The Spartan Podcast

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“We continue to be in choppy waters,” Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon tells Russ White on MSU Today. “Whether it’s appropriations or the stress on middle class families” or the hyper-competitive global economy, “we just have to realize there will be continued squalls and choppy water that you have to get through.

“But I think the institution gets through it because of Team MSU – and the work of our faculty, staff and students – with a good deal of momentum.”

While President Simon acknowledges that “the Flint airport is probably as busy as it’s ever been with people dropping in and out to express their concern and outrage, Extension’s been in Flint for almost 100 years working on things like nutrition programs. And the medical school has been there for over 40 years working with the community on issues of health disparities.”

President Simon says the research agenda developed in Flint was based on the community’s priorities, not the university’s priorities.

“And then we hired faculty members to come to Flint to work on their priorities, not our priorities. That reservoir of community connection has been something we’ve been able to tap into amid all of the cacophony of voices.”

The 2016 economic impact report released recently by the University Research Corridor shows that statewide economic impact of Michigan’s research universities tops $17 billion.

“If you look at the data in the report, we remain very competitive with other parts of the United States that are viewed as innovation zones and get most of the press nationally for leading the way in the new economy.

“It’s both heartening for me that he has made a commitment to higher education, and a little disappointing that some of the issues he was trying to rectify weren’t for Michigan State,” President Simon says in giving her initial thoughts on Governor Snyder’s proposed budget.

“We’re going to look at things and continue to thank the governor for the allocation in a very difficult budget, and, at the same time, be a little perplexed.”

WKAR’s new collaboration with Detroit Public Television “will continue to evolve,” says President Simon. She says WKAR is an asset that will continue to grow in value but that has to change and have a culture shift.

“It won’t affect the programming that people see on a day to day basis, and I think the children’s channel has the potential to make an impact.”

President Simon will hold her Conversation with the President on Energy on April 12.

“Satish Udpa has led a really terrific rethink of the power generation and acquisition strategy for the university,” she says.

She believes energy efficiency and reducing consumption will play a larger role in reducing energy use. But she says the university “has not been able to bend the curve on consumption.”

“Now it depends on people,” she says. And how we all reduce our consumption “will be a big focus of the conversation moving forward.”

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