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May 20, 2024

May 20, 2024: Community Letter

Dear Spartan community,

What a thrill to lace up my running shoes on a brisk April day and join some 5,000 campus and community members, alums — and my morning’s running mates from the amazing Spartan Marching Band — for this spring’s Izzo Legacy Run/Walk/Roll.

The exercise felt great, even as I fell behind a particularly intrepid tuba section member slinging his sousaphone across his shoulder! The cause couldn’t be better than joining Tom and Lupe Izzo and their family in supporting charitable programs across the community.

Applauding student and faculty scholars

Spring is a season of celebration, and I enjoyed hosting some 500 graduating seniors at Cowles House receptions. I also invited seniors to join me to climb Beaumont Tower — a Spartan bucket list item and perhaps a new graduation tradition. We then closed the semester by congratulating more than 10,000 spring 2024 graduates at university commencement and college graduation ceremonies.

I was thoroughly impressed with the accomplishments of the undergraduate class of 2024, including 780 graduating from the Honors College. To enhance the Honors College experience for future generations of Spartans, we recently celebrated the start of a major renovation of Campbell Hall into a new living-learning community. We expect to reopen it in August 2025 to accommodate 300 honors students.

We are celebrating many examples of student success this season, including the naming of double-major junior Kaylin Casper as the university’s 14th Udall Scholar. And as 142 student-athletes received undergraduate and graduate degrees this spring, Michigan State’s student-athletes set a record cumulative grade point average of 3.3744. And all rise for our MSU College of Law students, who took our competitive Moot Court program to No. 1 in the country for the second time in four years. Congratulations, all!

While I’m pleased to trumpet the excellence of our student scholars, I also proudly helped recognize exemplary faculty members, academic staff, graduate students and educational leaders at our annual All University Awards. I’ve met many outstanding Michigan State teachers and researchers already, and their level of engagement with students and stakeholders is nothing short of inspirational.

My favorite place on any campus is the classroom, so I was particularly pleased to drop in on a student award event to surprise Tammy Long, associate professor in our Department of Plant Biology, with this year’s President’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She is a noted biology educator who has designed her instruction around evidence-based, interactive and peer-learning methods. Congratulations to Dr. Long, who we are proud to count as part of our Michigan State team!

All of us can be proud of the world-class faculty members who are developing the next generation of Spartans into the leaders of tomorrow while reaching out to our communities and pushing the boundaries of knowledge as researchers and scholars. Let me give a shoutout to just a few:

Celebrating our dedicated support staff

Michigan State’s support staff members are likewise vital to the university’s mission. With their talent, care and experience, they support students and colleagues in myriad ways and keep the university on track and moving forward. We accord special recognition this time of year to several who have demonstrated exemplary dedication.

So, congratulations to Burgess Institute operations director Lori Fischer, recipient of this year’s Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award, and University Advancement administrative business analyst Meg Quine, named the 2024 Gliozzo Clerical-Technical Award winner.

Congratulations, too, to those receiving this year’s Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards:

  • Jesse Alvarez, College of Law Legal Clinic office manager
  • Sarah Evans-Cain, Lyman Briggs College Student Success & Advising Office administrative coordinator
  • Amanda Goll, Office of the President deputy chief of staff
  • Ken Beer, College of Communication Arts and Sciences fiscal officer
  • Mark Fellows, University Communications executive communicator
  • Darwin Meirndorf, Infrastructure Planning and Facilities HVAC/boiler mechanic

Also this month, at our annual Service Recognition Program, we honored support staff who achieved milestone work anniversaries or retired in 2023. Michigan State would not be the dynamic and impactful institution it is today without the skill and accumulated wisdom of these 146 retirees and the more than 460 Spartans who reached significant service milestones last year. These groups’ collective service to the university totals close to 15,000 years and counting!

Our amazing alums

Finally, I have also enjoyed meeting so many devoted alums and donors in the two-plus months of my presidency so far. Our recent alumni club summit offered the opportunity to meet several club leaders from around the country and to learn about the wonderful support they provide the university and their communities through volunteerism, in addition to their support for MSU students through scholarship funding.This aligns with my own concept of servant leadership and embodies the service-based ideals of the land-grant tradition.

I look forward to meeting more alums as I tour Michigan andbeyond.Myrecent travels include a visit this week to Grand Rapids to deliver a biomedicine lecture at the College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center and meet area Spartans. A visit earlier this month to Detroit took me to the MSU Detroit Apple Developer Academy as well as Renaissance and Cass Technical high schools, together with visits with area leaders and friends of Michigan State.

I will write more about Michigan State’s engagement here in the Lansing area in next month’s Spartan Community Letter. I am looking forward to presenting to the Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club June 6, where I will expand on themes I introduced in a recent column in the Lansing State Journal.

If summer signals a slowing in the bustle of campus activity, our work to prepare for another successful academic year and the rise of this university in achievement and impact continues. My thanks go out to all our faculty, staff, alums and friends for their dedication to our students and all those we serve.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz signature

Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Ph.D.
(pronounced GUS-ka-wits)
Professor, Department of Kinesiology