Founders’ Day, 2005

02-17-2005

It’s taken a few days for the Founders’ Day celebratory events to sink in.

It was important to me that the activities be about Michigan State University and its historical role, and not just about a new president taking office.

The committee that put the whole program together deserves an enormous amount of credit, because they found the right balance and blend: marking our sesquicentennial, recognizing the achievements of the faculty–who are at the heart of what we do, focusing on how Michigan State makes a dramatic difference, and highlighting our traditions and the symbols of MSU.

By blending the academic awards with the installation ceremony on Friday, we focused the spotlight on the academic importance of Michigan State and its role in shaping the future of higher education. And I hope that by delivering remarks in that context, there was a heightened level of attention to the pioneering work we’ve done here for the last hundred and fifty years. A global land-grant revolution truly is the next bold experiment.

Founders’ Day provided us with an opportunity to underscore our strengths, particularly the academic strengths of the institution, and to do it as part of an event that brought together members of the entire MSU community. It was wonderful to have students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, private sector partners and other constituents, along with representatives from communities, government and other universities from across the state and around the country, all be a part of the event.

Finally, a few words about our colleague Darlene Clark Hine and her remarks. I asked Darlene to speak, in part, because the historical role of a land-grant university has been to give voice to our scholarship, particularly to views that have not always been embraced. Darlene’s life of scholarship represents a passion for that kind of broadening of the academy’s views. The personal warmth of her words was especially moving to me.

It was a memorable and affirming weekend, one that included an interfaith service last Sunday at People’s Church. Throughout, the focus was on the people and the accomplishments of this great university. Now, we continue to move ahead.

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