Message from the President


Teresa K. WoodruffThis morning, as on most mornings, I visited Beaumont Tower. It is an icon for our campus, and as one walks up the small knoll, you reach an arched door where thousands of graduation and wedding pictures have been taken. Above the door is the inscription, ‘whatsoever a man soweth’ and the image of an everyman sowing the seeds of our founders and of knowledge. Today, I ask us to think about this inscription as ‘whatsoever we soweth’ and as we hear the bells ring out the time, think about our shared roles in the creation of a renewed MSU and the world around us through education.

I want to thank President Emeritus Stanley for all that he has done for MSU. His dedicated and principled commitment to our university and foresight for our future through the MSU 2030 strategic plan will have a lasting positive impact. I have learned a great deal about dignity and leadership from him and have been honored to serve at his side.

Our Board of Trustees, executive leadership, deans, faculty and academic staff, emeriti faculty, support staff, students and alumni are all partners in our shared commitment to the mission of MSU. Over the coming months, we will focus on building trust, affirming transparency and advancing strategic initiatives. We remain steadfast in our commitment to cultivating a safe and inclusive university community characterized by care and respect for others. Through this work, we will enhance culture, communication and community.

Culture

As we look forward, the board and I are aligned in our support for the MSU 2030 Strategic Plan; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Plan; and Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) Strategic Plan. The board and I also are aligned in our belief that we must continue to improve the effectiveness of investigations and experiences of individuals under the RVSM and anti-discrimination policies. Together, we will move forward in the best interests of MSU and the communities we serve, ensuring that the expectations of our collaborative roles are strengthened and mutually understood.

My first meeting of this new week will be with our leaders of the Title IX and Institutional Equity offices. These leaders and the staff who work in these offices are professionals to whom I am committed and delighted to work alongside. There is work before us as the campus continues its collective journey to foster a safer, more secure and more supportive university. I pledge to continue to support the policy, process and workplace changes needed to maintain a safe working and learning environment for all. To that end, and as a major next step forward, we will work to fill the new role of vice president for the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance. The search is underway, and we welcome your feedback.

Communication

I also look forward to enhancing communication with everyone in our Spartan Nation. As Jo Kovach, our outstanding president of Associated Students of MSU said recently, “If you want to know what students think, ask us!” I will be collaborating with student leaders on a presidential commission on the student experience. Students: through this commission, your voices and thoughts on such topics as trust and transparency will be elevated. Thank you, Jo, for your clarion call, which we have heard and are putting into action.

Our faculty are doing incredible work every day, and I want to call out Professor Michael Dease, whom many of you know as our extraordinary professor of jazz trombone. He was just selected as the Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Jazz Educator of the Year by the Jazz Education Network. And College of Education Dean Jerlando Jackson was featured in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Paul Harper and team in landscape services have been out daily mulching the leaves on campus, creating precision, safety and beauty for all our senses. Our athletics department had wins in men’s basketball and football in recent days, and women’s soccer and women’s cross country both had tremendous seasons, winning Big Ten championships. And finally, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams sponsored a performance that used arts to enliven the otherwise unseeable ‘isotope’.

Community

I look forward to celebrating teaching and learning in our classrooms and on our stages, on our courts and competitive spaces, in plowed fields and full dairy barns, and by Zoom or in person on our East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, Detroit and Extension locations in the lower and upper peninsulas. Communicating how we learn and what we learn is essential to being in a community. And as a Spartan community, we must lift each other up and support one another.

In accepting this role as interim president, know that I am all-in for MSU. That means I accept the challenges and opportunities that coexist, and I invite you to join me in addressing them together. I will always stand by you, Spartan community. I plan to engage with you through an upcoming listening tour and provide updates on the state of the university frequently.

With every ring of the Beaumont Tower bell, I will think of each of you and the work that you ennoble and that lies ahead. For whatsoever we soweth was good and so it will be again. Look upward toward Beaumont Tower and find strength, confidence and Spartan pride. The future is ours to write.

You can hear me discuss some of these topics in this MSU Today podcast.

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Interim President
MSU Foundation Professor