Jan. 31, 2022: Spartan Community Letter

Dear Spartans and Friends,

A new semester is underway at Michigan State University following an eventful fall semester. A Peach Bowl win was a great way to help close 2021, and I appreciate all who joined us for the game. It was great to see so many Spartans in Atlanta.

As we enter 2022, I am looking forward to another year of Spartan accomplishments. We are already off to a great start. 

Partnerships support communities’ health

Much of MSU’s excellence is a product of our long presence in the communities we serve. Last week, MSU proudly joined the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint to announce a $25 million grant supporting the expansion of the MSU College of Human Medicine’s public health program there.  

The Mott Foundation has been a crucial partner in our work over the years to serve the Flint community. This generous grant follows up on the foundation’s support over the last 10 years to help us develop a new model for improving public health outcomes.

The new funds will support the addition of approximately 18 tenure system faculty members, boosting the program to more than 25 tenure system faculty and approximately 70 faculty members overall. A community partner advisory committee will help determine priority public health areas for the program’s recruiting focus. 

This month also marks the first anniversary of another notable partnership focused on supporting health care in Michigan communities. Last year, MSU joined Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System in a 30-year collaboration inspired by a bold vision: to discover and advance a new standard of health to help transform the lives of people in Detroit and beyond.

As the year unfolds, we look forward to making significant progress together. Our plans include building on our joint cancer research task force to increase research that opens new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. This effort is laying the groundwork for seeking designation by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. We will also begin planning and design for a new research building near Henry Ford’s Detroit campus.

This year we also will introduce a new MSU health education campus at Henry Ford Hospital to begin clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students from the MSU colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine. Through the MSU College of Nursing, we will offer professional development opportunities for Henry Ford employees.

Having identified several partnership goals in the critical areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and justice, we are working to define paths for addressing health equity and health disparities through our partnership, particularly in cancer care. And, we will explore pathways for opening health care careers to more young people throughout Michigan.

Safe campus and a culture of care

At MSU, an important facet of maintaining a healthy and caring community is represented by a new effort based on one of the actions in our Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Strategic Plan. The Support More initiative focuses on providing guidance for how to respond to disclosures of these experiences in an empathic manner and promoting the availability of related campus resources and services. With this, we are taking steps aimed at transforming MSU’s culture as it relates to instances of relationship violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking. 

I am grateful to the RVSM Expert Advisory Workgroup for its members’ dedication to this work and to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Victim Services for its support through a Victims of Crime Act grant award. You can learn more at supportmore.msu.edu.

Today, MSU returned to in-person learning after a three-week remote learning start for most classes. The pause was intended to mitigate the impact of potential classroom absences due to the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.

We are reminding students and employees that COVID-19 booster shots are required unless an exemption has been granted, with a Feb. 1 deadline for most to update their verification forms online. MSU is partnering with the Ingham County Health Department to offer booster clinics at Breslin Center, and we are continuing to provide testing for asymptomatic individuals through our Early Detection Program and, for those experiencing symptoms, the rapid-test center at Spartan Stadium.

Online programs earn high rankings

I deeply appreciate the cooperation of all in helping us continue to conduct safe teaching, learning and work at MSU, whether in person or online.

The excellence of several of MSU’s online degree programs was validated in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings. MSU College of Education programs placed in the top 10 in all four of the U.S. News graduate education discipline program rankings, with curriculum and instruction rising to No. 1 in the nation. 

Among other highlights, MSU’s online master’s program in criminal justice is ranked No. 5 for the second year in a row, and our non-MBA online master’s program in business jumped nine places to No. 12. The online master’s in mechanical engineering program ranked No. 14.

MSU economist tapped for Federal Reserve board

This month Spartans took great pride in seeing MSU economist and professor Lisa D. Cook nominated to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System by President Joe Biden. If confirmed, Cook will be the first Black woman to serve on the board in its 108-year history.

A professor in the College of Social Science’s Department of Economics and a professor of international relations in James Madison College, Cook is a remarkable economist and leader whose nomination highlights the excellence of our Spartan faculty.

Cook is a prominent advocate for diverse voices and scholarship in economics. I was honored in 2020 to be invited to welcome former Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen — now U.S. Treasury Secretary — as a guest speaker for the American Economic Association’s Summer Training Program, which then was hosted by MSU under Cook’s direction.

Saluting our winningest volleyball coach

Also this month, we say goodbye to another trailblazing Spartan, volleyball head coach Cathy George. George announced her retirement after an impressive 35-season career, the last 17 at MSU. She is MSU’s winningest volleyball coach, recording 302 wins here with an overall record of 667-457 across her outstanding career. 

Coach George earned distinction in 1989 as the first woman to lead a team to the NCAA Division I Final Four. She has guided her teams to 15 NCAA tournaments in all, 10 of them at MSU with three Sweet 16 appearances and one in the Elite Eight. Her student-athletes are successful in the classroom as well, with 37 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recognitions and seven Academic All-America honors.

George departs her position with Spartans’ admiration and gratitude. MSU will undertake a national search for the next head volleyball coach. 

Finally, a reminder you can learn more about our partnership with Henry Ford Health System and other items mentioned above in MSU Today with Russ White podcasts.

Go Green!

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