The Spartan Podcast

 

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“There are Spartans everywhere in engaged positions making a difference in communities and companies and getting great experience that’s not simply something to put on their resumes, but to accelerate their life’s journey,” Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon tells Russ White on MSU Today in talking about MSU students.

“Internships, research experiences, Spartans day of giving – all those things contribute to help create someone who is using their talents in a way that connects to real life and to being an impactful community member beyond their time as students.”

In discussing K-12 education, President Simon says we “should have high aspirations for all of our children to become more economically competitive and more connected to what will be the needs for the 21st century.”

Michigan State University has closed the 2015-16 books on what is officially the most successful fundraising year in MSU history, a year in which $272 million was raised toward the Empower Extraordinary campaign goal of $1.5 billion.

“We can have that sense of public responsibility that our donors see connected to our land grant ideals, and at the same time raise the dollars necessary to recruit and retain the very best people and give them the tools to be successful.”

FRIB and NSCL will host a public open house on August 20. The public can tour the facilities, learn more about FRIB and NSCL, meet nuclear scientists and hear about their work on the frontiers of rare-isotope research and participate in several hands-on activities and demonstrations the whole family can enjoy and learn from.

President Simon says the FRIB project is “on schedule and on budget” and she adds that now is a good time for those interested in the project to take in the tour “because we’re going to be starting to put all this equipment in the tunnel. So this will be one of the final moments when people can actually walk through it and see what it looks like and how big it is.”

President Simon reflects on the untimely death of Mike Sadler and says his July 31 memorial service in Spartan Stadium shows that “football has a way of capturing attachment to people – many of whom never met Mike Sadler – as a way of celebrating what’s best about student-athletes – not what happens on the field – but what’s best about them as human beings and how sad we are to lose people with such great potential.

“But I feel the same way for names that no one knows, not only in our student body, but across America as we think about lives that are lost where the potential is greatly unfulfilled.”

President Simon doesn’t see MSU’s smoke-free campus as necessarily “path breaking” and reflects on the first sounds of fall semester – the beginning of practice from the Spartan Marching Band.

“They’re integral to great Saturdays but they’re never going to be on the front page after a great Saturday.”

In looking ahead to fall semester President Simon says “We’re at an interesting point of inflection in our society because there are a lot of social issues that have come again to the fore. And if you’re my age, you would hope that we would have made more progress on our capacity to respect one another and appreciate that we all can be different but yet still talented.

“We can’t have this sense of inequality in our society and have a strong democracy. I think our founding fathers understood that. Even though the country was coming out of a difficult time with a lot of divisions, they knew we had to move beyond them to take advantage of all or our talents and to have people feel as if they belonged. And if people feel like they belong, they’re going to do more and contribute more of their talent, not just for themselves but for the common good.

“And we’re still struggling as a society with that. And the students, when they come back, will continue to struggle with that. The nature of the rhetoric around us pulls at civility. So it’s essential for our students to get to know each other and take the time to do so. You have to listen and learn and talk to people with respect and civility while you deal with ideas that have very rough edges and can be very divisive as ideas.

“You have to be able to understand something that’s not your world in order to know what to do with it and understand and listen to ideas that you don’t like. Maybe they’re said in ways you don’t like either, but that’s what educated people have done for a very long time. So I think it’s going to be an interesting time for our students, community and world to see how things unfold.

“At the same time there’s pressure on students to leave here more work ready, but at the same time more life ready.

“The biggest cost of an education is not getting one.”

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