Two busy days in DC


This summer continues to be a busy one.

Last week I was back in Washington, D.C., for two days of meetings with some of MSU’s international education and development partners.

Wednesday began with the Science Coalition breakfast for new members of Congress, after which I met with former Michigan Gov. John Engler, who is currently president of the National Association of Manufacturers. Next, I met with USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios and his team. We touched on MSU’s ongoing programs in agriculture, environment, education, democracy and governance, and reinforced the international character of MSU’s land-grant mission.

Lunch was with Dr. Colien Hefferan, administrator for the Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). We talked about partnering with CSREES to build momentum for our new land-grant model with other institutions.

Then we were off to the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda for a meeting with Dr. Sharon Hrynkow, director of the Fogarty International Center. We talked about MSU’s ongoing work in malaria research, river blindness, biodiversity and natural products, as well as NIH’s new “Roadmap,” global health, and emergency response initiatives. We also dropped by Development Alternatives Inc. to review various international development partnerships.

At an evening reception, honor was bestowed on our international development partners, including a dozen ambassadors from African countries, U.S. government counterparts, education and development partners, and MSU alumni, friends and emeritus faculty from the D.C. area.

We ended the evening with the MSU team gathered on the roof of the Hotel Washington, overlooking the sights of our nation’s capital. I took the opportunity to reflect on how we might build on the momentum of the day, and to thank them for the tremendous effort that went into putting this trip together, as well as the outstanding job they all did—faculty from the colleges, folks from International Programs and from both the campus and D.C. the offices of Governmental Affairs—in representing Michigan State University.

Thursday morning began with a meeting with Judith Ayers, assistant administrator for international activities at the Environmental Protection Agency. We discussed where and how we might build on educational and applied research programs in partnership with EPA. Next we stopped by International Resources Group to discuss current partnerships, as well as some interesting new areas in which we might collaborate.

Ralph Hines of the Department of Education met us for lunch to discuss MSU’s Title VI programs and how MSU is making strategic investments in the future of our international programs. My final meeting was with key staffers of the Millennium Challenge Corp., including Felipe Manteiga, a longtime friend of MSU. We talked about MSU’s poverty reduction programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America and how MSU’s expertise might be of assistance to MCC.

On the flight back to Michigan, I finally had a little time to review all of the various meetings. It’s clear to me that our new land-grant model—for the 21st century and for the world—really positions MSU not only as a highly desirable partner, but as a leader in addressing some of today’s most critical challenges and opportunities, both in Michigan and around the world. These include economic development, educational advancement, environmental protection and health improvement.

At MSU, we’re already doing cutting-edge work in all of those areas, built on the expertise and leadership of our faculty, researchers and other valued members of Team MSU. Working on behalf of the public good isn’t a new idea for us, it’s one of the ideals that’s defined who and what we are for 150 years, and will continue to shape what we accomplish in the years to come.


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