Governor Whitmer: "MSU has benefited me as a mom, as a Michigander, and as a public servant"

Aug 9, 2019

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is featured in a Rising to the Challenge piece in the fall issue of Spartan, the Michigan State University Alumni Magazine.

Gov. Whitmer tells Spartan editor Paula Davenport that her average day begins around 5:00 a.m. “whether it's necessary or not, that's when I get up and start moving. As governor, I can spend a 12-hour day in the office or I am frequently out on the road.”

She adds that it’s still hard at times to believe she’s governor.


“It took a little while when people would talk about the governor in my presence before I realized they were talking about me,” she laughs. “The Capitol is one of the most beautiful buildings we have in Michigan. And the fact that I get to spend time there working on issues that matter to people and to our state's future is incredibly inspiring and humbling at the same time.”

Whitmer tells Davenport how her gender impacts her role.

“I do think that we lead differently. Studies have shown that women in public service, in the political realm, spend more time on issues like education and healthcare and get less concerned about credit and more concerned about making sure we have results that are important. I think it’s important to show other women that we are up to taking on executive positions and leadership positions. I hear from parents of daughters all the time how much they like having a chief executive who is female to show that anything's possible for their daughters.”

Governor Whitmer says one of the biggest threats to Michigan is “the lack of investment in the education of our people and the infrastructure that we all rely on. That is the most important work that we have to do. Our roads and our bridges are dangerous and it's getting more dangerous and more expensive every day we don't actually address it.

“And we've short changed everything from our universities to our K-12 system in order to triage this aging infrastructure. And as a consequence, we're behind where we should be in terms of outcomes for kids, in terms of the skill gap, and of course in terms of infrastructure that supports a modern mobility system and modern day economy. These are the biggest challenges and they're not just challenges for us as a state or for our people as individuals, but they’re homeland security challenges as well.

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Hear Gov. Whitmer's May 3, 2019 MSU commencement address

“The good news is none of this is inherently partisan and I'm hopeful that even in a divided government we can find our common ground around solutions on those fronts.”

The governor is a proud Spartan alumna.

“My years at MSU where some of the best of my life. I went there as a freshman thinking I would become a sports broadcaster and then an internship at the Capitol changed the whole trajectory for me. I got my law degree and I was practicing law and that's when the opportunity to run for the State House came up. All the years that I was in the legislature I was fortunate to represent East Lansing and consequently my alma mater. After having two degrees there I think the relationships and the education, the perspective I got from my time at MSU is something that has benefited me as a mom, as a Michigander, and as a public servant.

“We have an incredible nation of Spartans around the world that are connected and fiercely identify with the university and represent grit and determination and problem solving. It's something that is always with me in everything that I do and that's why I will always be so invested in making sure that Michigan State University is successful.”

How will Governor Whitmer know if her administration is a success?

“Success will be measured in terms of, have we started to address our infrastructure issues? Can Michiganders have confidence in the quality of the water they're giving to their families at the dinner table? And have we made strides in closing the skills gap and raising quality of life for people in this state? And will I have contributed in a positive way to the perception of public service and to reminding folks that we're Michiganders first and foremost before partisans? I want people to be able to say their governor was looking out for them.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.