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Director's Letter

  • Author:
    Scott Westerman
  • Published:
    Summer 2017



I vividly remember sitting across from Spartan Geoff Johns, who helms DC Entertainment, at an LA restaurant talking about his vision for the wildly successful film, Wonder Woman. “Women were born to be superheroes,” he said. “Their stories inspire us all.”


This has been on my mind as I look over the hundreds of Spartan Women I know who are writing inspiring chapters in the Michigan State University encyclopedia of accomplishment.


Some are household words around campus. Dr. Terrie Taylor is working to eradicate malaria in Africa and Susan Packard, the creative force behind Home and Garden Television and the Food Network, now writes books that show others how to follow her path. Susan Goldberg, is expanding the digital horizons at National Geographic.


 We celebrate Spartan athletes like Pam Treadway and Cheryl Gilliam who give so selflessly to ensure that future generations can enjoy the MSU experience they had, serial entrepreneurs in our family, like Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of Baby Einstein, ground breaking leaders like Debbie Stabenow, the first woman US Senator from Michigan and our own Sue Petrisin, who became the first women to lead an international service organization as president of Kiwanis International.


But I’m also thinking about names you might not know so well. Dedicated teachers like Ellen Closs-Sully and Terry Deniston. Planned Parenthood’s dynamic Kelley Wall, Microsoft’s Betsy Weber, Former Starr Scholar and Airbnb sparkplug Megan Gebhart and Jordyn Castor who is enhancing accessibility at Apple.


I think of my good friend, Traci Ruiz, who grew up in Lansing and dedicated her life to its protection as a police officer. Katie Von Till has taken on the storied mantle as the voice of Disney’s Snow White in Hollywood. Merri Jo Bales spent a career guiding the strategic direction of Consumer’s Energy. Susi Elkins recently became MSU’s Director of Broadcasting, helming the continuing evolution of WKAR Radio, Television and Interactive Media.


And there’s the incomparable Sue Carter creator of award winning documentaries, who leveraged her MSU education to earn a law degree, become a professor, a priest and an adventurer.


Michigan State University has made it possible for gifted women to create and leave legacies. Our campus is home to one of architect Zaha Hadid’s most sunning creations, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Shelly Appelbaum helped open doors for women as Executive Associate Athletic Director. And Dr. Paulette Granberry-Russell has spent nearly two decades expanding MSU’s commitment to Inclusiveness as senior advisor to the president for diversity and director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.


At the helm of our great institution are two great women leaders. Our extraordinary CEO, Lou Anna K. Simon, MSU’s first female president and a role model for generations of men and women who aspire to advance knowledge and help unlock the untold secrets that lie at the end of the research rainbow.


And we celebrate our gifted provost, June Pierce Youatt, whose passion is focused on providing high-quality, engaging and inclusive learning experiences for MSU students.


In an issue dedicated to the Spartan service ethic, let us pause to reflect on how our beloved university has been at the forefront of diversity and inclusion from the moment our doors first opened. Our history is filled with supermen and wonder women who drank in classroom enlightenment, put what they learned to work and helped create a better world for everyone who crossed their path.