The Spartan Podcast


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Michigan State University is 162 years old, having been founded on February 12, 1855. Founders Day is a time that has MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon reflecting on the state of Michigan State.

“If you look at the long arc and the metrics, I like our relative positioning to work on behalf of a very positive value proposition for our students, the state, the nation and the world. I think that arc is there and will continue to grow and have momentum,” says Simon.

Simon says we’re living in “interesting times” and worries a bit about funding for research, the arts and humanities, and public broadcasting in the months ahead.

“I think we have to preserve the arts and culture, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences in order to not only improve what’s in our head, but to improve what’s in the heart and soul of the country and the world.”

Simon talks about the tenth annual Economic Impact Report from the University Research Corridor showing that the URC was responsible for $2.15 billion in research and development spending in fiscal year 2015, an increase of 53 percent since 2007. The report also notes the URC contributed $16.5 billion to Michigan’s economy, an increase of $3.7 billion since 2007, the year the URC was formed and began benchmarking its impact on the state of Michigan.

She also describes MSU’s growing research enterprise and how it’s informing the undergraduate experience.

Simon likes the direction Susi Elkins and her team are taking MSU’s WKAR Public Media.

“That’s why the privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a bit concerning,” says Simon.

As the nation and world change under a new administration in Washington, President Simon believes MSU’s values will endure.

“I remain always hopeful in the great strength of America. I just hope that people are open to listening to one another instead of declaring themselves right until proven wrong. The essence of democracy is using the talent and energy of all of us to move us forward.

“I don’t doubt that people want the best for the world; it’s a matter of how we do it. And hopefully we’ll all listen to one another and find a way forward that is brilliant on one side, fast and accelerated in areas like infrastructure, and is inclusive across socio-economic class and all characteristics like race and religion that have made America great.”

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