32 minutes | Mar 22, 2023
From the Met to MSU: How Mark and Sadie Rucker are inspiring the next generation of diverse singers
By: Alex Tekip When Mark Rucker’s high school choir teacher told him he’d be performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York one day, he didn’t believe her. After all, he was a football player and saxophonist — not a singer — and was new to the choir, a reluctant baritone joining at his teacher’s behest. That teacher, Lena McLin, was in the front row as Rucker made his Met debut in 2004, a meaningful moment that signified his full circle of experience and inspired him to continue teaching the next generation of singers. Now, Rucker gets to do just that as a professor of voice in Michigan State University’s College of Music. “I’ve always had a desire to teach because my high school teacher is the reason I’m singing — without her, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing,” he said. “Education is where history is and that’s where our future lies,” he said. “I’ve sung in opera houses all over the world — at the Met, the Royal Opera House in London, venues in Philadelphia and Italy — and those were wonderful experiences. But these days, I get much more excited about the careers of my students than my own singing career.” Mark Rucker arrived at MSU in 2016 with his wife and accompanist, Sadie, who also is a faculty member in the College of Music. “My father, who was a choral teacher, sang the song to me when I was younger, and I just took to it — it talks about the importance of having God, or another spiritual entity, in your corner,” Mark said. “It’s my favorite spiritual. Spirituals were used during slavery as a call for hope and communications, and I think with everything going on right now, that’s what we need.” Advocating for music in Michigan schools Mark and Sadie have made it their mission to get young people, particularly minorities and those who are financially disadvantaged, involved in the performing arts. Sadie leads the MSU Vocal Outreach Program. Together, she and Mark travel to schools around the state of Michigan with graduate students studying in the College of Music. The graduate students put on a cabaret-style performance of opera, musical theater and spirituals. Student audiences at each school get a chance to sing with the MSU performers and ask them questions. These performances aim to generate an interest in music and encourage students to pursue that interest. “If I teach somebody, they may not become the next great opera singer, but they might become the next lover of that art form,” Mark said. “It’s up to us to make students understand that music is an important part of life. It is necessary for life.” The Ruckers recognize there are significant barriers for underrepresented and financially disadvantaged youth who want to pursue music and the arts. Often, the schools they attend growing up don’t have proper funding for such programs, and those who wish to pursue the performing arts must make serious monetary considerations regarding the cost of secondary education and the need to support their family. “At one outreach event, I had an elementary-aged Black child come up to me, and he said, ‘Can I make money performing?’ He was about the bottom line,” Mark said. “He continued, ‘Can I help my family if I do this? I like the thought of doing it, but can I help my family through that?’ That’s the consideration of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.” “When I see a child that’s going to college and the only reason that they don’t consider it is because they can’t afford it, it further emphasizes how necessary music and arts scholarships are. One of them might be the next dramatic soprano. One of them might be the next incredible baritone. And that’s unbelievably important.” Music and the arts also create a sense of belonging and community in schools, Sadie added. “Maybe a student just wants to be part of the chorus, just to able to be part of music in some way because it makes them feel important and feel good — and to express their emotions and artistic abilities,” she said. “We should have major music programs everywhere.” Appreciation leads to achievement Mark and Sadie’s passion for music is evident in how they approach education and outreach. “The kids that I teach today, I am unbelievably supportive of them, and I always tell them that my job is not to make you a superstar at MSU. My job is to make them a great singer,” Mark said. “I have a wonderful young soprano who is now a senior. She came to me in her first year. She didn’t want to sing classical music, and now she loves it. She can sing other things, but she loves it now. And that’s important to me.” Many of Mark’s students have gone on to have successful careers in music: Ben Reisinger is among the current resident artists at the Detroit Opera House. Another, Brian Major, who earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from MSU in 2019, made his Met debut in October 2022, just as Mark had nearly 20 years ago. “My teacher in high school was always telling us that we could do things. You always got the idea that you could do whatever she wanted you to do,” he said. “I try to instill the same idea in my students, and I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved.” Listen to "MSU Today with Russ White" on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
21 minutes | Mar 22, 2023
'Michigan Model' national pilot program to help curb acts of mass violence
$15 million state grant will support Center for Targeted Violence Prevention Michigan State University’s Department of Psychiatry is launching a pilot program – with a $15 million grant from the state of Michigan – to help curb acts of violence and spare families from unthinkable trauma before it’s too late. The Center for Targeted Violence Prevention is a collaborative program between the MSU Department of Psychiatry — a shared department in the Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Human Medicine at MSU — and the National Policing Institute, or NPI. The five-year pilot program will establish a research-to-practice hub to provide guidance, training and consultation in the regions, and will also assign intensive support teams to provide case management and mentoring services to high-risk/high-need adolescents and their caregivers. Alyse Ley, associate chair of education and research in the Department of Psychiatry, and Frank Straub, director of the Center for Targeted Violence Prevention at NPI are co-directors of the program. They discuss the mission of the program on this episode of MSU Today. Listen to "MSU Today with Russ White" on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
30 minutes | Mar 21, 2023
A Conversation on Breast Health with MSU Health Care Breast Surgical Oncologists
Breast health is the topic on this episode of MSU Today. MSU Health Care breast surgery oncologists Jessica Henderson and Harvey Bumpers talk about risk factors and their treatment and practice philosophies. Conversation highlights: (3:03) – “We’re both breast surgery oncologists, specifically that means that we primarily treat breast cancer. Breast surgery as an umbrella also focuses on benign breast disease. And we make sure we’re screening the women who are high-risk for developing breast cancer and make sure they’re being assessed throughout their lifetime. We see a really wide spectrum of breast disease.” (4:35) – “Some breast cancers are genetic. But one of the myths we hear a lot is that a lot of women think that all breast cancer is genetic and that if they don’t have a family history that they’re not likely to develop breast cancer. Only a small portion of breast cancers are genetic. Having a family history does increase your risk, but it’s not required to develop breast cancer. About 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime before the age of 85 even without a family history.” (6:05) – “For most women, mammogram is the best initial screening test for identifying cancer at an early stage.” (7:15) – “A myth we hear a lot is that if a woman does not have any symptoms in her breast such as a palpable lump or pain, they feel that they can’t have cancer because they associate those things with having cancer. Most of the time, especially early-stage cancers do not have any symptoms.” (10:05) – “There are some risk factors that women can change and some that they can’t. They can’t change the genetics and the family history. But things they can change to protect themselves from developing breast cancer are lifestyle modifications like exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake, and reducing their overall estrogen exposure over their lifetime.” (13:20) – “The first thing we do is determine if there is a cancer. People come in with a variety of lumps and cysts and other abnormalities. Anything that looks suspicious or malignant gets a biopsy.” (14:47) – “As surgeons, our job is to remove the cancer.” (16:35) – “There’s a lot of research happening in the breast surgical oncology world right now.” (20:38) – “There’s a big health disparity between certain populations in the community. The disadvantaged and minority populations have the worst outcomes. But they also have the least involvement in clinical trials.” (23:06) – “Some women tend to put off coming in for a visit or to be screened. Or if they feel something abnormal in the breast, they tend to delay coming in because they’re afraid of what it might mean. Most of the time, the treatment for early-stage cancer, while there are some steps involved, is well tolerated by most women, and has changed so much in the last five to ten years. Don’t delay care because you’re afraid of what the treatment might entail.” (27:42) – “We also treat male patients. Men do get breast cancer. About one percent of the cancers occur in men.” Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
11 minutes | Mar 7, 2023
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Get Screened.
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is observed in March to highlight the importance of screening for colorectal cancer, as well as to promote healthy lifestyle habits that can decrease a person’s risk of developing cancer of the colon, rectum, or anus – the three distinct cancer types referred to collectively as colorectal cancer. Jacquelyn Charbel, DO, FACOS, FACS is an assistant professor of osteopathic surgical specialties in Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, and she’s a colorectal surgeon at MSU Health Care. Dr. Charbel talks about risk factors, treatment, and what we should be more aware of. Conversation highlights: (1:25) – “My practice philosophy is that prevention is key. The best thing you can do is get screened for colon cancer. The guidelines for one’s first screening was lowered from 50 to 45 a few years ago because of the uptick we’ve seen in colon cancer in younger people to catch those earlier. Because if we catch it early, there are better outcomes in cure rates and longer survival.” (3:16) – “Cologuard is convenient because it’s a little kit that shows up in your mailbox. You don’t have to do a bowel prep or change what you eat. It’s all done in the privacy of your own home. It’s looking for cancer DNA cells. It does have about an 8 percent miss rate, though, which is higher than a colonoscopy. The gold standard is still colonoscopy because it’s better diagnostically and it can take polyps out whereas Cologuard doesn’t treat anything.” (4:57) – “Prevention is key. This doesn’t have to be a scary sentence for you. If you come in early as you’re directed, we can prevent a lot of difficulty down the line.” (5:37) – “There are so many exciting research projects in the works, and Michigan State is a part of that.” (7:00) – “Most colon cancers are what we call sporadic and can occur in people who don’t have a family history. That’s why it’s important to be screened.” (8:27) – “Working with students is a big part of why I wanted to come to Michigan State.” (9:38) – “What a great feeling to rid someone of a cancer. You really give them their life back. The goal now is to not let it get to that point. Catch it early so you don’t have to go through a big operation.” Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
29 minutes | Feb 10, 2023
MSU Multicultural Center construction to commence this spring
Michigan State University is on the cusp of making history, with construction of the university’s first free-standing multicultural center set to begin this spring. This month, the Board of Trustees gave the university the green light to break ground this spring on the $38 million 34,000 square foot facility on the corner of North Shaw and Farm Lanes. The announcement comes during Black History Month, a time to recognize the inequities and triumphs generations of African Americans in the U.S. have faced. Calls for a free-standing multicultural center on MSU’s campus date back to the civil rights movement when protests were sparked by the demands of Black students who called for increasing racial and ethnic minority representation on campus. The standalone building will make for a culturally rich and welcoming environment that promotes intellectual curiosity among students and their peers to learn and share experiences with one another. Those shared experiences will be further amplified through several unique features of the center and its property, including a dreamer center and outdoor amphitheater. The MSU Multicultural Center is expected to open in November 2024. Four Spartans who were instrumental in making this dream come true join me on MSU Today to talk about the important addition to the campus the center will be. Vennie Gore is senior vice president for Student Life and Engagement; Lee June is a professor of Psychology; Maggie Chen-Hernandez is the recently retired director of MOSAIC; and Sharron Reed-Davis is a recent MSU graduate. Conversation highlights: (3:45) – “One of the things that was important for us when we chose our architect was that they be good listeners. And they were extremely good listeners in working with students.” (12:37) – “The free-standing multicultural building was only one of ten demands. But that was the largest one and the one we had been fighting for the longest. So, I was very surprised and excited when this was something the administration was on board with.” (14:44) – “Even the majority students should come to this building and feel like it can be there home, too, and that this is a place where they can learn something. If I’ve never seen a Black person in my life, I can come here and feel welcome and comfortable enough to ask what the Black community is about. The world is full of ignorance and hate and we need a place where we can come and keep that out of the door and educate and bring people in and not push them away.” (15:55) – “Students don’t leave Michigan State because of academic or financial reasons, they leave because they feel like they don’t belong. They haven’t found their space and so this space is critical in helping students find their space.” (19:20) – “The administration doesn’t like students to make demands. Dr. King said rights were the language of the unheard. Students make demands not because they hate the university. They love the university, and they look at the university and they want to make it better.” (20:22) – “It’s not like students want to leave the university because they don’t have a sense of belonging. They don’t know where to start. Students don’t want to leave. That’s why we make these demands so that we can keep our communities here. We don’t want to fall through the cracks. We want to be here.” Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
23 minutes | Feb 10, 2023
MSU’s partnership with Henry Ford Health and sustainable health theme of MSU Strategic Plan 2030 evolve
A sweeping community development sponsored by Henry Ford Health, Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons, and Michigan State University intends to invest $2.5 billion over the next decade to turn Detroit’s New Center neighborhood into a vibrant, walkable community with state-of-the-art residential, commercial, retail, recreational and health care components. The development will be anchored by a reimagined Henry Ford Health academic healthcare campus, the highlight of which is a major expansion of Henry Ford Hospital including a brand new one-million-square-foot plus facility and patient tower. It also includes a new, cutting-edge medical research facility for Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences, part of Henry Ford Health’s 30-year partnership with Michigan State University. Michigan State University’s Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Norman J. Beauchamp Jr. joins me to talk about MSU’s partnership with Henry Ford Health. He also updates the evolution of the Sustainable Health theme of MSU Strategic Plan 2030, for which he is the executive sponsor. Conversation highlights: (1:35) – “What’s wonderful about it is the first thing this creates is this world-class destination for healthcare where you have fully integrated the very best in care with all the strengths and discovery that you find at a place like Michigan State.” (4:54) – “We’re going to go directly at earlier detection of cancer, treatment when it’s responsive, and access to the very best care.” (6:03) – “What will define our effort is bringing these clinical trials to all communities and also to overcome some of the barriers to communities of color in terms of access to participation in clinical trials. By bringing in people of all backgrounds into these clinical trials you then discover you will be able to help people of all backgrounds.” (7:13) – “There are moments in the history of a university where there’s a transformation. In coming together with Henry Ford, and particularly the work we’re going to do in Southeast Michigan, Michigan State will be seen as one of the leaders in the transformation of lives and the future of healthcare for Southeast Michigan. And Michigan State forevermore will be seen as a leader in healthcare.” (10:38) – “The goal of (the sustainable health theme of MSU Strategic Plan 2030) is to enhance the quality of life for people everywhere by comprehensively leveraging the expertise and research activities that improve health and systems, and to do that by bringing together the strengths together across the campus.” (16:00) – “What brought Henry Ford into this partnership with MSU was the realization of the breadth of our strengths. What we now have to do as part of our strategic plan is to mobilize the entire university.” (17:18) – “We want to identify Michigan State as the place to go as a student if you want to improve human health. And because of our depth and breadth, you can choose so many different ways to get there.” (18:10) – “This strategic plan builds bridges, not moats, and it connects us. Because this is an institution that has been built around collaboration, these bridges become superhighways really quickly.” Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
11 minutes | Jan 30, 2023
MSU Interim President Woodruff’s January 2023 Spartan Community Letter
“Assuming the interim presidency at MSU has reinforced for both Tom and me just how great and welcoming the Spartan community is. We’re poised and ready to take the next step on behalf of this great university, our students, and the future of the state of Michigan. We’re honored to be a part of this community.” Woodruff talks about her relationship with the MSU Board of Trustees and says she looks forward to continued collaboration with the board to move the university forward. She points out the importance of the state budgeting process to MSU, too, where two-time MSU graduate Gov. Whitmer and 29 members of the 102nd Legislature are Spartans. “These are exciting times for Michigan State. With a strong partnership with the state of Michigan we are going to be able to be transformative for Michigan.” Interim President Woodruff delivered the State of the University address on January 18 at the Wharton Center. “In short, the state of the university remains sound as we consider our challenges together with our accomplishments and vision for the future. In the final analysis, it is our people — students, faculty and academic staff, support staff, leaders, alumni, and donors — who drive this great university’s ongoing excellence and impact.” You can watch the recording here. Woodruff shares the results of last spring’s Know More Survey. More than 11,500 MSU students, faculty and staff participated in MSU’s second online campus climate survey assessing the culture, perceptions and policies associated with relationship violence and sexual misconduct, or RVSM. “We learned the prevalence of several types of victimization has declined since the first survey in 2019, together with improved awareness of our trainings and policies and gains in other measures of university climate and culture. Further, the majority of RVSM survivors who participated affirmed that the support they received from MSU was helpful and timely. The survey did reveal areas requiring more attention, including the higher rates of sexual harassment reported by our LGBTQIA+ community — for which we are focusing more specialized resources and prevention methods.” January gets the semester off to a busy start on campus, and Interim President Woodruff says she was privileged to participate in several activities surrounding the campus and community celebrations of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. That set the campus stage for February’s observance of Black History Month, featuring the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s William G. Anderson Lecture Series, Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey — now in its 23rd year. “And to bring this message full circle, next month’s Board of Trustees meeting will be the first business session for Trustee Rema Vassar as chairperson — making her own history as the first Black woman to lead the MSU board. MSU doesn’t just celebrate diversity, we are diverse. We support diversity. We know that our strength comes from that diversity. I’m excited about all the ways in which we live out those principles.” Keep up with Michigan State University Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff on her social media channels: Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn and at president.msu.edu. Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
31 minutes | Jan 27, 2023
MSU scholars analyze the latest in Michigan politics and economics on podcast
Topics in this episode of the State of the State podcast include negotiations around raising the debt ceiling and Governor Whitmer’s State of the State address. Conversation Highlights: (2:17) – “Best case scenario, there is a lot of drama and a lot of headlines and eventually we raise the debt ceiling. Worst case scenario, and we came close to a default in 2011, defaulting on our treasury obligations would be catastrophic for the world economy.” (4:42) – “Most analysts believe that in 2023 either we will have a soft landing – meaning very slow growth but no actual recession – or a softish landing, meaning a mild recession. Right now, no one is predicting a deep recession.” (5:47) – “There have been some very highly-publicized layoffs in the tech sector. On the other hand, Taco Bell is looking to hire 25,000 workers and Chipotle is looking to hire 15,000.” (8:15) – Social Security is wildly popular. Any member of Congress who votes to rip up Social Security should be getting ready to sell their house in January of 2025.” (15:24) – “A lot of it was the same things that were proposed in the campaign and last year. But now anyone who hears them thinks they have a chance of being enacted because there’s a Democratic legislature for the first time in 40 years. You have unified government and a lot of money.” (17:15) – “It is kind of amusing that one of the first big acts of a new Democratic legislature is likely to be letting an across-the-board income tax decline to go through.” (20:35) – “Citizenship doesn’t end when you retire.” (22:50) – “The research is relatively consistent and finds business tax incentives do not result in major increases in business income or any other outcome that states might be looking for, even accounting for the fact that other states would do it.” (25:10) – “Historically, most laws still pass with bipartisan support. It’s much more dependent on the state of the economy and the budget than it is on state partisanship.” (27:22) – Even after all the shrinkage of the automotive sector, Michigan is still more heavily dependent on durable goods and manufacturing than the average state. That means bigger ups and downs for the economy because you can put off buying a car, but you can’t put off buying groceries.” Listen to MSU Today with Russ White on the radio and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
14 minutes | Jan 10, 2023
Alexis Travis setting a culture of health and wellbeing at Michigan State University
In leading the new division, Dr. Travis will provide strategic vision and leadership for a comprehensive health and wellness approach that meets the diverse needs of students, staff, and faculty. “I'm originally from the United Kingdom, born and raised in England, and I've lived in the U.S. for 16 years. I moved here with my husband, who's an American. And most recently I've been at the state of Michigan working in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. I've led the Public Health Administration there. Before that, I led the Aging and Adult Services Agency and was the bureau director for health and wellness. Prior to that, my family and I lived in Massachusetts where I was chief of Community Health for the city of Worcester, which is the second largest city in New England. I focus on how to improve population health, whether at the local level or state level. And then through my time working in public health, the common thread has really been working on health equity, so figuring out what communities need and meeting them where they are to get the best and optimal health outcomes.”What attracted you to this position at MSU?“I was really excited about this opportunity to set a culture of health and wellbeing and create something new, building on a very strong foundation of these 11 units, but really having the opportunity to look at assessment and planning and work with the Spartan community to reach optimal health and wellbeing here. I really enjoy engaging with communities directly. Working with faculty, students, and staff directly is something that I'm really looking forward to, and I want to look at opportunities to fill gaps and build on the amazing services we're already offering.”Why are you passionate about this work?“Both of my parents were African immigrants. They came to the UK to attend university. Understanding the differences between different groups and their different needs and how that impacts health has really been a passion of mine, working towards leveling the playing field and figuring out how we can better meet the needs culturally, for example, or in terms of language. Here at MSU, I'm really excited about this diverse, huge community that we get to serve. There are many opportunities for us to look to make sure that health and wellbeing are integrated into all aspects of campus life and think about the different backgrounds people come here with and how we can listen and develop more programming and initiatives to meet those needs. My vision is to make sure that each Spartan has access to the resources and education, information, and services they need to be able to meet their full potential here.”How do you define health and wellbeing? And what do you see as the mission of University Health and Wellbeing?“Diversity in our community at MSU is one of our strengths. People are coming here from all over the world with different understandings about health and wellbeing, which can be considered subjective in some ways. It's important for us as we do this work to really have some shared definitions. The World Health Organization outlines health as an optimal state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, not just the absence of disease or infirmity.“Universities across the U.S. have adopted an inter-association definition of wellbeing, which is an optimal and dynamic state where people are able to fulfill their full potential. So when we think about that in the MSU community, it's looking at what is academic success. How do we achieve that? If people are not healthy or not feeling their best selves, then it's going to be more difficult for them to reach their academic goals, whether it's graduation or something else. For our faculty and staff, it's equally as important as we facilitate that academic journey for others to make sure we're also looking after ourselves during that process.”How would you describe your relationship with the University Physician's Office?“There has been some restructuring. Previously there was integration of what now is University Health and Wellbeing and the University Physician's Office. Now we're two distinct units, although we do work closely together. The University Physician is a cabinet member. He's advising the president and guiding senior leadership within the university on all things related to health and safety, including how we respond to COVID and other major threats as well as making sure we're also meeting statutory responsibilities in terms of state and federal statutes that we're responsible to adhere to.“University Health and Wellness is on more of the programmatic side. My role as an administrator is overseeing all the programs and the array of services that we provide in those 11 units. It brings together units that were formally in the University Physician office. It's the Employee Assistance Program, the Healthy U program, which is health promotion for our staff and our faculty. It also brings together Occupational Health and Travel. And then we have other units like Student Health Services, which is housed in the Olin Health Clinic. We also have CAPS, which is Counseling and Psychiatric Services, and the Center for Survivors, which provides support to people who have experienced relationship violence or sexual misconduct. We have Safe Place, which is the only on-campus shelter for people who have experienced relationship violence or stalking and other forms of harassment. And then we have the Resource Center for Persons Living with Disabilities. That's a program area that's seeing a lot of demand right now as we're admitting more students who are living with disabilities and making sure that they have an equitable experience here as well. And then we also have the Work Life Office, making sure that employees have the best possible experience here and that we are forming and following best practices for that supervisor-employee relationship and beyond.”What are some of your short- and long-term goals?“In the short term, what we're looking at is bringing together those 11 units. It's always difficult when you go through organizational change. And when we look at those 11 units, they've all been following different practices. We are looking at policies, practices, and processes. With that challenge comes the opportunity to make it more efficient, really leveraging the data from each of those program areas to make sure that we have a full picture of what the needs are of the Spartan community. In the short term, I’m also looking at how we educate the university community about the services that we offer, making sure that we're making those connections as tightly as possible so people know from the beginning of their journey with MSU all the way through the end of their journey that we're here to support them and we have resources, information, and other support that they can take advantage of.“In the longer term, we are looking at how to measure outcomes. How can we move the needle on health and wellbeing outcomes and reach that optimal state of health? In public health, it takes a little bit longer to see those in terms of our metrics, but we can track things incrementally. When we are looking at that data and we are assessing health and wellbeing, we need to make sure that we have strong campaigns and accurate information and are leveraging and highlighting the fact that a lot of the time, students have healthier behaviors than are relayed in the stereotypes about students. We are the home to the National Social Norms Center. A big part of our responsibility is to do those social norm campaigns and share what most students are doing and the healthful behaviors that we see here on the MSU campus.”As you pursue these goals, are there any challenges and opportunities you see?“There are always challenges when you bring together new organizations. We're looking at how to get on to shared data systems. But I think the biggest opportunities are really to be a convener, bringing together so many different areas across the university all focused on health. And outside of our team, also convening others who have programs and initiatives supporting health and wellbeing so that we're collectively making a bigger impact. And that's a lot of what we'll be doing moving forward as well as assessment.”I imagine you're pleased to see how society is seeing mental health as an important factor in our overall health and wellbeing.“Yes. One of the things that I think about is this period that we're coming out of with COVID and the impact it's had on folks' mental health. We can't deny that. And we're seeing more and more demand for mental health services. That's a challenge in and of itself, and we have limited resources. It's going to take all of us, faculty, students, and staff to address the current mental health crisis and to really support each other as we come out of this. Over the next few years, we're going to see a lot of students admitted who were in high school earlier on in the pandemic in the most critical times. We anticipate seeing more of those mental health challenges, but we also will be ready to receive those students and to support them every step of the way.“The bottom line here is we're here for you. We have an array of services. Our health changes at different times; it's really a spectrum. Sometimes people will feel healthier, and then other times people will feel some sense of illness, maybe mental health issues. Our goal is to try to work with Spartans to keep them at the healthier end of that spectrum and to be there with services when there are fluctuations. I am so thrilled to be working with such a talented team of individuals who really stay up on best practices and are ready to provide services year-round to our Spartan community. There are some exciting things coming ahead and things to look forward to.”MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
7 minutes | Jan 3, 2023
Meet New Michigan State University Trustee Dennis Denno
“I graduated from Michigan State University in 1992. I met my wife, Raina, here, and we graduated together. We both live about a mile from campus. I worked in the Michigan legislature as a staffer for 17 years, all for legislators from Detroit or Flint. I was communications director for the House Dems, communications director for the Michigan Democratic Party, and started my own PR campaign consulting company in 2004. We do a lot of surveys all over the country. I also have a small gig as a civilian researcher for the Lansing Police Department Cold Case Homicide Unit.” Research and polling have taken a little bit of a beating the last few years. What's the state of your industry? “Polling's interesting. I'll be honest with you, I do less and less political polling and do more association and corporate polling. But it's getting tough. People are getting overwhelmed with phone calls. People don't want to answer calls on their cell phones that they don't recognize. At least in Michigan, if you still have a landline and if you still answer a landline, you're a solid voter. How do you get to those people who don't want to answer a survey? I think part of the problem is some people in this business make their surveys way too long, and it's got to be really short. “The other thing is, when you look at politics today and you compare it to 10, 15, or 20 years ago, politics today is so much more fluid. If you look at a gubernatorial or a presidential campaign, I would argue maybe there are one or two events throughout the campaign that really sway voters, really move voters. Now, it seems like every week, almost every other day, there might be an incident or a quote-unquote "scandal" that moves the electorate. That's part of the problem we're seeing with polling. There are also a lot of fly-by-night companies that really don't do a very good job. There's no degree you need to be a pollster. Anybody could say they're doing this.” Why did you want to be on the MSU Board of Trustees? What made you run? “I'm proud to be a Michigan State graduate. I'm proud to be a Spartan. We do amazing work every single day. We're a world class university. We're a top research university and I'm really proud of that and I really want to help continue that mission. Michigan State touches every single corner of the state, all 83 counties. We have an Extension office in every single county. MSU does some incredible things. We're changing lives, we're saving lives every single day, and I wanted to help be part of that.” How do you want to impact the board? “I'm optimistic about the future leadership of this university. We're going to have a new president. We're going to have a new chair of the MSU Board. We're going to have two new trustees. Those all could be very positive things moving forward for Michigan State University's leadership. “MSU is a huge university. I feel like I know a lot, but I know there's a lot I don't know. There's a lot I have to learn. The most important thing we're going to have to do as a board is we're going to have to find a new president to lead our university forward, and that's the most important thing we're going to do. Michigan State does incredible work in so many different fields. We need to do a better job talking about this. I want to see more about the great work we're doing, the transformational work Michigan State University is doing, not just here in East Lansing, but literally all over the world.” What are some challenges and opportunities for MSU moving forward? “One is budget and finances. When tuition is your number one source of revenue, can we continue to go to that well? Do we need to look at other avenues? Obviously, we continue to go to our donors. We continue to look for new donors. There are a lot of financial pressures on Michigan State. We're in a significantly better position than many of our public universities. I don't mean that as a criticism of our other public universities, but there are places we need to grow and expand.” Why did you choose MSU when you were ready to go to college? “I just thought Michigan State was a great place. It was a great opportunity for me to get away from home. I liked the idea of going to James Madison College because I felt like it was a small college within a large university. MSU gives students an opportunity to do a lot of different things, whether it's being involved in student radio, being involved in athletics, having a Power Five sports program on campus, or volunteering in the community. There are just so many different things students can do on campus, and I just loved the thought of being able to do that.” How would you say your time at MSU impacted you and helped you become who you are and are still becoming? “Michigan State University opened my eyes to the diversity of the world, both in people and ideas. It’s hard to believe that when I was a senior in high school, I didn't have all the answers. I didn't know everything. Michigan State made me realize that. I'm still realizing that. I think that's one of the things I love about Michigan State is we do have a diversity of people. We have a diversity of ideas. Can we be more diverse? Sure, and that's an important goal here. We are in the middle of mid-Michigan, and we have people from all over the world who are making Michigan State a great university. “I've already met with numerous people on campus. I'm still meeting with people. I'm still learning. I'm still listening. I realize I still have a lot more to learn. I want to make Michigan State as great as it can be. I realize we're an incredible university and I really want to continue sharing that story with the rest of the state and the rest of the world.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
14 minutes | Dec 21, 2022
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas? Not Necessarily
“I have been researching music and religion for most of my career. I’m especially interested in the study of religion through the experience of people. It’s called lived religion. It’s not as much the sacred texts and the books, but how people experience religion and how they act it out. Music is very important to that experience. It’s a big part of why people stay connected to churches. “In this season, we’re all aware that religious music is never heard more often than during the holidays. Everywhere you go you hear the familiar Christmas jingles, but also some of the hymns of Christmas that go back hundreds of years. And now we don’t think of them as particularly religious. Joy to the World, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and Silent Night are actually hymns. So, it’s a great time to think about how religion enters the experience, not just of religious people and Christians, but everyone in America who is surrounded by this music. “I’m also interested in the double-edged feeling of Christmas. Because on one hand it is a holiday of joy, and for a lot of people it’s their favorite time of year. But it also has a different side. There’s often a lot of stress associated with the tempo of the season. And other people feel disconnected during a time of year when people are supposed to be enjoying their families, friends, and loved ones. A lot of people are not really a part of that, especially with the isolation that has come along with the pandemic. It can be a difficult time for those people. “But I think for everyone, there’s what I call a brew of nostalgia and melancholy that is characteristic of the season. Even if you have family and are surrounded by loved ones, there are inevitably people who are no longer in your life. We lose parents and grandparents. And children grow up and move away and can’t always make it home for the holidays. So, it’s really easy to feel dislocated this time of year. It’s a time where we think about the passage of time and reflect on how we’ve changed and the people around us have changed and may not exist anymore. The music can capture those feelings because music holds memories for people. Aromas and music trigger memories like nothing else. “I want to reassure people that if they’re feeling this ambivalence and conflicted emotions around the holidays that that is natural and almost universal. There are good reasons for it. Hopefully people won’t get themselves into a Charlie Brown-like funk over it but just recognize that this is a season of the year where we reflect, and it’s OK to be a bit introspective. We all need some time away from the hustle and bustle of family life to think about the kind of world we live in and the part we can play in making a better world.” Read David's piece at The Conversation here and his piece in the Los Angeles Times here. MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
15 minutes | Dec 9, 2022
Inflation and the evolution of holiday shopping
Ruvio is an associate professor of Marketing at the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, and the director of the Master of Science in Marketing Research (MSMR) program. Her research focuses on the wellbeing and behavior of consumers and employees. Morgeson is an assistant professor of Marketing at the Broad College. His research focuses on customer-firm relationships and the financial value of both customer and employee assets to firms. “Inflation is absolutely impacting holiday shopping,” says Morgeson. “We’re coming off a period of a couple of decades where we haven’t had particularly high inflation, at least by historical standards. So, this has been a massive shock to the system of a lot of consumers seeing these price increases in short order and at a degree we’re simply not used to.” Price is the most important factor for shoppers, and consumers are changing their buying habits. “Before, quality was important,” adds Ruvio. “The brand name we buy, service, and convenience were important. Now, only one thing matters, and that is price.” The duo shares some strategies for consumers to be more cost conscious, like paying with cash. Common strategies include spending more time searching for the best deals, adhering to strict shopping lists, prioritizing necessities, and making purchases earlier to spread out spending. How have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and shopping in general evolved over the years? “We’ve seen huge structural changes to the way people buy and sell goods over the past couple decades, and I don’t think any of that is going to change,” says Morgeson. “With the ability to go online and buy most of what we want via the internet means we don’t really need a Black Friday anymore.” “What was really striking to see this year is that consumers didn’t get a better deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or in-store as opposed to online,” adds Ruvio. “That really chilled out consumers and their shopping behavior. If companies next year bring back door busters and really good deals in the store, you will see those behaviors again.” “We’re sort of in an always discount prices environment that we live in now,” Morgeson continues. “There aren’t special days for discounts anymore. Successful retailers need to have low and competitive prices. Thirty or more years ago, a retailer might have had one day where they slash prices. But normally they’re going to have big mark-ups on their items. Those days are over. Everyone now offers really competitive prices because if they don’t, they’re going to get eaten up by the Amazons of the world that are always offering really low prices. It’s sort of always Black Friday now.” “We expect to see huge deals on Black Friday, and we are not happy when we don’t get what we want,” says Ruvio. “Consumers wait for Black Friday. They want to see a significant drop in prices. If they don’t, they’re not happy. Companies started so early with sales that they lost momentum.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
14 minutes | Dec 2, 2022
MSU alumnus Cole Cavalieri is the new chief engineer for the Mackinac Bridge Authority
“There are a lot of dedicated men and women who keep the bridge going day to day, whether it’s in the toll booths or working underneath it. As the engineer of the bridge, my job is really to maintain the Mackinac Bridge, both through our own in-house workers and contractors we hire to do bigger projects. Inspecting the bridge is a big part of what we do. I’m honored to have the role and join this esteemed group that maintains it.” Cavalieri says he’s been just about everywhere on the bridge and never tires of the amazing views at the top of the bridge. “When you’re going up one of the tunnels to the top, it’s kind of like you’re going through a submarine. Then suddenly when you come out through the top, it’s like the whole world is around you. It’s quite incredible. The Straits area is such a beautiful area, and there’s no better view than on top of one of the towers overlooking it. It’s the best job in the world.” Cavalieri describes his career path from MSU to the Mackinac Bridge Authority. And he talks about why he chose MSU for college and how his Spartan experience helped prepare him for this role. He came from a long line of Spartans, including his grandfather, who had to take a ferry to get to the Lower Peninsula and on to East Lansing. And Cole has three siblings who also attended MSU. “MSU was helpful to me, both as a student and as a person by putting me out of my comfort zone. MSU opened the world for me. As a Yooper, my first class at MSU was in a lecture hall with more students than my high school had. I like the diversity and people at MSU. The course work was, of course, beneficial and made you work in teams.” His advice for today’s students is to get real-world experience and interact more with your professors. Cavalieri talks about some of his short- and long-term goals for the bridge and the challenges and opportunities involved in pursuing those goals. “The bridge is in good condition. The original designers and builders did a magnificent job. It’s an incredible structure. And if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It’s mostly a lot of rehab that we have planned in the near future to keep it in the best condition it can be. We have a couple of contracted projects coming up. There are a few things we’re working on just to get the bridge from fair condition back to good condition. “We have some bigger obstacles coming down the road, including a full deck replacement. Nothing lasts forever, and that’s true of our infrastructure. The bridge is 65. So, in about 10 years, we’ll be beginning that deck replacement project, and that will be a big undertaking. When we do get to that point, we’ll not only be fixing it up but setting up the bridge for success for a long time. “The bridge speaks for itself as far as being the icon it is for Michigan. And I think in a lot of ways Michigan didn’t become whole until November 1, 1957, when the Mackinac Bridge opened. I take my role very seriously as I approach this job. To me it’s important to not only maintain the structure but to keep it going for a long time because it really is invaluable to Michiganders. “The Mackinac Bridge has been an important bridge in the history of civil engineering across the world, too. I often hear from other engineers from around the world as we do different studies. It’s really revered. I’m really looking forward to working with the other members of the Mackinac Bridge Authority to bring the Mackinac Bridge into the next generation.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
21 minutes | Dec 1, 2022
MSU alumna and renowned journalist Jemele Hill with her new book, Uphill: A Memoir
Hill talks about what motivated her to write the book and why now was the time to do it. She describes how therapy helped her attain a “better and deeper understanding” of who she is. “I wasn’t unhappy when I began my therapy journey because I don’t think you need to be unhappy to go to therapy. Sometimes it’s just a good maintenance check. It’s for greater understanding of you. I hope when people read the book, they’ll see that there’s a commonality to all the issues I discuss in my book that should help people as they try to figure out how they want to deal with things.” Hill says she chose to attend MSU “because of its stellar journalism program. I wanted to work at the State News, too. Going to Michigan State really changed my life. I was born and raised in Detroit, but I grew up at Michigan State.” Jemele shares her views on a “very challenging” state of journalism. “The whole point of journalism is truth. What I see a lot these days is not just the inaccuracies and bad framing, but also an inability to tell the truth by hiding behind objectivity. I know it sounds like objectivity should be a great thing in journalism. Our goal should actually be to be fair, which is different. Sometimes we have to be able to call people out and hold them accountable. That’s the whole point of the phrase about journalists being the watchdog of society. The essential core of democracy can only work if there’s a free and fair press. The fact that there are outlets that traffic in passing off conspiracy theories as news is very disappointing and all it does is encourage people to not necessarily seek the truth but to seek the truth they want to believe as opposed to what’s actually true.” Hill shares her advice for today’s journalism students to “focus on the craft. The mechanisms of how we do our jobs will always change. It’s stone tablets one day and podcasts the next. But what doesn’t change is the core tenets of the job.” Jemele talks about writing on the intersection of sports, race, gender, politics, and culture for The Atlantic. And she shares her views on name, image, and likeness and the transfer portal in the evolving world of college athletics. She previews project she’s working on , including a collaboration with Spike Lee. “I hope people who read Uphill understand that this is a story of resiliency and perseverance. And it’s a testament to something I believe in: Your circumstances, no matter how bad, do not have to dictate the life you envision for yourself.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
22 minutes | Dec 1, 2022
New MSU dean leading a diverse and welcoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to a sustainable future
Dean Millenbah talks about growing up in Wisconsin and her path to MSU. She also describes her passion for making the college experience as good as it can be for students. She explains the “complex, complicated and really exciting structure” of the college and the role that various stakeholders play in the college. “I look at stakeholders very broadly. Stakeholders include our alumni and donors but also the constituent groups we work with through our commodity partners and the legislature. When we think about agriculture, we see Michigan State University advancing the work of agriculture and natural resources across the state, but we have to do that in close partnership with the people who are on the ground. Those would include state and federal agencies and our commodity groups. We don’t do it alone. We have many partnerships in various diverse aspects of the college.” Millenbah talks about $53 million from the state of Michigan “to help support renovations to the greenhouse and dairy, and both of those entities are out of date and antiquated. If we are going to be on the cutting edge of research, teaching, outreach, and extension, our facilities have to be current and cutting edge.” The dean talks about the importance of a sustainability ethos throughout the college. And she says today’s students “are making decisions about what they want to do with their careers based on what their passion areas are. They want to make a difference. And most students recognize that food and water and sustainability are things they want to be a part of and those are things the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources engages in every day.” She updates the college’s efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion and her efforts to build a culture of community “that is supportive and welcoming of everybody who wants to be a part of it. That’s my number one priority. “There’s something for everyone in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The biggest secret we probably have is people not knowing about all the diversity in our college. I’m trying to encourage everyone in the college not to be so humble and to talk about all the great work that’s happening. We know we’re doing really good things, but we need to make sure other people know about them. too.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
16 minutes | Dec 1, 2022
Renowned plant scientist to lead MSU’s Plant Resilience Institute
Rhee talks about her Michigan roots, and she describes how she “serendipitously” became passionate about plant science. “MSU is one of the best places to do plant research, if not the best. The people and the reputation attracted me." During the interview process, she was impressed with the MSU culture that included a graduate student, a postdoc, and an assistant faculty member on the search committee. "I was really impressed with the early-career scientists. There’s a sense of excitement, passion, and interaction at MSU which was all super cool.” Rhee talks about the key issues in plant science. “Understanding how plants work is an important aspect of trying to come up with innovative solutions to many of today’s issues. That doesn’t mean just growing food better, but we can also think of plants as potential factories for sourcing materials and chemicals. We are entering an era of manufacturing from biology. It’s not just plants; microbes would play a big role. Having a better understanding of plants will help in so many ways. They are the biggest part of our ecosystem.” Sue describes the mission of the Plant Resilience Institute she’ll lead at MSU. “The mission is to be a premier institute for conducting outstanding plant research, especially in how plants can be resilient against adverse environmental conditions. We study plant resilience from many angles ranging from the ecosystem level down to single molecule molecular level.” Rhee is the founding director of The Arabidopsis Information Resource — one of the most heavily used online resources for plant scientists — and was instrumental in making the Gene Ontology system work for plants. “It became one of the most popular databases used for research today. It’s probably the best-used plant resource today 20 years after its inception. “I think basic science will drive our future economy. A lot of the inventions and technologies we benefit from today have come from basic science. Basic science in plant biology was responsible for the green revolution that ended up saving hundreds of millions of people using tools like breeding. Today, plant scientists are using tools like plant genome engineering to be able to manipulate plants even more precisely. But knowing what to engineer and manipulate is where the basic science comes in. We have to understand how these organisms work and what controls the traits that we want to improve. “That’s where basic science can really triumph. It allows us to understand how things work. And then we can figure out how to invent things. Without knowing how things work, we can’t invent. “One of the reasons I’m excited about MSU is because it’s a land grant university and there are thriving extension programs. Michigan has a lot of different types of growers, and there’s a lot of interesting industry. I’m very excited about plant science, but also about food and environmental justice and learning from my new MSU colleagues.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
32 minutes | Nov 30, 2022
MSU scholars analyze results and reflect on the 2022 midterm election results
The trio talks about how the new maps from the redistricting process “significantly” impacted the results. And they talk about the issues that motivated voters most. They look ahead to 2023 in the Michigan Legislature and to the already-underway 2024 presidential election. The group reflects on whether President Biden will and should run for re-election in 2024. Ballard looks ahead to the prospects for Michigan’s economy in 2023, and the group discusses Governor Whitmer’s potential national political future. Conversation highlights: 1:18 – “The national House popular vote moved from about three percentage points in favor of Democrats to about three percentage points in favor of Republicans, which is a little less than normal for a midterm election.” 6:24 – “Certainly abortion is the top candidate for why Michigan performed differently than other states.” 7:43 – “Wherever abortion was on the ballot, Democrats did well.” 8:59 – “The economy is not in great shape, but are we in a recession? No. We are definitely not in a recession. Could we be in a recession six months from now? Maybe. I think avoiding a recession is a little bit less than 50/50, but it’s not zero.” 13:11 – “Candidates endorsed by Donald Trump performed about six points worse in House and Senate elections where he endorsed less experienced and more extreme candidates, and he made the election less of a referendum on President Biden and more of a choice between Biden-preferred and Trump-preferred candidates. That does seem to have made a difference. Trump endorsed a lot of people in winnable seats who lost.” 22:01 – “You can’t beat somebody with nobody. There would have to be consolidation around an alternative, and the same people who don’t want Joe Biden to be the nominee don’t necessarily want Kamala Harris to be the nominee, who would be the most likely alternative. We might wish for different, but we still might see Biden vs. Trump again.” 23:05 – “Certainly a Midwest governor winning by a large amount who already had some national profile is going to continue to be mentioned regularly. And she has an argument.” 24:35 – “We were the strongest economy in the world in the middle decades of the 20th Century. Then with the decline of manufacturing in general and autos in particular, we have struggled for decades.” 30:14 – “On average across the states, if you look at the ideal party position of the Republican Party versus the ideal position of the Democratic Party, we expect each year of full control by one party to move the state policy about one percent in their direction.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
23 minutes | Nov 28, 2022
MSU alumnus and retiring radio executive reflects on influential 47-year career
Schram is retiring as executive director and general manager of Michigan Radio after an influential 47-year career in Michigan’s radio industry. Schram reflects on his rewarding career and describes how he fell in love with radio as a 10-year-old boy thanks to listening to Top 40 radio while visiting a cousin in New Jersey in 1963. And Steve tells of a wonderful circle of life moment about when he got the chance to tour his favorite radio station – WKNR Keener 13 – as a young boy. On the tour, Steve met the WKNR station manager, who asked Steve what he thought he might want to do in the radio business. Steve replied that “Someday I’d like to sit in your chair. “And here’s the magic behind that. Twenty-seven years later, I became the general manager of WNIC, the successor station to WKNR. In that same building, that same office became my office, and it was the exact same desk that I sat behind.” Schram talks about challenges and opportunities facing the constantly evolving radio industry. He describes the generational differences in how people consume media. And he talks about why he chose to attend college at MSU and how that experience impacted him. And he shares his advice for today’s Spartans studying communications. MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
16 minutes | Nov 28, 2022
Schupan leader working to improve and increase recycling in Michigan
Emmerich talks about the “tremendous growth” Schupan has experienced in the last five years, growing from about 400 employees to 650. “In a nutshell, we’re an aluminum scrap processer and marketer of materials, and we’re an aluminum and plastics manufacturer and distributor. We’re family-owned and over 50 years old and headquartered in Kalamazoo. We’re now doing business in over 25 countries. Our footprint has expanded tremendously, and our future is bright.” He talks about the challenges and opportunities facing Schupan and Michigan’s recycling industry. And he discusses the state and evolution of Michigan’s popular bottle deposit law. Emmerich shares his 4 E’s of a successful recycling program: Education, Ease, Efficient logistics and operations, and Economically viable markets for the materials. “If you are not taking your containers back today, please reconsider. We need to get those containers back into the system. My intent is to maintain the country’s most efficient bottle deposit law and the success we’ve had as a state with a program we should all be really proud of.” MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.
14 minutes | Nov 7, 2022
Culture, community, communication and “stagility” guide interim Michigan State University president
Woodruff reflects on this “heavy moment for the institution,” President Stanley’s legacy, and her new role guiding MSU. “Being president is not something that I sought and, right up until the last minute, didn't expect in many ways. There have been a series of abrupt changes at MSU. I also appreciate that for many within Spartan nation, this seems like something that has a little bit of familiarity to it. “I want to reassure everyone that we really are writing a new chapter. I used a word this week, Russ. It’s ‘stagility.’ I hope we’re moving to a time of stability and stabilizing the core of the institution. But we still need to be agile and be able to work ahead. That agility and stability is enabled by what President Stanley has done in providing for all of us a living strategic plan. It is enabling the campus. We have an inspiring faculty and academic staff, and I think they'll be able to do their good work as we move forward. “My hope is that as we move into this new era, we'll also be able to maintain our health, the health of others, the health of the planet, and all the while open the door as wide as possible to the broadest community possible. This is part of the university strategic plan. Part of President Stanley's extraordinary legacy is to have built three strategic plans for this institution, including the RVSM and DEI plans. “As remarkable as all of this is to the foundation for the future, he also led us through the first several years of the Covid pandemic, and his training in infectious diseases was critical. None of us could have foreseen that would've been as timely as that was. And that was particularly true prior to the therapeutics and vaccines that are really part of our arsenal today. “The most salient part of the work led by President Stanley is that these are not his plans. And he would say that to all of us. He has said on many occasion that it's not the Stanley plan; it is the strategic vision of the campus for its future. I know that as we live out our shared plan that was the product of a visionary and principled leader that we are so grateful for what he did in enabling our ability to move forward.” Why did you want to be interim president? “I said when I came to MSU two years ago that I wanted to be a transformative leader in a time of transition. I saw excellence in abundance at this institution. The fundamentals of MSU are unchanged. I also knew then and now that policy and practice need to be aligned in order for folks to do their best work. This is a campus of extraordinarily principled and ethical people from our faculty to our staff. We continue to work toward a more perfect and just way to relate to each other. Leadership opportunities abound. I think people are called to leadership moments. And so that is what buoys me every day. I'm really pleased to come in and provide my own leadership together with a lot of other folks who are on this journey. Together we'll move Michigan State forward.” What do you want Spartan Nation to know as your presidency begins, and what are some of your immediate priorities? “I remain honored and humbled to be in this role, and I can say I was honored and humbled to be in the provost role. I will serve this institution to the best of my capabilities. I want people to know that I'm honored to have been adopted into Spartan Nation, and I feel like I'm really, really a part of the family, as does my husband, Tom O'Halloran.” O’Halloran is a Michigan State University Foundation Professor of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and Chemistry. “I really want Spartan Nation to know just how extraordinary our entire staff is. They are the ones who enable this living learning campus environment, who keep our buildings in excellent shape, who support grant submissions and who create the context in which this academic success is possible. The people who make this university great are our fundamentals. I'd love for Spartan Nation to know that.” Talk about culture, community, and communication and how you'll emphasize building trust, affirming transparency, and advancing strategic initiatives. “I want to be out and about introducing myself, listening, hearing, and really communicating in ways that are bidirectional so that I can really be part of every day of this campus. And I think as much as we communicate, we can build the community. There have been some of the parts of the fabric that have been pulled apart. Some of the threads are a little thread bear, and we want to knit that back together and really come together around community. “And then culture. There is a special way in which everyone within the Michigan State environment really loves this organization. Last week, a lot of people were telling me to hang in there. Everybody's telling me they bleed green. To really communicate effectively and to build that community and leave the institution in a culture that feels stable and supported and enabled to do their best work, we have to really focus on building trust. We want people to know that we are trusted partners on both sides. We need to really make sure folks know they can trust us by having information. “In a trusting relationship, I am committed to providing as much information as I can, to gathering as much evidence from as many sources I can, and then acting in the best and most principled way on behalf of the university. And if people can believe in that, then I think we're going to be able to advance our strategic initiatives.” Summarize some takeaways and what you mean when you say you're all in for MSU. “I'm all in for MSU. We’re planning today for tomorrow's future. We all have to be in to be part of the solution. We all have to be on board. We don't have time for people to fall prey to cynicism. I can understand how that may happen, but we have to be all in for MSU. This is an exciting time. We're on an upward trajectory. Don't be on the sidelines. We're really moving.” Keep up with MSU Interim President Woodruff at president.msu.edu and on Instagram @MSU_Pres. MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.