The Spartan Podcast


BOB.jpg Hear the conversations 50:27 – 28.8 mb mp3

One major take away from the 2017 Energy Summit in Grand Rapids is increased optimism about Michigan’s energy future. A summit feature is recognizing the winners of the Michigan Battle of the Buildings ‘Biggest Loser’ competition—building owners and operators who achieved significant energy reduction in 2016. The competition is organized and hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council-West Michigan Chapter.

‘Biggest Loser’ winners range from large complexes like Ford Field Stadium and the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center to smaller facilities such as the Grand Rapids Brewing Company and the headquarters of Meadowlark Design Build in Ann Arbor. What all competition contestants have in common is a strong commitment to wise energy management and use. Read more »


LR1216.jpg Hear the Conversation 16:44 – 9.6 mb mp3

I recently caught up with Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. She says MSU continues to work on travel, study, and research issues for its faculty and staff.

“Some of the logistics are being worked out,” she says. “And I think that we’re getting a little bit of smoothness in the entire system so that people feel some consistency. I think we’re in a calming period.”

President Simon is optimistic about the career opportunities for this year’s crop of MSU graduates. She says “90 percent of last year’s class had firm commitments for graduate school or jobs six months after graduation. The prospects are even stronger for this class than they were last year.” Read more »


hitzler.jpg Hear the conversation 34:14 – 19.6 mb mp3

Paula Hitzler loved horses while growing up in Pinckney, Michigan. In fact, her mother would say that Paula could whinny before she could talk. “I begged my parents as a child to get me a horse. And it was always ‘no, we live in the city, maybe one day when we move to the country we’ll get you a horse.’”

After eventually moving to the country, Hitzler held that promise over her dad’s head and the result? “He bought me a $360 pony with a saddle and that’s how it all began at the age of nine.”

According to Paula, there are several things today’s kids miss out on by not growing up around horses. “Horses teach children a lot of things—responsibility, compassion, patience, tolerance—so a lot of really important life skills.” Read more »


edpanel17.jpg Hear the conversation 34:14 – 19.6 mb mp3

“Forty-seven years ago, on April 22, 1970, we celebrated the inaugural Earth Day, and the New York Times cover read: “Millions Join Earth Day Observances Across the Nation.” Closing in on five decades later, Earth Day is an international observance and global sustainability issues are constantly in the news,” Kirk Heinze says on Greening of the Great Lakes as he convenes his annual Earth Day panel discussion.

Joining Kirk to talk about the significance of Earth Day and several associated topics is a distinguished panel—three individuals who have devoted much of their lives to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of our planet. Read more »


kcdnrsp.jpg Hear the conversation 15:33 – 9 mb mp3

Back at the helm of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after a demanding tenure leading the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Director Keith Creagh and I resumed our annual conversation on a variety of salient natural resources-related topics. And as our conversation unfolded, I got the distinct impression he is very pleased to be back ‘home’ at the DNR.

A new initiative Creagh is especially excited about is “wetland mitigation banking.”

“Wetlands help filter out many of the nutrients and contaminants in our water. It’s extremely important to have highly-functional and high-value wetlands in Michigan. So, we’re partnering with the townships and counties such that as they start improving their infrastructure, we’re going to use public lands as a wetlands mitigation bank. This is an opportunity for public land to provide a solution to taxpayers.”

Creagh says he, like most Michiganders, is gravely concerned about potential federal cuts to programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Read more »


klhpk.jpg Hear the conversation 12:35 – 7.2 mb mp3

Food for Thought is a show about starting or changing the conversation about hunger and food security within the state of Michigan,” Phillip Knight tells Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes. “We believe we can be the first state in the entire U.S. to solve hunger.”

Knight is executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan and host of Food for Thought, Sundays and 9 p.m. on News/Talk 760 WJR.

He explains the difference between hunger and food security.

“Hunger is that physical pain that you feel when you haven’t had enough to eat. Any food will solve hunger. But for people who don’t have a lot of economic choice, it’s a terrible thing to have to choose between paying utility bills or buying food or getting medical care or fixing the car.” Read more »


satish.jpg Hear the conversation 8:59 min – 4.1 mb mp3

Michigan State University has launched a “MSU Mobility” initiative which has a number of components but an overarching goal of safety.

“Every day over 50,000 students, staff, faculty and visitors come to campus, and MSU Mobility will ensure even greater safety for pedestrians, cyclists and those who drive,” says Dr. Satish Udpa, MSU executive vice president for Administrative Services.

As with most initiatives at MSU, researchers from multiple disciplines will collect data, develop simulations, and test smart and connected systems for improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

“We want to take advantage of every bit of our intellectual capacity with respect to a number of mobility issues, including autonomous vehicles, networked smart signals and parking redesign,” Udpa explains. Read more »


msutsp.jpg Hear the Show 52:54 min – 30.3 mb mp3

WKAR Public Media has launched a new, free, localized 24/7 children’s service – WKAR’s latest initiative to support early learning in the community.

WKAR broadcasts PBS KIDS shows 24 hours a day on an additional television channel called WKAR PBS KIDS, making it easy for local children to watch their favorite series during primetime and after-school hours when viewing among families is high.

“Our partnership with Detroit Public Television and with Michigan State University is really special to me because it really allows us to build the foundation about what our programming is all about,” director of Broadcasting and general manager of WKAR Public Media Susi Elkins tells MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today. Read more »


forbush.jpg Hear the conversation 5:40 min – 7.8 mb mp3

Todd Forbush grew up in Byron, Michigan on a dairy farm. He replaced his desire to be a hog farmer with being an engineer. “So there was a building called the Agriculture Engineering building at Michigan State University. I had come up to different things with 4-H and FFA and I thought ‘Ag Engineering. I like mathematics, I like agriculture—that’s the career for me.’ Michigan State University and the education I received here is really the foundation for everything I’ve done in my professional career since that day.”

Farm Lane Society member Forbush received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering at MSU. “I’ve taken part in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a board member and chairman of the board of the Alumni Association.” Read more »


Closs2.jpg Hear the conversation 14:38 min – 8.4 mb mp3

“Supply chain, particularly from a Michigan State perspective, means the end to end movement of product from the raw material from a mine or the ocean, through all the production processes, and to the consumer,” Professor David Closs tells Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes. “And increasingly today with the greening of the economy, we also deal with recycling and returning those products.

“So we view it all as a very end to end process and try to manage that to meet the needs of the consumer and at the same time keeping cost and waste down.”

Closs chairs MSU’s renowned Department of Supply Chain Management and is The John H. McConnell Endowed Chair of Business Administration at MSU’s Broad College of Business. He spoke with Heinze after making remarks at the Great Lakes International Trade and Transport Hub (GLITTH) Initiative’s March 29 briefing titled Autonomous Vehicles – Where Research and Innovation Hit the Road. Read more »

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