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An Extraordinary Celebration

A spectacular blend of multi-media and live presentations, “Thy Praises MSU” offers a glimpse at a bright future for Michigan State, and launched the public phase of Empower Extraordinary: The Campaign for MSU on October 24, 2014.

The program, held at MSU’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts, opened with the MSU Symphony Orchestra performing an original musical piece created by MSU alumnus and Tony-award winning arranger William Brohn.

Before an audience of more than 1,200, President Lou Anna K. Simon officially announces the campaign’s goals. President Simon also thanks donors and alumni for their roles in bringing MSU to this important moment in its history.

An Engine of Opportunity


Alumnus Mark Ehlert and student Nicholas Keywork, an Alumni Distinguished Scholar, discuss why private support is critical to keeping MSU’s doors open to the best and brightest—regardless of their financial means.

Nick Keywork and Mark Ehlert on stage

“Becoming a Spartan is truly a life-altering experience. Which is not to say that it turns you into someone you weren’t before—in fact, the many diverse opportunities the university provides allow each student to learn more about themselves and become exactly the person they want to be.”

Nicholas Keywork, James Madison College

“Endowed gifts have a lasting impact at Michigan State. We need to attract the best students to remain competitive among our peers, and we have a responsibility to generations of Spartans to come.”

Mark Ehlert, ‘75, College of Natural Science

Jordyn Castor’s passion for accessibility makes a difference at Wall Street, as she pursues career path that will impact the lives of others.


April Clobes, alumna and MSU Federal Credit Union Chief Executive Officer, shares why MSU remaining an engine of opportunity is an important investment.


Sean Fitzpatrick is living out his learning journey—from New York to West Africa—through exceptional experiences.


More than 150 students take the opportunity to stand up and say “thank you” to the donors in attendance.

A group of students wearing empower extraordinary shirts

Steve Smith/Pershing High School scholarship recipient and College of Social Science junior Sherronia Dorsey-Walker is a first-generation student who loves to help others; and being a Spartan is enabling her to do exactly that.


Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Izzo shares how he has seen first-hand the difference gifts make for students.

A Force for Creativity, Discovery, and Learning


Provost June Pierce Youatt and Associate Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences Bruno Basso discuss why establishing 100 new endowed chairs and funding important academic programs is critical to MSU’s ability to retain and attract great thinkers.

Bruno Basso and June Pierce Youatt on stage

“Talented faculty are the key to recruiting great graduate and undergraduate students, and to securing research funding. The best of the best in every field want to work among other top-tier thought leaders with whom they can exchange ideas and explore new areas of research.”

Bruno Basso

“Unfortunately, among Big Ten schools, we trail woefully behind in the number of endowed chairs and professorships. So our goal for this campaign: 100 new endowed chairs. Achieving this goal will make a significant difference to the future of this university and its students.”

June Pierce Youatt

Bruno Basso shows how funding makes ideas happen, and allows the transfer of science to create a better world.


Alumnus Roger Koenig says his support for an endowed chair honors his parents, and is spurring innovation in MSU’s BEACON Institute.

Roger Koenig on stage

“An endowed chair is a perpetual and honored academic position—with a purpose.”

Roger Koenig, ‘76, College of Engineering

After spending 20 of his 42 years at MSU as the Matilda Wilson Professor in Large Animal Clinical Sciences, veterinarian Edward Robinson finds fulfillment through research and teaching.


Through his poem “Schooled,” alumnus William Langford urges listeners to celebrate differences as he evokes the passion and determination commonly found among Spartans.


The University Chorale and State Singers perform a popular folk song from Haiti, “Wangol,” which expresses hope and change for a brighter future.

A Global Problem Solver


Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Stephen Hsu and Goldwater Scholar David Zoltowski talk about Spartans making a major difference for the greater good through private support.

David Zoltowski and Stephen Hsu on stage

“MSU has gone beyond fostering projects—we’ve carved out new fields of study and built partnerships across Michigan, throughout the nation, and around the world.”

David Zoltowski

“By supporting this Empower Extraordinary priority, you strengthen the university’s ability to innovate, to pioneer new fields of research and to transform the way we teach, collaborate, create, and communicate.”

Stephen Hsu

Randy Cowen, MSU alumnus and donor, discusses how attracting oustanding faculty members is critical to the future of MSU.


College of Education Dean Donald E. Heller and Assistant Dean and Professor of Counseling Sonya Gunnings-Moton discuss the importance of partnerships, and how MSU is working to solve global problems.

Don Heller and Sonya Gunnings-Moton on stage

“MSU is committed to this priority, to be a global problem solver. But to do it we need public, private and corporate partnerships. Our partners make it possible to take the discoveries and innovations that originate here at MSU, and apply them where they can do the most good.”

Don Heller

“Our partnership with India-based Wipro, Ltd. addresses a critical need: math and science teachers in America's urban school districts.”

Sonya Gunnings-Moton

Through performing research with top faculty, MasterCard Foundation Scholar Timothy Nakedde is having his own extraordinary experiences at MSU.

A Vibrant Community


On a typical campus day, members of the Spartan community discuss what they love about MSU.


Campaign Co-Chairs and MSU alumni Dee Cook and Bob Skandalaris talk about how, with new investments, we can modernize infrastructure, create spaces that inspire the next generation of thinkers, artists, athletes, and leaders—while also providing the resources needed for emerging opportunities.

Bob Skandalaris on stage with Dee Cook on the screen behind him

“These places and the people who populate them contribute to the energy, the camaraderie, and the diversity that makes this a truly vibrant community.”

Dee Cook, ‘54, College of Communication Arts and Sciences

“Michigan State’s beautiful campus has been an incubator for thousands of dreams and ideas, all supported and nurtured by our MSU values such as quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity.”

Bob Skandalaris, ‘74, Broad College of Business

The Hatch, a resource center for aspiring entrepreneurs, helps turn MSU students’ ideas into businesses.

Eli Broad College of Business Acting Dean and Russell E. Palmer Endowed Professor in Accounting Sanjay Gupta announces a $25 million challenge grant to transform graduate business education at MSU.


Director of Jazz Studies and University Distinguished Professor of Jazz Bass Rodney Whitaker discusses what could be possible with increased funding.


Whitaker’s performance illustrates first-hand the vibrant community that makes up MSU.


Campaign Co-Chairs Dee Cook and Bob Skandalaris close by discussing why the world needs Spartans—and Spartans need you.


The MSU Symphony Orchestra and the University Chorale and State Singers conclude the program by performing, “Make Our Garden Grow,” from the musical Candide.


Private support means stepping from ordinary to extraordinary. Play your part by supporting MSU’s future—and choose to Empower Extraordinary today.

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