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Dean's Corner

By Elizabeth H. Simmons, March 27, 2017

Dear LBC Students,

Looking ahead to the 50th Anniversary celebrations for Lyman Briggs College in the fall, I thought this was the perfect time to review some of the college's history and also what we have been accomplishing in recent years. So I have collected a selection of essays and reports that summarize the college's initial aims were and the community's progress toward those goals over the intervening years. It is gratifying to see how well the college's determination to build strong connections between the sciences and humanities has been sustained over five decades—and how this has enriched the lives of all who have joined us as students, staff, and faculty.

To begin, a brief biography of Lyman James Briggs, including his time as an MSU student, scientific interests and career milestones is available on the college's website. You can access a couple of longer essays about him from that same web page.

Looking through my bookcase, I found another short biography about Lyman James Briggs written by Tony Lush, then a first-year student in the college.

Also in the bookcase is a more formal review of the Origin and First Six Years of LBC, written in 1892 by college leaders Frederic B. Dutton and Jane E. Elliott.

On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary, a piece including numerous anecdotes from the college was published in an MSU newsletter. Hopefully, this will spark some further recollections from readers.

In 2011-12, we conducted an Academic Program Review of the college to assess our progress in building collaboration among students, staff, and faculty, while helping students develop into lifelong learners. The executive summary conveys the gist; those interested in more detail can examine the full report.

I would also like to share several pieces written by LBC faculty on the essence of what our college contributes to interdisciplinary undergraduate STEM education. These have been published by well-regarded journals and organizations, increasing the college's visibility at the national level.

  • A perspective piece in Nature Climate Change discussing how to promote interdisciplinarity through climate change education was co-authored by Aaron M. McCright, Brian W. O'Shea, Ryan D. Sweeder, Gerald R. Urquhart, and Aklilu Zeleke.
  • A paper published by Aaron McCright and Ryan D. Sweeder in ASQ (Quality Approaches in Higher Education) discussing LBC's innovative living-learning approach to STEM Education
  • An article in ASQ (Quality Approaches in Higher Education) on preparing LBC students to do undergraduate research in STEM, co-autored by Ryan D. Sweeder and Philip E. Strong.
  • An opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed situating Lyman Briggs college within the larger context of how the humanities strengthen the sciences, by Elizabeth H. Simmons.
  • An article in Change on how Lyman Briggs College bridges C.P. Snow's Two Cultures in unexpected ways, co-authored by Sean A. Valles, Douglas B. Luckie, Georgina M. Montgomery, Elizabeth H. Simmons, Ryan D. Sweeder, and Aklilu Zeleke.
  • A case study co-authored by Elizabeth H. Simmons and Ryan D. Sweeder for the Association of American Universities on Lyman Briggs College as an exemplar of Improving STEM Education at Research Universities.

Finally, in a lighter vein, here is an recent "Open Letter to Lyman Briggs Students."

These are just some examples that I have found readily available. If you have other pieces that should be on this list, please send me a link or a PDF file and I'll be happy to add them!


Elizabeth Simmons' signature

EH Simmons
Dean, Lyman Briggs College
University Distinguished Professor of Physics


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February 2017
January 2017
November 2016 (second post)
November 2016
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