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Strategic Vision

Michigan State University is a top 100 global research university renowned in certain disciplines and well positioned to lead in others. The university is a global leader in areas ranging from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM ) to social science to the humanities, with nuclear physics, plant and soil sciences, K-20 education, supply chain and logistics, and communication and media receiving sustained recognition. African history, organizational psychology, criminal justice, veterinary medicine, biomedical research and a suite of environmental sciences are among the areas of national and international prominence. Other areas, such as mobility, entrepreneurship, digital humanities and African American and African Studies are rapidly emerging as new spirals of excellence. These lists are by no means exhaustive, but they suggest the breadth of contributions of MSU researchers and scholars at the highest level.

We offer an outstanding educational value that provides pathways to opportunity. Washington Monthly’s 2020 ranking of national universities, based on contributions to social mobility, research and promoting public service, places MSU No. 23 in the nation among public universities. And for its “best bang for the buck” category, MSU ranks No. 11 among universities in the Midwest — public and private — for helping nonwealthy students earn a marketable degree at an affordable price. Placing another lens on return on investment, U.S. News & World Report notes our graduation rate is 12% higher than expected given students with similar test scores and economic background.

Michigan State University was unique in its founding, combining excellence in research aiming to address the problems of the day and the needs of an evolving world with high-quality education broadly accessible to people of modest means. With the addition of outreach through Extension in the early 1900s, the ideal of the engaged university for the common good emerged.

Michigan State’s aspiration builds on its past. But to remain among the most societally impactful universities — one that lifts people up, addresses issues that matter to people’s lives and livelihoods, and fuels the pipeline of innovation with discovery and invention — requires us to act with intention. It also requires us to reckon with the challenges of a changing environment, including uncertain state and federal funding, demographic shifts, changing perceptions of higher education and its value, increasing competition for talent and technology transformation touching every aspect of operations.

Implementation of the strategic plan will focus investment in areas of excellence — established and emerging — that address global challenges; meet pressing needs expressed by communities in Michigan, across the nation and around the world; advance equity and ethics; and improve the human condition. We will prioritize innovation aligned with our values. We will pursue investments in cross-cutting, collaborative, multidisciplinary and partnered solutions because we believe in the power of synergistic, transdisciplinary approaches. We will engage with stakeholders in a manner that is meaningful and demonstrates respect, responsiveness, inclusiveness and partnership.

By 2030, we envision a Michigan State University that has significantly expanded opportunity and advanced equity, elevated its excellence in ways that attract vital talent and support, and has a vibrant, caring community.

Opportunity expanded. We are committed to expanding opportunities for all to realize their potential to lead fulfilling lives and become agents in shaping the world we share. We will expand access to Michigan State’s high-quality education, as well as to the full breadth of our programs, campus, resources and expertise. We will innovate to meet the evolving needs of learners across their lifespans and ensure their sustained success in a rapidly changing environment. By 2030, we will serve more and increasingly diverse students than we do today, both on campus through improved persistence rates and online through a variety of new and expanded programs.

Equity advanced. Advancing equity for all people is fundamental to transforming lives. We will be a leader in advancing equity through our scholarship and research, our educational mission and its outcomes, our partnerships with communities and the community we nurture among our staff, students and faculty. We believe advancing equity means the composition of our students, faculty and staff should reflect the full diversity of the society we serve, and true excellence requires no less. We will work to recruit and retain; include, develop and advance; admit and graduate; consult, serve and involve individuals and communities broadly. By 2030, we will be significantly more diverse in the composition of our students, faculty and staff. MSU will have eliminated gaps in graduation rates between racial and ethnic groups, reduced average student debt by reducing time to graduation and made significant progress in advancing partnerships that address health disparities rooted in race and socioeconomic status.

Excellence elevated. Holding ourselves to the highest standards of quality is core to our values and essential to our future success. We will use the platforms our excellence provides us to serve the greater good. Our success as an institution, as units and as individuals offers opportunities to make a profound impact in the world. That opportunity to make a difference will continually drive us to be better, and our continued and increasing excellence will attract like-minded talent and supporters. By 2030, we will have completed a faculty hiring initiative to bring world-class faculty to MSU to advance equity and ethics, established a world-class joint cancer center with Henry Ford Health and become the global center for the physics of atomic nuclei discovery, education and training, and application of isotopes in medicine, material science and other areas. We will be undisputed leaders in plant science and related fields, forging a more resilient future in the face of climate and environmental change, advancing SmartAg and sustainable practices critical to human and planetary health and well-being in Michigan and extending globally. As our contributions grow, so will our research expenditures, reaching $1billion.

Community strengthened. Creating a world in which all can thrive begins with our entire campus community of scientists and creators, artists and scholars, learners, doers, leaders and healers. We will build a caring, engaged, vital community with a culture that upholds our values, supports people and attracts and retains the talent we need. By 2030, we will have created new systems and structures to ensure our competitiveness and support the success of every student, faculty and staff member who chooses to come to MSU.

Stewardship strengthened. We are committed to ensuring the sustainability of Michigan State University as a strategic asset for the state of Michigan and the nation. With our history as the first agricultural college in the United States and our vast expertise in environmental sciences, we are passionate about the sustainability of people and the planet. We will diversify our sources of revenue and increase reach and impact through partnerships. We will be more nimble, adaptive and innovative, seeking fresh solutions to familiar challenges. We will enhance technological infrastructure and become a highly engaged digital university to serve the needs of the learners, workers and citizens of today and tomorrow. Our campus will be greener, more connected and better designed for promoting wellness, well-being and an enhanced student experience. By 2030, we will have developed and implemented new comprehensive plans for managing technology infrastructure and campus sustainability, be managing facilities and land under a new forward-looking framework, have elevated the arts and integrated athletics as essential elements of the MSU experience and have launched MSU’s next capital campaign to provide the margin of excellence that will help MSU compete in the years ahead.


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