Building a culture of innovation and success


I had lunch recently with a handful of student entrepreneurs. It’s something I look forward to doing every few months—to discuss their business plans and sometimes pass along a useful contact or piece of advice. It’s great to see these bright and engaged undergraduates become eager business innovators.

We are working hard to foster that kind of culture across Michigan State, most recently by bringing our first entrepreneurship director, Neil Kane, on board to work with undergraduate students and promote a culture of innovation.

Athletic Director Mark Hollis and I recently spoke at length with Neil on Spartan Podcast about developing a university-wide entrepreneurship program.

Post-graduation employment is becoming a metric of increasing interest as the private cost of higher education rises to compensate for cuts in public appropriations. Prospective students, their families, and other stakeholders want to know if graduates are getting jobs in their fields.

With our annual Destination Survey of recent graduates, Michigan State has long been a leader in tracking such outcomes and reporting the results. We’re showcasing the data on a new website called Spartan Success. It features engaging graphics to describe MSU undergraduate outcomes, including employment and graduate study.

Our graduate placement rate is 92 percent—12 percent higher than the national average. Of last year’s responding graduating class, 64 percent were employed and 26 percent were enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. Of those employed, 94 percent are working in a field related to their degree.

And of particular interest to Michigan stakeholders, 63 percent of MSU graduates chose to stay and work in Michigan. That’s almost 20 percent more than at the height of the brain drain in 2008.

Michigan State students have many opportunities to expand their learning beyond the classroom. Internships, undergraduate research, and study abroad programs broaden their perspectives and give them a competitive edge in the job market. Surveys tell us 64 percent held an internship related to their field of study; 36 percent engaged in research as undergraduates; 27 percent participated in study abroad; and 51 percent were involved in volunteer work or service learning.

Some majors and degrees are associated with higher employment success than others, something that has always been true. But as we learned in our University Research Corridor survey of alumni in 2013, entrepreneurship spans all disciplines. That knowledge is something we’re working to leverage at Michigan State with our focus on nurturing an innovative, entrepreneurial culture across the board.

The value of a university education extends far beyond career preparation, of course, but today, families are more focused than ever on seeing return on investment. The value of an MSU degree only continues to appreciate as we prepare the next generation of leaders, innovators, and job creators for Michigan and beyond.


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