Aug. 20, 2023: My Spartan Best

MSU is the template for all state universities. In the early 1850s, leaders of the Michigan agricultural community imagined a new university that was modeled on a few progressive European schools where the practical sciences were taught. These leaders, Williams, Abbot and later Beal, and later still Hannah and Wharton, created and expanded the template for higher education in this nation.

We are on the precipice of the next transformation of not just MSU but of higher education writ large. In an era of contested values and rights, opportunities and exclusions, high expectations and high disbelief, a leader for MSU that creates the right intellectual vision, has a globalist instinct with Michigan always as the NorthStar and an ability to make and stick to decisions that may not be popular with some but right for our students and right for the university is precisely what we need.

I was honored to be asked and then unanimously voted by the Board of Trustees to serve in an interim role as president, leading this great university at a moment of extraordinary board and administrative tumult and uncertainty. I have been humbled by the support of our deans, Faculty Senate, students and employees, alumni, government, business, and industry leaders across the state of Michigan. Together, we have stabilized the university. Together, we experienced and continue to heal from the violence on our campus. Together we have set a course for a safer and more welcoming campus for all. And together, we have created the context for excellence in our shared future.

As the third interim president of MSU in the last five years, I wish for a period of stability for the university. Thus, and to enable that goal, I do not seek the full-time presidency but will support the individual selected for this role as they assume the helm.

Until that time, I look forward to the good work we have in our immediate future. This is the time for MSU to seize the opportunity of the moment to educate a broad group of learners and lead into the next decade and the next century. Accessibility and affordability are the hallmarks of our work together over the last three years, and this work must be strengthened. The engineering and engineering-aligned disciplines are critical to our students and the future of the state of Michigan, and launching our Engineering and Digital Innovation Center is a focus of our administration. Educating in the agricultural sciences, including our new dairy and greenhouses, and building new models of sustainability are areas in which we excel and now must accelerate. Expanding FRIB and research in nuclear and accelerator physics must be the top priority of the university through new research-aligned infrastructure. In maintaining focus and fiscal discipline, we will expand our global leadership in these and other domains. In focusing on our people and their needs, we restore the Spartan Pride that is so cherished.

MSU has a storied history in American higher education, and the next chapter is ready to be written with a new president at the helm.

Until then, I give you my Spartan best.

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Interim President
MSU Research Foundation Professor