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Sept. 5, 2018

Christopher P. Long: MSU is an open door

Sept. 5, 2018

Christopher P. Long is the dean of the College of Arts and Letters. On Aug. 29 he penned a letter to the class of 2022 studying in the college.

Welcome to the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University!

As you embark on your educational journey here at MSU, I invite you to consider the doors that are opening for you all across campus. Each door offers an opportunity, as daunting as it is exciting, to establish meaningful connections, discover new ideas, and develop relationships that will shape the course of your life.

Every door has a threshold, a transitional space through which you pass as you move from one place into another. As you leave home and arrive on campus, you move through a liminal space — a transition between who you have been and who you will become.

Such transitions are often fraught with uncertainty and the anxiety that comes with it, but thresholds are also spaces of possibility through which new and wonderful worlds open you to unanticipated experiences that will transform the way you think. In moments of uncertainty, it is natural to grasp for what is stable and familiar; but the possibilities that open to you as you arrive at the threshold of the education you will receive here require a certain courage to embrace that uncertainty as part of the finite life we live.

We here at MSU are living through just such a period of uncertainty, and your commitment to this university at this time brings us the hope and lends us the courage we need to speak up for one another, to hold each other accountable, and to create the caring and inclusive community we expect ourselves to be.

Over the threshold of the east entrance of Linton Hall on the sacred circle of Michigan State University — the oldest academic building on campus and the home of the College of Arts & Letters — is a beautiful wooden seal of the Michigan Agriculture College. It points to the deep history of this land-grant university, to our commitment to the liberal and practical arts, and to the transition that is at the very heart of the education you will receive here.

plaque over door of Linton Hall

The faculty, staff, and students in the College of Arts & Letters are here to provide you with the skills you will need to thrive in the information rich, dynamic, and deeply interconnected world into which you will graduate. We invite you to visit the Excel Network on the second floor, just up the stairs from that east entrance of Linton Hall, where you will find career communities designed to prepare you to succeed academically while gaining experience with high-impact learning opportunities such as study abroad, undergraduate research and internships.

There too you will find the Citizen Scholars program, where you will be challenged to put your values into practice in ways that enrich a world in need of your creativity and imagination. Aspiring to be a Citizen Scholar will give you access to a dedicated group of professional advisors and peer mentors who will enrich your education, help you identify goals, and guide you on your way toward a meaningful career within the context of a fulfilling life.

And as you cross the threshold into classrooms across campus, you will encounter a faculty committed to the transformative power of education to open new possibilities for you and to deepen your understanding of the complex and beautiful world we are privileged to share.

So as you cross the thresholds of all the doors that will open to you across campus, take courage and know that a huge community of Spartans are here to help you along your way.