Lou Anna K. Simon, the 20th president of Michigan State University, leads the university’s work to advance the common good in Michigan and around the world. Simon earned her doctorate at Michigan State in 1974 and held a variety of administrative roles at the university, including assistant provost for general academic administration, associate provost, and provost and vice president for academic affairs. The MSU Board of Trustees appointed her president in January 2005.
As president, Simon has engaged Michigan State in a strategic and transformative journey to adapt the principles of its land-grant heritage to 21st-century challenges. Her initiatives in learning, research, and international engagement reflect MSU’s commitment to applying knowledge to benefit society. She outlined these commitments and the philosophy behind them in her monograph, Embracing the World Grant Ideal: Affirming the Morrill Act for a Twenty-first-century Global Society.
Simon’s vision includes building an inclusive and engaged academic community where every student graduates as a skilled and sought-after citizen-scholar. MSU’s Student Success initiative is critical to that effort, and its outcomes are reflected in Michigan State’s top standing for student engagement among public research universities.
With the support of external funding now exceeding $580 million annually, Simon helps ensure that MSU is making an enduring difference regionally and globally by finding solutions to the world’s great challenges. She has expanded MSU’s reach through its internationally regarded research in food, water, education and social sciences, engineering, and advanced physical sciences. She also leads its commitment to working at the forefront of emerging opportunities in areas such as bioengineering, medicine and genomics, advanced mobility, and computation.
Simon is a past chair and current board member of the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 leading U.S. and Canadian research universities. She is a member of the American Council on Education and, as a past chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Executive Committee, serves as an ex officio administrative committee member. She is a long-standing member of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board.
Simon’s activity in economic development has placed her on the Council on Competitiveness and the Business-Higher Education Forum, both national organizations focused on U.S. economic competitiveness and prosperity. She serves on the board of directors of Business Leaders for Michigan and is past chair of the Detroit Branch
of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. She also is an advisory committee member of the Detroit Innovation District, which promotes small business growth and job creation in the city.
Building on more than 50 years of development work and research in Africa by MSU faculty members, Simon is a member of the executive committee of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa and speaks to scholarly international gatherings about global food and development issues.