State of the University Address 2007

Boldness in a Time of Challenge

State of the University Address
February 8, 2007

Lou Anna K. Simon
President, Michigan State University

Today we celebrate Michigan State University's founding, we honor our colleagues' extraordinary accomplishments, and we reflect. Winter, with its short days and forbidding cold, lends itself to reflection. In this season of State of the Nation, State, and City addresses, governing institutions take time to look within, to assess progress and achievements, and to chart the course for the coming year and beyond.

And so it is with the university. Today is an opportunity to reconnect with our values and mission. We do so by paying homage to those among us whose outstanding work embodies our highest aspirations. And we remind ourselves that it is our land-grant values and our dedication to the transformative power of knowledge-its creation and application-that will allow us to meet the challenges before us.

A challenging climate

Michigan State University's work in Michigan and around the globe holds the key to a better tomorrow for millions of people. Every day, Michigan State advances knowledge and transforms lives in ways both practical and profound.

Two years ago, MSU celebrated its sesquicentennial, a milestone that by its very nature led us to reflect upon our roots. It reminded us that the path to a brighter future rests on the same fundamental values that have guided this university from its inception.

At that time, I spoke about the shifting climate in which universities are striving to fulfill their missions, noting that harsh winds were tearing at the covenant between higher education, society, and the state.

Today, old challenges, like economic woes, and new ones, including the passage of Proposal 2 and the recent court decision regarding domestic partners benefits, are testing our resolve and ingenuity.

With the exception of states hit by Hurricane Katrina, and sometimes not even those, Michigan's economy trails all other states in the nation. Hardly a day goes by without disheartening news of more job cuts. We have come to expect job losses in the auto industry, but just two weeks ago, the state was left reeling by the announcement that Pfizer will close research and development facilities, cutting 2,400 Michigan jobs by the end of next year. The loss of these knowledge-based jobs is a serious setback.

Michigan's economy is deeply intertwined with the quality of its educational system and its investment in research and innovation. It's no secret that in Michigan, all three are lagging. Public funding for higher education and research is growing at a sclerotic pace. And the comparative weakness of our K-12 education system and the workforce it produces undermine our competitiveness-as a university and as a state.

Across the nation and here in Michigan, structural social inequalities persist. These inequalities result in tangible disparities in things like income levels and access to quality education and health care, and intangible disparities like reduced expectations and respect. They are insidious because they limit individual dreams and collective innovation.

We must commit ourselves to reversing these trends.

In times like these, universities must step up to help lead us forward. It is our thinkers and visionaries who can help chart the course to greater prosperity. It is the talent of researchers and baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate educated graduates that attracts high-quality jobs to the state. It is intellectual capital that spurs innovation and entrepreneurial success. And it is a persistent commitment to equal opportunity and inclusion that will provide the cultural and global competence citizens need in the 21st century. Michigan's future depends on its universities, and Michigan State is committed to a better future for Michigan.

As a member of the Governor's Emergency Financial Advisory Panel, I have closely examined Michigan's deeply troubled fiscal situation. It is disheartening, yet we must not lose hope. As the panel emphasized, no single-point solution is the answer. Spending cuts, revenue increases, and significant policy changes all are necessary to improve the situation. As a panel member, I have stressed that investing in higher education and research is essential to Michigan's recovery and revitalization.

At the national level, I am somewhat heartened by the growing recognition of the critical role globally ranked research universities like Michigan State play in driving economic growth, elevating quality of life, and boosting state and national competitiveness. I met earlier this week with Michigan's congressional delegation to support some important initiatives. Congress has put forward a spending proposal for the remainder of the 2007 fiscal year that would boost funding for scientific research and Pell Grants. In addition, CREATE-21, a proposal advanced by land-grant universities to streamline oversight of the national food and agriculture science agenda and enhance funding, shows great promise. MSU, along with other land-grant and Association of American Universities-member institutions, must continue to help shape the national discussion on such issues.

Michigan State University's unique path

Even as we face real threats and sources of discouragement, we have cause for hope and opportunities for meaningful change. What will guide us in such times? As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, we have an obligation to "prove that in a time of stress we can still live up to our beliefs." For a land-grant university-the prototypical land-grant university-it is the institution's core values and historical mission that illuminate the path.

And it is the way in which those values are applied for a new era that will transform this university and, in the process, create the model for land-grant in the 21st century.

Halfway through Michigan State's sesquicentennial year, I announced a framework for strategic visioning of a new public covenant, rooted in our unique strengths and contributions.

That framework was Boldness by Design.

Boldness by Design is a guide for defining MSU's path and our accountability to one another, to the people of Michigan, and to partners and investors, current and potential, around the world. Michigan State University accepts the mantle of leadership in renewing and redefining public trust in the role of land-grant universities to lead the nation and the world to a better tomorrow. We connect past and future, advancing the 21st-century application of core land-grant values-quality, inclusion, and connectivity-as the key to prosperity for a global society.

Since this university's founding, land-grant has meant the resolve to be "good enough for the proudest and open to the poorest." It has meant bringing leading-edge knowledge to bear on the economic and social problems of the day in both theoretical and practical ways, developing a strong network of local partnerships, and being innovators in the development of academic programs. It has meant putting the public good ahead of individual special interests.

With Boldness by Design, Michigan State University has committed to a metamorphosis that takes us from land-grant to world-grant. To be world-grant means to have the resolve to transform lives on campus, in Michigan, and around the globe by advancing knowledge gained in diverse settings in ways that magnify the benefits for all. It means being elbow-deep in work around the globe that makes the world a better place and applying leading-edge global knowledge to make Michigan more competitive.

World-grant means recognizing there is no problem or issue, domestic or global, that does not require an interdisciplinary definition and an interdisciplinary solution. It means we will cut across boundaries-disciplinary, geographic, political-to tackle the real problems society faces.

World-grant means that scholarly work must be informed by society's needs. It means we are good listeners.

World-grant means this university will become a leading resource for local, domestic, and global businesses, governments, nonprofits, and others who seek a thoughtful strategic partner as they tackle challenges and pursue innovation. It means we will be a go-to place for models of success, innovative partnerships, and preeminent expertise, locally and internationally.

World-grant means having the depth and breadth to serve equally well as a catalyst or as an implementer that knows how to roll up its sleeves and work hand in hand with partners to bring a plan to life. It means being thinkers and doers.

Finally, being world-grant means recognizing that the best days are ahead as we become more entrepreneurial and more committed to finding the forward-thinking synergies among our disciplines and endeavors.

Making a difference

During our sesquicentennial year, we reflected with pride and gratitude on the tremendous positive impact Michigan State's founding mission has had on higher education. Today we are taking courageous action within the framework and spirit of Boldness by Design to once again be a guiding light for land-grant universities. As we progress, I have no doubt that future generations will similarly look back with pride on Michigan State's vision and accomplishments.

We have made a fine start on this journey, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What we call results are beginnings"-the first in a long series of substantive actions and meaningful outcomes.

I have been impressed by the way "bold" thinking is permeating the university community, with each opportunity and idea examined to see how it fits into the university's five strategic imperatives: enhance the student experience; enrich community, economic, and family life; expand international reach; increase research opportunities; and strengthen stewardship.

I'd like to briefly highlight some of our accomplishments in these areas.

Enriching community, economic, and family life

Let us first examine MSU's leadership in enriching community, economic, and family life.

The university's mission of outreach and engagement leads us to active involvement in improving the state's economy. We're just beginning to realize the potential of the University Research Corridor, an alliance with the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to strengthen and diversify Michigan's economy. Through this partnership, Michigan's three major research universities are working together to better align their efforts on behalf of the people of Michigan and to use their collective knowledge and resources to attract investment to the state.

MSU faculty members are invigorating Michigan's economy by contributing their intellectual capital to creative and high-tech collaborations with the state's private sector. Last year, 13 MSU-led proposals garnered $14.4 million in awards in the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund competition. At least eight Michigan State spin-off companies are participating in one or more of these funded projects.

With the expiration of our cisplatin and carboplatin patents, we have focused on building a more diversified and sustainable technology transfer portfolio. So far this academic year, Michigan State faculty members have filed 90 invention disclosures-an average of one every two days-and MSU inventors were awarded 21 U.S. patents. Over the last two and a half years, nonplatin earned royalties have grown at an annual rate of nearly 40 percent.

MSU's Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources aids in developing and commercializing high-value, consumer-responsive products and businesses in the agriculture and natural resource sectors. In the three years it has been assisting clients, the center has launched 60 new products or businesses and, last year, assisted 325 entrepreneurs and existing businesses with product or business development.

At the Broad School of Business, the new Institute for Entrepreneurship connects Broad alumni and university entrepreneurs in the material and health sciences, human medicine, agriculture and biomass, and the business and financial community.

MSU also is playing a central role in local and regional economic development. In 2005, we catalyzed the formation of Prima Civitas to help develop mid-Michigan's economic, cultural, educational, and quality-of-life assets. And we supported creation of the new tri-county Lansing Economic Area Partnership. Announced last month, LEAP will work closely with Prima Civitas to turn MSU-developed technology into Lansing-area businesses.

In fact, the university's involvement with economic development initiatives stretches across the state. MSU Extension is engaged in economic development activities in every county in Michigan. We also are working with key economic development organizations like Detroit Renaissance, Right Place in Grand Rapids, Lakeshore Advantage in the Holland area, and organizations in the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan State University contributes to the well-being of communities, families, and children by making outreach and engagement a key component of research and scholarly activity. MSU faculty are helping improve nutrition for toddlers, developing a curriculum on social-emotional development for use in Early Head Start Programs, designing a parenting program for adolescent Hispanic fathers, conducting leading research on urban gangs, examining the health effects on individuals of work- and family-role conflicts, identifying links between exercise and academic performance in middle school children, and designing and developing a comprehensive background check system for employees in Michigan long-term care facilities. And that's just a sampling. There are literally hundreds of examples.

Vital work for youth and families also takes place through MSU Extension. Extension's programs easily reach a quarter of a million Michigan families each year, and 4-H involves more than 241,000 Michigan youth in all 83 counties in programs that promote leadership, strengthen communication skills, foster community service and citizenship, and support healthy lifestyles.

MSU enriches prosperity and quality of life in Michigan and beyond through arts and culture. The university is a lead player in the New Creative Futures Initiative, a Greater Lansing cultural economic regional partnership. CraftWORKS! Michigan, a collaboration between the MSU Museum and the Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries, leverages Michigan's traditional arts to spur economic growth.

The museum's Carriers of Culture Project-which received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation-has had a national impact. This Native American cultural heritage project developed with Native communities across the United States resulted in an installation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the national mall last summer.

The MSU Community Music School provides weekly access to music instruction, classes, ensembles, and music therapy to more than 1,500 individuals from more than 70 Michigan communities as well as extensive weekly outreach programs in Detroit. Expanded artist-in-residence programs offered through the Wharton Center integrate the arts into classrooms throughout the state, and campus-community collaborations, such as Jazz Kats-Jazz for Kids, engage MSU faculty in nurturing appreciation for the arts in Michigan's youth.

Michigan State also is showing the way to a more thoughtful relationship with the land and environment, and improving the state's economy in the process. The university's leadership in advancing Michigan's bioeconomy will pay dividends for years to come.

I support the call for aggressive investment in alternative fuels. Michigan can and should be a leader in reducing our dependence on oil and in protecting the environment.

But Michigan needs to go beyond alternative fuel. We must pursue a diversified bioeconomy strategy. We should position ourselves as a knowledge hub for research and development in this arena and develop the ability to produce value-added biochemicals, bioprocesses, and biomaterials beyond fuel.

With substantial support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, MSU has commissioned two reports that provide guidance for investment and policy decisions for optimal development of Michigan's bioeconomy. A white paper from leading Michigan State faculty supplements these reports. Using these as our guides, MSU's Office of Biobased Technologies is forging a strategic plan for providing leadership in developing Michigan's bioeconomy.

In related work, MSU is investigating whether crops grown for biofuel can be grown on abandoned industrial brownfield sites, and whether doing so would decrease contamination in these fields, turning them "green" over time.

We're also having a positive impact on water quality and safety: The university's endowed chair in water research is part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration effort to forecast water quality problems in lakes, rivers, and streams. MSU's portion of the research focuses on protecting the Great Lakes.

Expanding international reach

The university's work to promote prosperity and enrich the quality of life in Michigan is inspiring. But you have to look globally to fully understand Michigan State's impact.

In Africa, MSU systematically connects the expertise of 173 faculty members from 67 departments who work on scores of projects in 32 countries-more than half the continent's nations. Our work there spans a dozen thematic areas, ranging from agricultural production, food safety and security, and supply-chain development to sustainable water use; from the roles of women in development and society to community development, the rule of law, and civil society; and from environmental sustainability to climate change.

We have partnerships with about 40 higher education and research institutions in 18 African countries. As we continue this commitment under Boldness by Design, we are focusing on comprehensive cooperation agreements that expand student and faculty exchanges, initiate and support collaborative research, and develop new curriculum and other educational resources. In October, MSU signed such an agreement with University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, and we are pursuing similar partnerships with universities in Malawi, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

In Asia, our work is equally exciting. In October, we opened an office in Beijing to serve as the hub for our China-related activities, including developing more joint education and research programs with Chinese institutions, facilitating technology transfer and consulting services, and recruiting students. The office is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation office in Shanghai to promote both Michigan business interests in China and Chinese investment in Michigan.

In Vietnam, the MSU College of Education has partnered with Canto University to open a Center for Innovations in Education on the Canto campus. Among other things, the center provides space for collaborative research programs in biotechnology.

Bringing the world home to Michigan, we're working with Dearborn Public Schools on the National Arabic Language Flagship Program. This program will allow all Dearborn students to take Arabic classes from beginner through advanced levels, while MSU experts develop a national model for K-16 language education. At the same time, MSU will offer American students already fluent in Arabic the opportunity for advanced Arabic language and culture study as they pursue their degrees.

The new MSU Confucius Institute, created in partnership with China's National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and the China Central Radio and Television University in Beijing, will provide Michigan students with Chinese language and culture study through online classes, train instructors to work in schools, and facilitate exchange programs for students and teachers.

These outstanding opportunities enrich education, raise awareness of global issues, and make Michigan and the United States more competitive and more secure. Enhancing the student experience

Educating students is, of course, the bedrock of what we do. Under Boldness by Design, we are committed to continuously examine and improve the educational experience at MSU so that it optimally integrates knowledge and prepares students for a lifetime of learning.

We have significantly increased undergraduate involvement in knowledge creation through research. A little more than a year ago, we invested half a million dollars in recurring funding for this endeavor. We've also provided new support for Honors College research seminars. A new Web site, Venture-scheduled to launch this fall-will provide undergraduates an easily searchable online database of research opportunities. And the General Electric Co.-sponsored University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, heading into its ninth year, has given hundreds of undergraduate students a chance to present their research.

One noteworthy example of how research can prepare students to be more effective citizens comes from James Madison College, where research seminars ask students to address Michigan's economic problems, think through real-world options, and discuss the problems and possible solutions with the state's leading experts and politicians.

Opportunities for involvement in research and its applications will become far greater for students in the College of Human Medicine as it establishes a home in Grand Rapids. When the newly named Secchia Center opens in 2010, we will have the full foundation for a medical education and research program that blends the strengths of classic medical education with those of an outstanding community-based program. With this model, we are committed to creating a new and compelling standard for medical education and research.

MSU has joined an effort to make transferring credit between Michigan institutions easier, facilitating degree completion and the workforce development needs of the state. Today, we signed an agreement with the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers to create the Michigan Transfer Network, a self-service portal available to the public containing the transfer course equivalencies of Michigan colleges and universities.

MSU is the top public university in the United States for study abroad. Last year we sent a record 2,787 students abroad to almost 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. New study abroad options include grassroots development in Ghana; environmental studies in Israel; borderland communities in Ireland; culture, society, and Islam in Senegal; the international dimensions of the hospitality business in China; and labor relations and human resources in South Africa.

Yet we are determined to do even more to prepare our students to be globally competent citizens. Some of you probably attended the "Internationalizing the Student Experience" summit that took place this morning and provided input on the global competencies the university should expect students to gain during their time at MSU. I look forward to seeing this work progress and believe it, too, will set a new standard.

Michigan State also supports international engagement at the graduate level, particularly in its relationship to research. International Studies Programs and the Graduate School jointly help cover travel costs for students attending international conferences and collecting research data. The Graduate School and some individual colleges also help fund graduate student study abroad.

Our commitment to instill students with a global perspective is reflected in recent additions to the curriculum. The College of Social Science is offering new Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in global area studies, and this summer, a new specialization in gender and global change will become available. We also have added a graduate specialization in global urban studies.

The Graduate School has intensified its focus on helping students connect to the world of work by providing four full-day career and professional development conferences. In addition, Michigan State is the first university to appoint a professional staff member, shared between the Grad School and Career Services, specifically to provide career assistance to doctoral candidates.

Finally, MSU is concluding its part in the National Research Council assessment of doctoral programs. This enormous undertaking covered 55 programs, 1,296 core faculty, and 8,362 doctoral students. It will provide us with a rich database of information to examine our relative position with regard to our peers and to mine for insights that will allow us to improve our graduate programs.

Strengthening stewardship

Being good stewards is vital to the covenant, the trust with the public that underpins all we do. Good stewardship means doing fundamentals well, making decisions "by design," and holding ourselves accountable to measurable standards.

I'm pleased to say we compare well on a number of fronts.

The university successfully completed its decennial institutional accreditation last spring. The two-year self-study process, which included a special emphasis on internationalization of the university, was self-reflective and self-critical. It examined how our students learn, how we create and share knowledge, how we meet the multiple facets of our mission, and how we can realize our goal of becoming truly world-grant.

MSU's rigorous commitment to research integrity recently earned us "qualified accreditation" from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, and we anticipate full accreditation next month.

The university is also close to institution-wide accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. When we receive that designation, we will be the only land-grant university to hold simultaneous accreditation with both organizations. We are voluntarily reaching standards that far exceed regulations in these areas.

The Campus Master Plan 2020, initiated in 2000, updated and then re-approved by the Board of Trustees last month, has been successful in guiding thoughtful, aesthetically sensitive, and fiscally responsible campus development. Our plan continues to focus on creating a pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment, and since 1995, we have achieved a 62 percent reduction in vehicular accidents and an 83 percent reduction in vehicle-related injuries.

Finally, the university's financial health is robust-as recognized by clean audits and high investment ratings-and we are becoming ever-more entrepreneurial in securing the funds necessary to support our work.

In October, the university surpassed, a full 15 months ahead of schedule, its goal of raising $1.2 billion in gifts and pledges for The Campaign for MSU. Michigan State is one of only two public universities without major on-campus medical research centers to exceed a billion dollars in a campaign.

To date, more than $74.2 million in campaign gifts has come from faculty, staff, and retirees. This is a spectacular achievement that speaks volumes about the commitment and dedication of each and every member of Team MSU.

But the campaign is not over. We must now reach the subgoal of raising $450 million in new endowed funds by the end of the year. To date, the university has raised a little more than $387 million toward this goal.

Growing the endowment is essential to increasing the university's ability to make a positive impact. So is increasing external funding for research. We have been making steady annual progress, from $210 million in 2002 to $285 million in 2006. When all externally sponsored programs are included, the 2006 figure reaches $380 million.

Above all, strengthening stewardship requires us to take a longer view than ever before-to assess how we can best take action today to build a better tomorrow.

In this spirit, we have taken the first steps of an integrated environmental stewardship program. Plans for a comprehensive campus recycling center are well under way. A pilot program testing use of individual recycling containers in residence hall rooms is happening this month. Another pilot program, in Case Hall, is exploring the energy savings created by an "energy competition."

We are linking carbon- and waste-reduction strategies as we investigate construction of an anaerobic digester for manure and food scraps that could generate enough methane to power our farms. We've also joined the Chicago Climate Exchange, an organization that provides a framework for reducing overall carbon levels. As members of the exchange, we are committed to reducing our carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent over the next three years.

Continuing the quest

Clearly, we have much to be proud of. At Michigan State University, we make a difference. Our roots as a land-grant institution; our prodigious history of excellence in teaching, research, and outreach; and the initial strategic steps we have taken under Boldness by Design have taken us far.

But we still have work to do to achieve our vision of world-grant, to create a true model for land-grant in the 21st century.

Boldness by Design: Where we've been

To set the stage for the journey ahead, let me quickly recap our first steps. Within months of launching Boldness by Design, Michigan State infused existing and new initiatives supporting all five strategic imperatives with nearly $10 million in funding, more than half of it recurring. Last spring, five task forces comprising faculty, staff, and students developed recommendations for initial priorities for each of the Boldness imperatives. In addition, each vice presidential area has submitted initial Boldness by Design priorities.

Over the last nine months, Provost Wilcox and Vice President Poston have been working with our leadership team to better articulate the foci under each strategic imperative, to identify catalysts for transformation, to better align our work, and to clarify the standards by which we will measure our success.

A working list of the priority objectives derived from the task force and vice presidential-area recommendations will be posted on the Boldness by Design Web site by March 12. This will be joined by special reports on key initiatives and areas of success. Many of these special reports will build upon Boldness by Design presentations to the Board of Trustees. The first presentation, covering environmental stewardship, was delivered at the January 19 board meeting.

By the end of the academic year, I have asked Provost Wilcox and Vice President Poston to produce a clear and concise articulation of Michigan State's Boldness by Design foci, expectations, and metrics. This information also will be posted on the Boldness by Design Web site.

Shared vision, shared goals

Looking ahead, 2012 is just five years away, and we have much to achieve. It's time to put quantifiable targets on some essential goals so that we achieve our vision of being recognized nationally and globally for excellence in our core strategic areas.

Enhancing student learning and experience

Our imperative of enhancing the student experience is fundamental to the notion of land-grant to world-grant. We must prepare graduates for leadership in the knowledge-based global economy.

Students need to become active learners from their first year on campus. By 2010, we plan to make it possible for at least one-third of our entering class to participate in living-learning programs. This includes the opening of our newest residential college this fall focusing on the arts and humanities and the launch of a new first-year program in engineering very soon.

Our focus on active learning also is reflected in our goals for students' international experiences. By the end of next year, we will establish 10 freshman seminar programs that allow entering students to study abroad during their first year of college. By 2012, we plan to lead the nation in the number of students participating in international internships and research experiences.

Last fall, Academic Governance formed the Committee on Liberal Learning to recognize the central role a strong liberal education plays in the MSU experience. Over the next two years, at least six new integrated social science courses will become available, with at least 750 seats in classes of 25 or fewer students.

The number of students majoring in natural science has grown 25 percent over the last five years, and we continue to expand access and support to more students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. We will increase capacity for our two introductory chemistry lab courses by 27 percent and 44 percent, respectively, in the next academic year. This will allow more than 1,000 additional students to take these courses annually.

We must redouble our efforts to recruit international students and faculty. The mixture of ideas, experiences, and talents that arises from a rich variety of backgrounds on campus is an invaluable part of the educational experience. Currently, 60 percent of our international students come from just four countries. We must take steps to diversify and increase our international student population in the coming years.

To develop comprehensive goals for enhancing graduate education and the graduate student experience, Provost Wilcox has called for the formation of a new Boldness by Design task force. Under Dean Klomparens' leadership, the task force will begin work immediately and provide a set of recommended strategies to the provost by the end of the semester.

Finally, we cannot overlook the critical role arts and culture play both in nurturing the human spirit and preparing our students for a global world. While there are many ways MSU advances arts and culture through teaching, research, and outreach, I want to highlight one special example here: We will officially declare 2007-08 MSU's Year of Arts and Culture.

This initiative, which comprises a year of activities that wrap around all art and culture units and academic programs, cuts across multiple strategic imperatives, enriching the student experience, aligning with local economic development efforts, and engaging the community.

Highlights will include celebrations of the opening of the new Residential College for the Arts and Humanities, the 25th anniversary of the Wharton Center, and anniversaries of the MSU Museum and the Department of Theatre. The designation of the year as a special one for the arts nicely coincides with the plan to expand and move MSU's Kresge Art Museum.

Securing funding

If we are to move forward, we must secure the resources we need to do our work. Our first obligation is to constantly monitor our operations to continue to ensure we use every dollar to greatest effect. But we cannot be successful in our quest without enhanced support.

During The Campaign for MSU, we have reached and sustained a new level of annual gift commitments, with more than $140 million in current and deferred gifts contributed annually. As the campaign ends this year, it is imperative that we maintain our fundraising momentum and establish a new minimum level of annual gift commitments of at least $150 million.

Contributions to endowed funds are a critical component of this annual giving, and we must intensify efforts to build our endowment. Because the principal of the funds remains untouched and grows over time as interest is earned, these funds allow us to secure the future of programs, scholarships, and research.

At the beginning of The Campaign for MSU, Michigan State University ranked last among Big Ten universities in total endowment.

We have come a long way since then: We now rank seventh, with a total endowment nearing $1.5 billion.

But as I mentioned earlier, we must work hard to complete the endowment goal for our current campaign, as well as fundraising goals for key facility projects. Even after reaching these goals, we cannot pause. We must secure an endowment that puts us at least in the middle of the Big Ten within the next five years.

Increasing research opportunities

Another priority is generating growth in external funds for research. We are proud of the research growth we have achieved in the past, particularly given an increase in the quality but decline in the number of faculty.

Now that the faculty is again growing in number and quality, we must see much faster growth in our total external support and in support per faculty member. Indeed, we must increase external funding for research by more than 10 percent annually-a growth rate in excess of our peer institutions-to improve our position in world rankings.

This is a challenge. But achieving this level of growth is essential for our future. Getting there will require new strategies to diversify sources of support, including securing more center, program, and training grants; obtaining support from foundations in the arts and humanities; and developing corporate partnerships.

To meet the growth goal, our culture must support and expect increased scholarly activity from all faculty members, and we must have measurable objectives to drive us forward. I have asked Provost Wilcox and Vice President Gray to lead these efforts. They are working with the deans to set objectives for each college for higher levels of research and creative productivity, and for greater success in securing external funding.

Vice President Gray's office is taking steps to support faculty success in securing competitive grants. These include:

  • providing seed funding to encourage interdisciplinary research in focus areas like biomedicine, nanotechnology, environment, family, and bioeconomy;
  • establishing a task force to articulate a compelling vision for arts and humanities research at MSU and to link this vision to new funding from the MSU Foundation;
  • creating internal mechanisms, such as the Clinical Research Office, to facilitate clinical research; and
  • increasing pre-award support through additional grant-writing workshops and making grant writers available to assist faculty and staff.

Analysis suggests that the current level of internal support for research is quite competitive; however, we must leverage these funds more effectively. To this end, Vice President Gray's office is appointing a blue ribbon task force of distinguished faculty to recommend strategies to maximize investment, ensure faculty success, and enhance MSU's overall research enterprise.

Our research goals are ambitious. But I am optimistic. The research enterprise at Michigan State University is stronger today than it has been for years, and we remain competitive both in recruiting strong scholars and in retaining top talent.

From innovation to prosperity

As we intensify our research efforts, we must provide more opportunities for this university's tremendous intellectual capital to be translated into the innovations that are the engine of prosperity.

To that end, Michigan State University and the MSU Foundation are partnering to launch MSU Technologies, a professional business arm of the university dedicated to maximizing our intellectual property estate, aggressively identifying opportunities for commercialization leading to a diverse portfolio, and supporting start-ups derived from MSU faculty discoveries.

As MSU Technologies becomes a reality, we must ensure its strong leadership and effective implementation. We are well into a national search for an experienced leader with a proven track record in value creation. Our investment in this venture is substantial and provides the "critical mass" and technology transfer tools necessary to make our program among the best. The return on investment-for our faculty, the university, and Michigan-should be excellent: We are committed to developing an organization that ranks in the top half of the Big Ten.

Over the next five years, we will further enhance Michigan's economy and quality of life by expanding outreach and engagement activities, and we will solidify our national reputation as a leading resource for information about best practices in engagement. By 2012, Michigan State will:

  • be involved in community and economic development partnerships in all urban areas of the state;
  • expand regional cultural economic development programs to include all areas of the state that promote arts and culture as part of their economic growth strategy;
  • increase the number of students involved in service learning and civic engagement from one-third to one-half of undergraduates;
  • ensure half of all Michigan children have access to early childhood emergent literacy programs developed by MSU faculty and community partners; and
  • be recognized nationally and internationally as the premier center for assessment and evaluation of faculty-engaged scholarship.
Expanding international reach

It goes without saying that the imperative of expanding MSU's global engagement is embedded in the notion of becoming world-grant. We're a leading go-to partner for Africa. We're becoming a player in China. But now we need to fully develop our strategy for engagement in the Middle East and move to develop a coherent South American strategy.

To be world-grant, we must extend MSU's knowledge and innovation to the world. Equally important, we must be open to the ways in which the world can inform and improve this university and this state. Our goals must support this vision.

By 2012 all students, faculty, staff, and other clientele will have broad opportunities to become globally aware, capable of collaborating with colleagues and clients at home and abroad, and able to live and work effectively in a global environment. By 2012 all graduates of MSU will have significant exposure to international and global content as part of their general educational experience and as part of their major. By 2012 the majority of MSU faculty will be engaged globally in their research and scholarship.

Other commitments we will pursue for 2012 to facilitate international collaboration and integration include:

  • offering one or more dual undergraduate or graduate degree programs and one or more joint undergraduate or graduate degree programs with partner universities in at least five countries of strategic importance to Michigan, the United States, and Michigan State University;
  • developing a model of collaborative hiring with partner international institutions to share and exchange faculty resources, with a goal of achieving an average of five such agreements per year; and
  • having a formal, long-term presence in at least 10 countries of strategic importance to Michigan, the United States, and Michigan State University.
Leadership in environmental stewardship

The environmental stewardship initiative I mentioned earlier is a prime example of acting boldly and by design.

We are not unique in creating an environmental stewardship program, but our approach is different. Instead of selecting and working toward improvement of discreet goals-like reducing paper use by 5 percent or diverting 20 percent of the waste stream by weight via a recycling program-we recognize that our campus is a complex, interrelated ecosystem of many inputs, processes, and outputs. It will take a comprehensive approach to make a significant impact.

We also recognize that everyone is part of the system and, thus, must be part of the solutions. Under Vice President Poston's leadership, a multidisciplinary team of students, faculty, and staff is mapping the web of inputs and outputs. When this work is complete, a new team will devise new or revised processes to reduce inputs and outputs. Permeating all of this is a sustained focus on culture and behavior change.

Over the next five years, MSU is committed to becoming a national leader, a go-to model, for integrating environmental impact efforts throughout a community; developing new techniques for managing a complex ecosystem of agriculture, research, office, and living environments toward sustainability; and generating research on new approaches to environmental management.

Our success will significantly reduce MSU's environmental footprint. And it will also transform each of us so that we carry new habits and expectations out into the world, magnifying the benefits.

The future

As we solidify our commitments for 2012 under Boldness by Design, we will evaluate our success by the extent to which we become a trusted, go-to resource and partner for addressing some of the planet's most perplexing problems.

The challenges ahead are clear, but so is our vision as well as our commitment to its fulfillment. As we go forward, we must hold ourselves accountable for the delivery of our mission and progress toward achieving the vision. This is fundamental to our covenant with society and to maintaining public trust.

We must refine how we use assessment as a tool for continuous improvement. Vice President Hudzik led the campus through months of discussion on university metrics. These metrics do not in and of themselves assure quality, but they mark our progress and allow us to benchmark ourselves against peer institutions. They help engage the community in discussing where we should be and how to get there.

This work was a good start, but we must develop better ways to gauge our progress toward our goal of being a path-breaking institution. We must learn to select and combine related metrics to create integrated representations of our value in each facet of our mission. Only with this more complex approach to value-mapping will we begin to be able to accurately assess our success in achieving the vision of being the leading land-grant university for the 21st century.

And value added is the ultimate test. What value do we add to our students' lives? What value do we add to Michigan? What value do we add to the world? That is the test of who we are.

I know we are up to this test because I know you. I know Team MSU. We have the intelligence, expertise, passion, and desire. So today I call upon all of us to hone our efforts to add value in everything we do and to live by our core values of quality, inclusion, and connectivity.

If we act boldly, with our values and our heritage as our guides, we can help people of all backgrounds and economic means, all over the world and right here in Michigan, solve problems, realize dreams-and, most important, dream bigger dreams than ever before. If we each embrace our vision and contribute to its achievement, Michigan State University will, indeed, be the standard for land-grant in this century.


MSU on Social


President's Desk




Speeches & Statements