From the editor:

Past, present and future

Feb. 8, 2017

“It’s across the street from the Biggby that used to be an Arby’s and a bus station.” And with those words I uttered last week, I had really, really dated myself. Not that my husband doesn’t already know how old I am, but he definitely reminded me right after I said them. It was just one more in a long line of “used to be” directions I’m prone to giving. “Next to where El Azteco used to be.” “On the street where Ryan lived in the house that used to be on stilts.” “Where Melting Moments used to be.” Yep. I’ve used them all. I like to think I inherited this trait from my dad who once told me to “Turn where the stand used to be where I got the best French fries when I was a kid.”

My dad grew up in Bay City, Michigan so when I (or my husband or daughter) give directions rooted in the past, we call them Bay City directions. I’m certain we’re not the only family to use the past to direct our present and future. I personally think it’s kind of charming.

To me, these kinds of directions make all kinds of sense because I can still see them as they were. In the weird little recesses of my mind, the pictures are still there. I don’t need a photo of my room in Campbell Hall to remember just what it looked like. I know exactly what the study carrel on the fourth floor of the Main Library looked like while I studied statistics. I can picture the smallest details of places I lived, worked, studied and visited. It’s a lovely continuous photo gallery in my head.

The latest MSUTODAY FEATURE: Then and now, won’t make you rely on your own mental photo gallery to travel down memory lane. A few of our extremely talented interns took some super cool photos of current places on campus alongside images from the past. They’re a really fun way to learn a bit more about MSU’s past, which is appropriate given that we celebrate Founders’ Day this week. You really don’t want to miss it.  

In honor of Founders’ Day, MSU’s president, Lou Anna K. Simon, offered her yearly address yesterday. She said, “I often ask what kind of place the world would create today to confront its modern challenges. Would it be something like MSU?” Check out her PRESIDENT’S BLOG: Founders' Day 2017, to read her speech and learn more.

Much can be learned from examining the past. The Campus Archaeology Program is dedicated to doing just that. Conducting research and digs throughout campus, they can piece together fascinating information about the earliest days of Michigan State.

Amy Michael is an instructor of anthropology and researcher with the program. She’s currently involved in comparing the findings from three recent components of the Saint’s Rest Dorm: the refuse pit, the West Circle privy and the building itself. Check out her FACULTY VOICE: Let’s get trashed!, to learn more about her intriguing work.

Lisa Bright is a doctoral student who works with Michael in the Campus Archaeology Program. Her specific research interests include mortuary archaeology, bioarchaeology and paleopathology. She’s been working on a interesting project piecing together the history of female employees working on campus in 1866. Check out her STUDENT VIEW: The kitchen girls, to learn how different things were back then.

It’s not often that one’s expertise in a certain era or topic results in a call from Martin Scorsese’s production team, but that’s exactly what happened to a history professor at MSU, Liam Brockey. Read the MSUTODAY STORY: Hollywood and history, to learn about his experience consulting on Scorsese’s latest film, “Silence.”

It’s important to look at the past, because it can offer us insight. Founders’ Day gives us a perfect opportunity to reflect on our roots but, more importantly, look toward the future. Spartans have been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. In that time, we’ve done some pretty amazing things. But Spartans never rest on their laurels – we roll up our sleeves and say, “What’s next?” Rooted in land-grant values with our eyes on solving modern challenges, we will change the world. Spartans Will.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo of cows crossing the Farm Lane bridge in the 1930s courtesy of University Archives and Historical Collections