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April 3, 2024

Apr. 3, 2024: Community Letter

Dear Spartan community,

Amy and I continue to be humbled by our warm welcome to Michigan State University, and we have especially enjoyed meeting so many of you during our strolls across campus. We are often joined by our pup, Koda, who has also made a lot of new student friends — check out my Instagram! I might be president, but Koda is definitely the top dog around Cowles House. If you see us around campus, feel free to say hi.

This is an exciting and busy time of year for our community as we prepare to wrap up the semester and, for many of us, participate in graduation activities. I have “graduated” into my second month as MSU’s president and am well into a 48-stop listening and learning tour across the university.

As a servant leader who tries to practice and preach the virtues of curiosity, I am committed to engaging all Spartans to help foster a culture of trust and collaboration. I am grateful to everyone who participates in these visits, and I am confident that, together, we will identify a “true north” toward the very best education and workplace culture for Spartans — and bold service to the public.

Listening and learning

If there is one takeaway from the tour so far, it’s that we have so many great stories to tell, especially about innovative teaching and learning. I’ve met, for example, future lawyers who will be practice-ready thanks to the Trial Practice Institute and our outward-facing legal clinics. I’ve engaged with passionate faculty members helping produce some of Michigan’s best-prepared doctors and nurses thanks to our community-based medical education model, street medicine programs helping underserved populations and impressive simulation spaces. And I’ve talked with NatSci faculty members applying educational research to restructure STEM gateway courses to enhance student retention and success.

Complementing such innovative teaching is the compassionate care and support practiced on our campus. When, for example, I asked Lyman Briggs students what they liked best about their college, I heard repeatedly about the close attention provided by their professors and academic advisers and the emphasis on collaboration rather than competition. The same is true at the Honors College, where I was inspired by the college’s commitment to expanding students’ access to prestigious fellowships and scholarships — we’re already in the top 10 nationally and No. 1 in the Big Ten for Churchill Scholars! Such dedicated support expands across all our colleges, with a strong commitment to adding advisers and programs to support students’ engagement and implementing policies and practices to better include underrepresented groups.

I like to talk about the importance of addressing the grand challenges of our time. That’s a big part of what passionately public universities like MSU are all about. Here, too, we are excelling, conducting groundbreaking research and advancing our land-grant mission. It takes the form of Veterinary Medicine’s partnerships with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and with local zoos and its nationally respected expertise in areas such as bovine tuberculosis. It manifests in the College of Education’s work supporting K-12 schools with top-notch teacher preparation, student recruitment initiatives and professional development services. And it includes numerous cross-college collaborations focused on tough, multifaceted issues such as sustainability and climate resilience, artificial intelligence and data science, emerging educational technologies and cancer health disparities.

I’m so impressed with how our colleges and units collaborate with partners and stakeholders to maximize our impact. Consider, for example, MSU Health Sciences’ growing partnership with Henry Ford Health to further support our preparation of clinician-scientists who will improve Michiganders’ quality of life and address health challenges nationwide. Or look at our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Faculty researchers and Extension specialists work with groups as diverse as Michigan commodity organizations, global packaging leaders and international soccer governing body FIFA — for which they are developing the perfect turfgrass system for the 2026 men’s World Cup in North America.

Most recently, I enjoyed sitting down for lunch on campus with our labor union leaders. Our unions represent employees touching every corner of our university, from classrooms to the power plant. While there is great diversity in MSU occupations, I see a unifying drive among us to make MSU the best institution for our students, employees and state.

No institution of our size and substance goes without blemishes, which are often highlighted by news and social media. But I firmly believe the headline of our university’s most important story is Spartans’ ongoing and passionate commitment to our interlocking missions of education, research and outreach.

Spartan accolades

Such passion clearly extends to many in our extended family of alums, family and friends. I want to thank all those who stepped up for this year’s Give Green Day, which raised nearly $1.5 million from 6,905 gifts supporting scholarships and programs across our university.

It was great last month to see national tournament appearances by the women’s and men’s basketball teams. And it was a special thrill to be on hand to watch MSU’s gymnastics and ice hockey teams — both regular-season conference champions — win Big Ten Championships within hours of each other in front of pumped-up crowds at Jenison Field House and Munn Ice Arena. My thanks to all MSU student-athletes and the coaches and programs supporting them as they represent the university in competition.

Applause, too, for students engaged in debate, broadcasting, news reporting and competitive a cappella, as well as the staff at WKAR, who all were recently recognized for their excellence.

As we join in observing National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, this week we salute 15 years of prevention efforts at MSU and the five-year milestone of the Prevention, Outreach and Education Department. Thanks to all who are supporting our work and making the campus as safe and supportive as it can be.

Finally, as MSU celebrates Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week, I want to conclude with a big shout-out to this group of dedicated scholars whose work in classrooms and laboratories is a crucial service to leading global research universities such as ours. I was fortunate to secure more than $30 million in research funding throughout my academic and research career, and I couldn’t have done it without outstanding graduate students. As someone who has worked side-by-side with many curious and talented graduate students as a faculty member and administrator, I can say there are few joys in academia greater than watching them grow into tomorrow’s institutional and knowledge leaders. Go Green!


Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Ph.D. (pronounced GUS-ka-wits)

Kevin M. Guskiewicz signature

Professor, Department of Kinesiology