Published: July 1, 2010

MSU Extension begins statewide restructuring

Contact(s): Eileen Gianiodis Agriculture and Natural Resources office: (517) 432-1555, ext. 230 cell: (517) 242-4753

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State University Extension has begun its transition to a new structure that emphasizes responsiveness and focuses on important issues facing the state in the 21st century.

“Meeting the needs of those in our state through the expertise of MSU and doing so as efficiently as possible is what MSU Extension is all about,” Extension Director Tom Coon said.

The Extension redesign is meant to capitalize on the expertise that can be offered to communities around the state through its network of educators and specialists and relationships with local partners, Coon said.

MSU Extension started to examine its work and how it can focus its resources to better serve the state’s residents in early 2009. The findings of that process, which included fielding more specialized educators, forging better connections between field staff and campus researchers, and a leveraging of technology to maximize effectiveness, have been shared with stakeholders around the state.

“The result is a structure that ensures that MSU Extension will remain responsive to Michigan’s needs and apply research-based education to contribute to a brighter future for all Michigan residents,” Coon said.

MSU Extension will be guided by the following principles:

• Focused and specialized programs
• Reduced administrative overhead
• Increased responsiveness
• Enhanced accountability
• Continued presence across the state
• Adoption of emerging technologies

In that vein, Coon said, MSU Extension programming will focus on four statewide program areas, each represented by a new institute. Those are:

• Greening Michigan: Leveraging Natural and Human Assets for Prosperity
• Enhancing Michigan’s First Green Industry: Agriculture and Agribusiness
• Preparing Michigan’s Children and Youth for the Future
• Improving the Health and Nutrition of Michigan Residents.

“These are areas where we know we can make a difference,” Coon said. “They align with our expertise and with the needs and opportunities that are appropriate for a land-grant university, like Michigan State University, to address.”

Institute directors have been named and officially begin July 1. However, most have been working toward the transition. They are:

• Rick Foster, Greening Michigan
• Wendy Powers, Agriculture and Agribusiness
• Julie Chapin, Preparing Children and Youth for the Future
• Dawn Contreras, Improving Health and Nutrition

Rather than operate 82 county offices grouped into five regions, MSU Extension’s staff are now organized into 13 multi-county districts, each overseen by a district coordinator. MSU Extension also will consolidate budget and personnel functions in one on-campus business office.

Extension leadership has been meeting around the state with county commissioners, seeking their suggestions on how these changes can help meet the needs of residents at the county level.

“For us, July 1 is another day on the calendar,” Coon said. “We’ll continue to offer the services that the people of Michigan have come to rely on. Our transition will take place over the next year. At the same time, we remain steadfast to the goal of serving Michigan’s needs.”


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.


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