Oct. 3, 2019: Letter to the community

Dear MSU community,

It’s been a busy start to the academic year, and my first Homecoming as president of Michigan State University is already a pleasant memory. It was a wonderful experience to connect with so many Spartan alumni, students and friends of MSU.

Among the highlights of the past few days were the ribbon-cutting for the impressive Edward J. Minskoff Pavilion at MSU’s Broad College of Business and the opening of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences/WKAR Public Media NextGen Media Innovation Lab. Earlier in the month, I had the privilege of helping cut the ribbon for the new VanCamp Incubator + Research Labs in Meridian Township with members of the late namesake MSU researcher’s family and other stakeholders.

I also had the opportunity to introduce myself to several hundred Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club attendees, and to talk about the impact MSU has on this community and beyond. As it happens, more than $3 billion of MSU’s $5.8 billion annual impact across Michigan is focused on four counties in the capital region. You can learn more about MSU’s state and regional impact at MI Spartan Impact.

Personnel changes

It was with sadness earlier this week that I accepted the resignation of Executive Vice President for Administration Satish Udpa as he looks forward to returning to the faculty in the College of Engineering. I wish he and his spouse, Lalita, also a University Distinguished Professor and on the engineering faculty, continued personal and professional fulfillment in the pursuit of discovery and the sharing of knowledge.

This week I am pleased to welcome former University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan as interim provost. A Spartan alumna and adviser to the university’s presidential search committee, she will oversee MSU’s academic programs as we begin a nationwide search for a new provost. Another talented executive, Melissa Woo, will serve as chief information officer when she arrives in December.

Campus meetings

I’m now well along with my visits to each college to meet and speak with faculty and staff members as I continue to become more familiar with the MSU community. I also am making new acquaintances at events such as this week’s MSU Graduate School 25th anniversary reception and last week’s annual event recognizing the service of faculty, academic staff and executive management.  

This week, I will begin my series of meetings with survivors of sexual assault. I know I have a lot to learn, and the feedback received in these sessions, together with the results of a campus wide climate survey conducted earlier this year, will help us develop and implement additional targeted actions to continue improving prevention of and response to sexual assault.

MSU’s participation in It’s On Us week, Oct. 14-18, is part of a national campaign to raise awareness around sexual violence, stand with survivors of sexual assault and work to end sexual violence. A number of events and activities are scheduled on campus, and I encourage you to learn more.

Strategic planning

I have said many times since my appointment in May that the scale, scope and impact of MSU are a great part of what brought me here. It is vital to continue to build momentum across all of our endeavors in education, research and outreach at the same time we acknowledge and address our shortcomings.

With these imperatives in mind, I will appoint a strategic planning committee. It will be broadly representative of MSU faculty, staff and students, with input on its composition sought from appropriate university governance and other stakeholders. It will gather thoughts from the campus community and others on our strategic direction, mission, vision and values. This work will complement that already being done by our colleges, programs and operating units.

Among the things I want to be sure we are asking ourselves are, what do we value as an institution and who do we want to be five years from now? It will be important throughout the process to establish cross-cutting priorities and initiatives and, equally important, to hold ourselves accountable for meaningful action and results.

Separate from that initiative, but closely connected, we also will embark on a comprehensive planning process around diversity, equity and inclusion.  A culture embracing those values is simply essential for all that we want to accomplish together. This process will work in collaboration with the strategic plan while elevating the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion as a foundation for all that we do.

I am optimistic about what we can accomplish as we move forward, together, with Spartan commitment and resolve.

Go Green!


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.