Robert Bao 2014-04-02 00:29:16
Mark Dantonio talks about completing circles. With this issue, let me announce I'm completing my circle as your editor the past 31 years. This has been a fabulous ride. Few things are more fun for me than extolling the virtues of Michigan State University and its alumni. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Special thanks to Chuck Webb, former executive director of the MSU Alumni Association and vice president of MSU Development, who recently retired from the presidency of Spring Arbor University. Webb hired me as editor in 1983. Thanks to former editor Ron Karle, who got me into this vocation back in 1971.Thanks to Keith Williams, a longtime supporter and friend. Thanks to all my colleagues. Going forward, this magazine is in great hands with Stephanie Motschenbacher heading up the communications group in University Advancement. My mission has been consistent for over three decades. We tried to tell the university's compelling story, and we supported the alumni association's mission of connecting alumni with their alma mater and with each other. I was hired in 1983, right after George Perles and just before Tom Izzo. So I brag that I'm part of a trio that brought us a Rose Bowl, two Big Ten football titles, seven bowl games, an NCAA basketball championship and six Final Fours. David Giordan, our talented graphic designer, has been an integral part of the magazine during most of my tenure. Back in the 1970s, this magazine was typeset by hand with lead type in wood galleys. Giordan has brought us up to speed with the latest computer-to-plate technology, where each magazine issue is reduced to so many gigabytes of information. In the early 1990s, we moved from black and white to full color-of course, with a strong bias toward green. Recently I was the guest on a radio program hosted by President Lou Anna K. Simon and Scott Westerman (pinch-hitting for Mark Hollis). President Simon said that in her early years at MSU, she learned about the university from reading my articles in the alumni magazine. I consider that the ultimate accolade. Similarly, Bruce McCristal, author of The Spirit of Michigan State University (2004), wrote that his coverage of MSU history from 1983 to 2003 was largely based on content from the alumni magazine. I've really enjoyed writing about Spartans, whether they are university presidents, governors, senators, scientists, entrepreneurs, athletes or alumni on the move. In 2000, I spearheaded the Spartans In Hollywood gala event. We honored a dozen or so highly successful alumni in the movie industry-including James Caan, Walter Hill, Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Sam Raimi and Magic Johnson. Retiring on a Rose Bowl year was fortuitous. My first year at MSU as a student was 1965, another Rose Bowl year. I got to know many members of that national championship team, including defensive coordinator Hank Bullough. The starting tight end on that team, Jim Proebstle, was my classmate. Many years later I contributed blurbs to his award-winning books, Absence of Honor (2008) and Fatal Incident (2013). Some people have described me as MSU's informal historian. Not so. I've been privileged to have enjoyed a front row seat to much of MSU history. A real historian is someone like professor Doug Noverr, whose book on modern MSU history will be published by the MSU Press next year. Or like Portia Vescio, assistant director of University Archives & Historical Collections, who contributes to the MSU Moments section of this magazine. I'm very proud that my MSU diploma was signed by the great John Hannah. I had opportunities to interview him at length and I was fortunate to have known other presidents as well. I got to know Clift on Wharton when I was a student; one incident involving us might appear in Wharton's biography, now undergoing editing by the MSU Press. During my radio interview, I was asked to name my biggest career highlight. The question stumped me because there have been so many. I did mention one highlight-when I made it to Magic Johnson's New Year's Eve party just prior to the 1988 Rose Bowl. But truthfully, being able to tell the MSU story for three decades, to alumni and even presidents in the making, was a sustained highlight. So, what will I be doing next? I hope nothing, for starters. Then I'll look for more circles to complete, including possibly working on a new edition of my book, The Michigan State University Experience (College Days Press, 2001). You'll see me at future bowl games and Final Fours. You'll see me at Forest Akers, continuing to be terrorized by tricky three-foot putts. Keep reading this magazine. I might find the time to write a letter to the editor.
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