December 2023 Roundup

Research presentation: MSU Board of Trustees Hosts Distinguished Professor Federica Brandizzi

Federica Brandizzi, an MSU University Distinguished Professor, was the featured speaker at MSU’s Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 15. Brandizzi, also an MSU Research Foundation Professor, is an expert on plant biology. She holds a position in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory within the College of Natural Science and serves as the science director at the Department of Energy’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

Contact: Emillie Lorditch, University Communications: (517) 355-4082


Board of Trustees approves Vision 2050 Facilities and Land Use Plan, revises University Zoning Ordinance

The board has approved “Vision 2050: An Integrated Facilities and Land Use Plan for Michigan State University.” Concurrently, it has enacted revisions to the University Zoning Ordinance. This ordinance establishes criteria for land use organization, campus development density, building dimensional limits and the safeguarding of vital open spaces and landscape resources. These modifications to the University Zoning Ordinance have been made to align with and effectively respond to the recommendations set forth in the Vision 2050 plan.

Contact: Erica Venton, Infrastructure Planning and Facilities: (517) 897-7567

Board greenlights land purchase for Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center expansion

The board has authorized the administration to acquire approximately 260 acres of land in Onondaga, Michigan. This strategic purchase aims to bolster the university’s Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center. Currently, the land on the university’s south campus is fully utilized for research activities and feed production for existing farms. The new land acquisition is essential for expanding the Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center’s teaching and research capabilities. It will primarily be used for feed production, accommodating an increase in the center’s herd size from 220 to 680 cows. The increased herd size will enable the center to meet evolving educational needs and foster advanced dairy research.

Contact: Kelly Kussmaul, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources: (517) 242-9790 or


Board approves $28 million MSU Museum infrastructure overhaul

The board has authorized the administration to advance infrastructure enhancements at the MSU Museum. The improvements, which include the installation of new heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and humidity controls, come with a budget of $28 million. This project is critical for the museum to preserve its accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. Apart from the HVAC overhaul, the project encompasses the installation of new windows, a building vapor barrier and upgrades to the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms. Additionally, it allows the MSU Museum to reinstall its gallery space to better serve MSU students and surrounding communities. These upgrades are essential to ensure that the museum’s environmental controls for temperature and humidity align with the industry benchmarks for collections stewardship, storage and exhibition.

Contact: Stephanie Palagyi, University Arts and Collections:


MSU establishes Department of Physician Assistant Medicine in osteopathic college  

The board has approved the establishment of the Department of Physician Assistant, or PA, Medicine within the College of Osteopathic Medicine. This resolution formalizes the existing PA Medicine program into a distinct academic department, aligning it with other departments in the college in terms of function and structure. In its few years of operation, the PA Medicine program has already added significant value to both the college and the university. Renowned for its interprofessional and collaborative approach since inception, the program is well integrated into the strategic goals of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The program has fostered collaboration beyond its immediate college boundaries. It has worked closely with students from the College of Natural Sciences, specifically in the Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics program; the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology; and the College of Nursing, exemplifying a multidisciplinary approach to health care education.

Contact: Terri Hughes-Lazzell, College of Osteopathic Medicine:


MSU Board of Trustees adopts new governance principles, supports president-elect Kevin Guskiewicz

During the MSU Board of Trustees professional development sessions this summer with the Center for Applied Research Inc., the board developed governance principles to reaffirm its role as a governing body. The trustees agreed upon eight steps that align with and support the university’s code of ethics, effective immediately. These strategic measures underscore board members’ commitment to transparency, integrity and responsibility.

The principles have been crafted to reflect the university’s values and mission. They also bolster confidence in President-elect Guskiewicz’s leadership as the university embarks on a new chapter. The board will continue to support and advise the president, ensuring strategic goals are achieved with precision and purpose.

Looking forward, the board is optimistic about MSU’s future as it works toward its 2030 strategic plan goals. The trustees appreciate President-elect Guskiewicz’s commitment, as demonstrated by signing these principles.

Contact: Mark Bullion, University Communications: (517) 353-7077 or


Board of Trustees honors graduates with perfect GPAs

Sixty-two MSU graduates have achieved what many aspire to – a perfect GPA. The board honored these students with the Board of Trustees’ Award at its Dec. 15 meeting. The award recognizes the extraordinary accomplishment of maintaining the highest scholastic average, a 4.0 GPA, throughout students’ academic journey.

Contact: Mark Bullion, University Communications: (517) 353-7077 or


Faculty appointments with tenure

  • Aleksandra Skirycz, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College of Natural Science, effective Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Minami Yoda, chairperson and Red Cedar Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, effective Nov. 1.
  • Ruigang Wang, professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, effective Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Kevin McGraw, chairperson and professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, effective May 16, 2024.
  • James Shepherd, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, effective Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Nicole Becker, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, effective Jan. 1, 2024.


Other appointments

  • Michael Sant’Ambrogio, senior associate dean, juris doctorate programs, for a change in title to interim dean, College of Law, effective Jan. 9, 2024.
  • Allyn Shaw, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and Services, Student Development and Learning Administration, for an additional title of dean of Students, Student Life & Engagement, effective Dec. 15.
  • Richard Czarnecki, associate vice president for information technology and associate chief information officer in the MSU IT Office of the ACIO, for a change in title to interim chief information officer & director in the Department of IT Services VP and CIO, effective Dec. 2.


Other personnel actions

  • The title of senior vice president for government relations be changed to vice president for government relations and that all applicable policy documents be revised to reflect change in title, effective Dec. 15.

The next Board of Trustees public meeting will be Feb. 2, 2024.


Committee reports year in review

Over the past year, each committee has been active. Below are the highlights of the boards work:

Academic Affairs Committee

  • Revised bylaws: These were last substantively updated in 2003. The revisions contribute to the governance work and processes of the board.
  • Restructured the Policy Manual: This marks the first comprehensive overhaul of the board’s policy structure since 1984. The restructuring aimed to update, restructure, and provide a more consistent level of information for those implementing or complying with specific policies.
  • Amended Ordinance 18.00: This revision clarifies the university’s prohibition of possessing and using firearms and weapons on property governed by the board.
  • Approval of seven new academic departments: This initiative benefits medical students applying for residencies. The growth of these programs offers opportunities for strengthening and enriching educational and research activities.
  • Increased collaborative efforts: Aligned efforts across departments and programs to achieve critical health care and educational goals, addressing societal issues that impact Michigan residents and beyond.


Audit Risk and Compliance Committee

  • Reviewed and approved the audited financial statements for 2023, a crucial fiduciary responsibility of the Board of Trustees.
  • Reappointed the external auditors.
  • Monitored the implementation of Title IX recommendations from external consultants.


Budget and Finance Committee

  • Approved more than $500 million in capital investments, supporting student success, belonging and wellness. Notable projects include the new multicultural center, a $38 million initiative set to open in October 2024. The center aims to foster cultural and intellectual curiosity in a supportive environment. It will promote a sense of community among students, faculty, staff and alumni from diverse backgrounds.
  • The new Recreation and Wellness Center, a 300,000-square-foot facility costing $200 million, is slated to be substantially complete by February 2026. This modern student recreation center will address the growing demand for student recreation and fitness on campus, promoting health and wellness.
  • In October, the board approved the annual Five-Year Capital Plan and Capital Outlay Request for Michigan State University. This includes state participation in funding the new Engineering and Digital Innovation Center, which is currently in the planning stage.
  • The committee adopted Vision 2050: An Integrated Facilities and Land Use Plan, informed by the MSU 2030 Strategic Plan. This plan provides a flexible framework to guide physical development, aligning with MSU’s academic, research and outreach missions within established planning and budgeting protocols.
  • Approved the fiscal year 2024 budget. The budget, a key fiduciary responsibility of the board, includes a $45.8 million investment in employees. Compensation was the top priority, with 71% of incremental revenues allocated to salary, wage and benefits increases. Specifically, the budget allocated $37.1 million for increased General Fund salaries and $8.7 million for related benefits in FY24.


Student Life and Culture Committee

  • Student mental health:The committee thoroughly reviewed the existing mental health services available to students. They focused on developing processes that support university health and well-being initiatives, ensuring a robust support system for our student body.
  • Student wellness:An analysis of student engagement in recreational sports and wellness activities this semester revealed a notable increase. Intramural sports participation rose by nearly 20%, indicating students’ growing interest in physical wellness.
  • Student engagement:The committee has been instrumental in fostering a connection between students and the Board of Trustees. They have implemented biannual events that unite student organization leaders and committee members. These meetings, the most recent of which occurred on Nov. 30, are set to continue, with the next scheduled for March 2024.