Celebrating Spartans: Lou Anna K. Simon


EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – All through the month of February we here at 6 News are “Celebrating Spartans.”

We’re sharing stories about MSU students, staff and alumni whose ideas are making our world a better place to live.

We kick things off with Michigan State University president Lou Anna K. Simon.

6 News anchor Sheri Jones met President Simon at the new Bio-Engineering facility on campus that allows researchers from the colleges of Engineering, Human Medicine and Natural Science to all work together.

Below is a transcript of their conversation:

“Well first of all it’s one of the first new science buildings we’ve been able to build on the East Lansing campus and with a completely different concept because we’ve done things that put departments together like by a physical sciences are adding it to adding a little bit the Plant Sciences in new and modern space that you’ll see here but this was a chance to design something for a future yet to be lived,” said Dr. Simon.

“It’s interesting that you have to plan for something and ideas that have yet to be born,” said Sheri Jones

“You know, that’s only part I mean as you look around the country. You talk to people who imagine what science will be like in the future when you think about how can we make this really practical,” answered Dr. Simon. “I think the team is doing, I think the team has done a really good job. It’s getting high marks. And then the recruitment of faculty to it because we we didn’t fill the building with people who were already here automatically. We wanted to recruit someone who matched that sort of for the future who saw this as a Mecca and a magnet for ideas for others that we can then reach out and connect on campus connect around the world and then periodically bring new people in. Change the mix of the dialogue in the discussion.”

“One thing you wanted to talk about, a framework for the year..and you were talking about optimism and momentum.and what that would look like for 2016. is it a continue?,” asked Jones.

“You never really reach them because you know when you think about optimism momentum, you hope you are highly human enterprise. that relies on the creativity and the energy of people and so each that’s unbounded ed really so over time you have to just try and encourage it. So we’re already think about the next buildings and that are important for that kind of work,” answered Dr. Simon. “And then we need teaching spaces that are not you know the classrooms defined by this is biology, and this is physics, and you go from one building to another you have to push them all together. So the students learn in the same way that the science that’s going to be created and they still have to have depth to know enough chemistry or enough Physics enough biology but you pose the questions differently to them and they learn from one another across disciplines ball still having the depth they need to be successful.”

“The Spartan Will campaign, I love that. and I think everybody does because it feels genuine. What would you say to your alumni here in Michigan, across the county and across the world?,” asked Jones.

“I would say, it works because as you say it’s genuine,” answered Dr. Simon. “It’s us and the stories that we’re highlighting through the campaign resonate for people who aren’t Spartans because they tell a story about what we do. I think the stories about “Spartans Will” say that to people in ways that are very powerful then you see what’s happening in Flint, and you know that we’re there when it happened,,, and we’ll be there after it happens. when the water might get a little cleaner, but the effects of it will still be there. The spotlight will be off,, from all the national attention to be something else.. and we’ll still be there trying to work on what happened but it’s that dedication,,,that persistence -probably irritation – for some who Dr. Mona was not going to give up. But we also bolstered her view with cutting edge research that became a point this said you have to really deal with this.”

“And your story here.. we hope lasts and lasts and lasts,” laughed Jones.

“Well, for me the neat thing about what I think is my opportunity at Michigan State is it’s always been about you know making it better tomorrow than it is today and it’s a team game.. it’s not me,” insists Dr. Simon. “This place is great because the people who are in it. It’s not me. It’s not about a legacy or about a particular thing… it’s about thinking about the future. Because I think you’re responsibility, where you’re a president for two years or a president for 10 years, is really that you have to make decisions today that rebound really positively for tomorrow even though you might not see them… and I think that’s the responsibility of leadership.”

“Well, I hope you’re around for a long time,” concluded Jones.

“Well, I appreciate that,” said Dr. Simon. “You may be a voice of one or a voice of many but, you know, it’s all about Michigan State.”

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