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President Stanley looking forward to a “safe, focused and productive” year at MSU

MSU Sign
Amanda Barberena

Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. elaborates on topics he discusses in his August 2022 Spartan Community Letter, which you can read by clicking on the communications tab president.msu.edu. There’s a buzz in the air as fall semester gets underway.

“I'm incredibly excited. And I think if we were to measure my resting heart rate right now, we'd find that it's higher than it normally is because this is an exciting time for us. And as we start the new year, we're anticipating perhaps our largest entering class ever in the first-year class, and we have one of our largest transfer student numbers as well. We're excited that people want to come to MSU and that they're very interested in learning and living here. To all the students and parents, I look forward to seeing you on move-in day. It's going to be exciting, and we're going to have a great semester.”

President Stanley explains the university’s holistic approach to student success and shares its approach to COVID this year.

“The most important part of our approach is always vaccination, and we know that the vaccines help prevent hospitalizations and deaths. They can help mitigate transmission to some degree, and they really are the key to keeping our campus safe. We're asking that all faculty, staff, and students receive a vaccine and at least one booster; that requirement continues. And we had great compliance with the incoming class. Mask wearing is optional now except in some special facilities involving healthcare.

MSU President Stanley about to enjoy a pasty at Dobber's Pasties in Escanaba
Michigan State University
MSU President Stanley about to enjoy a pasty at Dobber's Pasties in Escanaba

“But for the rest of the time you have discretion when to wear a mask. And the only other exception I would say is if you know you have COVID, and you're isolating because of that, we will ask you to wear a mask for the first five days, according to CDC regulations. We want to make sure people have access to testing so they can know if they have any of the symptoms of COVID so they're not exposing others needlessly. But what I'm really looking forward to is coming back together again.”

President Stanley welcomes University Physician Michael Brown to his new post and talks about seven MSU programs being in the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy’s 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects Top 25, including Education at No. 2 and Communication at No. 3. And he talks about points he made in a recent The Hill piece on doubling the size of Pell Grants.

“Pell Grants are a remarkable development by the federal government that provide dollars that go directly to students and their families to support their education. And it really makes a difference to economically disadvantaged students. The Pell Grants are based on family income and levels that really creep up into what we would call middle class now because college expenses have increased. And so it's a wonderful program, but it doesn't cover enough. As the years have gone by, tuition has gone up. The Pell grant doesn't go as far as it once did. It used to cover about 80 percent of costs; that number is now closer to 30 or 40 percent. By doubling Pell, we'd bring it much more in line with the cost of tuition these days and remove one very important barrier to people going to college for the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Stanley reflects on being on hand with Governor Whitmer and President Biden (virtually) for the signing of the CHIPS and Science ACT and being named to the Executive Committee for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He talks about WKAR Public Media’s Century of Service and thanks alumni and donors for a record year of giving back.

“I'm so grateful to those who've invested in Michigan State University, particularly our alumni, who are up 26.6 percent in terms of percentage of people who gave, which is incredible. More than 9,700 individuals contributed for the first time. So that's fantastic. We had almost 10,000 people joining us for the first time. And to hit a record when you're not in a campaign or towards the end of the campaign is impressive. My hat also goes out to our Advancement team for the work they're doing and all the deans, department chairs, faculty, and everyone who helps contribute to the fundraising effort. Everybody did very, very well.”

Tom Izzo
Tom Izzo

And you're recently back from a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the home of Tom Izzo. Your thoughts on your trip there and what you took away about MSU's impact. And you've got a new contract ready for the Board to approve for Tom Izzo that makes him a Spartan for Life.

“You can't talk about the Upper Peninsula and our mission there without mentioning Tom. I'm so glad that he's with us as a Spartan for life now. This contract is certainly well deserved and is going to keep him here and keep him working with the university when he finishes his basketball coaching, which I hope is not anytime soon. At that point in time, though, he's going to be associated with Advancement and the university to do work as an ambassador for us. And I can't think of a better one. But it was a great opportunity for me to get up to the U.P. And it took three years, which was way too long. It's beautiful driving along Route 2 looking at both Lake Michigan during my drive and Lake Superior - incredible vistas. And then I had the chance to visit some of the places where MSU is having an impact. We've been in the U.P. for more than 100 years.

“Let's all stay safe. Let's stay focused. It's going to be wonderful to be back together again. It doesn't seem like so long since we were coming together last year, and I look forward to a really productive and successful semester.”

MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.