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President's Perspective

  • Author:
    Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Published:
    Fall 2007

            Michiga nState University has a vibrant cultural community with countless public performances, exhibitions, programs, and special events throughout the year. Not only do these arts and culture offerings educate and engage audiences by exploring the diversity of human expression, but they also contribute to the economic vitality of the region. Increasingly, cultural development is being recognized as an essential ingredient in creating an environment that fosters economic growth. To recognize the significant contribution arts and culture make to the quality of life and prosperity in Michigan, we have declared this academic year MSU’s Year of Arts and Culture.

            Across the state and nation, arts and culture influence business development and expansion decisions, inspire downtown revitalization and historic preservation, build community identity, and promote diversity and inclusiveness. Where technology, innovation, and creativity anchor the economy, a strong cultural sector is surely present.

            Michigan State University is at the center of energizing cultural entrepreneurship and development in Michigan’s capital region and beyond. One recent study found that the state’s arts and cultural activities employ more than 108,000 people and generate $1.9 billion in income. Now MSU economists are helping devise an innovative tool to measure even more precisely the economic impact of the arts as part of Michigan’s first Cultural Economic Development Strategy. 

            To recognize the central role arts and culture play in nurturing the human spirit and preparing students for engagement in the global community, we will showcase the many ways the university advances arts and culture through teaching, research, and outreach.

            MSU’s Year of Arts and Culture, coordinated by the Office of University Outreach and Engagement, will comprise activities involving all arts and culture units and academic programs. These activities will span multiple disciplines and are designed to enrich the student experience, align with local economic development efforts, and engage the community.

            Highlights of the year’s activities will include the opening of MSU’s new Residential College for the Arts and Humanities, groundbreaking for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the 25th anniversary of the Wharton Center, anniversaries of the MSU Museum and the Department of Theatre, and a public lecture by Orhan Pamuk, the winner of last year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.

            As always, there will be a vibrant and plentiful array of public performances, exhibitions, programs, lectures, and other events throughout the year.  Members of our community and visitors from near and far will have the opportunity to learn and grow as they delight in our music, performing arts, and concert centers; libraries and museums; and gardens, public art, and historic sites across campus. 

            I invite you to return to campus and join us in celebrating MSU’s Year of Arts and Culture. Learn more at


            Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph. D.

            President, Michigan State University