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Around Circle Drive

  • Author:
    Paula M. Davenport
  • Published:
    Summer 2014


            By Stephanie Motschenbacher

            In South Africa, the philosophy of “ubuntu” roughly translates as “a belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity,” according to Wikipedia.

            This concept was perhaps personified by two of our spring commencement guests: Indian-born Azim Premji, chairmanof the prosperous software company Wipro Ltd. and a generous education philanthropist, and Reeta Roy, president and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, which is bringing South African students to MSU to receive leadership training, land internships and earn college degrees that would be beyond reach in their native countries.

            Premji and Roy deeply understand how MSU’s work around the world amplifies efforts to improve the lives of future generations both here and abroad.

            MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s spring address reaffirmed the university’s commitment to engaging with worldwide partners for the greater good.

            “It is more important now than at any time in the university’s history to embrace our partnerships,” Simon said. "These linkages advance knowledge within our institution and underscore our responsibility to serve humanity. And just as importantly, they enrich our students’ cultural experiences and sensitivities to prepare them to tackle the problems of tomorrow."

            Delve deeper into MSU’s connections with the Azim Premji Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation (short URL to come) and


            For the 20th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked MSU No. 1 in both elementary and secondary education on the graduate level.

            MSU programs in the Top 5 of the magazine’s 2015 edition of Best Graduate Schools range from nuclear physics (No. 1) to industrial/organizational psychology (No. 1) to supply chain/logistics (No. 2).

            The continued dominance of education started in 1995.  Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education, says the rankings reflect internationally respected faculty members and highly accomplished doctoral students who are helping transform K-12 education and teacher training through their research and classroom collaboration.

            “The research conducted by our faculty and doctoral students is recognized for the impact it is having on education not just here in Michigan, but beyond the state’s borders and around the world,” Heller says.  “We are proud of this milestone, but even more proud of the work we are doing to improve teaching and learning at all levels.”

            All told, the College of Education had eight programs ranked in the top 10, including rehabilitation counseling (No. 2); curriculum/instruction (No. 4); higher education administration (No. 5); educational psychology (No. 6); administration/supervision (No. 7); and education policy (No. 10).  U.S. News ranks MSU’s education college No 15.

            Other high-ranking MSU programs include: African history (No. 3) and veterinary medicine (No. 9). The College of Osteopathic Medicine’s primary care program was also ranked at No. 9.


            MSU computer scientists have built the first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint, which can lead to improvements in security.

            Anil Jain and his MSU colleagues developed a method that maps a fingerprint image onto a 3-D finger surface—complete with ridges and valleys. Called a fingerprint “phantom,” it is made using a 3-D printer.  

            “In health care, a 3-D heart or kidney can be created,” Jain says. “Because the dimensions are known, they can be put into a scanner and the imaging system can be calibrated.”

            In this case, the goal is to have a precise fingerprint model with known properties and features that can be used to match fingerprints.

            “Tools like this would help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which eventually leads to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlocks,” says Jain, a University Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering.

            Jain’s research is funded by a grant from the Measurement Science Program at National Institute of Standards and Technology.


            MSU scientists have invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels come closer to reality.

            A recent article in Algal Research showcases the team’s invention of the environmental photobioreactor (ePBR), the world’s first standard algae growing platform.

            The ePBR is a pond in a jar that helps identify, cultivate and test algal strains that have the potential to make the leap from lab to pond, proliferate in real-world settings and produce oil.

            The ePBRs were the brainchild of David Kramer, Hannah Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU, whose lab could be mistaken for an electronics factory. 

            The potential of ePBRs has already inspired the launch of a company, Phenometrics, an MSU spinoff headquartered in Lansing. The company is merely two years old, but steady orders for the bioreactors have the company already running in the black.


            MSUAA Executive Director Scott Westerman accepted the MSU Army ROTC Distinguished Support Award last spring from Lt. Col. Jeff McDonald and Lt. Col. Bill Parker, directors of the Spartan Battalion. MSU alumni in the Washington, D.C. area host Spartan ROTC Cadets during the Battalion's annual participation in the Army’s 10K race.


            The great influx of post-World-War II students to Michigan State necessitated a flurry of construction to accommodate a student population that nearly tripled between 1949 and 1969.

            And over those two decades rapid social changes resulted in a large portion of the student body becoming dissatisfied with traditional limitations of on-campus living.

            MSU was quick to respond. It decided to combine living and learning under one roof. Its approach grew from the 1959 “Committee on the Future of the University” report, which called for greater integration of student life with academic pursuits.

            What resulted were nine, new ’60s-era residence halls. All combined student living quarters and academics within their respective buildings. Case, MSU’s first co-ed dorm, along with Wilson, Wonders and Holden halls sprang from the south complex. McDonel, Akers, Fee, Holmes and Hubbard halls rose from the east complex.

            All were built as hubs that encompassed classrooms, meeting space, cafeterias and dormitory rooms.

            Not long after, the concept was even further refined with the creation of residential colleges that housed classes and activities devoted to students with similar academic interests.

            James Madison College in Case Hall opened to those studying social sciences. Lyman Briggs College in Holmes Hall housed students in the field of natural science.

            This living--learning approach continues today as what are now known as MSU neighborhoods. They occupy all but one of the inaugural facilities. Fee Hall has since been converted to space used by the university’s medical colleges.

            A third residential college, Justin Morrill (Arts & Letters), was attempted in the Snyder-Phillips dormitories, but was discontinued in 1979.

            Today there are four degree-granting residential programs: Honors College, James Madison College, Lyman Briggs College and the Residential College for the Arts and Humanities.


            The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on the MSU campus is exhibiting thought-provoking, larger-than-life installations along with traditional art work this summer. So escape the heat, thunderstorms or the doldrums by viewing:

The God of Small Things by Imran Qureshi: The centerpiece of Qureshi’s work fills a 30-foot high gallery. It’s anything but small. It’s a mountain of crumpled pieces of brown paper – all bearing images of a mural he previously painted on the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art – and now awash in what appears to be blood. A Pakistani artist, Qureshi says suicide bombings around the world have influenced his recent work. Large-scale paintings and book-like panels painted to mirror the Broad’s architectural lines complete his exhibition. Ends Aug. 17.

Border Unseen by Mithu Sen: The first solo U.S. museum exhibition by a New Delhi-based artist who stands as a crucial feminist voice in contemporary Indian art. Her impressive installation spans over 80-feet in length. Ends Aug. 31.

Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art: This exhibition brings together the work of more than 50 artists and includes paintings, sculptures and installations, as well as works on paper that explore the ways we read, see, hear and process language. Ends Sept. 21.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

Michigan State University
547 East Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 884-4800


Tues. – Thurs.: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Friday: Noon to 9 p.m.

Sat. – Sun.: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed Monday

Admission is free