President Simon talks community, changes
President Lou Anna K. Simon speaks to The State News editorial board Jan. 31, 2013, at The State News. Simon spoke about issues relating to the university.
Editor’s note: Please see a video interview with President Lou Anna K. Simon below.
Between heavy bursts of snow, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon managed to make it to The State News during yesterday’s wintry afternoon and speak to the Editorial Board about issues facing MSU.
At the meeting, Simon conversed with students concerning issues over MSU’s relationship with the city of East Lansing, students’ concerns and what she loves about MSU.
Simon, who was chosen as president by the Board of Trustees in 2005, has witnessed and led MSU through the economic downturn, budget cuts and academic reorganization.
Yesterday, she caught up with The State News to express her concerns about where MSU stands and where the university is headed in terms of advancement in academics and community relations.
– Samantha Radecki, The State News
The State News: What are some of the changes MSU must adjust to?
Lou Anna K. Simon: If you look at the last 10 years of the rough weather that universities have been going through, the declining state support, lots of questions being raised about purpose (and the) role of research, … I think if you look at the university as a whole, that by almost any measure, quantitative measure, we are positioned better today than we were 10 years ago. Now, are we positioned as well as we would like? No, because our aspirations are very high, but quantitatively (and qualitatively), we’ve gotten better.
TSN: How do you view the relationship between MSU and the city of East Lansing?
LAKS: I think the tensions exist here and elsewhere around behavioral issues. I also think in talking with students that they would like some alternatives that help transition them from college to young professionals, and those opportunities aren’t in this community right now.
If you look at places to eat, places to drink, entertainment options, it’s very much oriented toward a younger crowd. … I think the concerns about helping ease the tension between the community and the university and its students is to find some good bridges for young professionals. And so the community sees young professionals in that professional light.
TSN: How is the transition with the interim provost going?
LAKS: We are very fortunate in Dr. (June) Youatt, because Dr. Youatt and Dr. (Kim) Wilcox did much of what we’ve done (at MSU by working) together. So, having a strong senior associate provost and putting her in that role gives us enormous stability. … We are not waiting, and she is in the best position to make (decisions) because she knows us and she knows what the conversations were with the colleges.
TSN: What is the best part about being the president of Spartan country?
LAKS: The great pleasures of this job are going to the Union (Wednesday) night and having ice cream and talking to students, and going with the marching band on football Saturday, and going to … the (Eli and Edythe Broad) Art Museum, and deciding what I like and what I don’t like and keeping that to myself and listening to what other people like and don’t like. And it’s also terrific to be able to go anywhere in the world and find Spartans who really value this place and are doing great things.