Faculty voice:

Christopher P. Long: Paths to Explore

Sept. 2, 1015

Christopher P. Long is the dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He began his tenure at MSU this past July 1. He was formerly the associate dean for graduate and undergraduate education and professor of philosophy and classics in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University.

Dear College of Arts & Letters students,

As the new dean of the College of Arts & Letters it is my pleasure to welcome you to Michigan State University.

Many of you have already experienced the network of pathways that figure prominently throughout the MSU campus. It is no wonder that so many students value, treasure, and remember our beautiful campus after they graduate.

As you begin your time here at MSU, it is fitting to take a moment to consider the path that has led you here, and the course your undergraduate experience will take.

Each of you arrives with a unique set of experiences that will enrich the life of our college community. You have been admitted to Michigan State and to the College of Arts & Letters because you are excellent in some important way. You bring your passion, your struggles, your joy and your anxieties, your sense of humor and your seriousness, your limitations and your talents. You also carry with you commitments and a sense of value and integrity that will inform and be transformed by your educational experience.

Whatever course your life has taken to bring you here, as your paths now join the paths of your colleagues and the faculty and staff you will encounter here, your life will become part of what former MSU President John Hannah called the “ever widening circle” that is the Michigan State University community.

Welcome!

Over the next four years, you will be presented with many exciting opportunities and decisions, with a variety of pathways that will determine the sort of person you will become and the kind of life you will be able to create for yourself. We in the college will do our best to provide you with guidance and the skills you will need to navigate those choices effectively.

Ultimately, your education in the College of Arts & Letters is designed to empower you to chart a meaningful course for yourself, one that is true to your deepest commitments and responsive to a world that asks for something great from each of us.

As you begin to chart your course, consider your future self: what sort of person do you want to be? What contribution will you make to the wellbeing of the world we share? As you begin down this road, think about doing things during your time at MSU that will position you to lead an engaged and meaningful life.

To encourage this, we expect our students to do at least three things that will open new possibilities for you.

First, study abroad or study away; I studied abroad when I was a junior at Wittenberg University and it transformed the way I saw the world and understood my place in it. It opened a new language to me and gave me the courage to know that I could navigate the wider world on my own. I returned a different and more mature person.

Second, complete an internship; internships provide you with real world relationships that enhance your academic experience through professional engagement with industry leaders. Internships also give you an opportunity to learn how to network, a professional skill that will expand your career opportunities after graduation.

Third, challenge yourself to embrace the rich diversity of the MSU community and the wider world in which it is integrated. Extend yourself beyond your comfort zone by taking courses in an unfamiliar area. The college is home many excellent interdisciplinary programs that will introduce you to new ideas, cultures and communities. These programs are designed to cultivate in you an ability to imagine your way into lives that are fundamentally different from your own so that you may learn to act on behalf of justice in an interconnected global community.

I urge you to find your path and to leave your own footprints on this campus. By choosing pathways that continue to push the boundaries of discovery, you are capable of addressing the most difficult social, cultural and ethical questions of our time.

And finally, along the way, don’t forget to keep us posted on your progress, share your journey with me and with the College of Arts & Letters on Twitter @deancplong and @CALmsu or via Instagram @cplong or @msucal, or on Snapchat at MSUCAL and on Tumblr at The Ever Widening Circle.

We look forward to the journey ahead.

Check out a video where Dean Long jumpstarts his bucket list.

Watch a video about Dean Long in an earlier Faculty Voice.

Reprinted with permission from the College of Arts & Letters