Aug. 31, 2021: August Community Letter

Dear Spartans and Friends,

I marked my second anniversary at this great university earlier this month and, last week, greeted students moving onto campus for a new academic year. Some 15,000 students will reside in our residence halls and another 1,000 will occupy MSU apartments this semester. Our campus community is working especially hard to make sure each student feels safe, comfortable and welcome, and to start them off ready to succeed.

This year’s entering class will be our largest ever, with at least 9,200 students, which is an 8% increase over last year. Among other Fall Welcome activities, it was a pleasure to join Provost Teresa Woodruff, college deans and other leaders at the storied Breslin Center Monday to greet the class of 2025 at our annual Fall Convocation. It also was great to see so many second-year students, who didn’t have the opportunity for an in-person convocation last year.

I also am pleased to honor 2020 graduates, spring 2021 advanced degree graduates and summer 2021 graduates next month at in-person commencement ceremonies. We are offering three ceremonies from Sept. 17-19 to commemorate their significant achievements together.

University updates
Capping many months of review, stakeholder input and development, we recently released our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan. The plan was designed as a framework of recommendations to improve the culture around DEI and to work with our strategic planning efforts. I want to again thank steering committee co-chairs Wanda Lipscomb, associate professor of psychiatry and College of Human Medicine senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and Luis Alonzo Garcia, director of Migrant Student Services, and their committee.

I also want to acknowledge a generous recent gift from Switzerland-based packaging company Amcor. The $10.8 million gift will establish an endowed packaging faculty position focused on sustainability and will support renovations to the School of Packaging building. The endowed faculty position will help provide the resources to advance significant research, build innovative collaborations and create opportunities for promising students to gain research experience.

Spartan sports
Many of us eagerly anticipate the start of the Spartan football season this Friday at Northwestern as well as many other fall sports. There’s a change at the top coming this fall as well, as Bill Beekman, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, will be taking on a new role as vice president for strategic initiatives. I’m grateful for Bill’s work stabilizing and advancing our athletic department over the past three-plus years, and I look forward to working with him in this new role. We secured a national firm to lead the search for a new athletic director and expect to make an announcement soon.

It was a source of great pride to watch four Spartans competing in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, including basketball standout Draymond Green, who brought home his second gold medal. And congratulations to MSU’s James Piot, the 2021 U.S. Amateur Champion. Not only is he the first Spartan to win the national amateur golf title, but also the first winner born in Michigan.

Final words
Looking back over my two years at MSU, we have accomplished so much together to support the university’s momentum in its vital educational, research and outreach missions. Thanks to each of you for your continued dedication to MSU and support in all these efforts.

Please stay safe, and, as always, Go Green!


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)