Academic and Research Success

Academic and Research Success

During Lou Anna K. Simon’s tenure as president, MSU raised its profile in many areas, with a growing number of top-ranked academic programs, rising graduation and placement rates for undergraduate students, and increased external funding and record gifts and grants to the university.

Simon leaves a top-100 global research university with 25 undergraduate and graduate programs ranked in the top 20 nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Seven of those graduate programs rank No. 1 in the nation: nuclear physics; supply chain and logistics; African history; organizational psychology; rehabilitation counseling; and elementary education and secondary education, which have held the number one spot for 23 straight years. MSU’s undergraduate program in supply chain and logistics also is ranked first in the nation.

Advancing Research

Simon helped ensure MSU is making an enduring difference through research discoveries that make a positive impact on individuals and communities across Michigan and around the world.

Under her leadership, external gifts and grants at MSU reached a new high, surpassing $596 million. MSU expanded its impact through internationally recognized research in food, water, education and social sciences, engineering, and advanced physical sciences. Simon also was a driving force in the university’s commitment to working at the forefront of emerging opportunities in areas such as bioengineering, medicine and genomics, advanced mobility, and computation. Programs also are ramping up in bioengineering, data and computation, brain and other medical research, and remote sensing and autonomous mobility.

  • In December 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) selected Michigan State University as the site for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. The $730 million national user facility, set for completion by 2022, will enable scientists and students from across the globe to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes and nuclear astrophysics, with applications for society in medicine, homeland security, and industry. Once operational, FRIB will be the world’s most powerful rare isotope accelerator. With a top-ranked graduate program in nuclear science, Michigan State awards about 10 percent of the nation’s nuclear science PhDs.
  • The ongoing Global Impact Initiative is focused on recruiting more than 100 new faculty members in research areas in which MSU can make the most impact while expanding human knowledge, including genomics, environment, precision medicine, advanced physical sciences, and big data. More than 70 new faculty members were hired by the end of 2017.
  • The Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering aims to foster collaboration among the sciences on campus and beyond, creating endless possibilities for transforming patient care with new biomedical discoveries.
  • Working as part of a project known as CANVAS–Connected and Autonomous Networked Vehicles for Active Safety–MSU scientists are involved in research that will someday make self-driving vehicles safer. MSU is a recognized leader in computer vision, radars and antenna design, high-assurance computing, and related technologies, all areas that are at the core of self-driving vehicles. 
  • The College of Human Medicine opened the Secchia Center in downtown Grand Rapids as its new headquarters in 2010, and the Grand Rapids Research Center opened nearby in 2017. The center will create a research home for as many as 44 principal researchers and enable MSU to strengthen partnerships with area physicians and scientists.
  • The MSU Innovation Center combines innovation, technology transfer, start-up support, and a portfolio of dedicated business and community partnerships to bring cutting-edge ideas to the marketplace. Composed of MSU Technologies, Business-CONNECT, and Spartan Innovations, the MSU Innovation Center leads ideas from concept to product, launching more than 130 discoveries into patented products and start-up businesses annually.
  • AgBioResearch funds the work of more than 300 scientists who conduct research in on-campus facilities and at 13 outlying research centers across the state.
  • Interdisciplinary research centers and consortia include the BEACONCenter for the Study of Evolution in Action, one of five National Science Foundation Science and Technology Innovation Centers; the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center; the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation; the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment; the Bioeconomy Institute; and the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research. 

Enhancing Undergraduate Education

Lou Anna K. Simon’s presidency has seen Michigan State grow its enrollment of 42,750 in the spring of 2005 to more than 50,000 in the fall of 2017. Today, MSU is the state’s top destination for Michigan high school graduates and continues to attract record and near-record applications despite a long-term decline in public school enrollments in Michigan. The university’s academic excellence is reflected in national and international rankings, as well as undergraduate program enhancements, including a university-wide Student Success Initiative.

  • MSU’s Student Success Initiative is focused on increasing the university’s overall graduation rate to 82 percent by 2020 and closing opportunity gaps for lower-income, first-generation, and underrepresented student populations. The initiative leverages student performance data that works in concert with the residence hall-based Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative, which serve as the main access points to important resources such as faculty, classes, tutors and advisors, health practitioners, and other consultants that help students achieve their academic goals and navigate the institution.
  • MSU is among the largest single-campus housing systems in the country, with 27 residence halls in five distinct neighborhoods and three apartment communities. Renovated dining and living facilities help foster community and student success.
  • The Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology is at the leading edge of groups inside universities charged with changing the core approach to learning and teaching at the institution. The Hub leads the creation and acceleration of new ways to collaborate, learn, research, and deliver instruction through innovative methods that improve student learning.
  • MSU is committed to instilling an entrepreneurial mindset across the university. An entrepreneurship minor spanning every degree-granting college is available to all students. Two incubators—the Hub and the Hatch—support student enterprise ideas, while the Conquer Accelerator helps launch new businesses.
  • The university’s 79 percent graduation rate is higher than its student makeup would predict. The rate of students on academic probation at the end of their first semester dropped from 10 percent to 7 percent in the past five years, while the persistence rates from year to year for students who identify as African American and for Pell Grant recipients also rose. MSU’s 95 percent placement rate for recent graduates—those finding jobs or going on to further education—is 12 percent above the national average.
  • MSU has been recognized in national rankings for student engagement, which translates into stronger, more active learning and, ultimately, higher graduation rates and career success. The ranking is a measure of how connected students are with their school, each other, and the outside world, as well as how challenging their courses are and whether they fostered critical thinking.
  • Providing opportunities and helping students climb the socioeconomic ladder after graduation is another area where MSU leads. MSU students from low-income households fare as well as their wealthier classmates a decade after college. MSU ranks among the top Michigan colleges and universities in areas such as cost, graduation rate, and salaries for low-income students.
  • MSU was ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 22 in the nation for employability of graduates, according to Times Higher Education’s 2017 Global University Employability Ranking.  
  • STEM credit hours recorded by students have risen more than a third in the past 10 years. MSU has embarked on an extensive institution-wide reform effort in STEM education by hiring highly visible tenure-track professors, launching the CREATE for STEM Institute to coordinate activities across campus, and instituting an initiative focused on improving undergraduate biology education.
  • In the period between 2006 and 2016, MSU increased financial aid to students by 68 percent. The general fund’s contribution toward that student aid has risen 170 percent in that period.
  • Michigan State enrolls more Pell Grant recipients than any other university in the state, accounting for nearly a quarter of the undergraduate population.