Categorized | State Side

The Next 150

[body]We might not all be able to pronounce it, but it’s here. MSU is celebrating it’s 150th year this February. From a reputation as a “farming school,” to a prestigious research university, MSU has come a long way en route to its (say it with us) sesquicentennial celebration. Nineteen presidents and hundreds of thousands of graduates later, what began as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan in 1855, has become Michigan State and has garnered a high-class status. One of several proud moments in our university’s history is the recognition of James Madison College and Lyman Briggs School of Science by U.S. News & World Report in its “Best Colleges 2005”, and also its praise for our Study Abroad program as “outstanding examples of academic programs that are believed to lead students to success.” In addition, Michigan State’s medical research has led to accolades such as the production of the top-selling anti-cancer drug in the nation, Cisplatin. While MSU’s history is admirable, we, as a college community, are focused on “the now,” not how nicely Michigan State reads in the history books. What can the student body expect to come from the next 150 years at MSU?
Vision 20/20 is the plan to develop the Michigan State campus to its utmost potential, utilizing open space and expanding buildings and facilities to meet the needs of a growing campus population. Changes scheduled to take place in the following years include, but are not limited to, aspects of athletics, transportation, and student housing. Spartan Stadium and IM West are currently being renovated to enhance the athletic experience of both Spartan varsity and recreational athletes and loyal spectators.
To the relief of those who choose to maneuver a car through the unending stream of pedestrians and clogged roadways, Farm Lane will be widened to four lanes in the next few years. Underpasses beneath the railroad crossings on Farm Lane between Wilson and Mount Hope will also be built. Major construction and renovation can also be expected to begin in Snyder and Phillips by May 2006, similar to the remodeling done in Shaw Hall two years ago.
MSU’s improvements thus far have not gone unnoticed by underclassmen. “Michigan State really treats its undergraduates well,” biochemistry and Spanish freshman Rachel Jacobson said. “The outstanding science program drew my interest, and I am finally able to study what I want.”
Not only do specific academic programs draw the interest of prospective students, but once here, Spartans seek to join student clubs and organizations, branching out and establishing a special niche within an insanely large college environment. “The computer lab expansion in the Engineering Building has really made it easier to study there, which helps me academically,” mathematical science engineering senior Steven Murphy, said. “I am graduating this spring, and my membership in the ASM (American Society of Materials for Engineers and Scientists) student chapter at Michigan State has given me business contacts that I can use for my career search.”
Although MSU has built up a stable reputation as a premier research institution, Steven Lacy, professor of 20 years in the School of Journalism, is concerned with the decline in state support for higher education in Michigan which threatens this stability.
“We receive about 48 percent of our total budget from the state,” Lacy said. “State support is not keeping up with the costs of running a research institution. We have to be careful in raising tuition. This leaves MSU in a difficult spot if it wants to remain a Research I university.”
As of January 1, 2005, Lou Anna K. Simon took over the presidency from M. Peter McPherson, not without controversy concerning a wider search outside the university. However, she was unanimously elected to the position by the MSU University Board of Trustees. Simon believes that the success of MSU revolves around the concept of a team: people who are prepared to give their dedication, ideas and love to this university.
“Michigan State does have a magical quality that is very tangible to our students and faculty and staff,” Simon said in a statement released in June 2004. “Our task, my personal passion, is to make sure it stays that way for many more students, faculty and staff for years to come.”
With an acandemic reorganization, initiated by Simon when she served as provost, on the horizon students are left to wonder what will come as the slicing and dicing takes place. For more information on the future of liberal arts and sciences at MSU visit www.realizingthevision.msu.edu.
Several events are planned to celebrate the 150th birthday of MSU. In the middle of February, events to commemorate the founding of Michigan State on February 12, 1855, will take place, helping students, faculty, and administration ignore those last chilly winter blues in favor of festivities. Starting on February 20, a special exhibit titled “Memories of MSU” will be displayed at the MSU Museum, complete with documentation of university history and Spartan artifacts from the past 150 years. This feature will run through the end of the year.
As another semester starts, recognize that this university is celebrating 150 years of accomplishment. With a driven administration, talented student body and the willingness to change with the times, 2005-2155 will hold only more possibilities for greatness.

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