Letter to the community - March 1, 2019

Dear students, colleagues and friends:

Next week, students and others in our campus community get to enjoy a well-earned spring break. I’ll be one of those remaining deskbound, but like most Spartans, I’d certainly welcome any springlike weather after what feels like an entire winter compressed into a few weeks.

I’ve been continuing to maintain a busy schedule talking — and listening — to people since I last wrote, and I thought I’d give you an update.

Just yesterday, I spoke to more than 250 academic and administrative leaders and introduced presentations about our growing research and digital humanities programs, among other topics. It’s a pleasure to talk about all the great work that goes on here every day, which I was pleased to be able to share with my colleagues.

I told the group that maintaining our excellence is a top priority, even as we keep care for survivors of sexual assault and our own need for cultural change squarely in front of us.

Michigan State took a positive step forward in that regard this week with the introduction of an intermediate healing fund for survivors, pending establishment of a permanent fund. This is something the board directed the university to do at its Jan. 9 meeting and reiterated its commitment to in a statement Feb. 15. I delivered my own message to survivors at the board’s Feb. 15 meeting.

I also was pleased to be able to report the final numbers for our recently concluded capital campaign. More than $1.8 billion was raised, pushing us well above the initial goal of $1.5 billion. These funds will boost support for student scholarships, enhance our facilities and increase the number of our endowed chairs to help attract and retain great faculty members.

Another exciting development winning the board’s endorsement was the creation of a Department of African-American and African Studies, which will be part of the College of Arts and Letters. We expect the new department to firmly establish MSU as a national leader in Black and Africana studies.

MSU’s continuing capacity for good even as we acknowledge and work to address our shortcomings is something I recently stressed in my remarks before the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and Community Colleges. You can read a wealth of information about MSU in my full testimony here.

I wish our students and faculty a relaxing week away from the classroom, and special regards to those participating in our Alternative Spartan Break service trips. And to all in our Spartan community, heartfelt thanks for your continuing commitment to MSU.

Yours very sincerely,

Satish Udpa 
Acting President