2021 Convocation Welcome

Hi Folks, I’m Danny. It’s incredible to see all y’all here. And I am deeply thankful that we can be here together. I feel quite privileged to be able to talk with you today.

I’ll be honest, when Associate Provost Largent asked me to speak to y’all on behalf of the faculty, I felt a pretty familiar combination of intimidation and anxiety. I know that feeling pretty well. It’s the feeling of not belonging. It’s feeling like I’m an impostor in my professional life. It’s a feeling that many of us experience. And I’d wager that a number of you are feeling similarly. You might feel anxious about starting this next chapter of your life. Or maybe a little intimidated by the new systems and structures you have to learn. Maybe, you are even questioning if you belong here at all. But, I want to tell you, from all of us on the faculty, that we are here for you. And you belong here. You belong in our classes. You belong in our departments. You belong on our campus. You belong at MSU. 

As you know, MSU is the land-grant university for the State of Michigan. Each of us on the faculty carry the deepest commitment to our State and her citizens. Serving our community is what we do. And all of us take that to heart. We are the school that helped establish the Weather Bureau, which became the National Weather Service.  We are the school the pioneered hybridized corn that resulted in denser plantings. Without that, we would only be able to feed about 15% of our global citizens. We are the school that built a K50 cyclotron. That lab became the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams - a place that has produced so much new science over the years, there’s just not enough time to talk about it. MSU is all this. But it’s so much more with you here. 

Your time here will be filled with new opportunities. New friends. New experiences. New places. New ideas. New ways of thinking. By embracing these opportunities you are shaping the person you will become. Our job is to help you find and navigate those opportunities. We are not in the business of simply graduating more people. We are in the business of supporting each of you as a whole person to become an informed and active citizen – someone who also takes our land-grant mission to heart in their own life. Of course, we want you to become a teacher, or a scientist, or a social worker, or a doctor, or a community organizer, or a small business owner.

But your time at MSU can be so much more if you let it. Classes are just one part of the college experience. Join the bike polo club. Start a letter writing campaign for more hammock stands. Volunteer at the Lansing food bank. Go see MSU’s women’s soccer team play. Check out some live music at The Ave. We have so much to offer you, but it’s up to you to take advantage of it. And as you do, that initial anxiety you feel will melt away. And you will figure out, for yourself, why you belong at MSU.

I want to leave y’all with some lyrics from one of my favorite bands that just happens to be from Detroit. Their name is a bit vulgar for something public like this, but this part of the song “Impossible Possibilities” reminds me why I belong at MSU:

Teach them to give and not to take.

And to lead with compassion before it’s all too late.

Can you imagine what this could become

With hope and love and a little communication.

We are so much more with you here.

Be good to each other.