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On this edition of MSU Today, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis talk with Suzy Merchant, Walt Drenth, Leah O’Connor and Bob Groves.

Merchant is the head coach of Spartans women’s basketball; Drenth coaches men’s and women’s track and cross country at MSU and O’Connor is arguably the most accomplished female athlete in Spartan sports history. Bob Groves leads MSU University Advancement.

Merchant says social media “is the biggest thing we deal with now” and talks about student-athletes “learning to stumble” and how they “want some space.” She comments on rule changes coming to women’s college basketball next season and says she likes the nucleus of her team and is looking forward to the coming season. Read more »

withsm.jpg Hear the Conversation 23:11 – 15.9 mb mp3

Spartans women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant says social media “is the biggest thing we deal with now” in a conversation with Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

And she says she sees the pressure some of today’s student-athletes struggle with.

“They haven’t been challenged and faced a lot of adversity; everything has been organized, planned and prepared for them. When they get to this level, there is pressure to perform.”

Today’s young people need to “learn to stumble” agrees the panel. And they seem to be indicating they “want some space.” Read more »

WL.jpg Hear the Conversation 18:35 – 12.7 mb mp3

“It was pretty magical last fall,” says Spartans cross country and track coach Walt Drenth in a conversation with Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis in talking about his national champion women’s cross country team.

Drenth says his team got better and better as the season went along.

Leah O’Connor is a member of MSU’s national championship team. She’s arguably the most accomplished female athlete in Spartans history.

“It didn’t matter who came in one through five at NCAA’s,” O’Connor says, who runs 70+ miles each week. “We just had to be really gutsy and run for each other. When we crossed the finish line, we knew something special had happened.” Read more »

BGsp.jpg Hear the Conversation 13:29 – 9.3 mb mp3

“It’s really hard to be excellent unless you have the fuel for the rocket,” MSU’s vice president for University Advancement Bob Groves tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis in describing the university’s Empower Extraordinary campaign.

“The support of our alumni and friends is really what allows us to do our very best work. Part of the challenge is that to do what we do very well takes resources. We have to be very clear about what it is we need to advance the institution.”

Groves points out that engaging with alumni – even while they’re still students – is important because “those folks just don’t show up one day and start writing checks; they’re involved over a lifetime. And that loop of continuous conversation, involvement and engagement is a really important part of keeping people connected to the institution.

“One of the great things about a university is there are a lot of really interesting things going on. And so whether you want to simply interact with young people more, or you want to change the way the world thinks about a particular problem, or you want to invest in people who are mining the depths of how the universe is put together, there are places where we do that here. And people have a chance to be a part of that.”

kurtd.jpg Hear the Conversation 1:17 – 3 mb mp3

At the recent ribbon cutting at MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, one donor—MSU grad Kurt Dunckel (’78, Physiology; ‘82, DVM, Veterinary Medicine)—shares his thoughts on the importance of giving back to MSU. Read more.

615.jpg Hear the Conversation 21:38 – 9.9 mb mp3

“Fundamentally, the report underscores that talent is the key to the future,” Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon tells Russ White on MSU Today in referring to the latest URC report titled Attracting, Fostering, and Inspiring Talent for the Global Economy. “And that’s talent that’s competitive anywhere in the world.

President Simon says the report also highlights that 70 percent of the jobs in the future will require some form of secondary education and that we need to “address the future needs of the state, not simply the shortages of today.”

On MSU’s focus on preparing more T-shaped professionals for the future workforce she says she reminds people that “MSU was founded to create T-shaped people because we were designed to blend the theoretical and the practical to connect the learning of the community with the learning that happens beyond the borders of the campus. T-shaped people are really the modern day manifestation of the land-grant mission.” Read more »

fr.JPG Hear the Conversation 20:38 – 11.8 mb mp3

WJR Radio’s Frank Beckmann reflects on his 30+ years broadcasting University of Michigan football games. He says he isn’t concerned about college football’s future.

“This is a sport that builds character, personal responsibility and team work in young men, and these are all skills that will be valuable in the real world,” Beckmann says. And he adds that the playoff system is the biggest change he’s seen in the game.

“The game itself still comes down to blocking and tackling. You can have all the spread offenses you want and throw the ball all around the field, you still have to block and tackle. If you don’t do that, you can’t play football and that’s never going to change.”

Beckmann is looking forward to the Dantonio/Harbaugh rivalry starting up this fall. He feels that Harbaugh will return U of M to football prominence but wonders how long he’ll stay in Ann Arbor because “his track record has been four years and out” at his previous coaching stops.

Mark Dantonio has done a super job at MSU; you can’t do anything but tip your hat to him. He’s put Michigan State into the upper echelon of college football.” Read more »

wjr_logo.jpg Hear the Show 53:30 min – 30 mb mp3

Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis and MSU Vice President Bill Beekman talk with Jake Boss, Mike Brand and Anthony Ianni.

Boss is MSU’s baseball coach. He says it’s a dream come true for him to be the Spartans baseball coach.

Boss feels that college baseball is healthy and “in a pretty good place right now” and talks about the differences between the bats and balls used in pro and college baseball. And he discusses the north/south challenge in scheduling that can give southern teams an advantage.

Brand is executive director of MSU’s acclaimed Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.

He talks about Wharton Center’s commitment to “connecting with our audience outside of buying tickets” and how he works to “contribute to the cultural evolution of Michigan.”

Former Spartans basketball player Anthony Ianni describes his development into a national motivational speaker and how he advises the young people with whom he talks to “live your dreams and accomplish every goal you set in your life no matter what the challenge or obstacle is.”

AI.jpg Hear the Conversation 20:38 – 11.8 mb mp3

“I’m a national motivational speaker for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights,” Anthony Ianni tells Bill Beekman and Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

“Live your dreams and accomplish every goal you set in your life no matter what the challenge or obstacle is,” is the main message Ianni hopes young people take away from his talks. “You’re going to have people who doubt you, but you’ll always have at least one person in your corner throughout life.”

Ianni says he was inspired to get into public speaking by Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. “If it wasn’t for Brian Calley, I’m not where I’m at.”

After his first public speaking gig, Ianni told his wife on the way home that “this is where I belong. I think this is my calling. The more I talk to kids, the more I learn what kids are going through. Sometimes they tell me things they won’t even tell their parents or teachers.” Read more »

brandosp.jpg Hear the Conversation 24:27 – 10.6 mb mp3

Mike Brand is executive director of MSU’s acclaimed Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. He tells Bill Beekman and Mark Hollis about many of the exciting shows on tap for Wharton Center’s 2105/2016 season.

And he says that booking a big Broadway show is a lot like a coach out recruiting players. “We’re always out watching and looking at content,” says Brand. “It’s a life. You don’t go out looking for a good show; you live the lifestyle.”

Brand talks about how Wharton Center takes provocative work around the state to contribute to the cultural evolution of Michigan.

“We’re always trying to really connect with audiences outside of buying tickets,” says Brand. “We’re getting a lot of our teaching artists out into the community to really stimulate conversation and an interest in what we’re doing outside of coming to see the big stars in the big productions.” Read more »

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