Hear the conversation 24:33 min – 14 mb mp3
“I think the most unique part about Michigan State is the simultaneous commitment to the idea of research and educational excellence and the land-grant world-grant mission,” new MSU College of Social Science dean Rachel Croson tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today. “That is something I have not seen at my previous institutions, either public or private.
“It’s about harnessing energy and the education and the research discoveries to make the world a better place as opposed to simply increasing our own stature.”
She says that in all 12 units in her diverse college “people are thinking about how what they do can make the world a better place. And the evolving vision for the college is ‘our science transforms the human experience and inspires leaders.’”
Croson says today’s students want to impact the world in profound ways. The college has about a 90 percent placement rate for its graduates, who tend to express more life satisfaction in a variety of polls than graduates from other majors. She feels there is a lot gained from interaction between faculty and staff in the college’s diverse mix of programs from professional schools to core disciplinary academic programs.
Croson plans to increase her reliance on “a really strong team of department chairs and school directors” and loyal advisory boards for each of its units to help guide that evolving strategic vision.
She explains what she means when she describes the difference between money and value, and the group discusses the “flexibility” that makes MSU such a unique place.
“I’m a believer that strong interdisciplinary research comes from strong disciplines. You need to have people with deep expertise in a particular area who are open to collaborating with each other and who see the value in the gains from trade that can happen when they exchange ideas and come up with new things.”
Dean Croson says she hears often from alumni of the college who tell her they received the skills they needed for both their first and last jobs.
“It’s about giving you the skills so that you can continue to learn. Then when new things come your way, you understand how to integrate them into your existing experiences and understand something about what’s coming down the pike.”
The conversation concludes with an anecdote about how an anthropology major ended up leading the supply chain unit of a company.