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From President Stanley


President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.When I launched the strategic planning process in January 2020, I never imagined how much our world would be turned upside down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Like other universities and organizations, we were forced to rethink nearly every aspect of our operations, often with limited and rapidly changing information. I remain immensely proud of the teamwork and resilience of the entire MSU community and the work we’ve done to continue providing the world-class education, research, and outreach and engagement expected of our great university.

Amid the strains of COVID-19, we continued to strategize and plan, harnessing new lessons learned to ensure we are prepared not only to respond, but also to lead in a future landscape shaped by many forces, a landscape forever changed by our collective experiences. We witnessed the power of technology to enable us to continue providing a world-class education in a remote and distanced environment. But we also heard clearly about the value of in-person experiences for students, faculty and staff. Spartans missed these personal connections while we operated in a more virtual mode.

During the past year, we also observed the reliance on leading research universities like our own to deliver solutions to challenges brought on by the pandemic. We provided basic and translational scientific and health research to develop new tests/diagnostics, therapies and vaccines, and helped illuminate the societal and personal impacts of the pandemic with the trusted expertise and humanizing, enriching contributions of the social sciences, humanities and creative arts. With our long history in outreach and engagement, we worked in partnership with communities to offer information, resources and solutions responsive to their expressed needs and meaningful for people’s lives.

The pandemic, along with other national events, brought heightened attention to societal issues, from health disparities to calls for social justice. We have an opportunity and a duty to continue addressing these issues by living our shared values each day and leading by example in creating a safer, more welcoming and more respectful campus where everyone can do their best work. That is why, from the beginning of this process, I also charged two additional groups to do specific, intensive planning around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and relationship violence and sexual misconduct (RVSM). You will see elements reflecting those planning efforts throughout our university strategic plan because our work as an institution will only be successful when the principles upon which the DEI and RVSM plans rest are embedded throughout all we do.

We may not be able to predict the precise dimensions of the next great challenge society will face or the nature of the next pandemic, but we know the world’s leading research universities, those with the scope, scale and excellence of MSU, must be at the forefront of addressing these challenges. We will be prepared to educate the next generation of leaders and to be incubators of the innovation, discovery, scholarship and creativity required to bring sustainable solutions to the world’s most complex problems.

The title of the university’s strategic plan is Empowering Excellence, Advancing Equity and Expanding Impact. Without question, what makes MSU excellent is its people. The vitality of a university stems from the ingenuity, creativity and drive of faculty, staff and students, and ours are exceptional. The colleges, departments, schools, centers, institutes and administrative units across campus that are their homes will always be the key to our success. Built with substantial input from the MSU community, this strategic plan will serve as a framework for our collective work. Yet it is not designed to be a roadmap followed at every turn. We must remain nimble and ready to adapt to a changing world, seeking every day to make a greater impact here in Michigan and across the globe.

Using the thematic areas and goals set forth in this plan to guide our work, we pledge never to lose sight of what might be just beyond the horizon. We are committed to sustaining the global impact we have today and building on our strengths to grow that impact through this century and beyond.

In my two years as MSU’s 21st president, I say with confidence that we are well-positioned to accelerate our contributions and expand our impact as a premier research institution with the unwavering commitment to access and engagement embedded in our land-grant mission. The work ahead is immense, but I know a tough challenge does not deter a Spartan. Join me in continuing this journey together.

Spartans Will.

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. 

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)