Unveiling Sparty for the 21st century


The Sparty unveiling got me thinking about how the new bronze statue of “The Spartan” (as he’s officially named) can be seen as a metaphor for MSU’s land-grant mission and values.

When it became obvious that, in order to preserve it, the original ceramic statue that stood at the intersection of Kalamazoo Street, Chestnut and Red Cedar, would need to be moved indoors (to a position of honor in the newly-remodeled Spartan Stadium), we didn’t think about replacing it there with a new kind of statue.

Rather, we took a mold of the original and cast another Sparty in bronze—one that reflects our history and tradition, one that will endure for future generations.

That’s essentially what we’re doing with our historic land-grant model as we envision the land-grant university for the 21st century and the world. We recognize that we already have a powerful prototype, so there’s no need to start over with a new design. Instead, we take our traditional land-grant values and we find a new passion, a new creativity and innovative ways in which that original prototype can be made as powerful and as meaningful for new generations as the original was for the old.

So unveiling Sparty at the same time that new students and new faculty are arriving on campus and beginning to write the next chapter in MSU’s history gives us a great opportunity to think about how so much of the future of Michigan State will have roots in its land-grant past.


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