Evergreen resolutions for the New Year


The New Year certainly got off to a grand start with Michigan State’s stunning Cotton Bowl victory January 1. It’s an exciting example of Spartan talent and tenacity in action, and I know the broader MSU community will have many more such winning moments in the year before us—on and off the playing field.

January also marks my 10th year as president of Michigan State University, and the turn of the calendar makes this an especially appropriate time for a quick glance over the shoulder before continuing the charge forward.

Michigan State was preparing to celebrate its sesquicentennial when I assumed the presidency in 2005. Even then the state of Michigan was navigating difficult economic conditions. In my inaugural State of the University address, I noted the looming threats to our mission posed by both economic and social stresses. I spoke of how the special covenant between society and this pioneer land-grant university would be increasingly exposed to risk, not just from economic contraction, but also through ebbing public regard for the value of public higher education.

None of us could have predicted the severity of the national economic recession that would follow, but through foresight and planning, reallocation of resources, and other prudent measures, today we can see how Michigan State has emerged stronger and even more determined.

We can see it expressed in the mission-based institutional imperatives of Bolder by Design, the university’s strategic framework, which guide us in delivering distinctive, high-value impact and experiences in everything we do.

Concluding my inaugural speech, I called for “a new land-grant revolution, the next bold experiment—the land-grant university for the world,” which became a vision for MSU’s role in defining its covenant with a now-global society for the 21st century.

Much has changed over the last decade, on campus and around the world, but the values and mission that define and animate Michigan State continue to form a solid foundation for its future. Projects and programs already in motion set the stage for future discoveries and long-term dividends. Examples abound, from new scientific insights promised by the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, the national user facility for nuclear science being constructed on the MSU campus, to our partnership in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, which offers opportunities to promising African students.

It has been an eventful 10 years for me and for Michigan State. But it has never been more exciting than today. Our institutional challenges are no less difficult, and society’s expectations of us are even greater than before. But so is our resolve to meet those challenges and our passion for the work we do—and, yes, our uncommon will.

I want to reaffirm some of the special responsibilities we shoulder as an engaged land-grant institution, as I did 10 years ago to the assembled university community. It’s a charge that bears repeating.

We have a responsibility to help people dream bigger dreams while advancing the common good. We have a special responsibility to respond to society’s needs and to shape an intellectual agenda that addresses the issues we face today while anticipating and shaping the issues of tomorrow.

And finally, we have a responsibility to ensure that our value to our stakeholders, to global society, and to those whose lives we touch directly will continue to appreciate over time, no matter what circumstances we face.

I wish you a rewarding 2015 and ask you to once again resolve with me: Spartans Will.


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