On the road for MSU

03-04-2005

I’m starting to get a better idea how much time it’s going to take both to be president and keep this online journal up-to-date.

There are a lot of things going on that I’d like to tell you about here and not nearly as much time as I’d like to get them all written down. So I want to touch on a busy three days from last week—a kind of snapshot from the life of the new president—that included another trip to Washington, a too-brief trip to Florida, and a return to East Lansing in time to see our MSU women’s basketball team win their share of the Big Ten championship.

The trip to D.C. was centered on the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. It was a real pleasure to sit down for breakfast with folks from the Carnegie Corporation, the Rand Corporation and the Academy for Education Development to talk about the Teachers for a New Era project.

During my presentation, it was also great to recognize College of Education Dean Carole Ames, Associate Dean Cass Book and Professor Susan Melnick who were in the audience for their leadership, not only on this project, but for the fine work they do preparing the next generation of faculty that will help Michigan meet the new demands facing higher education.

After that I participated in a panel discussion on “Presidential Perspectives on Teacher Education” then headed up to the airport in Baltimore to make the only connection that would get me to Florida in time for a reception and dinner that had been on my calendar for nearly a year.

The event was part of the Michigan State Alumni and Friends golf scramble at Quail West Golf & Country Club in Naples, an annual outing that has really grown over the last eight years. Unfortunately, I missed the golf, but I did get there in time for the reception and dinner with some 240 people.

It was a great chance for me to meet a lot of alums and friends of MSU who are living in the Naples area and talk to a lot of folks about Michigan State. We had a good cross section of MSU supporters, both academic and athletics, including former MSU President Gordon Guyer, Trustee Dee Cook and her husband Byron, and even former MSU and NFL quarterback Earl Morrall. (A side note: Earl was MSU’s quarterback during our centennial year in 1955 when the Spartans beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl.) I finally got to my hotel at about 10 p.m., closing out a day that began when I left home in East Lansing at about 4:30 a.m.

Tuesday was a full day of meetings with MSU supporters and prospective donors to MSU’s Capital Campaign and lots of driving around the Naples area, something that can be pretty tough at this time of year. But meeting the goals of the Campaign is essential to MSU’s future—particularly building our endowment—so it was time well spent. And it was a warm, sunny day, a nice break from the Michigan winter.

We left the hotel at 5 a.m. on Wednesday in order to be back in Michigan that afternoon. I attended the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce annual dinner at the Holiday Inn South that evening, with a broad mixture of community members and business people from around the area.

They were gracious to adjust their program so I was able to do my part before dinner, allowing me to get back to campus in time to be there for the great victory by the MSU women’s basketball team, playing UM for the Big Ten championship at Breslin. So it was a good trip, then a big celebration.

The victory that night was a tremendous achievement, well-earned by Coach Joanne P. McCallie and her players, who are tremendous on the court, as well as in the classroom and the community.

There were nearly 9,000 people there to cheer them on—a great crowd with students, families, folks from the community, the men’s basketball players and their coaches. It really was terrific and a lot of fun, a good way to spend day 54 as president.

Finally, I want to add my congratulations and say how proud all of us in the MSU community are of “Coach P"—who was just named Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media—and of the entire women’s team that set an MSU record with 25 wins this year, and particularly the five players named to All-Big Ten teams.

I’m also very proud of Coach Izzo and the accomplishments of the men’s basketball team this year. It was terrific that Chris Hill was named the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year and First-Team Academic All-American. I know all of you join me in wishing both teams much success during the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

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