Letter to the campus community - April 30, 2019

To the Michigan State University community:

As acting president, I look forward to my first opportunity to welcome Spartan graduates and their families at our May 3 ceremonies. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will speak at the advanced degree ceremony, and former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings will deliver remarks at the undergraduate convocation.

I have so enjoyed meeting or renewing acquaintances with many graduating students, student-athletes, young entrepreneurs and others at end-of-year events these past few weeks.

It’s hard to believe another year is almost in the books. Classes are over, it’s time for the last big push for final exams and, for some 9,000 students, graduation. It is sad to say goodbye to so many scholars, at least for now, but we are so excited for what lies ahead for them as Spartan alumni. I hope they never lose the joy of discovery or the satisfaction of learning something new.

With the end of the semester comes the close of the KNOW MORE @ MSU survey for campus community members. I want to thank everyone who has participated, and I urge anybody who is eligible but hasn’t taken the survey to do so.

This survey was very carefully created to give us a baseline of community knowledge about relationship violence and sexual misconduct. The more who participate, the more accurate and useful it will be. We also have a fabulous partner administering it and a commitment from leadership to use the results to shape university policy, programs and resources.

The MSU Museum had a very successful set of events to start its year-long “Finding Our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak” exhibition last week. Co-curated by members of the survivor community, it’s a great example of the museum’s work as an agent of change and healing. I hope you can visit to see for yourself.

Earlier this month, more than 1,400 Spartan alumni and friends logged more than 6,000 hours of service at 111 project sites in 28 states and Washington, D.C., as well as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the Spartans Will. Serve Global Day of Service.

Thanks to all for stepping up and representing the Spartan qualities of engagement and service to our communities. In the last seven years, almost 20,000 Spartan volunteers have joined the annual day of service in nearly 1,000 projects, contributing $1.38 million in economic value to the organizations and communities served.

Another way MSU is providing value to communities comes through new research. A team of MSU scientists recently suggested corn growers could realize large savings by using advanced satellite imaging techniques in precision nutrient application. Smarter application — even abandoning cultivation in the lowest-producing areas — also could reduce nitrogen pollutant runoff and greenhouse gas emissions, they reported.

Looking forward to the fall, for students returning to live on campus, we are very pleased that the Board of Trustees on April 12 approved a room-and-board rate increase of just 1.95%, the lowest increase since 1998. MSU also is adding a 10th dining hall, Riverwalk Market in Owen Hall. It will be our first all-you-can-eat dining hall certified free from the top eight food allergens, as well as sesame and gluten.

First-year students in the East Neighborhood next fall will be able to take advantage of the new Spartan Compass experience pilot program. The program aims to encourage community building and to help foster students’ successful transitions to MSU, providing first-year students with access to special events, programs and support resources.

Finally, Laura Apol, a College of Education associate professor of literacy and curriculum, will receive the “passing of the laurel” to become the Lansing community’s new poet laureate. For the next two years, she will join fellow poets in events that bring together people in the MSU and neighboring community to explore our sense of place and shared connection. She is an engaged Spartan adding another element to our area’s wonderful quality of life.

Best wishes to all for a safe and rewarding summer.


Satish Udpa

Acting President