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Feb. 13, 2019

Founding principles

Feb. 13, 2019

About a bajillion years ago, I was a 17-year-old kid trying to figure out my college path. I didn’t know a lot about MSU. I knew that my friend’s sister went there, it had a program I wanted to study, my friends were going there and it was really pretty. Oh, and it was close to Melting Moments and El Azteco (which I learned about while visiting my friend’s sister one weekend).

I’m not especially proud of how I came to want to be a Spartan — it wasn’t nearly as thought out as it should have been for how important a decision it was. I’d like to blame my youth, but my daughter was incredibly more methodical and informed while choosing her school when she was even younger. Maybe I was less mature or focused, or maybe being a Spartan was simply the right choice and fate somehow got me here. (Fun fact — the window in the top left of the above photo was my room in Campbell Hall.)

Even though the path to my degree took twists and turns through East Lansing, Indiana and South Dakota, I think I always knew I’d end up back here walking across the stage as a graduating Spartan. It was one of the proudest days of my life. Being a Spartan is part of who I am and working here as an adult is a privilege.

Back when I was that scattered freshman, I didn’t really understand how important MSU’s history was and how much it matched up with things I believed in like education for all, being a leader and making the world better. I had no idea that as the nation’s pioneer land-grant university, MSU revolutionized higher education by providing education regardless of social class.     

Yesterday, we celebrated Founders Day and more than 160 years of those original principles, vision and values that continue to drive Spartans today. Check out the short video in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Land-grant roots, to learn more about MSU’s important part in the history of our country.

Roots are so important to every institution and every country. William Lovis, professor emeritus of anthropology and curator emeritus of anthropology, is certainly a firm believer in that. It’s what motivated him to repatriate a mummy donated to MSU in 1890 back to its home in Bolivia. Read his FACULTY VOICE: A mummy returns home, to learn more about his dedication and what it took to make it happen. 

Kevin Johnston, a fourth-year student in the College of Human Medicine, understands that a country’s roots are extremely important. He is currently studying and working in a village hospital in Bududa, Uganda as a part of the Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved program. During his time there, he and his colleagues are careful to respect the people, culture and country they are in. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Ethical service learning, to learn more about his incredible experience.

Back here in East Lansing, our literal roots are still covered in ice and snow. For the last couple weeks, we’ve been pounded with a polar vortex, freezing rain, snow, ice and slush. But, Spartans have grit and determination and have rolled with the punches.

Recently, video of one such Spartan made the rounds on Twitter as he was seen skiing to class. Most people thought it was a student, but it turned out to be Berkley Walker, an assistant professor of plant biology. We tracked him down to offer his perspective on his notoriety. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Beneath the ski mask, to learn why he says that skiing to work isn’t amazing, but plants truly are. 

This wonderful place still has a lot of growing to do and a lot of work to get done, but I have no doubt that we’ll be successful. Our roots are strong and we simply don’t give up. Each day, Spartans get up and get to work to use our history to work in the present to create a better future. #SpartansWill

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Derrick L. Turner


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