Author: Richard Koubek

A Message to Our Alumni and Friends

Greetings Fellow Huskies: 

The past several months have brought out the best in Michigan Tech. I am quite proud of our faculty and staff for the time and energy they’ve devoted to creating a safe return-to-campus plan. I am equally inspired by our students and how they have embraced new expectations and operating procedures on campus.

2020 has been a year of change and a transformative period in Michigan Tech’s history. We’ve learned that we can adapt to changing work environments and expectations as a result of COVID-19. We also better appreciate the difficulties in trying to replicate the Michigan Tech experience remotely, and we remain committed to providing the very best Michigan Tech experience possible for our students, in spite of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.  

I would like to thank the many alumni who have reaffirmed their commitment to the University through philanthropy. We are grateful to those who donated to the Husky Emergency Assistance Fund, the Graduate Student Emergency Fund, and many other scholarships and programs. Alumni support gives us the impetus to press forward. Together, we continue our work in advancing MTU as a premier national university positioned to lead the nation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

While it may seem like COVID-19 has been all-consuming, I am pleased to share a few other campus updates. NASA has slated Michigan Tech’s second student-built satellite for a March 2021 deployment from the International Space Station (ISS). Stratus, named for its cloud-imaging mission, will be carried to the space station, 200 miles above Earth, in a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket. The Tech Forward initiatives are entering their second year and making great progress. Thanks to the hard work of our faculty and researchers, external sponsored funding increased 7 percent this past year. Prospective student tours have resumed with appropriate safety protocols in place. Our four Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion finalists visited campus this past week. And, 14 new faculty members joined our campus community this fall. 

Thank you again for your support of Michigan Tech. We look forward to the next time we can gather with our alumni and friends, be it at the Alumni Reunion, the Great Lakes Invitational, or one of the many other alumni events planned in the future.


Rick Koubek

A Message to Families from President Koubek

Each year at the Michigan Tech Alumni Reunion, the University hosts a special Golden M ceremony to honor those who graduated 50 (or more) years ago. A part of the ceremony that has become a favorite of mine is when the inductees reminisce about their time at Tech.  While many colorful and remarkable tales are told, most often the stories are laced with notastalia of a “special faculty” member who went the extra mile and made a lasting impact on their lives. While much has changed over the last 50 years here at Michigan Tech, our faculty’s enthusiasm and commitment to student success remains steadfast.  

A most recent example of this is evidenced through the Tech Forward initiatives our campus launched last July. The nine initiatives focus on themes that Michigan Tech faculty and staff identified as essential keystones necessary to position Michigan Tech as an educational and research leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. One of the initiatives that has the potential for profound impact is Education for the 21st Century led by Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College

Recently I had an opportunity to visit with the faculty and staff working group to hear not just their creative ideas, but see and feel the intensity of their commitment to provide the very best, forward-leaning, educational experience for our students. Their goal is audacious—to revolutionize how we deliver higher education, while remaining uniquely Michigan Tech.  Audacious, but they are right. Status quo is not our answer to preparing students to enter the workforce at the very forefront of their professions. We envision an experientially based education that prepares our graduates to adapt to the constantly changing needs of the future workplace, that enables them to define their individual definition of post graduate success and that satisfies our parents’ and families’ want for their student to be challenged and supported throughout their college experience.

Michigan Tech is fortunate to have faculty and staff who are highly creative and are directing that creativity toward re-envisioning the student experience at Tech. I encourage you to check out their website ( throughout the year as they tackle this challenge.

It’s still too early to tell where this will end up exactly, but after talking with the group, a bit of advice a mentor once gave me came to mind, “Tell me who is working the problem and I can tell you how it will end before it starts.” With this group of Michigan Tech faculty and staff leading the charge, I believe it will end up very well indeed.

President Koubek’s Fall Letter to Families:

Welcome class of 2023!

A Message to Families from President Koubek 

The following message is a written adaptation of a speech given to students and families by President Koubek at Michigan Tech’s first year student welcome night on August 24, 2019.  

“Good evening! First, pep band, I am a fan. Thank you. Second, welcome class of 2023. I can tell you that this week campus has been abuzz with excitement about you joining us today because we know the incredible talents you are going to bring to our campus. This incoming class has the highest academic credentials in the history of MTU. Congratulations! 

As you were comparing other universities with Michigan Tech during your college search, I am sure you came to realize just how special Michigan Tech is among the approximately 4,600 universities in the United States. Of the 4,600 new freshman classes engaging in orientation activities just as you are, Michigan Tech is one of two universities in the United States where you have your own ski hill. There is no other university that can lay claim to its very own Mushing team. Your university is the only one in the state of Michigan that has its own College of Computing. And, Michigan Tech is the only public university in the state with a varsity esports team. It’s by no accident that we have been ranked the safest college campus in America. And, lastly – I can suspect that no other university lets classes out early so students can build life-size ice sculptures in the middle of February. Truly, there is no other place like it. 

As mentioned, I’ve been the president of Michigan Tech for a year now. And you will find, like I did, that Michigan Tech is indeed a special place. I talked about the many things that I think are unique, but I will tell you what I believe to be the secret of success at our university. It is not what we are as an institution, but rather who we are. The people are what define our institution. You saw all of those people in yellow shirts today. Those folks came out and volunteered because they are excited for you to be here and they want to help you. What you are going to find at Michigan Tech is that our faculty, our staff, and our students are committed to your success in a special way.  

As I was preparing for tonight’s talk, a colleague asked, “So, are you going to give them the speech? You know…the look to your left, look to your right…only one of us will graduate speech.” 

I said, “Yes, but I am going to give the Michigan Tech version…which is look to your left, now look to your right…because we want all of you to be together at graduation four years from now.” And, that is what this institution is committed to do. That in four years all of you are sitting here again. Only this time, it’s to celebrate graduation. 

So, I have one request for you. 

That is to ask. Everyone here is oriented toward you succeeding. If you are having an issue with your roommate, ask. If you are not sure how to solve a math problem, ask. If you are missing home and need to talk to someone, ask. If you don’t know where a building is, ask. 

Please know our entire university is set up for you to succeed here. All you have to do is ask.” 

President Koubek’s Summer Letter to Families

Greetings and congratulations to our spring 2019 graduates and their families!  

With the spring semester, finals, graduation, and (hopefully) the snow behind us, I wanted to highlight a few examples of our faculty’s forward-leaning research, which includes projects such as:

  • Developing biometric clothing and artificial intelligence that will empower each of us to self-diagnose illnesses before real symptoms appear
  • Discovering techniques to diagnose the presence of cancer, as well as its type and malignancy, in less than two minutes

Yes, Michigan Tech research teams are leading the way in developing these new technologies. But our students will be the ones who decide how they get used. And we will all have to live with the consequences of their decisions.   

Complicating those decisions is the rapid and often disruptive rate of change in which we now live.

As technologies continue to advance, how might we prepare the student of today to address the needs of society at a level that machines and technology cannot?

And how might we align our programs to support the economic wellbeing of our future state?

We all know it’s a race to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology.  Just as our students have adapted how they express their creativity and talents in new ways, we as educators must adapt and change with the times. Yes, universities have on occasion been characterized as traditionalists, but we are, at our core, about growth and opportunity. This is evidenced in our research and development agenda. It is truly part of Michigan Tech’s DNA.

In July, we will open a new College of Computing. Building on our strong foundation, the new college will help continue the University’s transformation into an academic institution that is poised to nimbly respond to—and even predict—the technological, economic, and social needs of the 21st century. The College of Computing will prepare students to be agile and adaptable in a rapidly changing job market. It will allow our faculty to collaborate on high-impact, translational research in new ways, and it will better meet industry’s insatiable demand for talent in AI, software engineering, data science, and cybersecurity. But most importantly, it will provide the next generation of graduates with the skills needed to lead the industries driving our state and national economies.  

We have also engaged in a process to expand our Pavlis Honors College experience across the entire curriculum…for all students. The curriculum cultivates critical reflection, design thinking, and interdisciplinary collaboration. This approach is critical because we realize we are no longer training students for the jobs of today—but equipping them with the skills and competencies to be successful in the rapidly changing economic environment of the future.

These are exciting times at Michigan Tech, and we thank you for your vote of confidence in our mission and future direction.    

Wishing you the happiest of summers!


Rick Koubek

President Koubek’s Spring Letter to Families

Dear Families and Friends:

“Home for the holidays” took on new meaning for me this past holiday season. As the father of three grown children, it’s difficult to get the entire family together but this year we managed to pull it off! And, it was wonderful. I imagine many of you experienced that same joy when your Husky returned home after a long semester away.  

Several of our students and families also celebrated the joy of graduation this December. It’s always exciting to learn about their plans, be it the start of a new career or the return to school for a graduate degree. Wherever their path takes them, I know they will be well equipped for success. For those students who returned to Michigan Tech on Monday to start the spring semester, let’s congratulate them on being one step closer to achieving their goal of graduation.

Speaking of goals, the campus will address several this year regarding how we best prepare our students to succeed in the new digital economy. A common theme among the planning conversations is how the rate of change is intensifying as new technology improves the way we work, live, and interact with one another. As an institution, Michigan Tech must provide 21st century, data-capable graduates who understand how technologies and information impact the lives of people in high-skill, high-need areas and in areas as diverse but interconnected as the manufacturing and health industries.  

Over the next several months, campus leaders will develop a plan to create a new unit focused on computing. We will also work to propagate the Pavlis Honors College educational outcomes across Michigan Tech’s core curriculum. These are just two examples of how Michigan Tech is working to ensure that our students graduate not only with a singular set of skills, but also with the ability to reinvent themselves to remain relevant with the changing times.

From my perspective—this punctuates the value of higher education in our society and the role we all play as faculty, staff, students, and families in creating the future.

My best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2019.


Rick Koubek


University Update from President Koubek


Greetings Families: 

Whether your student is new to campus or starting their senior year, we are both excited and humbled to welcome them to the start of a new semester at Michigan Tech.  Excited for the opportunities the new semester holds and humbled because of the trust you place in the excellence of our academic reputation and the quality of our programs.

It’s a trust I take very seriously as president.  

For 133 years, Michigan Tech has delivered on its promise to provide the highest levels of technologically-oriented education for our students that help drive the nation’s economy.   And, the latest economic impact study proves that for every dollar invested from the state, Michigan Tech’s students, faculty, staff and alumni pay it back tenfold. It’s no wonder Michigan Tech is ranked as the best value in the state and in the top one percent of all colleges in the country.   

But, that’s probably not the reason your student chose Michigan Tech.  They chose Michigan Tech because they felt a sense of belonging. They wanted a challenge, they pursue success and they’re not afraid of change.

And, change is what Michigan Tech is about. We know the proliferation of technology is changing everything at an exponential rate. So, who is going to manage this change and do so in a manner that respects both our environment and our humanity? The answer is the Michigan Tech graduating classes of 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and beyond.  It’s the Michigan Tech graduates who will create future.

And, it is our responsibility to ensure that our graduates are prepared not only with a singular set of skills, but with the ability to reinvent themselves to remain relevant with the changing times.

Over the coming months, the campus community will engage in a series of conversations to discuss just how Michigan Tech will thrive in this state of constant change. Faculty will debate pedagogy that best prepares our students to grow with change. And, our researchers will define a responsive research agenda designed to meet the incipient needs of our future society.

Thank you for entrusting your students to us and participating in this very exciting journey as we create the future for Michigan Tech.  


Rick Koubek


Pivot To Change

A message from President Koubek regarding the future of Michigan Tech  

At the alumni reunion this year, I heard two recurring themes as our alumni reminisced about their time spent on campus. First were the stories about particular faculty members who went the proverbial “extra mile” to help in a time of need. And there were many. Followed by stories about the special Tech traditions that built community and forged lifelong friendships. Traditions like K-Day, the Parade of Nations and Winter Carnival.  Events like hockey playoffs, football games and bocce ball tournaments. Activities like Mt. Ripley ski runs, broomball showdowns, and countless late night study sessions.

Traditions help describe who we are as an institution. A grounded, hardworking community with grit, like no other.  Therefore, when we begin talking about change, it is critical that university leaders have a deep appreciation and respect for the culture of the institution.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Today, Michigan Tech finds itself at an important crossroads. We know technology is rapidly changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another. We know our world will be very different in 30 years. So, rather than reacting to these disruptive forces, why not define them?  

Over the coming months, the campus community will engage in a series of conversations to discuss how Michigan Tech will thrive in this new state of constant change. Faculty will debate pedagogy that best prepares our students to grow with change. And, our researchers will define a responsive research agenda designed to meet the incipient needs of our future society.

When we get to the other side of these conversations, we will have a plan that defines the next era of education at Michigan Tech, with lessons for higher education in general. A plan, grounded in tradition, that challenges us to break old routines and pushes us to engineer, explore, innovate and lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

At Michigan Tech, we will not miss the future.  We will create the future.

Tech forward.