Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., updated the Board of Trustees on the university’s progress in several key focus areas, including diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, acknowledging the challenges presented by the pandemic.
“I continue to be inspired and proud of how faculty, staff and students have responded to the pandemic,” Stanley said. “Spartans always find ways to endure and ways to make a difference.”
Noting February is Black History Month, Stanley reported he participated in recorded webcasts for each focus area of the Task Force on Racial Equity which are available to view by anyone. He also reminded the campus community of the upcoming Excellence in Diversity Awards program on Feb. 24, now in its 31st year.
During his remarks, Stanley highlighted two new partnerships which will be addressing racial disparities in health and the workforce. Last month MSU solidified a partnership with Henry Ford Health System to support medical research and education, as well as access to health care for underrepresented populations. Another recent partnership with Apple Inc. will establish a Developer Academy in Detroit to help educate and prepare a diverse generation of coders, tech leaders and entrepreneurs.
Stanley also mentioned the university’s ongoing partnership with the Ingham County Health Department at the MSU Agricultural and Livestock Pavilion to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations and thanked all the MSU members contributing to that highly successful enterprise.
Next on the agenda, the trustees heard a presentation from Ruth Nicole Brown on the Black Girl Genius project. Brown became the inaugural chair of the Department of African American and African Studies in the College of Arts and Letters last July. In January, she was awarded an MSU Foundation Professorship, making her the first faculty member from the college to receive this honor since it was introduced in 2014.
While at the University of Illinois, Brown founded Black Girl Genius Week, a structured set of in-school and public activities centered on humanistic inquiry. The program amplifies the collective power of Black girls, recognizing them as experts of their own lived experience, fostering deep critical thinking skills and creative practices and exemplifying genius.
In addition, trustees approved the appointments of Linda Greene as the dean of the College of Law and Marlon Lynch as vice president for public safety and chief of police.
Leading into the meeting, newly elected members of the board also began meeting with their assigned committees. Trustee Pat O’Keefe joined the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee as well as the Budget and Finance Committee. He also will serve on the MSU Foundation Board. Trustee Rema Vassar joined the Academic Affairs Committee and the Student Life and Culture Committee. She also will serve as the board’s faculty liaison.
The next board meeting will be April 16.