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MSU Provost Working to Improve Student Success and Develop Spartans of Tomorrow

Michigan State University
June Pierce Youatt

June Pierce Youatt is the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at MSU. She is the university’s chief academic officer providing leadership for matters that affect academic programs, research, and outreach involving faculty, students, and staff. One of her current projects is developing an arts strategy. She believes the arts and humanities are an integral part of the student experience at MSU.

“It’s an opportunity to bring together everyone on campus who’s doing something in the arts and humanities to talk about the identity of MSU through the arts and humanities and also the future,” Youatt says.

Youatt and her team are pursuing multiple strategies for enhancing student success focusing on retention, graduation, achievement.

“It’s an all-campus effort, and it’s beginning to pay off in very significant dividends. We’re making sure that students who are recruited here and who meet our standards for admission are getting the support they need to leave here as alumni.”

Provost Youatt is excited about MSU’s initiative to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering, art and math in Detroit’s young adults. It’s called Science Gallery Lab Detroit.

“Science Gallery is an example of what outreach at a land grant university looks like in the next century. And it’s a really interesting way to connect faculty on campus to communities.”

On the East Lansing campus, MSU is developing a new building to enhance STEM instruction.

“We’re increasingly changing the way we teach across the entire campus. But the places where we’re seeing really radical change is in science and mathematics. So the new STEM building is intended to create spaces where innovative teaching can develop.

“This will be the first new building strictly dedicated to teaching on the MSU campus since the 60s.”

Another initiative from Provost Youatt’s office involves helping students graduate in four years.

“If students want to graduate in four years, they have to take an average of 30 credits per year. When students start with a lighter credit load, they tend not to ramp up. If we’re serious about helping students graduate in four years, then the easiest way to reduce the cost of a college education is to reduce the time at college.  

“We as a university are much more deliberate now about thinking about what we want the student experience to be and what we hope students look like on the other side of this experience.

“And trying to define what a Spartan is is part of this. What is a Spartan? How do you leave here with a sense of your responsibility to your community and your world? How do you understand the ways in which what you have learned can be useful, not just in providing for yourself and your family, but for other people around you? What are your values around taking care of the planet and other people? How do you leave here respecting and enjoying the diversity of our country and world because our students are going to work around the world?

“All of that is thinking about how to really create an experience at Michigan State University that transforms a young person into a contributing responsible adult who cares about other people, their environment, and this university.

“I want people to leave here feeling like they’re a Spartan for life. That’s what we want our students to be when they grow up, and our job is to help them get there.”

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.

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