May 29, 2019
Ever since I read my first words in “Hop on Pop,” I have been a voracious reader. I jumped into chapter books at a very young age and never looked back. As a kid, I begged to go to the library and at one point had to get special permission to check out more than the allotted amount of books because I read so fast. I wish I had more time to read for pleasure now, but I’m always in the middle of some sort of book.
There’s something magical about a story unfolding only as fast as you can turn the pages. The anticipation of what’s next has often kept me up late at night while I finish just one more chapter. For me, books with short chapters get read at a speedy pace because new chapters are so enticing. Those with longer chapters are savored a little bit more with twists and turns and slower appreciation for the story that’s being told.
Yesterday, we Spartans began a new chapter of our story. The Board of Trustees, along with a diverse 18-member selection committee, announced that Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. will begin his tenure as MSU president on Aug. 1. Before the announcement, I didn’t know anything about him, but now that I do, I’m excited for what’s ahead.
He has an impressive resume to be sure. As the current president of Stony Brook University and a medical doctor, he’s very qualified for the job. But the things I’ve read about him from the search committee and others have me feeling pretty dang positive. He recognizes and respects that we have had some very dark recent chapters in our history. He has pledged to listen and work together “to build a campus culture of transparency, awareness, sensitivity, respect and prevention — a safe campus for all.”
He recognizes that Spartans are special. He is excited about the incredible work that we do here and around the world. He understands the importance of research and our place in the state of Michigan. He appreciates our early chapters as the pioneer land-grant university and is committed to current-day student success. My colleagues who have met him have been impressed. He has said he wants to work with all Spartans so that “Together, we will write the next great chapter in Michigan State University’s storied history.” Read more from his remarks at yesterday’s Board meeting and I think you might feel optimistic about our future too.
An extremely important part of the selection process was the input from the community and the inclusion of representatives from every part of the Spartan nation on the search committee. Students, staff, faculty and alumni were all represented on the committee and took their responsibility extremely seriously.
Katherine Rifiotis, a recent graduate and immediate past president of the Associated Students of MSU, served on the committee and was impressed with the process. She felt empowered to speak up and represent students and says, “At every point in our conversations and every time a new discussion item arose, committee members deferred to me, ensuring that the student needs were prioritized.” Read more about the process and her glowing recommendation of Dr. Stanley in her STUDENT VIEW: Empowered to speak.
Prabu David is the dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and someone whom I respect greatly. He was also a member of the committee and feels that “By setting aside our differences for the common good, I believe we demonstrated Spartans Will.” Read more of his eloquent words in the FACULTY VOICE: Experience of a lifetime, and how he thinks Dr. Stanley will be both a healer and a visionary.
All of the committee members had wonderful things to say about the process, and more importantly, our next president. To read more from them, check out the Presidential Search site.
As you can imagine, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind around here as we prepared for and distributed this exciting news. But, in true Spartan fashion, the other work we’re doing never slowed down. Most people might be focused on a new president, but we’re still doing things like healing a dog using fish skin, using 3D metal processing to figure out power generation, tackling depression in farmers and studying microbes to address food security. And those are just the things I happen to know about from last week.
Even while major university announcements are being made, thousands of Spartans simply received the news, then rolled up their sleeves and got back to work with fierce determination. If Dr. Stanley doesn’t already know this, he’ll soon learn that the book of Spartans will never be fully written. We’re starting new chapters every day as we take on the problems of the world and our mission to make every story have a happy ending. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner