Fall Welcome 2012

08-23-2011

Once again, welcome scholars.

The opening of a new academic year forges the 155th link in a chain spanning the years since the inaugural class arrived here on the banks of the Red Cedar River. Those pioneer students and faculty would go on to build a prototype for American education starting from a novel, but solid, foundation of practical agricultural instruction and scientific discovery mixed with elements of the more classical college education.

This year we are celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Morrill Act, which just a few years after Michigan State’s bold beginning, took a page from our book to establish the land-grant system that did so much to bring higher education within reach of the common citizen. In doing so, it transformed our communities, our state and, indeed, our nation.

In the 19th century, Michigan State combined education, research, and outreach into a new model for modern higher education and the public research university, and in the 20th century we again blazed the trail by expanding our mission around the globe. Now in the 21st century, Spartan scholars have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of our founders as we fulfill the land-grant mission.

And what a foundation there is to build on. Earlier this month Michigan State was reaffirmed as one of the top 100 world universities in the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong global academic rankings, while every day Spartans make this world more environmentally sustainable, prosperous, healthy, safe and beautiful.

Sadly, there is still plenty of work to do. Our One Book One Community reading selection for this year, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by award-winning journalist Katherine Boo, describes a very different place. Focused on a slum on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, the book will open a perspective on an entirely different world for our students and community members. We look forward to welcoming the author to our community and campus programs to participate in conversations about the book and to mark the start of a new school year.

Then we move quickly through the events and bustle of Fall Welcome into Sparticipation 2012, which will showcase hundreds of student groups Tuesday, August 28. And then on to the excitement of our first football game of the season, a Friday night game at home against Boise State on August 31.

In a couple short months we’ll dedicate and open our amazing new world-class art museum in the company of lead supporters Eli and Edythe Broad and its renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.

That’s just a taste of what is going to be a big year at Michigan State.

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