March 30, 2022: Spartan Community Letter

Dear Spartans and Friends,

Students back from spring break and more seasonal weather are bringing our campus back to life and giving me new opportunities to greet people on my morning walk to the office from Cowles House. Those encounters remind me how fortunate those of us studying and working at MSU are to be part of an institution that is so transformational to many. 

Fostering academic excellence
Our MSU community is working diligently this season to successfully conclude the academic year, and I’m very pleased that our excellence has once again been recognized in the latest graduate degree program rankings from U.S. News & World Report. For the 28th year in a row, our College of Education’s elementary and secondary education programs rank No. 1. Our educational curriculum and instruction program and the Eli Broad College of Business supply chain management program also lead the nation in new rankings, while our nuclear physics program remains No. 1.

One of the great pleasures of my job is recognizing our faculty and staff’s vital contributions to strengthening MSU’s academic programs. Most recently, I was proud to present this year’s President’s Distinguished Teaching Award to College of Social Science Associate Professor John Waller in a surprise classroom visit. When I walked through the door, Professor Waller joked that he was being fired, but of course, nothing could have been further from the truth. Leader of our innovative Social Science Scholars Program, Professor Waller is an exemplary teacher well-deserving of this recognition. His scholarship, enthusiasm and mentorship make him a great example of the world-class people who are supporting the success of our students.

Financially supporting Spartans
The excellence of our educational programs is also supported by the generosity of the Spartan community. I want to thank everyone who stepped up to support students and programs at MSU on our sixth annual Give Green Day, March 15. This year, by our preliminary count, more than $1.34 million was raised in 7,053 gifts for causes including alumni club scholarships, the Survivor Emergency Fund and college-based funds supporting Spartan students of today and tomorrow. It’s another wonderful testament to the ongoing engagement of Spartans around the world.

MSU will continue that good work under the direction of Kim Tobin as the next vice president of university advancement. She arrives May 1, pending Board of Trustees approval next month. She brings more than two decades of experience in philanthropy and at development posts at other universities, and will oversee our development efforts and the MSU Alumni Office. My heartfelt thanks to Marti Heil, who retires from that position after a distinguished career.

Financial stewardship is a continuing imperative for MSU and an element of our MSU 2030 strategic plan. Following earlier approval by the Board of Trustees, we recently issued $500 million in century bonds, which mature in 100 years. With a yield to maturity of 4.165%, the bonds give us greater flexibility to support priority projects and initiatives with sustainable, low-interest funds. It’s a new tool to help us continue to invest in transformative, innovative projects now and well into the future.

Promoting health and safety
Transformation is happening all around us. I was pleased to join colleagues and others for the ribbon-cutting for McLaren Health Care’s new health campus in the University Health Park. The $600 million development sprouting on the south end of the East Lansing campus includes a new 240-bed hospital, a multispecialty outpatient health care center and a Karmanos Cancer Institute in partnership with MSU Health Care. It’s a significant addition to the area, with new facilities available for MSU’s education, research and service to our regional community in collaboration with McLaren.

We are also promoting health and safety through our second Know More Campus Survey, which was launched this month. It will update the findings of the first such survey conducted in 2019 to measure the culture, perceptions and policies associated with relationship violence and sexual misconduct at MSU. The confidential survey went to all students, faculty and staff, and the information we gain will add to our knowledge base for prevention programming, policy development, resource provision and culture change on campus. I’m grateful to the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, which is leading the survey initiative, and to all who participate by taking the survey.

March Madness and more
March, of course, means basketball to Spartans. We once again ardently watched our women’s and men’s basketball teams competing in Big Ten Tournament action. And the men’s team again went to the NCAA Tournament, delivering thrilling first- and second-round games. Thanks to the teams, head coaches Tom Izzo and Suzy Merchant and their staffs, and to all MSU’s student-athletes for adding so much to the excitement of being a Spartan. 

The excitement isn’t over for MSU’s women’s gymnastics team, which competes Thursday at the NCAA regionals after placing second overall in the Big Ten Championships and their best finish since 2006. Good luck, Spartans, and congratulations to head coach Mike Rowe, named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

In March, we also celebrate Women’s History Month on campus and beyond, and groups and offices across the university have been highlighting the contributions of women to MSU and our society through special projects and programs. We are now also celebrating Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month through April 24. Student and university groups are offering many opportunities to celebrate and learn about the rich diversity of our community.

You can hear more about the topics above in my monthly MSU Today podcast. I’ve also been joining other MSU leaders in MSU Today podcasts discussing how the university is implementing its new strategic plan. I encourage you to listen and learn more from those who are leading these efforts.

Go Green!

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