June 14, 2013
In December of 2011, after watching the Wisconsin Badgers celebrate its Big Ten football championship game win over my beloved Spartans, sending them to the Rose Bowl and our team back to East Lansing, I’m certain I couldn’t ever have envisioned doing what I did yesterday. Yet, there I was, at the university bookstore in Madison actually buying a Bucky the Badger shirt. Hold up—don’t revoke my Go Green card and send me down the Red Cedar just yet. Hear me out.
This week I, along with some colleagues, went to Wisconsin to attend the annual Big Ten Plus News Directors and Marketing Conference. (The “plus” included Notre Dame, Washington University at St. Louis and Rice). It’s a chance for those of us in the same field to get together, share ideas, talk about challenges and learn from each other. (In this case, there might also have been some excellent cheese involved).
It was a chance for me to be reminded that sports rivalries are great—and in some cases—disappointing or even infuriating. But behind all those rivalries is a pretty impressive list of universities that make up the Big Ten conference. I’m sure some people think the Big Ten, or B1G as they say, is just about sports. But it’s so much more than that.
It’s a group of outstanding universities with high academic standards, brilliant faculty, important research, terrific students and the desire to make this world a better place.
We in the communications office often say that the schools in the Big Ten are more alike than we are different. Sure, we all have our specialties and our own histories and traditions, but when you get right down to it, we all share the same goal—educating tomorrow’s leaders and finding solutions for the world’s problems.
Every school on the list has dedicated faculty members, like MSU’s Joshua Plavnick, who is studying ways to teach kids on the autism spectrum and is featured in our Faculty Voice. Big Ten faculty from different schools sometimes collaborate on research, capitalizing on the best talent for the project.
Every school has thousands of students, like MSU’s Janisse Patino-Martinez who was named a Homecoming Court Ambassador and is featured in our Student View. Students also work together for good, like the annual MSU vs. Penn State blood drive challenge.
And, as I was reminded again this week, every school has a great team of communications professionals.
For me personally, it was also a good opportunity to hear how impressed our peers are with the work MSU is doing lately. From this website to our Spartans Will.360 project to our branding campaign to our produced videos—people really seem to like what we’re doing. I think my favorite quote was when someone said, “You guys are like rock stars.”
I always wanted to be a rock star and working here seems like being part of the best band on earth.
I’m proud to be a member of the Big Ten. I’m even prouder to be part of the Spartan family.
So back to Bucky (did you know his real name is Buckingham U. Badger?). We had a great time in Madison, and I like to collect college shirts. So this Spartan girl plunked her money down on the counter (only $5!) and bought one. That said, I’ll probably only wear it at the gym or in the garden while I dream of payback on the field.