A new academic year begins

08-26-2011

Fall Welcome is here again. It’s a great way for students to hit the ground running for what is shaping up to be an eventful year.

We work hard to help our new students connect to the Greater East Lansing community with Community Welcome Teams for our 15,000 new and returning campus residents and with Fall Welcome activities including One Book, One Community, everyone’s first reading assignment of the year, and the Fill the Bus donation program.

One milestone we will observe in a variety of ways this year is the sesquicentennial of the Morrill Act. This “land-grant” act revolutionized higher education in this country, extending world-class opportunity to working-class citizens and, in the process, producing citizen-scholars who returned to help lead their communities and yielding research breakthroughs that transformed lives around the world. Founded several years before the passage of the Morrill Act, Michigan State was, in fact, one of the inspirations for it—hence the meaning behind the phrase many of you pass each day as you walk or drive by the limestone and brick signs that mark several campus entrances, proudly proclaiming us the “pioneer” land-grant college.

First, however, we’ll be observing the 10-year anniversary of the events of 9/11. The events include a symposium in the MSU Union featuring a number of guest speakers and scholars to discuss the way we and the world have changed since then. Our One Book, One Community reading selection for this year also focuses on the World Trade Center attacks, a work of fiction called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. We will introduce Mr. Foer to the community at a special gathering in East Lansing August 28, and he also will address students at the Welcome Convocation August 29.

It’s been a busy summer for construction on campus, and returnees will note a number of changes to the landscape. For example, the Shaw Lane power plant smokestack was disassembled over the summer as the Wells Hall addition across the street steadily rose. The Broad Art Museum project continues on schedule for opening next spring, and having walked through it not long ago, I am again impressed by the design created by architect Zaha Hadid.

This year, we will continue to work diligently to pursue our historic three-part mission of education, research, and outreach and to honor our three core values of quality, connectivity, and inclusiveness, which are at the center of what it has always meant to be a land-grant university and what it still means to be a socially responsible, world-grant university today. We’ll be reminded of our origin and our legacy and of the events that shape our work in the 21st century. There is much to do, but we say without equivocation, Spartans Will.

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