Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon (Detroit News file photo)
The rivalry between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University is taking a new twist.
During winter commencement exercises in December, U-M will bestow an honorary degree on MSU President Lou Anna Simon, officials announced Monday. Simon will be one of six to be awarded.
Simon — who earned her undergraduate and master degree from Indiana State University and doctorate in administration and higher education from MSU — will be given an honorary U-M Doctor of Laws degree.
U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the degree comes after years of collaboration between the universities.
“U-M and MSU have worked pretty closely on the University Research Corridor, and lots of other things,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the a U-M, MSU and Wayne State University alliance created in 2006 to collaborate on research to reinvigorate Michigan's economy.
Simon, who is in Ireland, could not be reached for comment.
U-M’s citation for the honorary degree hailed Simon as a visionary leader.
“Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon is one of the nation’s most persuasive promoters of the role of universities in applying knowledge to benefit society and advance the global common good,” according to the citation. “She has led MSU in a strategic and transformative journey to adapt the principles of its land-grant tradition to 21st century challenge.”
The citation also says Simon is committed to expanding MSU’s research “in areas that protect and enhance quality of life, including clean and affordable energy, access to education, safe and plentiful food and water, and health care.
“As president of one of the nation’s great research universities and an international leader in higher education, you are admired for your vision, dedication, and collaborative spirit,” the citation continues. “You have enhanced Michigan State University’s reputation globally for outstanding teaching, research, public service, and contributions to economic development.”
Michele Norris-Johnson, a National Public Radio correspondent and creator of The Race Card Project, will deliver the commencement address, and also receive an honorary degree.
Others receiving honorary degrees are Willard L. “Sandy” Boyd, president emeritus of The University of Iowa; William I. Higuchi,professor emeritus of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Utah and a former U-M faculty member; Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. surgeon generaland philanthropist Helen Zell.
The Board of Regents will consider granting the degrees at its meeting Friday, to be held at U-M Flint.