December 2007


As you prepare for what I hope is a happy and fulfilling holiday season, I hope you have time to reflect on the past year and the great things we accomplished together as Team MSU and to look forward to a new year filled with possibilities.

The past year, and especially fall semester, gave us much to celebrate at MSU. From the wrap-up of the enormously successful Campaign for MSU to the unveiling of the College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center in Grand Rapids and the launch of MSU in Dubai, MSU was making headlines across Michigan and throughout the world.

The efforts of the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies to convert crops into fuel and further expand the bioeconomy were recognized internationally and featured in an article recently published in the International Herald Tribune (PDF). MSU researchers also are taking the lead on other important national and regional research projects such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) children’s health study. Funded by an $18.5 million contract from the NIH, MSU will coordinate the efforts in Michigan for this very ambitious national study to evaluate the effects of the environment on children’s health and development.

On the National Science Foundation (NSF) Web site on December 12, the top three stories recognized MSU accomplishments—an unprecedented level of coverage for one institution. The site featured links to stories about our research on the environmental impact of divorce; a study that found U.S. middle school math teachers not as prepared to teach this subject as their counterparts in other countries; and the work of an MSU doctoral student in China to collar and study pandas and their habitats. Follow the link above to the NSF site and search MSU in the news section to read the full stories. The NSF home page gets some one million unique visitors a month, so this level of exposure is extraordinary.

In October, MSU concluded the most successful capital campaign in the institution’s history. Donors—including many of you—committed more than $1.4 billion, helping us surpass our goal of $1.2 billion. In fact, we exceeded our goals in every category. We received $476.1 million in endowment gifts, compared to a goal of $450 million, and $346.6 million in planned gifts, shattering the goal of $250 million. This speaks volumes for MSU’s reputation and the faith our friends and supporters have in the work we are doing to advance knowledge and transform lives.

The response to this campaign was extraordinary. Michigan State alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and retirees clearly showed their commitment to the mission and values of this great institution. The generosity of our donors will help secure the future for the next generation of Spartans and position MSU to meet the global challenges of the twenty-first century.

October also saw the final authorization from the MSU Board of Trustees to move forward on the construction of the Secchia Center, the future home of the MSU College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids. This is an exciting project for MSU and the west Michigan community. The state-of-the-art facility, located in downtown Grand Rapids, will improve medical education, and ultimately patient care, throughout Michigan and will raise this region’s profile as a destination for world-class health care.

In September, MSU announced a partnership with TECOM Investments in Dubai to open an educational site in Dubai International Academic City, effectively broadening our role in a region of the world of vital interest to us all and enhancing our efforts throughout the Middle East and beyond. I recently traveled to Dubai to introduce Brendan Mullan as the executive director of MSU in Dubai. We were greeted with much excitement and anticipation for our new venture in this very dynamic city.

Teaching and research throughout the world are important educational components for building our collective futures in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Michigan State’s presence in Dubai is a reflection of our world-grant commitment to extend MSU’s knowledge and innovation around the globe, specifically to a region of strategic and cultural importance to Michigan and the United States.

I certainly would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful accomplishments of coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartan football team this season. I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts—both on and off the field—of coach Dantonio, his staff, and our players to rebuild the foundation of Spartan football and bring a sense of pride back to our team and our fans. I look forward to an exciting game—and a Spartan victory, of course—against Boston College in the Champs Sports Bowl on December 28.

These are just a few highlights from a very exciting fall at MSU. We are expanding our reach and advancing our mission in significant ways throughout the world thanks to the hard work of our students, faculty, and staff and the ongoing support of our alumni and friends. I am proud of and encouraged by the extraordinary efforts of everyone on Team MSU to help this institution continue to excel and make a difference in the lives of people all over the globe.

My best wishes to you and yours for a very happy new year. We have much to be proud of and much to look forward to in 2008.


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