Oct. 26, 2021: Spartan Community Letter

Dear Spartans and Friends,

You can feel the excitement building on campus, across the state and even beyond for this weekend’s football rivalry game, as our two undefeated teams seek to establish bragging rights for another year. As we look forward to an epic contest at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, I want to share that both of our universities are working in many ways to remind our fans that you, too, represent your school. Whatever the outcome, we urge everyone to celebrate responsibly.

I am reminded of the enthusiasm, pride and presence of the Spartan family in my visits to communities around the state. This month, I was in Detroit and Grand Rapids visiting with alumni, meeting with partners and promoting the outstanding work of our great university. It is a privilege to represent MSU in communities of such great importance, where we not only enroll large numbers of students, but where many of our graduates return to make their homes and build their careers.

In my visit to Detroit, I was joined by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and others for a fascinating tour of the new Apple Developer Academy. Apple chose MSU as its partner for this first-of-its-kind facility in North America, which will develop in-demand technology skills for residents of Detroit and across Michigan. I was very impressed by the students I met, who come from a wide range of ages and backgrounds.

In Grand Rapids, I spoke at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids and then joined staff and friends of the university for a tour of the new Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building. The facility is another anchor for the growing MSU Grand Rapids Innovation Park, with the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center and what will become the new North American headquarters for health care product company Perrigo. Starting with completion in 2010 of the nearby Secchia Center as the headquarters for our College of Human Medicine, MSU is helping transform the city’s Medical Mile through innovative public and private partnerships and the philanthropy of visionary community leaders.

Earlier this month, we held a ribbon-cutting for the Billman Music Pavilion, which showcases a superb new space for music study, practice and performance on our campus. The arts are an essential part of a great university, representing important ways of knowing while connecting people to one another. As outlined in our new strategic plan, the arts and other creative pursuits will remain a vital part of the Michigan State experience, and the music pavilion is a wonderful representation of that commitment 

The strategic plan also makes clear that people are the source of the university’s excellence and that the success of our students will remain our chief focus. Much of our student support efforts take place in the residential setting on campus, and we are taking a major step to better focus and provide support to all our students with the consolidation of our Student Affairs and Services and Residential and Hospitality Services divisions into a new Division of Student Life and Engagement. This will be a transformative, world-class model for supporting student success, whether students live on campus or off.

People can only pursue their dreams when they feel safe. As we conclude Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am grateful for all those who have supported and staffed MSU’s Safe Place through the years. It became the nation’s first campus-based shelter program to address relationship violence and stalking in 1994 through the leadership of dedicated advocates, notably former MSU first lady Joanne McPherson. Any member of the MSU community who is threatened by domestic violence has a place to turn for shelter and other help.

The Student Veterans Resource Center represents another valuable campus resource, one that comes to mind with the approach of Veterans Day on Nov. 11. The center supports MSU’s student veterans and families with a variety of services and resources. There are many opportunities to honor veterans and military affiliated students at MSU, including providing support for the center and through scholarships. We are grateful for the sacrifices and service of MSU’s veteran students, staff, faculty and alumni.

I also want to bring to your attention a film documenting the quest for justice for American veterans deported by the country they served. It’s the compelling work of MSU professors of practice John Valadez and Carleen Hsu with several MSU programs, including the MSU Documentary Laboratory for Creative Non-Fiction Film. American Exile will premiere on PBS stations across the country at 10 p.m. Nov.16, including on MSU’s WKAR, and I hope you take the opportunity to view it.

Finally, I want to thank all who continue to support a safe campus environment and protect themselves and others through vaccination against COVID-19, masking and other precautionary measures. I encourage those who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, and I urge everyone who is able to seek a flu shot as well.

I will discuss these and other current topics on the MSU Today with Russ White podcast later this week and invite you to give a listen. And as we all look forward to the coming weekend with its Halloween festivities and football, I ask everyone to please be considerate, be safe and Go Green!

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