Unshakable roots, bolder future


There are certain inflection points when it is natural to reflect on the connection between Michigan State’s past and its future. One of those times arrived early last week as we followed the dedication of the new Morrill Plaza in the morning with the annual State of the University address in the afternoon. As usual, this preceded the awards convocation honoring outstanding faculty and academic staff that every year acknowledges our Founders’ Day.

Morrill Plaza reminds us of our special history, focusing on the outstanding educators and researchers whose passion for excellence shaped our students, our university, and our world. And that history, from our pioneer land-grant beginning to our latest achievements, has served us well.

MSU today is a world leader: meeting the needs of students with innovative approaches to learning and new ways to support success; leading the way in interdisciplinary collaboration; attacking great challenges as complex and diverse as food security and global health and human trafficking; providing an outstanding educational opportunity to students from around the globe; and putting knowledge gained through research to work for the common good at home and abroad.

All of this is reflected in our standing as a top-100 university in the world, by our 29 programs in the nation’s top 20, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, and by other rankings and recognitions.

But the competition at this high level is fierce, and our international peers are expanding their efforts. And more important, the world needs more from us than ever. The problems are bigger and more complex. The pace is accelerated. The landscape is shifting in ways that affect the needs of our students and partners.

This is why Bolder by Design is a clarion call for all of us as we look to our future. It provides a blueprint to guide us as we work together to push our boundaries with a sense of urgency. Because being a leader in the years ahead will require our collective will.

Bolder by Design continues to frame and focus our intentions with the five key imperatives introduced under Boldness by Design:

  • Enhance the student experience
  • Enrich community, economic, and family life
  • Expand our international reach
  • Increase research opportunities
  • Strengthen stewardship

But it also adds a new imperative—one that applies to all other imperatives and to all individuals within the MSU community: advancing our culture of high performance. This new imperative is the critical catalyst for our future, compelling each of us to do our utmost to create better outcomes for our students, our state, and our world.

All of this aligns with our vision, by 2020, to be the national model of a high-performing public research university, providing high-impact, high-value results, experiences, and services in every area of our mission.

To achieve this we must elevate our aspirations, accelerate our action, and integrate the many assets MSU has to offer, from people to technology to data.

This only works if we engage everyone associated with MSU to collaborate and embrace this culture of high performance. To keep moving forward—to be among the world’s best—we must reject the status quo, questioning everything and taking intelligent risks.

Those honored at Morrill Plaza would know what this means—they did it in their own time, in their own way. And just as their success shines today in the reputation and impact of this great institution, our success will ensure MSU’s future capacity to deliver high value and relevance in Michigan and around the world.

In the end, our commitment to the highest levels of performance in all areas of our operations is about excellence. It’s about achieving the best for society and those we serve. It’s performance with purpose. And it’s been at our core from the beginning.

Spartans Will.


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