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May 31, 2023

Moving Mountains

by Mark Largent, vice provost & dean of Undergraduate Education

Several years ago, our colleague Renata Opoczynski compared MSU’s Student Success agenda to “moving a mountain.” Given the size and complexity of the university and the loftiness of our goals, it seemed like an apt metaphor.

Portrait photo of Mark LargentBut Renata did not draw this comparison to make the task seem more difficult than we already knew it was. Instead, she focused our attention on precisely how we could accomplish something so difficult.

“Do you know how to move a mountain?” she asked. “One rock at a time. Identify the mountain you want moved, agree to where it should be moved, and empower everyone to pick up and move a rock.” MSU’s 2030 Strategic Plan gave us direction, and after only the first year of implementation, we recognize a great deal of progress.

Last week, at the monthly meeting of President’s Council, the deans and vice presidents discussed progress toward MSU’s 2030 Strategic Goals. As we went around the table discussing work undertaken in every corner of campus, it quickly became apparent that a great many rocks had already been moved. The impromptu reporting session surfaced progress in student, staff, and faculty success, research productivity, sustainability, heath, and DEI across campus. Hearing about this work and seeing the enthusiasm with which colleagues described the progress made in every aspect of MSU’s Strategic Plan was uplifting.

The incoming class of 2024 – the class that we have promised to graduate at a rate of 86% by closing opportunity gaps – arrives to campus in about 450 days. We still have rocks to move before they get here, and a great many more once they join us.

What rocks did you and your colleagues pick up and move this year? Which tasks proved too difficult for you to accomplish alone, and which ones are top of your list for the next academic year? With whom do you want to move the biggest rocks this year?

Feedback and suggestions, especially from the MSU community, welcome at