Published: Aug. 26, 2009

MSU welcomes freshmen with message of civic responsibility

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Karen Casey Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement office: (517) 353-4400, Doug Estry Office of the Provost office: (517) 353-5380

EAST LANSING, Mich. — “Spartans give of themselves, to others, in the community, for the public good.” That’s one of the key messages 7,200 Michigan State University freshmen will hear as they launch their academic careers.


It’s the message that defines MSU’s first universitywide Fill-the-Bus event, which will occur during Fall Welcome Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Four buses — two of which MSU alumnus Kellie Dean, president of Dean Transportation, will provide — will be located around campus. Bags donated by East Lansing-based Goodrich Shop-Rite and some East Lansing locations of Meijer Inc. and the Kroger Co. will be placed on the buses for students to fill with school supplies or nonperishable items.


From pencils and notebooks to inexpensive medical supplies to boxes of macaroni and cheese, donations will be delivered to 13 campus and community partnering organizations, such as the MSU Family Resource Center, Lansing School District, the Greater Lansing Food Bank and the Refugee Development Center. Officials from the organizations will be onsite to assist students dropping off their items or writing a “thinking of you” message.


“With each college that grants undergraduate degrees and several nonacademic units participating, Fill-the-Bus will serve as a universitywide service endeavor that not only helps to meet current community needs, but also introduces new students to the importance of positive involvement with community, a key to what it means to be a Spartan,” said Karen McKnight Casey, director of MSU’s Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, which is helping coordinate the event.


The event is designed to communicate to students in tangible ways that service and civic responsibility are core values of MSU, Casey said. And as such, from day one MSU creates opportunities and encourages students to be connected members of their community.


Casey said several of the colleges are incorporating the event into the orientation sessions all freshmen are required to attend before starting class Sept. 2. In doing so, they are reinforcing the idea that service and community engagement are part of the academic experience.


For some students, the out-of-classroom learning is invaluable.


“These learning experiences help students learn civic responsibility and how to be more involved with community members, peers, faculty and administrators,” said Sarah Baker, an elementary education senior and student program adviser for CLSCE. “This project will help to make students feel more connected to their other classmates, their college and the Greater Lansing area.”


Volunteerism isn’t new to MSU, where in 2008-09, CSLCE — the nation’s oldest continuously operating service-learning center, founded in 1968 — recorded 15,221 student registrations for service learning and community volunteer opportunities. And more than 370 nonprofit organizations, agencies and schools utilized MSU’s student volunteers.


“The Fill-the-Bus event is but one example of the many ways we enhance student learning, in this case by introducing them to our commitment to service and civic engagement,” said Doug Estry, associate provost for undergraduate education. “Our intent is to build coherent programs and clearly communicate our expectations and values. If we can help students start right, get involved, understand what it means to become a Spartan and finish strong, they will go on to become the scholars and leaders we envision them to be.”


To learn more about each college’s focus area for donations and collection times and locations for Fill-the-Bus, and to view the full list of community partners and sponsors, visit For more information about Fall Welcome, visit




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.







Click to enlarge

Students check in at the Auditorium Fill-the-Bus location.

Students check in at the Auditorium Fill-the-Bus location.

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