April 2, 2020: Update on timeline, next steps

Dear fellow Spartans:

As our university continues to come together during these unprecedented times, we – the co-chairs of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee – want first to wish all Spartans the very best as we deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak. Many in our community are under immense stress professionally and personally, and we urge everyone to stay healthy and seek out resources if needed. Information on steps the university is taking and resources available can be found at msu.edu/coronavirus.

When President Stanley charged both of our steering committees at the beginning of the semester, little did we know the situation we would find ourselves in just a couple of months later. While many of our plans have been adjusted or placed on hold, the work being done around strategic planning and diversity, equity and inclusion is too important not to move forward. Though timelines will be shifted, both committees are moving forward with these vital initiatives.

Originally, both committees planned an extensive engagement process this spring to ensure all voices – from students to staff to faculty to postdocs to alumni and others – would be heard. While many of our engagement sessions are postponed, there is still a way for each of you to provide online feedback and input. We ask all Spartans to visit the feedback sections on both the Strategic Planning site and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion site. We need your help in defining the university’s missions and values and ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion are integrated into all we do as a university.

While most operations at MSU have gone virtual, that hasn’t prevented both steering committees to continue working. Both groups and project teams continue to meet weekly from home, and before MSU moved to virtual operations, a leadership retreat was held involving both committees, the president and provost, trustees and other leaders from across campus. It was exciting and invigorating to see so many vibrant conversations throughout the day as we work to define what we want the future of MSU to be and what it can be.

Specifically, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has been reviewing our shared values and exploring the core and aspirational values that will guide the university in the future.  Values are core beliefs and guiding principles that inform and shape our daily activities, behavior and interactions across the university and align with our vision and mission. The committee is very interested over the next month to hear from our community what values should shape MSU’s future. Several working groups also have been formed as the committee gathers information and resources from across campus to help guide us in this process.

Concurrently, the DEI Steering Committee is working on shared definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion, benchmarking national best practices and developing a template to inventory diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and initiatives at MSU. The committee’s inventory template will build on the inventory conducted in the spring to avoid duplication. All of this information will lay the groundwork for the workgroups that were formed specifically to examine the composition and success of our student body; composition and success of our staff; composition and success of our faculty and academic staff; research and scholarship; formal curriculum and educational programs, informal curriculum and educational programs; community engagement; and culture.

Finally, we also want to acknowledge the important work being done by a third group on campus: The Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Workgroup. That committee also is working diligently during this time to address this vital topic and develop a campus-wide RVSM strategic plan. More information on the workgroup’s progress can be found at the Our Commitment website.

Despite the situation we find ourselves in, we still fully plan to engage with as many of our audiences and stakeholders as possible. Without knowing what the next few weeks will bring, we will be communicating about those engagement opportunities when appropriate. In the meantime, we ask all of you to stay safe as you continue with your work, studies and service. 

Thank you,

Vennie Gore, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee

Joseph Salem Jr., co-chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee

Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee

Luis Garcia, co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee