A Legacy of International Leadership

John Hannah, Michigan State University's 12th president, articulated a vision of MSU as a university not only for the people of Michigan but also for the world. His vision of a globally interdependent future in the wake of World War II led to the university's involvement in the creation of institutions of higher education in places such as Brazil, Colombia, and Okinawa in the 1950s, Nigeria and Pakistan in the early 1960s, and subsequently in more than 200 major development, research, and technical assistance projects in dozens of countries.

In 1956, President Hannah established International Programs, headed by a dean-the first such office among major universities in the United States. Later renamed the International Studies and Programs (ISP), its purpose was to initiate, coordinate, and otherwise support internationally related activities throughout the institution. The office would eventually administer a number of area studies centers and support units, but its effectiveness as a university-level entity has resided in its "matrix" nature and ability to foster collaborative efforts across traditional college and departmental administrative boundaries.

Today, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon has engaged the institution in a strategic and transformative journey to become the model land-grant university for the 21st century. The destination known to us as “World-Grant,” has organized MSU energy and resources around five strategic imperatives –

  • Enhance the student experience
  • Enrich community, economic, and family life
  • Expand international reach
  • Increase research opportunities
  • Strengthen stewardship

Distinctions and Accomplishments

  • More than 25 internationally focused centers, institutes, offices, and programs, located in ISP and throughout the university, including four centers currently designated as national resource and language resource centers through the U.S. Department of Education Title VI program
  • Ranked the top public university for study abroad participation in the nation by the Institute of International Education
  • One of the largest study abroad catelogs with more than 270 programs on all continents
  • One of the top 10 universities in the U.S. for international students enrollments
  • A legacy of development projects, funded by major grants, in such areas as agriculture, business, education, democratic institution building, and health
  • Leadership in internationally oriented organizations
  • More distinctions and accomplishments