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Team MSU wraps up another great season

04-28-2011

Audio podcast: President Simon comments on the transition to summer on campus. 1:08

It’s hard to believe, but another academic year is wrapping up already. Spring, of course, still represents our largest commencement and it’s the traditional graduation time, so it’s a good time to look back on the past school year.

Among the many opportunities I get this time of year to reflect on the accomplishments of Team MSU is our annual Faculty Book Collection reception. Here, we salute faculty members who have written or edited books or participated in a musical performance or recorded during the last calendar year. The breadth of scholarship at MSU, as evidenced by such faculty creation, is astonishing: linguistics, politics, history, mathematics, teaching, social work, accounting, economics, engineering, packaging … that’s just faculty this year whose names begin with A!

And there are the extraordinary discoveries and knowledge generated by our researchers, as demonstrated by their many article and report publications and in the aggregate by the record volume of external grants they’ve attracted. Just shy of a half-billion dollars, that’s money that more than replaced the temporary Stimulus Act funding we briefly enjoyed for research. Several of our researchers have been featured in top news media as well.

We also honor a half-dozen support staff every year for their exemplary efforts and contributions, a well-deserved recognition for supporting us as we are continually challenged to excel. We also take time annually to celebrate employee longevity milestones and retirements, saluting the accumulated experience and wisdom those represent.

But it’s really all about the students, and there were 33 students the Board of Trustees and I recognized April 15 for academic excellence, young scholars who recorded 4.0 grade point averages throughout their undergraduate careers. That’s the most in the award’s history, going back to 1921, and 25 of those students graduated from Michigan high schools.

Also among our exemplary students, this season we honored 267 student-athletes who managed to carry at least a 3.0 average, a difficult juggling task indeed. And if you want to meet some of our new graduates who have found great jobs in this difficult economy by dint of their initiative and drive, we put four in the spotlight recently.

Many of our students (and faculty) use the summer months to study abroad, or to travel. Among students planning some amazing trips this summer are one selected to board a bus and re-enact the famous Freedom Ride of 50 years ago, and another bicycling across the country to raise money to support a medical clinic in Haiti he founded.

There will be little rest this summer for others of us, too, as administrators and trustees work to assemble a budget for next year that anticipates increasingly severe financial limitations while maintaining the institution’s quality and accessibility to Michigan residents. We’ll look back on the last year and assess how we did, and make our to-do lists for next year.

I sometimes have to remind people that we might slow down in the summer, but Spartan hands and minds remain busy on campus. Last summer we hosted 22,600 studying through summer session, three-quarters of them undergraduates.

As the year draws to a close, I’m looking forward to meeting our commencement speakers, who I know will prove to be of great interest to our new graduates. Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, will speak to our undergraduates, and given his influence on so much of what we take for granted today technologically, should offer an intriguing perspective. Graduate commencement speaker Roger Ferguson’s background as TIAA-CREF CEO and a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve will give his comments about the world economy some real authority for our international students as well as our other graduates.

To our new graduates, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and urge you to remain connected through the MSU Alumni Association and the other means available to you. You are Spartans for life.