257 episodes

MSU Today is a lively look at Michigan State University-related people, places, events and attitudes put into focus by Russ White. The show airs Saturdays at 5 P.M. and Sundays at 5 A.M. on 102.3 FM and AM 870 WKAR, and 8 P.M. on AM 760 WJR.

MSU Today with Russ White Russ White

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 16 Ratings

MSU Today is a lively look at Michigan State University-related people, places, events and attitudes put into focus by Russ White. The show airs Saturdays at 5 P.M. and Sundays at 5 A.M. on 102.3 FM and AM 870 WKAR, and 8 P.M. on AM 760 WJR.

    Academics, Athletics, and the Arts Bring Spartans Together to Cheer, to Celebrate Excellence, and to Heal

    Academics, Athletics, and the Arts Bring Spartans Together to Cheer, to Celebrate Excellence, and to Heal

    Michigan State University Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff elaborates on topics she covers in her March 2023 Spartan Community Letter, which you can read by clicking on the communications tab at president.msu.edu.
    Academics, athletics, and the arts are all important parts of the university experience. This month they brought Spartans together to cheer, to celebrate excellence, and to heal.
    Congratulations are in order for John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor Felicia Wu, appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development for a term running through 2026.
    “She is one of those that we're cheering this month. Professor Wu really is so humble but is really helping all of us to support Michigan's agricultural mission and bringing what we do at MSU to the community in important ways.”
    You had a fun opportunity to honor the dedicated professionalism of our educators leading our classrooms like Professor Susan Masten of the College of Engineering, who's the recipient of this year's President's Distinguished Teaching Award. You surprised her with the award.
    “I did, and her class. We got to kind of burst in. The class was as surprised as was she. But she not only got the 2023 President's Teaching Award this month, she also received the 2023 MSU Community Engagement Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2023 College of Engineering Sustained Excellence in Diversity Award. She's a powerhouse. Professors like Dr. Masten are really those who are elevating our academics every single day.”
    Our Mr. MSU Tom Izzo set another record this year being the first person to take his team to 25 straight Big Dances.
    “He's been amazing for us and has lifted all of us up, not just for 25 years, but most particularly in the last six or seven weeks where he's really been the heartbeat for a lot of us and said the right things at the right time. It was really thrilling to watch him help our student athletes and navigate them towards this NCAA Tournament, which was really thrilling right down to the last overtime period buzzer. It was really exciting.”
    Sadly, though, Suzy Merchant had to call it a career due to some health issues.
    “Tom and I were at every women's basketball game starting from when I first arrived and right up to her last game. We recognize her legacy. I'm sure it was a difficult decision to retire after 16 seasons, but I just really celebrate her and the way she also guided our student athletes. I really wish her all the best as she continues in her profession and career.”
    Another MSU squad continues an illustrious record of national tournament competition this month. They're on their way to the National Debate Tournament in Virginia. Spartan debaters have qualified for the tournament for 27 consecutive years, and they've won it three times.
    “That's the resonance. If we talk about academic excellence and athletics, 27 consecutive years for our debate team is really a national record and a cherished one here at MSU and beyond. I really look forward to seeing what happens when our debate team goes down to Chantilly, Virginia, beginning this Friday for this next run that they have in the national tournament.”
    We continue to address campus safety in the wake of the violence our campus community experienced on February 13th. What would you like to update us on today on our collective healing?
    “One of the things that's so important, Russ, is that arts can really help us reclaim ourselves and our campus. So together with that action, I really encourage everyone to join together in community. One of the things that I've had a chance to go through is the new installation at the International Center. There's a series of folded paper butterflies that bring the kind of message we need. It elevates and sores and helps us to be inspired by each other. From that to our Wharton Center to the Broad Art Museum and the MSU Museum, our collection in arts really help bring us togeth

    • 9 min
    MSU Alumna and Broadcast Journalist Sheri Jones Entering Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame

    MSU Alumna and Broadcast Journalist Sheri Jones Entering Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame

    MSU alumna Sheri Jones is a broadcasting and journalism icon in the Greater Lansing area. She's been anchoring the news at Lansing's CBS affiliate, WLNS-TV 6 for 35 years. And she's now also on Lansing's ABC affiliate, WLAJ. We last spoke in 2018 when Sheri was inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Now in 2023, Sheri is being inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
    “It feels great because of the true sense of the word journalism. I really believe that journalists, as I once heard, write the first draft of history. We're watching things as they unfold, and we're writing it down from a factual experiential point of view. And so, for me to have done that for 35 years and tackled some pretty big issues in our community and to be recognized for the journalism part of it, I'm awestruck by it.”
    Where did you grow up and why was MSU the place for you when college came around?
    “Well, it just felt like the place. When I came for my visit, I felt very comfortable here. It was a gut feeling. And I always tell parents, you have to let your child decide with their gut. I was accepted to the school down the street, and I went there with my parents and my dad was like, ‘Do you like it? Do you like it’ and I'm like, ‘Dad, I don't. I just don't feel right here.’ I'm a country girl from a small community on the west side of the state. There are trees and the Red Cedar and open spaces and fresh air. I just felt like this is where I belonged. And looking back, it was the correct decision for multiple reasons.”
    Did you always know you wanted to do broadcasting and journalism or did that develop later after you got here?
    “When I was in high school, I knew I liked a lot of different things. And remember I went to high school when there was no internet. My mom said, ‘Why don't you take a full day aptitude test, take an educational aptitude, take a personality aptitude, an interest aptitude.’ I went all day, and it came back lawyer or journalist. I came to Michigan State to study journalism and communications and figured I could always go get my law degree. I thought I would try TV first because you just don't know how that's going to work out. And here I am 35 years later.”
    People who know you know that you like to say you'd rather be right than first with a story. Talk more about your philosophy of covering the news and being accurate.
    “Anybody who works with me knows that’s right. And we will hold off. In this world of Twitter and Facebook - and as we've lived through here recently with 911 scanners and people reporting stuff on the scanner - you have to have an official affirm your story and make sure the facts that you're reporting are true. And I will always hold back until we know it's right, and then we can go. I'm not going to report on something that I have not vetted. I just won't do it. I don't care if we're going to get beat. Well, what if you're wrong? I can't afford that, and my station can't afford that.”
    How have you seen broadcasting and journalism evolve over the years and where is it going?
    “Yeah, via that live-streaming, my sister in Florida can watch me as I do the news. The shaping of the news and leads through Facebook and Twitter are something we have to follow. We'll follow those and vet those out. But the accessibility? When I grew up, my parents sat down, had dinner, and watched the 6:00 news and then the evening news. And now you can watch the news wherever you are, whenever you want. If you're standing in the checkout lane, you can watch it. You shouldn't do it when you drive, but you can be anywhere around the United States or around the world. It is the accessibility. But again, it has to be a trusted source. At the local level, we don't have an agenda. And as you move up that chain of media sources, you have to really understand what you're watching. And the algorithms of Facebook. Let's say you like a certain story, well, Facebook will feed

    • 12 min
    Agricultural Innovation at MSU Working to Feed A Growing Population in the Face of Climate Challenges

    Agricultural Innovation at MSU Working to Feed A Growing Population in the Face of Climate Challenges

    On this episode of MSU Today, we're talking about agricultural innovation That's an area in which Michigan State University is a worldwide powerhouse. The world’s population is growing, and climate change is continuing to impact the crops we need to feed that growing population. The world's population is expected to increase by 50 percent in the next century, and demand for agriculture crops is expected to more than double by 2050. 
    Our panel includes three distinguished Michigan State University Professors: Felicia Wu, Bruno Basso, and Federica Brandizzi. 
    (Photo credit: Nick Schrader, University Communications)
    Conversation highlights:
    (2:11) – “One of the goals is to help people benefit from the innovation we generate here at Michigan State and be able to scale it across the globe.”
    (6:49) – “It is generally projected that we will have about 10 billion people on earth in the year 2050.”
    (11:14) – “Especially working in the U.S., there's a strong demand by the farmers to be able to say that if there is a technology that I need to adopt to make a difference on the environment, that needs to be profitable.”
    (15:12) – “The grand challenge that the center (GLBRC) is trying to address is to produce plants that are fortified in a way that they can produce more biomass and high-quality biomass for subsequent processing and production of biofuels and bioproducts. We must make sure that we can produce feed stock for the sustainable bioenergy that doesn't come at the cost of production of food.”
    (17:30) – “One of the biggest challenges is to be able to see the technology developed at a pace that doesn't take a long time to be implemented and commercialized. We don't have that timeframe anymore. We have about a little less than seven years at this current rate of emission before we reach 1.5 degrees warming and about 24 years until we reach two degrees warming with the projection of detrimental impacts on the extreme events of deluge and high temperatures.”
    (20:58) – “We have been planting transgenic or genetically modified crops in the United States and around the world since 1996. Gene editing can be used in the future to create crops that are not only resistant to pests but might have higher concentrations of nutrients, might be resistant to high temperatures or to drought or to heavy rainfall, or they might be able to resist being planted, for example, in soil that has a high concentration of salt.”
    (23:34) – “The biggest challenge and opportunity is always to keep a focus on responsibility. We have the responsibility, I believe, to make sure that first, everybody on this planet has food available. We really must make sure that the priorities are always straight. We have the responsibility to make sure that basic human rights are protected and there is access to food and clean water. Science can influence so many sectors.”
    (26:14) – “Attempting to produce lab grown meat has gone on for about two decades. The problem is that right now to produce one fully sized hamburger costs $330,000 because of the sheer technological difficulties. But if there is a way that we could improve the economies of scale and improve the technologies, then there would be benefits in terms of animal welfare, ethics, and reduced climate change emissions because producing livestock and poultry does emit a fair amount of greenhouse gases. Right now, the costs are not there, but the potential promise is large.”
    (29:05) – We must be apologetic in the face of the next generation because we prioritized growth versus sustainable development. And that is changing.”
    (30:36) – “I think back to the philosopher Thomas Malthus in the 1700's who claimed that the human population is growing exponentially, but food production is growing linearly. So, over time we're not going to be able to feed our global population and human society is just going to collapse. And that Malthusian theory has been stated again an

    • 42 min
    MSU Alliance Dedicated to Using Knowledge to Transform Lives Around the World and in Africa

    MSU Alliance Dedicated to Using Knowledge to Transform Lives Around the World and in Africa

    Tawana Kupe is the vice chancellor of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. In December 2019, Professor Kupe was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Humanities by Michigan State University. He’s on the advisory board for the Alliance for African Partnerships.
    Founded by Michigan State University in 2016 in collaboration with African colleagues, the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) is a consortium of MSU, ten leading African universities, and a distinguished network for African research institutes. AAP members are committed to working in equitable partnership to transform lives and address global challenges. The AAP builds on MSU’s long-term engagement in Africa, building on the foundation laid by the African Studies Center and evolving models of engagement in line with AAP’s guiding principles of accountability, equity, inclusivity, sustainability, and transparency.
    Conversation highlights:
    (:37) – “It’s always wonderful to be at MSU, one of the top leading institutions in the world that makes a difference in the United States, but also globally.”
    (1:12) – “In essence, the Alliance for African Partnerships is an alliance of academic institutions dedicated to using knowledge to transform lives around the world and in Africa.”
    (3:06) – “What it does is to choose and pair women from the African continent with a mentor at their institution and a mentor at MSU.”
    (5:32) – “Translating research impacts and insights into greater societal impact is the next frontier.” 
    (6:47) – “The knowledge that we have can erase two of the big existential crises we have in the world: the crisis of our humanity and the crisis of the planet.”
    (8:11) – “The partnership is a godsend.”
    (11:04) – “There is no society that is ever developed without a free media and a free press.”
    Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

    • 12 min
    From the Met to MSU: How Mark and Sadie Rucker are inspiring the next generation of diverse singers

    From the Met to MSU: How Mark and Sadie Rucker are inspiring the next generation of diverse singers

    By: Alex Tekip
    When Mark Rucker’s high school choir teacher told him he’d be performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York one day, he didn’t believe her.
    After all, he was a football player and saxophonist — not a singer — and was new to the choir, a reluctant baritone joining at his teacher’s behest.
    That teacher, Lena McLin, was in the front row as Rucker made his Met debut in 2004, a meaningful moment that signified his full circle of experience and inspired him to continue teaching the next generation of singers. Now, Rucker gets to do just that as a professor of voice in Michigan State University’s College of Music.
    “I’ve always had a desire to teach because my high school teacher is the reason I’m singing — without her, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing,” he said. “Education is where history is and that’s where our future lies,” he said. “I’ve sung in opera houses all over the world — at the Met, the Royal Opera House in London, venues in Philadelphia and Italy — and those were wonderful experiences. But these days, I get much more excited about the careers of my students than my own singing career.”
    Mark Rucker arrived at MSU in 2016 with his wife and accompanist, Sadie, who also is a faculty member in the College of Music.
    “My father, who was a choral teacher, sang the song to me when I was younger, and I just took to it — it talks about the importance of having God, or another spiritual entity, in your corner,” Mark said. “It’s my favorite spiritual. Spirituals were used during slavery as a call for hope and communications, and I think with everything going on right now, that’s what we need.”
    Advocating for music in Michigan schools
    Mark and Sadie have made it their mission to get young people, particularly minorities and those who are financially disadvantaged, involved in the performing arts.
    Sadie leads the MSU Vocal Outreach Program. Together, she and Mark travel to schools around the state of Michigan with graduate students studying in the College of Music. The graduate students put on a cabaret-style performance of opera, musical theater and spirituals. Student audiences at each school get a chance to sing with the MSU performers and ask them questions. These performances aim to generate an interest in music and encourage students to pursue that interest.
    “If I teach somebody, they may not become the next great opera singer, but they might become the next lover of that art form,” Mark said. “It’s up to us to make students understand that music is an important part of life. It is necessary for life.”
    The Ruckers recognize there are significant barriers for underrepresented and financially disadvantaged youth who want to pursue music and the arts. Often, the schools they attend growing up don’t have proper funding for such programs, and those who wish to pursue the performing arts must make serious monetary considerations regarding the cost of secondary education and the need to support their family.
    “At one outreach event, I had an elementary-aged Black child come up to me, and he said, ‘Can I make money performing?’ He was about the bottom line,” Mark said. “He continued, ‘Can I help my family if I do this? I like the thought of doing it, but can I help my family through that?’ That’s the consideration of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
    “When I see a child that’s going to college and the only reason that they don’t consider it is because they can’t afford it, it further emphasizes how necessary music and arts scholarships are. One of them might be the next dramatic soprano. One of them might be the next incredible baritone. And that’s unbelievably important.”
    Music and the arts also create a sense of belonging and community in schools, Sadie added.
    “Maybe a student just wants to be part of the chorus, just to able to be part of music in some way because it makes them feel important and feel good

    • 32 min
    'Michigan Model' national pilot program to help curb acts of mass violence

    'Michigan Model' national pilot program to help curb acts of mass violence

    $15 million state grant will support Center for Targeted Violence Prevention

    Michigan State University’s Department of Psychiatry is launching a pilot program – with a $15 million grant from the state of Michigan – to help curb acts of violence and spare families from unthinkable trauma before it’s too late.  The Center for Targeted Violence Prevention is a collaborative program between the MSU Department of Psychiatry — a shared department in the Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Human Medicine at MSU — and the National Policing Institute, or NPI. The five-year pilot program will establish a research-to-practice hub to provide guidance, training and consultation in the regions, and will also assign intensive support teams to provide case management and mentoring services to high-risk/high-need adolescents and their caregivers.
    Alyse Ley, associate chair of education and research in the Department of Psychiatry, and Frank Straub, director of the Center for Targeted Violence Prevention at NPI are co-directors of the program. They discuss the mission of the program on this episode of MSU Today.
    Listen to "MSU Today with Russ White" on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

    • 20 min

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