whole was greater than any individual and collectively we achieved great things. And in contrast, we joined as the nation mourned with Virginia Tech after the mid-April tragedy on their campus. Horrific acts of violence such as this can shatter our individual and collective sense of well-being, purpose and security. As an inclusive, connected university, taking care of each other and taking responsibility for the character of our collective experience is part of our mandate. Our commitment to community and its underlying values is the greatest defense we can have against those who would disrupt that community with senseless acts of violence.
The month of May means commencements and honoring students’ achievements. Jaime Escalante, a nationally renowned high school math teacher and Julie Gerberding, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were selected as graduation speakers because they embody our land-grant traditions. In recognition of a perfect 4.0 GPA, 23 bachelor degree graduates were presented the Board of Trustees award.
With the close of the academic year, we look ahead to budget issues for the next year. In light of the state’s budget challenge, the legislature is proposing significant reductions in appropriations to education. If these cuts are approved, both educational quality and the pace of innovation would be at risk. The state must see higher education as an investment as opposed to an expense. In the midst of these “bad cards” dealt to the state, we have a tremendous opportunity if we choose to take it.
Lou Anna K. Simon
President, Michigan State University