Lou Anna K. Simon, the 20th president of Michigan State University, leads the university’s work to advance the common good in Michigan and around the world. She began her professional career at Michigan State, earning her doctorate here in 1974. She moved into a variety of administrative roles, including assistant provost for general academic administration, associate provost, and provost and vice president for academic affairs. The MSU Board of Trustees appointed her president in January 2005.
As president, Simon has engaged Michigan State in a strategic and transformative journey to adapt the principles of the land-grant tradition to 21st-century challenges. She has expanded MSU’s reach in the state and around the world by focusing the university’s strengths on solutions that enhance and protect quality of life: clean and affordable energy, access to education, safe and plentiful food, and health care. She outlined these commitments and the philosophy driving them in her monograph, Embracing the World Grant Ideal: Affirming the Morrill Act for a Twenty-first-century Global Society.
Simon’s key initiatives, particularly in economic development and international engagement, reflect her commitment to applying knowledge to benefit society and further the global common good.
Simon chairs the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 leading U.S. and Canadian research universities focused on issues of concern, including research funding, research and education policy, and graduate and undergraduate education. She also chairs the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a group of presidents and chancellors of several prominent U.S. universities that consults regularly with national agencies responsible for security, intelligence, and law enforcement.
Simon is a member of the American Council on Education; the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to ensure U.S. prosperity; and the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF). The BHEF includes Fortune 500 CEOs, college and university presidents and other leaders collaborating to enhance U.S. global competitiveness.
She also is a member of the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education, a nonpartisan organization formed to explore policy proposals aimed at providing long-term sustainable finance models for U.S. higher education. As a past chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Executive Committee, she now serves as an ex officio administrative committee member.
Simon’s resolute commitment to advancing Michigan’s economic future has been a hallmark of her presidency. She serves on the board of directors of Business Leaders for Michigan and is past chair of Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. She is an advisory committee member of the Detroit Innovation District, which promotes small business growth and job creation in the city. In the area of international engagement, Simon is a member of the executive committee of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa.
Research at Michigan State University reflects Simon’s commitment to advancing knowledge and discovery to improve quality of life. Under her leadership, MSU has expanded its research in, among other areas, biofuels and green energy, medicine and medical technology, physics and rare isotopes, safe water, and agriculture to address world hunger. With the support of external funding now exceeding $500 million annually, Simon is helping ensure that MSU makes a significant positive difference locally and globally.
Last updated 1.27.16