Nov. 7, 2019: Letter to the Community

Dear Spartans,

As I pass the three-month mark as MSU’s 21st president, I wanted to share a few updates and again thank the many Spartans who have welcomed me. I continue to be impressed with the university’s scope and scale, growing research portfolio, facilities, and outstanding students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.

Health and safety are top priorities

I believe a safe, respectful and welcoming campus requires a diverse, equitable and inclusive university. To be able to succeed, all community members should feel safe, respected and welcome.

A number of recent events have made it clear many students at MSU do not feel that way when confronted with apparent bias that targets individuals on the basis of their identity, including race and religion. We take their concerns seriously, and I have agreed to meet more frequently with student leaders to provide updates on action being taken on their priorities.

Improving safety and accountability in our health colleges and clinics is part of the intent of our recent administrative reorganization of the colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and Nursing and our clinical operations. Former College of Human Medicine Dean Norman J. Beauchamp Jr. moved into the newly created position of executive vice president for health sciences to oversee those areas and to better align our patient care, medical research and nursing and medical education. MSU has a significant future in transforming health care, and I am enthusiastic about how these changes will enable us to increase our impact in Michigan and around the globe.

Another step forward for our medical education and operations comes Nov. 18 with the groundbreaking for a new medical innovation facility in Grand Rapids, thanks to a substantial gift from Doug Meijer and the Meijer Foundation. It will involve building one of the world’s most advanced cyclotron-equipped radiopharmacies to manufacture diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals both for clinical and research use.

Key positions to be filled

I recently initiated our search for a new provost by naming a distinguished 22-member search committee that includes faculty, staff and students. We plan to bring finalists to campus in the spring and hope to have a new provost identified by the end of that semester. Please visit the provost search website for updates and other information.

As the university’s chief academic officer, sustaining and advancing student success will be among the new provost’s most important jobs. I’m very pleased to report MSU’s six-year graduation rate rose another percentage point last year, on top of a percentage point gain the year before, to a record 81% overall. Meanwhile, Spartan student-athletes posted all-time highs for NCAA Graduation Success Rates as well as Federal Graduation Rates. Closing achievement gaps between student racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups remains a top priority, even as we raise the level of achievement for all.

You might be aware that a Board of Trustees seat is vacant now after the recent resignation of Nancy Schlichting. I thank her for her service to the university. A new trustee will be appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to fill out the remainder of the term ending in January 2023, and I look forward to working with that individual.

We salute Spartans

I want to thank Spartan alumni in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Washington, D.C., for warmly welcoming me to their events in recent weeks. It was a pleasure to meet so many devoted Spartans.

Finally, I want to take note of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, Nov. 11. We are proud of MSU’s designation as a gold-status veteran-friendly school and salute the veterans among us for their sacrifices and service to this country. One student currently serving, neuroscience sophomore and Lance Corporal Jack Kivi, will be honored by the U.S. Marine Corps at Saturday’s football game. He will receive the Commandant’s Trophy, recognizing him as the top graduate in his Platoon Leader’s Course at Marine Officer Candidates School — one of just five such honors bestowed by the Marines each year.

Please be sure, also, to read this week’s MSUToday feature about the work we’re doing with and on behalf of veterans.

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.