Dear Spartans and Friends,
July is here and we’re all looking forward to a season of activities and gatherings many of us missed so much in the past year. I sense energy and excitement as we prepare for fall semester and a full campus once again, and I’d like to provide some updates on current issues and events.
Safety rules and vaccination
I’m pleased with how COVID‑19 vaccines have reduced coronavirus cases across the country, but some people still have yet to get a vaccination. In addition to the fact that a vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from getting the virus, the state of Michigan recently added another reason: the MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes. Vaccinated residents 18 and older can register for a combined total of more than $5 million in cash giveaways. For ages 12‑17, there are chances to win Michigan Education Trust scholarships.
After highly successful work administering more than 96,000 COVID‑19 vaccinations here locally, the two vaccine clinics that operated at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education have been able to cease operation. Hundreds of health care workers and volunteers deserve our thanks for this incredible community service. I’m particularly proud that more than 800 MSU volunteers stepped up to staff the clinics, donating more than 16,000 hours of their time.
The university is continuing vaccine distribution through our MSU Health Care Pharmacy for students, staff, faculty and patients, and we’re preparing for additional vaccination opportunities as part of the return-to-campus efforts starting in August.
MSU now has lifted most of its COVID mandates, except in health care settings, in alignment with state and federal guidance. We will continue to monitor the pandemic closely, including the spread of more contagious virus variants.
Partnerships and plans
I was pleased to participate in the recent groundbreaking ceremony for a new headquarters for visual communication software innovator TechSmith. MSU and the MSU Foundation are partnering to develop a 62,500-square-foot, two-story office building on five acres in the south portion of Spartan Village on campus. TechSmith will relocate there from its current location in Okemos.
TechSmith’s closer proximity to campus will enhance our ongoing partnership, which currently includes student internships and support for College of Engineering programs. It’s an exciting beginning to the transformation of the Spartan Village area as MSU plans its redevelopment.
Last month we announced a partnership with the Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rock Family of Companies for support of the new Developer Academy in Detroit that Michigan State is planning with Apple. The Apple Developer Academy will open this fall on the second floor of Bedrock’s downtown space at 660 Woodward Ave., known as the historic First National Building. We expect the academy to make an impact on close to 1,000 students a year. I’m grateful to our partners for sharing a vision to empower diverse entrepreneurs, creators and coders by developing skills for technology careers.
I recently toured MSU’s extraordinary operations in Flint, an impressive effort that epitomizes many of MSU’s strengths — particularly how we partner with communities to solve critical problems. I was hosted by College of Human Medicine Interim Dean Aron Sousa and staff from the college’s Division of Public Health.
I enjoyed talking with students, faculty and staff, including Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MSU Extension staff and others who are working to support Flint families. And I had very informative discussions with our partners at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and with Flint-area elected officials. MSU has a long and supportive relationship with the Flint community, and I look forward to visiting more places where Spartans are making a difference.
2021-22 budget and tuition
As the university closed out the fiscal year on June 30, the Board of Trustees approved financial plans for the coming academic year. This budget approach includes a modest change in tuition rates after nearly four years of frozen tuition. The Board also addressed an increase in room and board and a new student fee to support upgrades to campus recreational facilities.
Importantly, through a combination of financial aid sources and the distribution of federal COVID-19 emergency grants to students, most families with an annual income of less than $100,000 will not be impacted by the tuition increase in the coming academic year.
MSU is a global research university whose vital mission starts with offering exceptional value to its students and to our stakeholders across Michigan. We look forward to maintaining the essential values of accessibility and excellence, serving our students and the state.
The Board in June also approved my recommendation for naming Douglas Gage vice president for research and innovation for a three-year appointment. He has served admirably in an interim capacity for the last year and is a skilled administrator and engaged leader.
The Board also approved Provost Teresa Woodruff’s recommendation for Cameron G. Thies as the new dean of James Madison College. He brings a deep scholarly and administrative background to leadership of our public affairs-focused liberal arts residential college.
Our planning for a more typical fall semester of on-campus living, in-person learning and group activities continues. Spartan Football opens on the road at Northwestern University Friday, Sept. 3. in Evanston, Illinois, moved up a day from an earlier Big Ten schedule. The game starts at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. MSU’s home opener will be Saturday, Sept. 11, against Youngstown State at noon and televised on the Big Ten Network.
I want to close with thanks to all who produced and attended MSU’s inaugural observance of Juneteenth last month. It is truly an important event to commemorate. And with the nation’s traditional Independence Day just ahead, I wish you and your family a relaxing and happy holiday weekend.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)