Feb. 23, 2022: Spartan Community Letter

Dear Spartans and Friends,

This month, Michigan State University marked the 167th year since its establishment by the state of Michigan. From the 63 students, five faculty members and three buildings on campus when we opened our doors in May 1857, today we enroll 49,659 students, engage some 30,000 faculty, academic staff, graduate assistants and support staff and operate 564 campus buildings.

MSU is a top-100 ranked global university with half a million degreed Spartans in our alumni network. We serve every county in the state through our outreach and Extension services, medical education, research programs and other partnerships. Now working to implement our MSU 2030 strategic plan, MSU remains a visionary and engaged engine of advancement for our students, employees and state.

Recognizing outstanding Spartans
The excellence driving MSU’s growing impact is due to the quality of our faculty and staff, several of whom earned recognition recently in announcements from two prestigious organizations.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society, and being named a fellow of AAAS is a great distinction. The latest cohort of AAAS fellows includes nine MSU faculty members, tying MSU’s annual record of honorees. Having new fellows named in seven different disciplines attests to the breadth of MSU’s research excellence.

In addition, we are proud to congratulate the two MSU winners among the recipients of 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowships. Sloan Fellowships honor the most promising scientific researchers working in the United States and Canada. This year’s MSU honorees joined 39 others from MSU since the program was started. 

And congratulations to Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, who was recommended by Provost Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., and confirmed by the Board of Trustees this month as dean of Lyman Briggs College. An internationally recognized ecology researcher, she has served as interim dean of Lyman Briggs, our residential college in the sciences, since December 2020.

Last month, we said goodbye to retiring MSU volleyball head coach Cathy George, who over her 17 seasons here became MSU’s winningest volleyball coach. Now, we warmly welcome our new Spartan volleyball head coach Leah Johnson. She comes to us from Illinois State University, where in her five seasons there, her teams made five postseason appearances, including four straight NCAA Tournaments. Good luck, Coach Johnson, and we all look forward to your first season in the fall.  

Championing students
Students are the focus of MSU’s mission, and an upcoming date offers a great opportunity to support their success. MSU’s annual Give Green Day is Tuesday, March 15, when Spartans come together to support our students through a wide range of impactful programs. It is a chance for us all to make a big difference in the span of 24 hours, and I urge you to participate.

Celebrating Black History Month
February is Black History Month, and I’m proud of the commemorative programs sponsored by MSU offices and groups acknowledging the struggles, recognizing the contributions and celebrating the successes of Blacks, Africans and African Americans. One of particular note is the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s long-running Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, “Slavery to Freedom.”

I viewed the inspiring documentary, “Through the Banks of the Red Cedar,” with members of the MSU Board of Trustees this month. It focuses on filmmaker Maya Washington’s father, Spartan and pro football standout Gene Washington, and the impact of the MSU football program. Coach Duffy Daugherty led the first fully-integrated college team in America to win two national championships in 1965 and 1966, changing the sport forever. The film will air again locally on WKAR World Friday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. Spartans elsewhere can contact their local PBS station to learn if it will air in their area.

MSU has also hosted a number of Black history makers through the years, and I invite you to hear some of their inspirational words. More than celebrating the past, MSU is dedicated to living its values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our strategic DEI plan offers a comprehensive assessment of the university’s position, programs and policies, with ambitious and actionable goals being pursued under the direction of Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar R. Bennett.

Over the generations, Spartans have come a long way together, and we’re increasing our momentum for much more. You can learn more about these topics in this month’s MSU Today podcast.

Go Green!

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