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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


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Academics and Administration Blog

MSU doesn't follow norm of ignoring global rankings


By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 10/03/13 10:28pm         

Most U.S. universities ignore global rankings, a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article alleged, but MSU doesn’t follow that norm.

MSU’s Office of Planning and Budgets keeps track of its rankings in the three most credible global systems, which happen to be dominated by U.S. institutions. Most of the Big Ten usually makes the top 100 of each ranking system, including MSU.

The article says ignoring the global rankings could hurt U.S. universities in the future. They might “find themselves falling behind in a race they didn’t fully realize they were running.”

But they aren’t losing yet. Eight of the top-10 universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, are in the U.S. The QS World University Rankings put 11 U.S. institutions in its top 20. In 2012, Times Higher Education ranked 200 universities, 76 from the U.S.

But the article noted the country’s higher education is sliding, with 30 fewer universities on the Shanghai rankings this year compared to its first publication about a decade ago.

MSU has stayed in top 100 of two of the three rankings for several years, and bobs up and down on the scale.

The article emphasizes rankings as a mechanism of attracting international students — something MSU has done a good job of, with hundreds flocking to campus from around the world every year.

The article referenced an MSU professor, who has done research in rankings: “But just because global rankings haven’t stirred up the same fervor as the U.S. News list doesn’t mean the United States doesn’t recognize global competition, says Brendan Cantwell, an assistant professor of educational administration. International comparisons are increasingly driving political leaders and policy makers like President Obama, even if they don’t explicitly refer to rankings, Cantwell says.”


Student Food Bank to celebrate 20th anniversary with help of ASMSU


By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/29/13 10:36pm         

ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, passed a bill to allocate $1,500 to sponsor the Student Food Bank’s 20th anniversary event on campus, which will be on Nov. 15.

K.C. Perlberg, music education and political theory senior and ASMSU representative, said the Student Food Bank should use the anniversary as a chance to raise awareness about the program.

ASMSU Director of Public Relations Matt Franks said ASMSU has been working with the food bank since its founding in 1993.

The food bank, which boasts about being the first student-run operation of its kind, helps students who do not have enough money for food or a meal plan.

A lot of graduate students take advantage of the food bank because many have dependents and families to support, said Stefan Fletcher, president of the Council of Graduate Students, or COGS.

The food bank was initially established through the collaboration of ASMSU and COGS.

The food bank runs on charitable donations and provides about 50,100 pounds of food yearly through biweekly distributions, according to its website.

The next distribution will take place on Oct. 9 at the Olin Health Center’s west entrance from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Students usually are asked to check-in at the entrance and show their MSU ID, according to the food bank’s website. They are then shortly interviewed in order to be given food supplies which meet their needs.


Student newspapers in Virginia can now sell alcohol ads


By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/26/13 9:34pm         

The State News can print ads for whatever it wants, but that’s not the case everywhere.

Until recently Virginia had a state law that forbade student newspapers from printing alcohol advertisements. The law was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and is part of a seven-year quest by the American Civil Liberties Union, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed.

The ban was to prevent drinking ads in papers that catered to mostly underage people, but the case found that most readers of The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia and The Collegiate Times at Virginia Tech University are 21 or older.

The newspapers won the trial on grounds of free speech.

Lifting the ban will presumably allow student newspapers to get more ad money, which is especially important as newspaper budgets shrink across the country.

University of Pittsburgh’s The Pitt News won a suit to get a similar law overturned, but it took five years. The lawyers in the case noted the law cost the paper $17,000 in one year when it had to turn away advertisers.

The State News pulls in about $2 million in ad revenue annually, but it’s unclear if any of that was from alcohol ads. The newspaper has included ads from bars in the past.

Utah and New Hampshire continue to have restrictive advertising laws.


ASMSU to host medical amnesty awareness event


By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/22/13 8:42pm         

ASMSU is hosting a medical amnesty awareness event on Tuesday at Olin Health Center.

The undergraduate student government has been advocating for and supporting medical amnesty on the MSU campus recently. Before the medical amnesty law was passed on May 8, 2012, ASMSU had been pushing for it for several years.

Since then, the student government has been keen on spreading awareness about medical amnesty, encouraging students to ask for help if they or their friends need medical assistance as a result of drinking.

The law, which now has been passed in 17 states, first was introduced and spread around the U.S. by the Medical Amnesty Initiative, which is a Michigan based non-profit organization. The organization’s aim is to encourage minors not to be afraid to ask for medical help in case of “alcohol poisoning or any alcohol-related unintentional injuries.”

Medical amnesty gives students the opportunity to avoid a minor in possession charge if a minor voluntarily asked for medical assistance in such cases.

According to the collegedrinkingprevention.gov, blood alcohol concentration or BAC, can sometimes keep increasing even after the person has passed out, meaning that the person’s condition could get worse as they “sleep it off.”


Simon downloads iOS7


By Geoff Preston          Last updated: 09/19/13 11:41pm         

The new iPhone operating system iOS 7 has swept through our tech-heavy generation, as well as the generation before us.

Following a meeting with The State News editorial board in which readers’ questions via social media were asked, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon responded to a question regarding her use of the new program. She said it took her 45 minutes to download iOS 7 in MSU’s Board Room on Thursday morning.

When asked what she thought of the new system, Simon shrugged. She was unsure if she liked the program.

Did you beat Simon’s download time? What do you think of the system? Let us know in the comments below.


Penn video handled wrong, college Democrats say


By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/18/13 10:14pm         

Could English professor William Penn’s in-class rant have been handled differently?

Yes, said Rawley Van Fossen, MSU College Democrats president and social relations and policy and urban planning junior.

He said steps the university has taken in response to the “anti-Republican rant,” are in the right direction, including removing Penn from classes and creating a faculty committee. But the student who recorded the lecture also should have handled the situation differently.

There are channels for students to address problems with faculty, such as going to the department chair or dean, Van Fossen said.

Political science sophomore Evan Schrage who recorded a nine minutes of the rant, didn’t do that — the video was posted on YouTube. The YouTube video gathered momentum a few days after it was posted and gained national attention.

“We can’t just go around posting a YouTube video when ever we have a problem with a professor. Our only route to bring forth this issue shouldn’t be putting up a video,” Van Fossen said. “I’m not sure that was the most fair way to deal with Penn.”

He added that he has a problem with the video because it was edited down from nine minutes to about one minute.

“It’s not in full context — the video is edited,” he said. “I have to think that there was context to that statement. It’s hard for me to believe that there are professors that rant like that in class.”

Recording professors during class is not going to improve the learning environment, he said.

“I’m here to learn. I want to hear what they have to say,” Van Fossen said.


ASMSU looking to engage students in East Lansing City Council elections


By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/15/13 8:50pm         

The ASMSU Policy Committee passed a bill Thursday allowing the undergraduate student government to encourage students to vote in the coming East Lansing City Council elections, scheduled to take place on Nov. 5.

“When it comes to your city, these (elections) are the most influential in your everyday life,” said Jessica Leacher, ASMSU vice president for governmental affairs and a social relations and policy senior.

There are five elected city council members whose job is then to appoint both the mayor and the mayor pro tem, or the person appointed to act in the absence of the mayor, according to the city website. These five council members also elect the city manager and the city attorney.

There are five polling locations on campus that can be found in Brody Hall, IM Sports-East, the Union and two stations can be found in IM Sports-West.

To vote, students need to be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old and residents of the city. Voters must provide a photo ID and they need to be registered to vote at least 30 days before elections. The deadline to register is on Oct. 7. Voters can register at the clerk’s office, located at 410 Abbot Road, Room 100.

Those who will not be in East Lansing the day of the elections can send an absentee voter Ballot application to the clerk’s office no later than 2 p.m Nov. 2.


MSU ranks top 100 again


By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/12/13 9:44pm         

Earlier this week, MSU came in No. 73 in the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings — but those aren’t the only rankings that came out recently.

MSU is also ranked as a top-100 school in two of three world ranking systems.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities puts the university at No. 92 in the world and at No. 50 in the U.S.

World Universities has published rankings since 2003 and MSU has ranged from the upper 70s to No. 96 last year. The best ranking was is 2005, at No. 77.

When pitted against only U.S. institutions in the World Universities ranking, MSU has maintained a ranking of around No. 50. There are more U.S. universities on the list than from any other country.

The rankings are based on faculty and alumni prestigious awards, publications and citations.

The other two world rankings are out of London.

In it’s most recent publication in 2012, Times Higher Education World University Rankings listed MSU at No. 94. The university first cracked the top 100 in 2011, the second year of the publication.

It’s important to note that the data for the Times ranking is three years old. It measures citations, industry-sponsored and grant research and more.

The QS World University Rankings put MSU at No. 171 for 2013 — up three places from 2012. The university has never cracked the top 100 in this ranking, the closest it got was No. 116 in 2004.

QS ranks universities in categories including faculty and employer reputation and international faculty and students.

Although the numbers seem to jump all over the place, there is some consistency. On all three world rankings, MSU is listed among or near the top 50 schools in the Association of American Universities every year, according to calculations done by the MSU Office of Budgets and Planning.


ASMSU, MSU agree on organization keeping same logo


By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/08/13 11:48pm         

For awhile now, most of what we have been hearing about ASMSU is its struggle with the university to move funds to on-campus accounts, including making an adjustment to the undergraduate government’s logo.

ASMSU’s current logo will remain the same after the university made a push for the organization to make an adjustment. The current logo was part of rebranding campaign, which included work on the website and logo.

The university originally didn’t approve but ultimately let ASMSU keep the rights to control the logo. MSU wanted a logo change because ASMSU was not independent anymore and is part of the university now, thus has to have the same “branding” as MSU.

In response to the decision, MSU spokesman Jason Cody said, “MSU leaders are not trying to control how ASMSU spends its money; rather, the administration only wants them to abide by the same rules as other campus groups.”

According to Michael Mozina, ASMSU vice president for finance and operations, all of ASMSU’s contracts had to be held off until the university approved of the logo.


Vice President for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities retiring after more than 50 years at MSU


By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/08/13 11:45pm         

Most students probably don’t pay much attention to changes in administrative positions — but make no mistake, the decisions these people make have a big impact on life at the university.

One administrative position that’s currently up for grabs is the vice president for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, or VP for SIPF. That person is responsible for about $400 million each year, according to the job description. MSU’s total yearly budget is a little more than $1 billion.

The outgoing VP for SIPF, Ron Flinn, has worked for MSU since 1957 and was part of the building process of about 75 percent of buildings and infrastructure on campus. According to onthebanks.msu.edu, a website dedicated to MSU history, he was part of the creation of south campus in the 1960s, which includes several dorms, creation of Wilson Road, Cyclotron, Vet Med Clinic and the T.B. Simon Power Plant.

“Students need to be aware of the leadership here at Michigan State University,” said Matt Franks, director of public relations for ASMSU. “The VP of SIPF is responsible for multiple, important facets of life at MSU that affect students’ daily lives.”

Flinn started his career at MSU when he was just a student himself. He began working for the university as a student engineering employee and never left.

“Ron Flinn comes as close to personifying an institution at Michigan State as anyone else you can name,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a statement. “His positive influence on the physical development of this campus over the last 50-plus years would be hard to overstate, and after helping us through the recent administrative reorganization, he is leaving us a solid foundation for growth in the future.”

Flinn will officially retire in December 2014.

Three possible replacements for Flinn will visit campus for interviews with the president later this month.

Although there’s a lot to live up to, the new VIP for SIPF will have a solid support staff to help them make the transition and Flinn himself will be available for consultation, said Bill Latta, assistant vice president for operations and chair of the search committee for VP for SIPF.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to have someone new in this position,” Latta said. “We’ll miss Ron Flinn, but we’re looking forward to getting some new ideas that we never thought of before.”