Latest Updates

  • Thu., April 8, 2021

    Campus Update – April 8, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Fortunately, the dramatic surge in positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan is not being replicated on our campus. As you know, Michigan now has the undesirable distinction of leading the nation in the growth of positive cases, with hospitalizations and deaths increasing exponentially as well. Later in this message you will see that the University’s case numbers remain relatively low and the frequency of our on-campus testing process continues to be robust, but we are closely monitoring what is happening in our state.

    We’ve heard the term “pandemic fatigue” used frequently as an explanation for the increase in cases. While part of the reason for the increase is the reopening of external events and activities, it also is attributed to a greater number of people letting their guard down, not wearing face coverings, and not respecting physical distancing guidelines. I also need to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated. With vaccines more readily available to everyone 16 years old and over – I encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you can.

    We have come so far in the last year – but we have yet to cross the finish line. So please, be safe. And be respectful of the safety of others. 

    I have several additional updates to share this week:

    • One-Shot Vaccine Availability for Students
    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Free COVID-19 Testing
    • Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking
    • Top 10 National Finish for Forensics Team – Showcase Tonight
    • Michigan Chief Medical Executive to Deliver Keynote Address for Women of Excellence Ceremony
    • Congratulate a Graduate!
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder


    One-Shot Vaccine Availability for Students

    Michigan has announced the distribution of vaccines to colleges to support the vaccination of students. Under the state plan, Eastern is receiving an initial allotment of vaccines with additional allocations expected soon. Our team is currently making plans to conduct vaccinations. We also hope to offer on-campus vaccination to employees in the very near future. Please watch your email for updates. In the meantime, there are a number of options available for vaccinations and I strongly encourage everyone to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You can find registration information at any of these sites:

    Washtenaw County Health Department
    Ford Field, Detroit
    Vaccine Finder

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending April 6, the University administered 1,181 COVID-19 tests that resulted in 12 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 1.02%. We confirmed a total of 31 positive cases during this period. Of those, eight were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and 16 were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Among University employees, seven cases were reported.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 32,544 tests with 365 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.12% -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    Free Covid-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Student Center at University expense. Next week’s schedule:

    • Monday 12 - 4 p.m.
    • Tuesday 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
    • Wednesday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    • Thursday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.


    Students who get tested are automatically entered to win a special prize package; next week’s prize is provided by EMU Dining.

    You do not need to have symptoms or concerns that you have been exposed to the virus in order to be tested. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested, and to test frequently, regardless of how you feel. The testing process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. You must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Please visit emich.edu/covid-testing  to complete your profile and reserve a time.

    Student Body President Luis Romero shows how easy the testing process is in this video. Visit the testing FAQ if you have additional questions.

    Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking

    The number of people receiving vaccines in our area continues to increase. As of April 6, Washtenaw County reported 81.9% of residents 65 or older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up from 80.2% last week. For residents 16 and over, 43.2% had received at least one dose – up from 37.4%. The data are being refreshed regularly. Visit the WCHD vaccination tracking site for ongoing updates.

    Top 10 National Finish for Forensics Team – Showcase Tonight

    The EMU Forensics team is among the Elite Eight nationally, with perhaps more success to come. The team competed virtually this past weekend at the American Forensics Association competition, placing eighth in the country! The team will compete in another nationwide competition, the National Forensics Association, on April 16-19.

    Tonight, beginning at 6 p.m., the team will put its skills, competitive zeal and commitment on display in its annual Forensics National Showcase, to be held virtually. The event will feature five performances – a sampling of the 75 individual performances that will compete next week.

    To watch the Showcase, you can register on the special newsletter page for the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts.

    You can read more about the team's success and its marvelous winning tradition in the EMU Today story. And be sure to check in later this month to see how the team fared in its next competition.

    Michigan Chief Medical Executive to Deliver Keynote Address for Women of Excellence Ceremony

    Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan, will serve as the keynote speaker for Eastern’s annual Women of Excellence Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 12. The talk is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public. You can register in advance at the registration link.

    Dr. Khaldun also serves as the Chief Deputy Director for Health and Human Services in Michigan. In these roles, she provides overall medical guidance for the State of Michigan as a cabinet member of the Governor, and oversees public health and aging programs, Medicaid, and behavioral health for MDHHS.

    The Women of Excellence Awards recognize women and femme identified individuals in the EMU community who live the focus of the EMU Women's Resource Center: To encourage, support, and advocate for the personal academic, and professional advancement of all women. The 2021 Women of Excellence Ceremony Theme is: “Women Becoming Whole: Physical, Spiritual & Mental Wellness.”  

    Congratulate a Graduate!

    We are planning several activities to celebrate our graduating students. A formal ceremony video will be posted at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 25. Graduates, families and friends can view the video at that time, or anytime after, at their convenience on the University’s YouTube channel.

    You can give a shout-out to your favorite 2021 grad. Use animated images (GIFs), photos, or a short video to share well wishes and advice for the class of 2021. Visit the commencement website to submit your message.

    We are planning to have in-person graduation celebrations at a later date for all graduates who have not had an in-person experience due to the pandemic. We are hopeful this will take place during our fall commencement, depending on public health considerations and the removal of restrictions for large gatherings.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m. The Food Pantry will be closed the week of April 26-30, and will reopen Monday, May 3.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s most needed items are rice, large snacks, cereal, garbanzo beans and large containers of juices. 

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]  in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry. Monetary contributions can be made online.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    We are pleased to celebrate these examples of Eastern Excellence:

    • Dr. Mary Ramsey, professor of English language and literature, has been selected as one of 52 emerging college and university leaders for the 2021-22 class of the ACE Fellows Program, the longest-running higher education leadership development program in the United States. Since its inception in 1965, the ACE (American Council on Education) Fellows Program has strengthened institutions in American higher education by identifying and preparing more than 2,000 faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through its distinctive and intensive nominator-driven, cohort-based mentorship model. Dr. Ramsey, who joined EMU in 2011, has served in a variety of leadership positions, including interim assistant vice president of The Honors College and English department head. She earned her doctorate in medieval studies at Yale University and master's degrees at the University of St. Andrew's and the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Ramsey told EMU Today, “I see this fellowship as an important step in my career trajectory. I am excited to begin what promises to be an extraordinary year of professional and personal growth.”

    • "EMU dazzles Duke, 75-60." That was the headline in The Ann Arbor News when Coach Ben Braun's Eastern Michigan team dominated the Blue Devils in the first round of the 1996 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. That victory was among the many highlights for Coach Braun. In his 10-plus seasons at Eastern, he led the men's basketball team to the most successful decade in school history. This month, we will have a special opportunity to hear from Coach Braun about his fine career and approach to life and basketball. The Eastern Michigan University Center for Jewish Studies is presenting a "Conversation With Coach Ben Braun" on Tuesday, April 20, at 7 p.m. There is no cost to attend the virtual event; registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/CoachBraun.


    The event is co-sponsored by Hillel at Eastern Michigan University, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's Life and Legacy Program, and Eastern Michigan University Athletics.

    Please join me in congratulating everyone involved in these fine examples of Eastern Excellence!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings;
    • Observe physical distancing; and,
    • Get vaccinated when you are eligible.

    These four actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., April 1, 2021

    Campus Update – April 1, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I’m sure for many of you our spring recess, that begins tomorrow, is a welcome break in the rush to complete the work for this semester. I think all of us are looking for a return to spring-like weather too, and if the forecast holds true, Saturday and Sunday look to be just what we’re looking for.


    As I write this message today, we are confronted with two serious issues. One is the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our state and nation; and second, much closer to home and very serious to our students and community, is our continuing need to confront sexual assault and to support survivors who bravely come forward to tell of their past victimization by other students.

    I want to reiterate my deep and unwavering support for all survivors of sexual assault, and our commitment to do everything we can to provide a safe environment for our students. As I’ve stated recently on several occasions, there is no place for sexual violence in our community.

    The University is committed to learning every detail about the cases that are the subject of a recent lawsuit. We want to know whether our processes related to these cases were followed and, if not, why not and what steps should be taken so that our students are protected and feel supported in reporting sexual assault. We have stated from the beginning of this matter that we are committed to full transparency in this process. To that end, last fall, EMU engaged Cozen O’Connor, an independent law firm recognized nationally for its expertise in Title IX, to review and assess EMU’s actions. The Cozen O’Connor report will be made public when it is finalized later this spring.

    Protecting students is critical to the University’s educational mission. Our staff in law enforcement, Title IX, student affairs, and elsewhere works tirelessly every day to try to create a safe and supportive community for students, faculty and staff.

    The University has initiated several actions in recent years to create greater awareness and encourage the reporting of sexual assaults. Much of this has been accomplished as a result of grants we have been awarded by the State of Michigan in recognition of our ongoing efforts. Details can be found in this Title IX grants update.

    These allegations are very serious and concerning to all of us. We will continue to share information throughout this process, and are committed to addressing any deficiencies in our processes that are identified. We have prepared an extensive questions and answers page to provide additional information about the recent lawsuit and the University’s actions.

    How to report a sexual assault
    Eastern Michigan University takes all claims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct seriously and is committed to the thorough investigation of these incidents. Anyone who has information or wishes to report an incident of sexual assault or misconduct is encouraged to contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222 or at [email protected], or file an incident report with the EMU Title IX Office.

    I have several additional updates to share this week:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Free COVID-19 Testing
    • Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking
    • Regent Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall/Family Empowerment Program launch vaccine education effort
    • Renaming of Judy Sturgis Hill Building and the Legacy - Sponberg Theatres is complete with new signage
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder


    COVID-19 Dashboard
    In the seven days ending March 30, the University administered 1,305 COVID-19 tests that resulted in 15 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 1.15%. We confirmed a total of 33 positive cases during this period. Of those, three were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and 20 were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Among University employees, 10 cases were reported.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 31,363 tests with 353 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.13% -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    Free Covid-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Student Center at University expense. Next week’s schedule:

    • Monday 12 - 4 p.m.
    • Tuesday 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
    • Wednesday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    • Thursday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.


    Students who get tested are automatically entered to win a special prize package; next week it is provided by EMU Athletics. It includes some great athletic wear, valued at $120.

    You do not need to have symptoms or concerns that you have been exposed to the virus in order to be tested. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested, and to test frequently, regardless of how you feel. The testing process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. You must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Please visit emich.edu/covid-testing  to complete your profile and reserve a time.

    Student Body President Luis Romero shows how easy the testing process is in this video. Visit the testing FAQ if you have additional questions.

    Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking

    The number of people receiving vaccines in our area continues to increase. As of March 30, Washtenaw County reported 80.2% of residents 65 or older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up from 78% last week. For residents 16 and over, 37.4% had received at least one dose – up from 32.4%. The data are being refreshed regularly. Visit the WCHD vaccination tracking site for ongoing updates.

    Regent Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall/Family Empowerment Program launch vaccine education effort

    Eastern’s Family Empowerment Program, in collaboration with Regent and public health expert, Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, launched a vaccine education and outreach effort to educate the public about COVID-19 vaccines and access to getting a vaccine locally. The effort kicked off with nearly 30 volunteers going door-to-door at Ypsilanti Housing Commission communities last weekend to educate residents on the three approved vaccines, as well as provide information on local vaccine access. In addition, a webinar took place last night on Facebook Live. I was pleased to be asked to provide opening remarks  -- you can watch a recording of the informative session on the [email protected] Facebook page. Speakers included Dr. Kimbrough Marshall and Dr. Kiela Samuels, Clinical Pharmacist and Professor, Washtenaw County Community College and Michigan Medicine.

    Renaming of Judy Sturgis Hill Building and the Legacy - Sponberg Theatres is complete with new signage

    I am thrilled to share that the installation of new signage at the renamed Judy Sturgis Hill Building and the Legacy - Sponberg Theatres has been completed. You can view photos of the new signage and other details in this EMU Today story.

    Professor Sturgis Hill served in many roles on campus prior to passing away in January 2019. She was an EMU student, a member of the national championship Forensics team, a student activist on campus during the Civil Rights struggles, a resident hall advisor, a graduate assistant, a part-time lecturer, a recipient of a King-Chavez-Parks fellowship, a faculty member, a faculty in-residence (living in the First Year residence hall for a number of years to support students in their transition to college life), the Director of Diversity programs, the Interim Director of Office of Affirmative Action, the co-chair of the Martin L. King, Jr. planning committee from its inception, and co-Director of the Summer Institute for the Arts and Sciences. Dr. Sturgis Hill was also EMU’s First National Forensics Champion, a recipient of the Alumni Teaching Excellence Award, a chosen faculty member to present in the Last Lecture Series, and a recipient of EMU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award.

    To view her name on this building is testament to her legacy and her impact on the University and our students.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s is seeking rice, microwave-ready meals, canned chicken, chicken noodle and chicken rice soup.

     If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]  in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Monetary donations can be made online.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    We are pleased to celebrate these examples of Eastern Excellence:

    • The School of Nursing has been awarded a grant of $72,000 to develop a virtual reality program to address health inequities and social determinants of health impacting Asian Americans. This is to assist with the delivery of culturally-competent health care. The program is entitled “Immersive Community, Culture, and Care Experiences for Undergraduate Nursing Students: The 360-degree Difference."  It will be developed and disseminated to all nursing schools in Michigan. EMU was one of only two nursing schools in the state to receive the award. Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, professor of nursing and director of EMU Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies, will serve as project director. You can read more about the project on EMU Today.

    • More than 180 students participated in 41st Undergraduate Research Symposium last Friday (March 26). Conducted virtually for the second consecutive year, the event provided an opportunity for students to share their research via Zoom or other formats. The presentations were stimulating; it is always a joy to see the work of our students on display. My thanks also to the more than 100 faculty members who supported our students in their research. For the next two weeks, you can view the presentations on the 41st Undergraduate Research Symposium virtual platform. Please visit the EMU Today story for additional details.

      We were pleased to be joined by Eastern Michigan alumna Brenda Alten, who leads Human Resources Communications with the J.M. Smucker Company, who served as the keynote speaker for the Symposium. Alten, who graduated from EMU in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, noted a common denominator of the student presenters in her remarks. “You all have something you’re passionate about and can share,” she said. Alten recalled her time at Eastern, which included participating in the 1987 symposium. You can read more about her background and her remarks by visiting the story on EMU Today.

    •  I have a correction to last week’s highlight about WEMU’s first place award for Best News or Public Affairs Special at the Michigan Broadcast Excellence Awards. The guests of the “Ask the Experts” call-in program that won first place were Beverly Mihalko, associate professor of health administration, and Washtenaw County Sheriff (and EMU alum) Jerry Clayton.


    Please join me in congratulating everyone involved in these fine examples of Eastern Excellence!

     

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings;
    • Observe physical distancing; and,
    • Get vaccinated when you are eligible.


    These actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., March 25, 2021

    Campus Update – March 25, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:


    In light of the lawsuit filed yesterday on behalf of several sexual assault survivors, I want to reiterate my deep and unwavering support for all victims of sexual assault, and my commitment to do everything I can to ensure a safe environment for our students.

    The survivors who have come forward are showing incredible bravery in choosing to tell their stories. Although the University did not know about most of these cases at the time, we believe the claims of assault and are sickened to think that these events could have transpired on or around our campus community.

    In addition to our primary objective of supporting survivors, two further points are important to highlight in this matter: 1) Our campus is safe; and 2) Any accusations that the University covered up such crimes are false.

    As I stated in my message to campus yesterday, there is no place for sexual violence within our community and we will always take swift action to stop it. An important part of that commitment is communicating with students, faculty, staff and the community whenever something like this occurs, as well as providing information about the University’s handling of such cases.

    Upon learning about these reported assaults last fall, and as announced in September 2020, we undertook a thorough, independent external review of our Title IX and surrounding practices during the period in question. We engaged the national firm of Cozen O'Connor -- a specialist in Title IX work -- to help us in this important effort. We are committed to knowing if our processes related to these cases were followed by University employees and, if not, why not and what steps should be taken to ensure that our students are protected and supported. We are similarly committed to full transparency in this process. To that end, as indicated last September, the Cozen O’Connor report will be made public when it is finalized later this spring.

    In the meantime, we have prepared an extensive set of questions and answers to provide more perspective about the lawsuit and invite you to review it in detail.

    How to report a sexual assault 

    Eastern Michigan University takes all claims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct seriously and is committed to the thorough investigation of these incidents. Anyone who has information or wishes to report an incident of sexual assault or misconduct is encouraged to contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222 or at [email protected], or file an incident report with the EMU Title IX Office.

    I have several additional updates to share this week:

    • Michigan COVID-19 Cases Increase
    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Free COVID-19 Testing
    • Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking
    • Give Rise: The Campaign for EMU
    • April Graduation – Tomorrow’s Deadline for Inclusion in Celebration Video/Website
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder


    Michigan COVID-19 Cases Increase

    Michigan has seen a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. As more older adults are vaccinated, the number of cases among younger adults is spiking. Yesterday, Michigan reported its highest single-day total in new cases since mid-December. This is a critical reminder that now is not the time to back away from safe practices. Wear face coverings. Maintain physical distancing. Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer. Get vaccinated when you are eligible. Let’s keep one another safe.

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending March 23, the University administered 1,262 COVID-19 tests that resulted in three positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.24 percent. During this time, we confirmed a total of 18 positive cases. Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 30,058 tests with 337 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.12 percent -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    Free Covid-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Student Center at University expense, and we are pleased to announce expanded testing hours. Testing is now available on Mondays beginning next week, from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. The Testing Center is also open Tuesdays from 9 - 2 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Thursdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

    Students who get tested are automatically entered to win a special prize package - next week it is provided by EMU Dining. It includes an Echo Dot, and a snack and swag bag!

    You do not need to have symptoms or concerns that you have been exposed to the virus in order to be tested. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested, and to test frequently, regardless of how you feel. The testing process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. Remember, you may be tested multiple times.

    You must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Please visit emich.edu/covid-testing  to complete your profile and reserve a time.

    Student Body President Luis Romero shows how easy the testing process is in this video. Visit the testing FAQ if you have additional questions.

    Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking

    We continue to see encouraging news on the vaccination front. As of March 23, Washtenaw County reported 78% of residents 65 or older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up from 74.1% last week. For residents 16 and over, 32.4% had received at least one dose – up from 27.7%. The data are being refreshed regularly – visit the WCHD vaccination tracking site for ongoing updates.

    Give Rise: The Campaign for EMU

    At Eastern Michigan University, we are proud of what we have created, we are proud of who we have become, and we are excited about where we are going.

    Earlier today we celebrated the virtual kickoff of the $100 million Give Rise Campaign. We are thrilled that so many of our colleagues and students are highlighted in this celebration. Here are just a few of them:

    • Dr. Anne Casper and Dr. Paul Price researching ways to create new antibiotics.
    • Dr. Sarah Cox and Dr. Rema Reynolds talking about the impact teachers can have in the classroom and the community.
    • Dr. Bud Gibson providing a glimpse at the impressive Center for Digital Engagement and how it has grown into a powerhouse for professional guidance to EMU students.
    • Dr. Linda Myler and Dr. Kathleen Seurynck bringing us into the IEP Simulation experience at St. Joe's and the transformative education our students receive in healthcare programs.
    • Dean Mohamad Qatu walking us through all the beautiful enhancements to the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology.
    • Our students speaking on what makes EMU special, with an encore performance by members of the EMU Marching Band.
    • And, much more!


    To join us in the celebration, please watch the Give Rise launch video.

    We look forward to ongoing communication with you as we continue to celebrate in the days and weeks ahead, as we Give Rise to EMU!

     April Graduation – Tomorrow’s Deadline for Inclusion in Celebration Video/Website

    As previously communicated, we are planning several activities to celebrate our graduating students. A formal ceremony video will be posted at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 25. Graduates, families and friends can view the video at that time, or anytime after, at their convenience on the University’s YouTube channel.

    Students who apply to graduate by tomorrow, March 26, will have their names included in the formal video and posted on the Commencement website. Students should apply for the month they are graduating – whether April or August. August graduates who apply by March 26, as noted above, will be included in the April celebration.

    Please visit the Records and Registration graduation website to apply for graduation and to find other details and deadlines. Also visit the Commencement website for ongoing updates about the ceremony as well as the distribution of diplomas and the ordering of regalia.

    We are planning on having in-person graduation celebrations at a later date for all graduates who have not had an in-person experience due to the pandemic. We are hopeful this will take place during our fall commencement, depending on public health considerations and the removal of restrictions for large gatherings.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room have changed slightly. Mondays are now 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. beginning next week, Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m. remain the same.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s is seeking milk, rice, notebooks, large snacks and microwave-ready meals.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Monetary donations can be made online.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    We are pleased to celebrate these examples of Eastern Excellence:

    • Student David DeLisle, who is pursuing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, won the first prize award for Best Student Paper in the American Society for Engineering Education North Central Section Conference. His paper was "Control System Integration for Automating an Electric Golf Cart." 
    • David was also selected as the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology Outstanding Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering Student for this academic year. He plans to apply to graduate schools to further his education in Electrical Engineering and electric vehicles. His long-term goal is to earn a Ph.D. and work with a university or automotive manufacturer to create the next generation of electric and autonomous vehicles.
    • Two of the University’s brightest stars have been honored by the Michigan Chronicle in its Women of Excellence for 2021 awards. Board of Regents Chair Eunice Jeffries and Dr. Rema Reynolds, associate professor in Leadership and Counseling, are among those selected for the honor from hundreds of nominees. The Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence Awards celebrates local African-American women who inspire others through their vision and leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service.
    • Earlier this week, WEMU was awarded first place for Best News or Public Affairs special at the Broadcast Excellence Awards, presented virtually by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. The winning program was the “Ask the Experts” call-in program that took place in the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020. Hosted and moderated by WEMU's Lisa Barry, Sherry Bumpus, director of nursing operations, and Beverly Mihalko, assistant professor of health administration, spent an hour answering questions about COVID-19 from listeners who posed questions by phone, email, or via Facebook Live. 


    Please join me in congratulating everyone involved in these fine examples of Eastern Excellence!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings;
    • Observe physical distancing; and,
    • Get vaccinated when you are eligible.


    These four actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., March 18, 2021

    Campus Update – March 18, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:
     
    Yesterday's murders of eight people in Atlanta, six of them Asian women, are a horrific reminder of the racism faced by Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans (APIDA) and Asian individuals and communities. While the motive of the suspect remains under investigation, it is well documented that in the last year, coinciding with the pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in hate incidents against APIDA that range from verbal harassment and name-calling to shunning and physical acts of violence. This kind of hate runs counter to everything the Eastern Michigan University community stands for. We are committed to addressing all forms of hate and harassment and I encourage you to support our APIDA and Asian community members at this time. Let them know you care. Please remind others that EMU is a welcoming place for people of every background, ethnicity, race, culture and creed.

    To report a suspected hate-motivated incident, please call the EMU Police Department at 734.487.1222, visit the Police Station at 1200 Oakwood St., or call the EMU Police Department anonymous tip line at 734.487.4847. Visit the EMU Police hate crimes page for additional information.

    If you or someone you know is seeking supportive resources, visit:

    Counseling and Psychological Services (if student)

    Employee Assistance Program (if employee)

    If you're interested in learning more about Eastern's APIDA and Asian communities, please contact the Southeast Asian Student Organization or the Office for International Students and Scholars.

    I have several additional campus updates to share this week:

    • Michigan House of Representatives Higher Education Subcommittee Testimony
    • Faculty Members Support Vulnerable Adults Legislation
    • First Virtual U.S.-China Agriculture Roundtable
    • Women’s History Month Final Program Next Week
    • Reminder: Free COVID-19 Testing
    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking
    • Fall Semester Planning
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder


    Michigan House of Representatives Higher Education Subcommittee Testimony

    This morning, I testified before the Michigan House Higher Education Subcommittee as part of a series of hearings with Michigan public university presidents. In my testimony, I explained that Eastern, like so many of our peers, faces acute challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic as we continue preparing students for high-demand careers that benefit the state of Michigan. I stated that the nationwide impact on higher education from COVID-19 has been catastrophic.

    I noted that we are an institution of opportunity – that our mission is to serve students who might not otherwise have the chance to attend college. I then addressed our deeply challenging work in recent years to increase efficiency and reduce costs, and thanked Governor Whitmer for proposing additional funds for higher education in the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget.

    Please visit the testimony overview for a complete look at today’s presentation.

    Faculty Members Support Vulnerable Adults Legislation

    Two faculty members also spoke to Michigan lawmakers this week, advocating for new state laws to protect Vulnerable Adults with disabilities against online predation.

    Assistant professors Christina Marsack-Topolewski, Ph.D., LMSW and Annemarie Kelly, JD, LLM, from the College of Health and Human Services, testified before the Michigan House of Representatives Committee for Families, Seniors, and Children.

    Speaking in support of House Bills 4159 and 4160, Kelly and Marsack-Topolewski implored the lawmakers to enact legal protections against online predation of Vulnerable Adults.

    They articulated the reasons why Vulnerable Adults need legal safeguards against internet predators. Marsack-Topolewski stated, “Many Vulnerable Adults maintain social connections using the internet and they are at the highest risk for online predation. We need to adopt laws that deter abuse and hold abusers accountable.” 

    Kelly explained, “Michigan already has laws in place to prevent in-person abuse against Vulnerable Adults. These bills modernize our laws to reflect that exploitation occurs online.”

    If the bills are passed, it will become a criminal act in Michigan to threaten, intimidate, command, force, coerce, or exploit a Vulnerable Adult into providing sexually explicit material. Under Michigan law, Vulnerable Adults include any “individual age 18 or over who, because of age, developmental disability, mental illness, or physical disability, requires supervision or personal care or lacks the personal and social skills required to live independently.” 

    Further details about the professors and their testimony can be found in the story on EMU Today.

    First Virtual U.S.-China Agriculture Roundtable

    As some of you may know, I am an active supporter of the United States Heartland China Association. Next week that group will launch a three-week program, “Shared Challenges to Shared Future: Finding the Way Forward.” Billed as the first virtual U.S. China Agriculture Roundtable, the program focuses on how transformations in agriculture can help address the major challenges of our time and stabilize bilateral relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Additional information and registration information is available on the United States Heartland China Association Agriculture Roundtable event information page. I encourage all who might have interest in this complex topic to join for one or more of these virtual sessions.

    Women’s History Month Final Program Next Week

    The final event for Women’s History Month takes place from 4-5:30 p.m. next Thursday, March 25: "Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All." The EMU History Section is hosting the event, which will feature Martha Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. Click on the Zoom link to participate. Information about all of this month’s events celebrating Women’s History Month can be found on EMU Today.

    Reminder: Free COVID-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Student Center at University expense. We tested nearly 1,100 people last week. The center is open Tuesday – Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. The process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. You can be tested more than once. We encourage frequent testing. Students living in campus housing are tested twice per month. We are offering a raffle for free giveaways for those who are tested at the Student Center – watch your email and University social media to learn about next week’s prize.

    You must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Visit emich.edu/covid-testing to complete your profile and reserve a time. Student Body President Luis Romero explains the easy testing process in this video. Please visit the testing FAQ if you have additional questions.

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending March 16, the University administered 1,078 COVID-19 tests that resulted in five positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.46 percent. During this time, we confirmed a total of 20 positive cases. Of those, eight were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and 10 were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Two cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 28,796 tests with 335 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.16 percent -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    Washtenaw County Vaccination Tracking

    We continue to see encouraging news on the vaccination front. As of March 16, Washtenaw County reports 74.1% of residents 65 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up from 65.6% last week. For residents 16 and over, 27.7% have received at least the first dose – up from 24.6%. The data are being refreshed regularly – visit the WCHD vaccination tracking site for ongoing updates.

    The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide), in partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department, has announced free transportation to the Convocation Center vaccination site. The service began yesterday. Anyone with a scheduled appointment at the site may use the service. All fares normally charged will be paid for using the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding.

    Fall Semester Planning

    We are in the process of planning for the Fall 2021 semester. President Biden recently announced that the pace of vaccinations is now ahead of the goal his administration set earlier this year. As a result, we have started to plan for a return to a significantly increased number of in-person classes and on-campus activities this fall. Our current planning scenarios include one in which courses that have an in-person component account for approximately 65% to 75% of the fall course schedule, and two other scenarios with reduced levels of in-person activities (50% and 20-25%). This new baseline schedule is more similar to a traditional fall semester structure, but it does reflect an increased number of online offerings and hybrid modalities. We have learned during the pandemic that there is increased demand for different types of online course opportunities. However, we also understand that for many students, particularly those in their first and second years, a more traditional in-person/on-campus experience provides the greatest opportunity for a successful start to achieving their degree. 

    Of course, we are approaching our planning cautiously and carefully, with safety considerations a primary consideration. Our #EMUSafe initiatives, led by our public health work teams, have guided the institution to a low overall COVID-19 case count relative to other universities in Michigan. We will continue to engage our faculty and staff experts to adjust protocols accordingly, with the safety of our students, faculty and staff paramount in all we do. The aforementioned planning scenarios ensure that, should we not be able to operate at the in-person capacity noted above, we are prepared to adjust our operations.

    I thank our students, faculty and staff for their adjustments and hard work to get us through the semester. I remain deeply grateful for our faculty’s extraordinary efforts to adapt course delivery and our student’s compliance with the many practices necessary to keep one another safe and our case numbers low.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s is seeking large juice, baby food, baby wipes, beans and sponges.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]  in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Monetary donations can be made online.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    Since the pandemic began, 89.1WEMU has been unable to produce traditional on-air fundraisers, which typically ran seven to eight days in duration and included dozens of in-studio guests from the community with hundreds of volunteers. Instead, the station has relied on a series of 'pop-up' fundraisers, short one- and two-day events centered on special days or activities that feature recorded messages from the WEMU team and carefully managed and appropriately distanced live pitch breaks.

    The most recent ‘pop-up’ was yesterday, recognizing St. Patrick's Day. Dubbed 'The Raising of the Green,' WEMU set out to collect $17,000 in 13 hours. WEMU met the goal before noon and, not wanting to lose the momentum generated by that response, doubled the goal to $34,000. Assisted by some spontaneous challenge matches and a focused, motivated WEMU team, the fundraiser ended with a total of $38,610; more than $21,000 over the original goal of $17,000. Some donor comments from yesterday are below:

    • “During COVID, WEMU was a life saver: deepest thanks.”
    • “Thank you to WEMU for exceptional local news and inspired local music hosts for helping us get through the dark days of the past year!”
    • “Thanks for keeping the news, blues, jazz, and roots flowing through our community veins -we need it now more than ever.”
    • “Thanks WEMU for being a rock for the community during the pandemic.”

      WEMU's next pop-up fundraiser will celebrate Public Radio Music Day on Friday, April 16. Congratulations #TeamWEMU!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings;
    • Observe physical distancing; and,
    • Get vaccinated as you are eligible.


    These four actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., March 11, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 11, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:


    The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) is now vaccinating approximately 1,100 people daily at the clinic operating at the University’s Convocation Center. This number has increased as vaccine supplies have become more available. The clinic is operating Wednesday – Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. WCHD is considering expanding those hours as vaccine supplies allow. The County has opened a second mass vaccination clinic at Pierce Lake Elementary School in Chelsea, in collaboration with St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital and the Chelsea School District. The new site will provide approximately 325 vaccinations per day and will also add additional hours as supplies allow. 

    Vaccination eligibility information is online; you can also register for a vaccination online if you are eligible.

    As of March 9, the County reports 65.6% of residents 65 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. For residents 16 and over, 24.6% have received at least the first dose. The data is being updated regularly – visit the WCHD vaccination tracking site for details.

    This is encouraging data and we will continue to monitor it, as well as report the number of new cases and positivity rates, as we actively plan for a higher number of in-person classes and campus activities for the fall semester.

    I have several updates to share this week:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • COVID-19 Testing
    • Summer and Fall Semester Planning
    • April Commencement Celebration
    • Increasing Pell Grant Maximum Award
    • George Liepa Sigma Xi Speaker Series
    • Women’s History Month Programs Next Week
    • Rebuilding the U.S. Refugee Program
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder

     

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending March 9, the University administered 1,113 COVID-19 tests that resulted in five positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.45 percent. During this time, we confirmed a total of seven positive cases. Of those, six were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and one was an on-campus student – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. No cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 27,718 tests with 330 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.19 percent -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    COVID-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Student Center at University expense. As noted above, we tested more than 1,100 people last week. The center is open Tuesdays – Thursdays, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. The process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. You can be tested more than once. We encourage frequent testing. Students living in campus housing are tested twice per month. We also are offering a raffle for free giveaways for those who are tested at the Student Center – watch your email and University social media to learn about next week’s prize.

    A reminder, you must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Visit emich.edu/covid-testing to complete your profile and reserve a time. Student Body President Luis Romero explains the easy testing process in this video. Please visit the testing FAQ if you have additional questions.

    Summer and Fall Semester Planning

    As we stated last week, planning for the summer and fall semesters is ongoing. The class schedule for Summer A will be similar to last summer – nearly all classes will be taught online. Summer B will also be similar to last summer – with more in-person classes but with the large majority of these still being online.

    For the fall semester, we are actively planning for a greater number of in-person classes and on-campus activities. We will continue to offer online/remote courses. Student data nationwide indicate a strong desire for in-person college choices for the fall semester, particularly traditional first-year students entering from high school. As we all know far too well, the pandemic has been marked by progress and setbacks. We are approaching our planning carefully, with safety at the forefront and an understanding that changing circumstances will require adjustments in our overall operations.

    April Commencement Celebration

    As communicated previously, we are planning several activities to celebrate our graduating students. A formal ceremony video will be posted at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 25. Graduates, families and friends can view the video at that time, or anytime after that at their convenience, on the University’s YouTube channel. Students who apply to graduate by March 26 will have their names included in the formal video and posted on the Commencement website. Students should apply for the month they are graduating – whether April or August. August graduates who apply by March 26 as noted above will be included in the April celebration. Please visit the Records and Registration graduation website to apply for graduation and to find other details and deadlines. Also visit the Commencement website for ongoing updates about the ceremony as well as the distribution of diplomas and the ordering of regalia.

    A reminder, we are planning on having in-person graduation celebrations at a later date for all graduates who did not have an in-person experience due to the pandemic. We are hopeful this will take place during our fall commencement, depending on public health considerations and the removal of restrictions for large gatherings.

    Increasing Pell Grant Maximum Award

    I am highly supportive of the growing effort to expand Pell Grant awards to double the current maximum for individual students. The Pell Grant is the federal government’s foundational investment in higher education. I have joined with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in signing a letter to Congress urging a doubling of maximum Pell Grant awards. The letter will be submitted in the days ahead, and states, in part: 

    “On behalf of the undersigned organizations and institutions, we urge you to bring an affordable, high-quality college education within reach for all students by doubling the maximum Pell Grant. This long overdue investment will drive economic recovery, help address racial and economic inequities in college completion rates, and increase overall educational attainment. 

    “The Pell Grant program is the nation’s foundational investment in higher education. Pell Grants help nearly seven million low- and moderate-income students attend and complete college annually. Students from all 50 states and all corners of the country — from rural areas to cities to everywhere in between — rely on the Pell Grant program to build their future. Pell Grants are especially critical for students of color, with nearly 60 percent of Black students, half of American Indian or Alaska Native students, and nearly half of Latinx students receiving a Pell Grant each year.

    “However, the share of college costs covered by the grant is at an all-time low. At its peak, the maximum grant covered three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Now, it covers less than one-third of that cost.

    “Unsurprisingly, Pell Grant recipients continue to bear disproportionate student debt burdens. Pell Grant recipients today are more than twice as likely as other students to have student loans, and grant recipients who borrow graduate with over $4,500 more debt than their higher-income peers. 

    “Students from low- and moderate-income families are in critical need of additional grant aid to pay for college. Doubling the maximum Pell Grant — and permanently indexing the grant to inflation to ensure its value doesn’t diminish over time — will boost college enrollment, improve graduation rates, and honor the history and value of these grants as the keystone federal investment in college affordability.”

    George Liepa Sigma Xi Speaker Series 

    Dr. Anne Casper, a professor of Biology known for her research and strong support of students, will present the annual George Liepa Sigma Xi Speaker Series in a virtual talk Thursday, March 18 from 7 – 8 p.m. Her Zoom talk is entitled “Effective Teaching to Support Inclusivity and Diversity in STEM.” The event is free and open to the public, including all members of the EMU community.

    Dr. Casper, a winner of the Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Professor Award, EMU’s highest academic honor, has active research programs in both science education, supported by the National Science Foundation, and in molecular genetics, supported by the National Institutes of Health, as noted in this profile on EMU Today.

    The George Liepa Sigma XI Speaker Series Endowed Fund was established in 2011 in memory of the late George Liepa, a professor of human nutrition and a department head in the College of Health and Human Services. Dr. Liepa was an active member of Sigma XI, a national Scientific Research Honor Society.

    Women’s History Month Programs Next Week

    Tuesday, March 16, 1 – 5 p.m. The 4th Annual Women of Color Feminisms & Leadership Symposium, Day 1, “Reimagining, Rebuilding & Recreating Ourselves as Women of Color”: The EMU Center of Race & Ethnicity, Women’s and Gender Studies and the Women’s Resource Center will host its Fourth Annual Women of Color Feminisms & Leadership Symposium, entitled “Reimagining, Rebuilding & Recreating Ourselves as Women of Color.”

    The two-day event continues on Wednesday, March 17, 1 – 5 p.m. It provides a breathable space for Women of Color to envision a world without limitations, unlearn false narratives of who THEY told us we should be and, prioritize healing so that we can create new versions of ourselves without fear. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo” Movement, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. Registration for the event is required, and can be completed through the event registration page.

    Tuesday, March 16, 6:30 - 8 p.m.: “Star Lecture 3: Making her Mark.” Join the Honors College for the final Star Lecture of the semester, "Making Her Mark: Marian Butler and Black Women’s Efforts to Secure Racial Justice," presented by Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Murphy. The lecture will be hosted via Zoom. For more information, visit the Honors College Event Calendar, or contact Jieron Robinson at 734.487.0341 or [email protected].

    Rebuilding the U.S. Refugee Program

    In conjunction with the Presidents' Alliance, Every Campus a Refuge, and the Niskanen Center, I have joined with university colleagues across the country in support of an initiative asking the U.S. Government to enact policies aimed at restoring and rebuilding the nation’s refugee program, in part through the incorporation of college- and university-based sponsorship programs of refugee students and families.

    The letter to the U.S. Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services can be found online. As in-person instruction returns, I am hopeful that we, as a community with donor partners, can assist in allowing a few refugee students the opportunity to experience the true greatness of EMU.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s is seeking ready-to-eat microwaveable items, such as: Kraft macaroni and cheese cups, ravioli and other Chef Boyardee goods, rice pouches and cups, and ramen cups. The pantry also continues to need school supplies such as notebooks, binders, sticky notes and highlighters.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]  in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Monetary donations can be made online.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

    • Eastern’s Simulation, Animation and Gaming (SAG) Program has been ranked among the best in the Midwest and among the top five of its kind in Michigan in annual listings from Animation Career Review. The ninth annual rankings listed Eastern 18th in the Midwest. Brad Prescott, founder of the Animation Career Review, said, “The rankings are quite competitive. With 125 schools under consideration, many go unranked. EMU has consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the Midwest.”
    • Ryan English, assistant professor in the SAG program said, “The Simulation, Animation, and Gaming faculty is very pleased with our ranking, but we know that there is always room for improvement, which we strive towards. Our students gain exposure to concepts that are quickly and quietly becoming ingrained into the world around us, everything from gamification of careers to mixed reality applications in many fields.”
    • The 41st annual Undergraduate Symposium will take place on Friday, March 26 in a virtual format. This highlight of undergraduate research and creative projects serves as a cumulative reflection of the academic year. Beginning in 1981, the Symposium was one of the first of its kind in the nation. This year, the event will enter its fifth decade of showcasing exceptional academic undergraduate work from students in a wide variety of departments and colleges. Visit the EMU Today story for further details and highlights of some of the research to be presented this year. As in past years, this year’s virtual event will feature oral speaking presentations, poster displays, and projects from the Crossing Lines Design Expo. The Symposium will host 195 students, under the mentorship of 103 faculty mentors, featured within 178 unique projects. Attendees will find a combination of pre-recorded and live content to view and engage with.
    • The annual Graduate Research Conference (GRC) will be held virtually on Friday, March 19. The GRC will exhibit more than 100 scholarly and creative research projects of graduate students across a range of disciplines, departments, and colleges. This year’s event will feature live oral presentations every hour, beginning at 9 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. and a live poster session from 10:30 - 11:45 a.m. There will also be recorded oral and poster presentations available to view throughout the entire day. As in years past, there will be a live keynote speaker from noon to 1 p.m. Dr. Shawn T. Mason, a GRC alumnus and current Director of Research and Outcomes for Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions, is this year’s keynote. The session will include presentations from the two winners of the Virtual 3-Minute-Thesis Competition, students L’Meese Greaney and Dorothy Zahor. For further updates, visit the GRC website


    Congratulations to the students, faculty, staff and alumni who represent Eastern so well!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.


    These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., March 4, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 4, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    The combination of spring-like weather and President Biden’s update on Tuesday that there will be a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of May for all American adults who wish to be vaccinated has created hope that we’ve moved through the most critical stages of the pandemic. While there have been positive signs along the way, this is the strongest indication that the heartbreaking impact of the disease – the enormous death toll, hospitalizations and the destructive effect on lives, jobs and economy – may finally be waning.

    I am reminded, however, that it is far too early to let our guard down. The disease is still spreading – yesterday there were more than 65,000 new cases in the U.S., and more than 2,300 deaths.

    The biggest factors to slowing the spread, in addition to the increasing number of vaccinations, remain physical distancing, the proper wearing of face coverings, and washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer. We do not take these matters lightly. We ask every Eagle to continue to do their part to ensure positive cases continue to decline, that we keep one another safe, and that we do not senselessly create any super-spreader events.

    I was pleased to tour our testing operation at the Student Center and the Washtenaw County Health Department’s vaccination clinic at the Convocation Center yesterday with new Regent Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall. It is always gratifying to see these efforts in action and it is a great reminder of our commitment to the breadth of work needed to keep everyone safe.

    We have several items to cover in this week’s message:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • COVID-19 Testing
    • Summer and Fall Semester Planning
    • Women’s History Month Programming Begins
    • Legendary Coach Bob Parks Remembered
    • Peace Corps Turns 60
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder


    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending March 2, the University administered 1,087 COVID-19 tests that resulted in two positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.18 percent. During this time, we confirmed a total of six positive cases.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 26,605 tests with 325 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.22 percent -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    COVID-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Student Center at University expense. Next week the testing center will be open Tuesday – Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. The testing process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. If you have already been tested, you can be tested again. We encourage frequent testing. You must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Please visit emich.edu/covid-testing to complete your profile and reserve a time. Student Body President Luis Romero explains the easy testing process in this video. Visit the testing FAQ if you have additional questions.

    Summer and Fall Semester Planning

    Planning for the summer and fall semesters is ongoing. The class schedule for Summer A will be similar to last summer – nearly all classes will be taught online. Summer B will also be similar to last summer – with more in-person classes but with the large majority of those classes being online.

    We are proceeding with fall semester planning. Our baseline fall schedule plan provides for a greater number of online/remote courses than have been offered in pre-COVID years and an increased number of in-person courses than this past year. Student data nationwide indicate a strong desire for in-person college choices for the fall semester, particularly traditional first-year students entering from high school, but also a different balance of online and in-person overall. We are creating two alternative scheduling scenarios that could be implemented should public health conditions, especially the vaccination process, not proceed as currently predicted. We will publish the baseline schedule but review the situation carefully as the summer semester begins and adjust as needed.

    The pandemic has been marked by progress and setbacks. We are approaching our planning carefully, with safety at the forefront and an understanding that changing circumstances will require adjustments in our overall operations. I ask that our community members remain flexible and understanding in the face of the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.

    Women’s History Month Programs Begin

    • Sunday, March 7, 3 p.m.: The EMU Center for Jewish Studies presents “Mira Awad: A Concert/Conversation.” The Israeli/Palestinian singer-songwriter, actress, artist and content creator will perform and speak to attendees. This free event will be streamed live on EMU’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
    • Monday, March 8, 5:30-7 p.m.: The Global Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women: Intersections of Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Work and Immigration.
    • Thursday, March 11, 5-6:30 p.m.: Women’s Leadership Panel: The Black Honors Student Organization will celebrate Women’s History Month with a Women’s Leadership Panel that will bring together six inspiring women of color to share their experiences and journeys to leadership positions. They will discuss several topics, ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion, resilience, newly entering the workforce, strengths and failures, inspirations, and more.


    Registration details and Zoom information for these events, along with the complete lineup of Women’s History Month programs, can be found on the Women’s History Month story on EMU Today.

    Legendary Coach Bob Parks Remembered

    It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that legendary track & field and cross country coach Bob Parks passed away yesterday at the age of 90. He is the most decorated coach in Eastern Michigan Athletics history. His teams captured 31 MAC titles and he was named MAC Coach of the Year 22 times. Under his coaching, EMU teams won six NAIA and NCAA team titles; he was named NCAA National Coach of the Year once and Regional Coach of the Year nine times. Parks was a collegiate runner at Eastern Michigan from 1951-55 and was the head men's track & field and cross country coach for 34 years (1967-2001). He retired having established a tradition of success within the Eagles cross country and track and field programs. Our deepest condolences go to all who knew and worked with him, particularly to his family and daughter Sue Parks, the current Director of Eastern’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Further details about Coach Parks’ life and career can be found in the EMU Athletics news release.

    Peace Corps Turn 60

    This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, the special volunteer federal program that provides vital international social and economic development assistance around the world. In addition to the various EMU students, faculty and staff who’ve served in the Peace Corps, I’d like to recognize a particular group of returning volunteers.

    Students in our Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program are Peace Corps volunteers who have returned and are supported in earning a Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA-TESOL), while continuing their service in local underserved communities. The program is part of our distinguished Department of World Languages. These students include: Nick Russon, Laura Hancock, Kit Tetmeyer, Jacob Johnston, John Mask, Brian Rankin, Tara Ancone, and Briahna Anders.

    On this special occasion marking the Peace Corps’ founding, which was first announced by President John F. Kennedy on the steps of the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor, I salute these students for their service, along with the rest of our EMU community that has taken part in this remarkable worldwide effort.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s is focusing on school supplies this week, and is seeking donations of notebooks, sticky notes, highlighters, loose-leaf paper and small (2" or less) binders.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]  in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's is conducting a campus-wide event this month and shared this message to our community:

    Instead of a March Madness competition this year, let's come together in unity to make progress in fighting food insecurity on EMU's campus!

    This means not only stocking the pantry with food but also making sure EMU students know about and can access the pantry.

    Ways you can help:

    • Share information about Swoop's Food Pantry with students by sharing information. Swoop's is available for any student!
    • Make cash donations to the EMU Foundation so that Swoop's can purchase nutritious food, personal hygiene and household items (please indicate in the comments which department or building you represent).
    • Donate items by shopping & dropping items to the pantry (or requesting a porch pickup) or by using the Amazon Wish List (please indicate in the order what building or department you represent).

    Swoop's will be tracking donations by building/department and reporting out the results for those who would like to know.

    Please share this information with those in your building or department, and please reach out with any questions.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

    • Our Clinical Research Administration graduate program is the third highest ranked program in the United States and number one in Michigan according to Bestvalueschools.org, which rates various university programs throughout the country. The program has consistently been ranked as one of the top of its kind in the United States by a variety of national educational reference sources. Dr. Jean Rowan, program director of the Clinical Research Administration Program, notes that this was one of the first academic programs developed in the discipline. It offers small class sizes with well-qualified, experienced faculty. “We are pleased to be recognized in various forums as one of the best places in America to obtain a Master of Science degree in Clinical Research Administration,” Dr. Rowan said. “Such honors speak to our continued leadership and excellence in the field. Our graduates now hold key roles at medical research centers, contract research organizations and pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the US and internationally.”
    • A nutrition team has received a $4,000 grant to improve access to healthy local foods and develop greater food and agricultural literacy in seeking to reduce health disparities in the low-income Asian American population in Kent County. The Association of State Public Health Nutritionists “Farm to Early Care and Education Capacity Building Grant” was awarded in January and will run through July 2021.
    • The team is from the University’s Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies (CHDIS), which aims to improve the lives of various communities by reducing racial and ethnic disparities in Michigan. “This initiative will be beneficial to the children in this community, as they will be exposed to local, nutritious foods and edible gardening, and will be provided a chance to learn about food and agriculture,” said Dr. Olivia Ford, co-leader of the team along with Dr. Alice Jo Rainville, a fellow professor of nutrition and dietetics.


    Congratulations to the students, faculty, staff and alumni who represent Eastern so well!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.


    These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., Feb. 25, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Feb. 25, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:


    COVID-19 cases among students, faculty and staff continue to decline significantly, thanks to the targeted and aggressive approach of our COVID operations team. The efforts span several offices and individuals – and include extensive contact tracing, telehealth evaluations, testing, wastewater monitoring, and the isolation and quarantining of potentially exposed individuals. These efforts have become a full-time priority for many on our team, including housing and dining staff, and testing and medical support staff. I can’t thank and acknowledge these team members enough for their dedication, commitment and plain old hard work.

    As we approach the one-year mark of our massive and unprecedented transition to mostly online learning, I extend my deep appreciation to our faculty, who converted in-person courses to online under extraordinary circumstances. I also acknowledge the fine efforts of our facilities and other operational teams who helped implement our Safe Return to Campus Plan.

    Eastern Michigan University students have excelled in their compliance to our #EMUSafe initiatives. Our students continue to show true Eagle spirit in protecting fellow students and community members – by maintaining physical distancing, avoiding gatherings, and wearing face coverings.

    This coordinated and comprehensive effort among our entire community of students, faculty and staff is one of the finest responses to a crisis that I have observed in my professional career. Again, my deepest thanks to everyone involved.

    We have several items to cover in this week’s message:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • COVID-19 Testing
    • Washtenaw County Health Department Vaccination Update
    • University Wellness Days March 3 & 4
    • April Commencement
    • Black History Month
    • Center for Jewish Studies Presents Mira Awad: A Concert/Conversation/Women’s History Month
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder


    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Feb. 23, the University administered 1,233 COVID-19 tests that resulted in five positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.41 percent. During this time, we confirmed a total of seven positive cases. This represents a dramatic decline from the 82 cases in the final week of January and returns our positive case count to the low levels of the fall semester.

    Of the seven cases reported last week, five were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and two were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. No cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 25,518 tests with 323 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.27 percent -- considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    COVID-19 Testing

    We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing at University expense. Student populations living in on-campus housing are among the prioritized testing groups, but each week testing is opened for all University students and employees. Next week testing in the Student Center will be open Tuesday – Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. The new testing process is fast and easy; results are provided within a matter of hours. You must register in advance; on-site registration is not permitted. Please visit emich.edu/covid-testing to complete your profile and reserve a time. Student Body President Luis Romero explains the testing process in this video.

    Washtenaw County Health Department Vaccination Update

    The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) continues to schedule appointments for individuals currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including EMU employees and students who fit into priority categories defined by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Although EMU does not determine these prioritizations, we continue to advocate to government officials that EMU faculty and staff are critical to the functioning of the University and that vaccination prioritizations should reflect that fact. President Biden and other government officials have stated that vaccinations should be available to every adult who wants one by mid-summer.

    Vaccinations will remain by appointment only through the WCHD registration website. Complete details and registration information can be found in yesterday’s vaccination update to campus.

    Personal Wellness Days March 3 & 4

    As announced in December, Wednesday, March 3, and Thursday, March 4, have been designated as academic personal wellness days. My thanks to the Faculty Senate and Provost Longworth for working with me to provide students and faculty with a well-deserved opportunity to catch up and take time for personal care, particularly with this year’s elimination of the traditional one-week winter recess. It is important to note that University offices will remain in operation, but no classes will be held on these two days. Based on questions we have been receiving, I want to emphasize that there are to be no class meetings or activities, virtual or in-person, on the personal wellness days. If you wouldn’t have the activity in an equivalent in-person format, it should not be held or conducted or due on these days. Students who have questions or concerns should contact the dean of their college for assistance.

    The Student Affairs Programming Committee has scheduled a variety of personal wellness events that will take place via Zoom each day. You can find a list of these events on EMU Today and on the University calendar. The Rec/IM will remain open during its standard hours from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. offering a full range of activities, including a ping pong tournament next Thursday from 5 – 7 p.m. Information about dining options can be found at the EMU Dining website. The Student Center will be open both days from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free COVID-19 testing, as noted earlier in this message, will continue in the Student Center from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

    April Commencement

    We congratulate our students who are nearing the completion of their degrees. We are proud of their accomplishments over the past several years and particularly during the last eleven months, which have been extremely challenging. 

    Unfortunately, the still-limited rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and government regulations limiting the size of public gatherings will not allow us to host an in-person graduation ceremony in April. This is disappointing news for our graduates, their families, and faculty and staff. Celebrating our graduates in the Convocation Center is one of my favorite events of the year. We join with many other universities that have made the same decision.

    We are planning several activities to celebrate our graduating students and will continue to communicate directly with students who have applied to graduate. A formal ceremony video will be posted at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 25. Graduates, families and friends can view the video at that time, or anytime after that at their convenience, on the University’s YouTube channel. Students who apply to graduate by March 26 will have their names included in the formal video and posted on the Commencement website. Please visit the Records and Registration graduation website to apply for graduation and to find other details and deadlines. Also visit the Commencement website for ongoing updates about the ceremony as well as the distribution of diplomas and the ordering of regalia.

    Black History Month

    Black History Month programming has been extensive and stimulating. I would like to express thanks to all faculty, staff and students who have participated in these efforts for reaffirming that Black History is American History – and is to be celebrated 365 days a year. Tomorrow’s event, “Art and Soul of Black Broadway,” focuses on the history of Washington, D.C.’s U Street. It takes place from 6 – 7 p.m. Visit the EMU Today calendar for registration information and details about all University happenings.

    The extended social media interviews with University leaders continue tomorrow with Regent Nathan Ford. The interviews are featured on the University’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Previous interviews this month include Board of Regents Chair Eunice Jeffries, Regents Alexander Simpson and Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, Dr. Rema Reynolds, Greg Peoples, Mark S. Lee and Dr. N.J. Akbar. These interviews can be viewed on YouTube.

    Center for Jewish Studies Presents Mira Awad: A Concert and Conversation/ Women’s History Month

    March is Women’s History Month. We are proud to provide several events that shine a light on women’s rights around the world and on racial equality for women of color. The EMU Center for Jewish Studies begins Women’s History Month programming with “Mira Awad: A Concert/Conversation” on Sunday, March 7, at 3 p.m. The Israeli/Palestinian singer songwriter, actress, artist and content creator will perform and speak to attendees. Awad has been a forceful activist for women’s rights, equal citizenship for Palestinians living in Israel, a two-state solution, and environmental awareness. This free event will be streamed live on EMU’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Details about other Women’s History Month programming can be found on the Women’s History Month story on EMU Today.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Swoop’s indicates the demand for spices and seasonings has been great and this week they are seeking salt and pepper, garlic and onion powder, red pepper flakes, seasoning mixes, and other spices.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]  in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

    For the fourth consecutive year, Eastern Michigan University has been named one of the top military and veteran friendly universities in the country, according to annual rankings released this month by Military Friendly. EMU ranked second among large public universities in the United States, and first in the state of Michigan in the annual listing.

    Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.) Mike Wise, assistant director of Military and Veteran Services at Eastern, said, “EMU military and veteran students and their families have exceptional support throughout the campus, from the top on down. Eastern Michigan’s pledge to military and veteran students is evidenced through its commitment to student veteran support, its establishment of a veteran support center and a 69-year commitment to its Army ROTC program.” You can read more about this meaningful designation and our veterans support services in the story on EMU Today.

    In another terrific honor, the bachelor’s degree program in paralegal studies has been ranked among the 20 best in the nation, and the number one public university program in Michigan. The ranking was provided by Study.com, a website that helps students research potential schools, degrees and careers. It selected Eastern’s paralegal program based on U.S. Department of Education data, academic and career resources, quality of education and faculty.

    Elizabeth Donovan, a professor in the School of Technology and Professional Services Management in the College of Engineering and Technology, said, “Equipped with technological skills as well as critical thinking skills, our graduates are perfectly positioned for employment in an array of settings, as well as graduate studies in fields such as business or law.” You can learn more about the program and the ranking in the EMU Today story.

    Congratulations to the students, faculty, staff and alumni who represent Eastern so well!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.


    These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., Feb. 11, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Feb. 11, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As we persevere through the rather typical February in Michigan deep freeze, I hope you, your friends and families are staying safe and warm. The cold weather looks to be with us for a while, so please take appropriate precautions.

    To begin this week’s update, I would like to thank the many people on the University’s COVID-19 response team who have been operating on overdrive for the past two weeks as the number of positive cases among our community spiked. Thanks to the response team’s tireless, determined and strategic efforts, our case numbers stabilized and over the past week have dropped considerably. You will see the numbers below in the weekly dashboard update – but I would be remiss in not acknowledging the extraordinary efforts by team members in addressing positive cases, quarantining students when necessary, and conducting contact tracing to identify and isolate other potential cases.

    We have several items to cover in this week’s message:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • COVID-19 Testing Changes
    • Washtenaw County Health Department Vaccination Update
    • Senate Testimony: Pandemic Impact at Michigan Public Universities
    • Black History Month Update
    • Lunar New Year
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Feb. 9, the University administered 1,683 COVID-19 tests that resulted in 29 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 1.72 percent. During this time, we confirmed a total of 43 positive cases. This compares to 82 positive cases during the week of Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, and 58 total positive cases during the week of Jan. 20 – Jan. 26.

    Of the 43 cases reported last week, 21 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and 14 were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Eight cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 22,969 tests that resulted in 310 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.35 percent. Our positive rate is considerably lower than state and national tracking. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    We continue to work closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and appreciate its support of our actions to address the current caseload.

    COVID-19 Testing Process

    The University’s new and expanded testing location inside the Student Center, in the former Amazon location, is allowing us to increase our testing capacity as planned. We are in our second week of operations at this location. Next week, we will transition to a new COVID-19 test – Abbott BinaxNow. It is a non-invasive, shallow nostril swab that is self-administered (with observers present) that circulates around the circumference of the lower nostril area. It is not the more invasive stick swab that goes deep into the nasal cavity.

    Abbott BinaxNow is the primary test used by the federal government, and was just recently permitted to be used by other organizations. A key benefit of the test is the rapid results -- within a few hours via an online portal. This compares to previous tests in which results were not available for 48-72 hours. It is also available at a lower cost, allowing the University to purchase a greater quantity of tests, significantly expand the number of tests conducted, and increase the frequency of testing. This is particularly important for our mandatory testing process for higher risk populations (housing, dining, etc.)

    Consistent with all of our past testing, these new tests are free to students and employees and are provided at University expense as part of our #EMUSafe efforts.

    Abundant signage, an instruction video and personal assistance are available at the Student Center location to help make it a fast and easy process. Please continue to monitor your emich email for updates on the scheduling of tests and the hours of operation of this testing facility.

    Washtenaw County Health Department Vaccination Update

    The University’s Convocation Center continues to host Washtenaw County’s only mass vaccination clinic. Beginning next Tuesday, the clinic will be expanded to include St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor vaccination operations. The Convocation Center has proved to be a key resource in this process due to its size and ease of access (parking and proximity to highways). We are proud to support this critical community initiative. The expanded vaccination clinic, and ongoing partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) and St. Joe's, are reflective of Eastern's overall mission and support of the greater community. This is yet another example of the national recognition and rationale behind the University's Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement. Vaccine appointments will remain by appointment only through the WCHD registration website. Complete details and appointment registration information can be found in the news release on EMU Today.

    Senate Testimony: Pandemic Impact at Michigan’s Public Universities

    This afternoon I had the opportunity to testify, virtually, before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Universities and Community Colleges. I testified on behalf of the state’s 15 public universities, which are represented by the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU). I outlined the dramatic negative consequences of the pandemic to the financial bottom line of Michigan's universities, while providing an overview of the extraordinary efforts by universities to transition to online classes and provide a safe environment. I also emphasized the toll the pandemic is taking on our students. My final comments were directed toward support for prioritizing faculty and staff personnel at Michigan universities for earlier vaccinations, given their interaction with student populations on campus. A comprehensive overview of my testimony is available in this EMU Today news release.

    Black History Month

    Black History Month activities are underway. The theme for EMU’s 2021 Black History Month celebration is “A Tribute to our Blackness.” Upcoming Black History Month events are listed below. Please visit the Black History Month news release on EMU Today for additional details about the events and registration information.

    • Thursday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m.: Black History Month Jeopardy
    • Thursday, Feb. 18, 6 - 8 p.m.: The State of Civil Rights in America: What Does the Future Portend?
    • Thursday, Feb. 18, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Star Lecture Series: An Ordinary Black Woman's Journey toward Social Justice and Empowerment
    • Wednesday, February 24, 7 p.m.: Who Will Save American Democracy? The Role of Women, Young Voters and People of Color in American Politics
    • Thursday, February 25, 4 - 5:30 p.m.: Lost Opportunity: Willis Ward, the Strike at Willow Run, and the Rise of Civil Rights Unionism in Detroit

    Extended interviews with EMU leaders will be featured on the University’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please follow those sites for updates.

    For more information on EMU events, always visit the EMU Today calendar.

    Lunar New Year

    Tomorrow, February 12, 2021, marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year; this year is the Year of the Ox. The ox is known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination. These are the qualities we all hope to build on as we begin the transition from a pandemic to a return to a new normal of sorts, not only at EMU but nationwide. The Asian population in the United States exceeds 23 million and, of that, the Asian population in the U.S. that are Chinese or of Chinese descent exceeds 5.2 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    I send my warmest wishes to our alumni across Asia, and our students, faculty, staff and alumni here in Michigan and throughout the country as we begin the Lunar New Year and, of course, welcome in the Year of the Ox. From the lion dances in San Francisco to festivals in Atlanta and parades in New York City and Washington, D.C., Americans of Asian descent carry on the vibrant traditions of their past generations and enrich America's cultural diversity. I hope all those celebrating the New Year enjoy peace, prosperity, and good health in the many days ahead.

    新春愉快,牛年大吉

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    The items most needed this week are: rice, ramen, grape jelly, large snacks and hot chocolate.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

    • Summit Street, an Eastern Michigan University student a cappella group, has qualified to compete in the quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Tournament on Saturday, March 13. Established in 2019, Summit Street is a TTBB (tenor, tenor, baritone, bass) a cappella group, which is traditionally an all-men’s chorus. However, aligned with EMU’s mission to foster a diverse and inclusive community, the singing group is open to anyone regardless of identification. The group currently consists of 13 singing members and three tech members who assist with all aspects of recording, video production and more. The EMU Today story has more details about the group and the upcoming competition.
    • The latest episode of EMU Today TV highlights the University’s Master of Science in Finance program (MSF), with special guest Associate Professor of Finance Karen Ann Craig. The MSF program, started in fall 2019, is AACSB-accredited and STEM-designated, and is designed for recent graduates and working professionals.
      The second segment features Gregory Peoples, 2020 recipient of the Alumni Association’s John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award, and Emeritus Dean of Students and University Ombudsman. Peoples is a student affairs professional with more than 40 years of experience as a university administrator.
    • Ingrid Saunders Jones, who earned a Master’s degree in education at Eastern in 1972, is an industry and civic leader who has helped open paths for African Americans and women. From 1982 to 2013, Saunders Jones held a number of positions with the Coca-Cola Company and the Coca-Cola Foundation, which are based in Atlanta, where she still lives. She retired in 2013 as senior vice president of global community connections with the company and as chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation. You can read more about Ingrid Saunders Jones and her thoughts on Black History Month in the story on EMU Today.

    Congratulations to those students, faculty and alumni who represent Eastern so well!

    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.

    These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Thu., Feb. 4, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Feb. 4, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Our COVID-19 testing data from the past two weeks highlights the critical nature of continuing to follow safe practices – primarily the wearing of proper face coverings that cover the nose and mouth, maintaining six-foot physical distancing, and frequent hand washing (experts say eight times a day) and the use of hand sanitizers.

    The data make it clear that the COVID-19 pandemic remains an ever present danger to everyone in our campus community and we must take extra precautions to slow the spread. While the ramping up of vaccine distribution continues, we know it will be several months before enough people -- particularly younger people not in priority populations -- are vaccinated to mitigate the spread of the disease.

    It is critical that we all continue to do our part as outlined in the #EMUSafe Pledge: Take the Pledge. Stop the Spread, and that we follow the practices and protocols detailed on the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website.

    I also encourage our campus community to take advantage of the free COVID-19 testing we offer each week. Additional details follow in today’s message.

    I have several items to cover in this week’s update:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • COVID-19 Testing Changes
    • Black History Month
    • National Wear Red Day
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder

     

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Feb. 2, the University administered 1,497 COVID-19 tests that resulted in 66 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 4.41 percent. During this time period, we confirmed a total of 82 positive cases. Of those, 14 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and 58 were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Ten cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 21,286 tests that resulted in 281 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.32 percent. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    Our weekly case counts for the past two reporting periods are at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic. We have identified several causes for these increases, and actions have been implemented to address them and mitigate additional spread. We continue to work closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and appreciate their support of our actions to address the current caseload.

    It is important to remember that our overall positivity rate remains low and that the actions we implemented when facing a similar increase in late October/early November effectively resulted in lower case numbers. We will continue to carefully monitor these data and take additional appropriate actions as needed.


    COVID
    -19 Testing Changes

    Our free COVID-19 testing for students and employees has been positively received and we have been working hard to expand test availability for the remainder of the semester. We have conducted more than 21,000 tests, at University expense, for students and employees since the start of the pandemic.

    As announced last week, it is our intention to further expand on-campus testing – thanks to the University’s purchase of additional test kits. This week we relocated the testing center to the Student Center – it is now stationed on the south side of the building where Amazon formerly operated. This move has gone smoothly and provides us with larger space and a highly visible location. The site also provides easier access to parking and bathrooms, and offers improved accessibility. We will continue to offer testing at this location to our campus community, while increasing mandatory testing for students living in EMU residential housing and other higher risk populations. Please continue to monitor your email for updates on next week’s testing schedule.


    Black History Month

    In honor of Black History Month, Eastern Michigan University is offering a number of virtual open-to-the-public events that will help to celebrate and reflect upon Black history. The theme for EMU’s 2021 Black History Month celebration is “A Tribute to our Blackness.” A roundup of Black History Month events is below. Please visit the Black History Month news release on EMU Today for additional details about the events and registration information.

    • Tuesday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m.: What Does Black History Month Mean to Us
    • Thursday, Feb. 11, 6 p.m.: Black Excellence in the Workplace: Financial Literacy
    • Thursday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m.: Black History Month Jeopardy 
    • Thursday, Feb. 18, 6 - 8 p.m.: The State of Civil Rights in America: What Does the Future Portend?
    • Thursday, Feb. 18, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Star Lecture Series: An Ordinary Black Woman's Journey toward Social Justice and Empowerment
    • Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m.: Who Will Save American Democracy? The Role of Women, Young Voters and People of Color in American Politics
    • Thursday, Feb. 25, 4 - 5:30 p.m.: Lost Opportunity: Willis Ward, the Strike at Willow Run, and the Rise of Civil Rights Unionism in Detroit

    In addition, the EMU Center of Race and Ethnicity (CORE) will celebrate on social media through the month by honoring prominent Black figures and key historical events. Visit CORE’s Facebook and Instagram pages to view the posts.

    The University’s social channels will feature extended interviews with EMU community leaders, including: Regents Eunice Jeffries, Alex Simpson, Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall and Nathan Ford; recent John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award recipient Greg Peoples; and Professor Rema Reynolds, who was recently honored with the 2021 MLK Humanitarian Award as part of the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. The interviews will air on the University’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

    For more information on EMU events, visit the EMU Today calendar.


    National Wear Red Day

    The first Friday in February (tomorrow, Feb. 5) is National Wear Red Day, designed to bring awareness to women’s heart health. Supported by the American Heart Association in conjunction with American Heart Month, people across the country wear the color red in order to raise and spread awareness in hopes to help eradicate heart disease and stroke.

    The University is a long-standing sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. This year’s Washtenaw County Heart Walk is schedule to take place on May 22 at Rynearson Stadium. Please join me in wearing red tomorrow to raise awareness about heart health! Share your photos on the University’s social channels by using the hashtags #EMUForHeartHealth and #TRUEMU.


    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    The items needed are: grape jelly, gluten-free pasta, rice, salad dressing, ramen noodles, large snack items, re-usable bags, hand sanitizer, hand soap, and milk and cheese.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.


    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

    • The Eastern Michigan University Moot Court Program experienced the broadest level of success this year in its distinguished history, with numerous competitors excelling in tough regional competition and two teams advancing to the national tournament. The excellent showing by numerous EMU students comes on the heels of last year’s overall national title, won by Charles Graham III, a senior this year, and Kelsey Hall, who graduated. Team coach Barry Pyle, a professor of political science at EMU, says last year was wonderful, but this year is even more satisfying. “Last year was great, but to me, as an educator, this year was even better,” Pyle said. “There were so many people who did so well … It’s a whole panoply of students who don't get the press, but get the education and experience here at Eastern, and they take that with them into law school and enjoy powerful legal careers.” You can read more about this special season in the story on EMU Today.

     

    • In March 2020, the Eastern Michigan University student Baja racing team was gearing up to compete in a national competition. They were hard at work building and making improvements on the EMU Baja car in hopes of winning at the competition to take place a couple months later—until the pandemic hit. While the competition was moved virtually, the team members competed, without driving the car they’d worked so hard on. The team placed 44th out of 100 in the virtual event by presenting its design and business plans to a panel of judges. While the experience was still beneficial to the team, it was a disappointment to not be able to drive the car. Fast-forward to today, and the Baja team has its sights set on a 2021 victory more than ever. Its chances are strong, with more experience and a $5,000 Ford Motor Company Fund grant to help the team get there. For more details, see the Baja Car story on EMU Today.


    Congratulations to everyone involved in these fine efforts!


    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.


    These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Thu., Jan. 28, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Jan. 28, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    The optimist in me wants to embrace the notion that we are rounding the corner to a return to a post pandemic “new normal.” The pragmatist/realist in me is far more cautious and concerned about the days and weeks ahead. While positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan are stabilizing, the highly contagious variant strain B.1.1.7. is becoming more prevalent. Many of you may be aware of yesterday’s public health action at the University of Michigan, recommending that students there stay-in-place to curtail the spread of the new strain. While this is not the case at Eastern, we are seeing an increase in case counts in our community. Currently, we do not have any indication whether or not the uptick is due to the variant strain, but it is nevertheless very concerning and we need to remind ourselves that we are clearly not out of the woods.

    Because vaccinations are underway, the temptation for many people can be to let their guard down. I’ve observed it myself. Some people are not wearing face coverings properly, or at all. The reminders about hand washing seem not to be taken as seriously. Indoor in-person gatherings, even among individuals on our campus, have started to pop up. To no one’s surprise, we have several positive cases resulting from these actions. I urge you all to continue to observe guidelines for wearing face coverings, physical distancing, and handwashing. Now is not the time to let down our guard!

    I have several items to cover in this week’s update:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • COVID-19 Testing Changes
    • Preliminary Summer and Fall Semester Planning
    • Continued Support for DACA Recipients
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence
    • Health and safety reminder

     

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Jan. 26, the University administered 1,457 COVID-19 tests that resulted in 39 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 2.68 percent. During this time period, we confirmed a total of 58 positive cases. Of those, 13 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive and 42 were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Three cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 19,789 tests that resulted in 215 positive results for an overall positivity rate of 1.09 percent. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    Our weekly case count is the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic; hence my cautionary message at the beginning of this week’s update. We have identified several causes for this, and actions have been implemented to address them and mitigate additional spread. We continue to work closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and appreciate their support of our actions to address the current caseload. As stated earlier, we do not currently have evidence of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7. in our campus community though there are confirmed cases in Washtenaw County.

    It is important to remember that our overall positivity rate remains low and that the actions we implemented when facing a similar increase in late October/early November effectively resulted in lower case numbers.


    COVID
    -19 Testing Changes

    Our free testing for students and employees has been positively received and we have been working hard to expand test availability for the remainder of the semester. I am pleased to announce that expanded testing – double our current capacity -- is scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8. Please join me in acknowledging the fine work of Dr. Lynn Shetron, professor and program director for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and Dr. Sherry Bumpus, director of nursing operations for the School of Nursing, in leading this effort, as well as the work of so many other experts on our campus who have supported this initiative. Please watch your email – we will have additional information about this next week.

    Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 2, we will relocate our testing center to the Student Center on the south side of the building where Amazon formerly operated. This will provide us with the space to significantly expand testing. The larger space and its location in the Student Center will be assets to our expanded testing process. It also provides easier access for parking and bathrooms, and offers improved accessibility. We plan to continue to offer testing to our entire campus community, while increasing mandatory testing for students living in EMU residential housing and other higher risk populations.

     

    Preliminary Summer and Fall Semester Planning

    As noted in last week’s message, we are currently planning for Summer “A” courses to be primarily scheduled remotely much as we have scheduled winter semester. We believe Summer “B” may be able to include more in-person classes but still offer proportionally more online opportunities. This information is preliminary but as I have said so many times this past year is subject to revision based on changing conditions on and beyond campus.

    We are actively considering plans for the fall semester, with some expectation of a return to a “new normal” that will include in-person classes as well as expanded hybrid and online course delivery. The planning process is in the preliminary stages and will be finalized with the University community’s input in the weeks ahead. I can assure you that our #EMUSafe practices will remain at the forefront of the planning process.

     

    Continued Support for DACA Recipients

    With the change in administration, I am pleased to report that the future of DACA -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- appears now to be on firmer ground. The program, which began in 2012, allows non-citizens who arrived in the United States before the age of 16 to remain here without risk of deportation under specified circumstances. Our University has stood, and continues to stand, steadfastly in support of the program, which, among other things, allows non-citizens to seek and pursue higher education in the United States. Although we were dismayed in recent years at some attempts to weaken DACA, recent actions offer renewed hope and the promise of increased stability for DACA recipients. 

    Specifically, the DACA program now has largely been restored to its original state, and will accept both renewals of status and first-time requests providing two years of DACA protection. Moreover, on Jan. 20, 2021--his first day in office--President Biden issued a Memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security take all actions “consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify” DACA, signaling that the program is a priority for the new President. President Biden also sent a bill to the new Congress, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which would provide a roadmap to citizenship for all undocumented non-citizens. Although a legal challenge to the program remains pending in federal court, increased legislative protection for the DACA program would effectively end such challenges. 

    As we watch these developments, here on campus we continue to support and advocate for our non-citizen students. We will continue to raise our voices on their behalf at both the state and national levels, contact our congressional representatives, share our students' stories, and provide resources to assist them, both on campus and off. If you'd like to get involved in this effort, please visit the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration (presidentsalliance.org); here you can download a sample advocacy letter or to simply keep abreast of the myriad issues that surround this concern, one that impacts the daily lives of thousands of young people in our country.


    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

    Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.


    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

    • Lori Marie Kay, a registered nurse at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia and a student in the RN to BSN online program, performed to a nationwide television audience on Jan. 19 as part of the inauguration events of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. “It’s an honor to be here with you, and with President-elect Biden,” Kay said as she prepared to sing “Amazing Grace” in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which was framed by 400 glowing lights signifying the 400,000 American deaths from COVID. You can watch her performance here and find additional details and background in this EMU Today story.  

    • Stephanie Wladkowski, professor of social work, has been chosen as a Sojourns®Scholar, one of 12 emerging palliative care leaders in the United States. The scholars program is administered by the Cambia Health Foundation and is designed to identify and advance the next generation of palliative care leaders. Each scholar receives $180,000 in funding ($90,000/year over a two-year period) to conduct an innovative and impactful project in the field of palliative care. Dr. Wladkowski’s project will build her previous work on hospice care. In 2020, she received a $427,276 grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the needs of patients’ post-hospice discharge and how patients and their caregivers attempt to meet those needs. She said she will use the funding to develop a live discharge protocol (LDP) for hospice social workers to guide their assessment of the specific service and psychosocial needs for the patient and primary caregiver during post-hospice care.

    • U.S. News and World Report features two Eastern programs in its latest rankings of top online programs in the United States. The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program was ranked 60th in the country, and second in Michigan, in the category of non-MBA master’s programs. Online graduate programs in the College of Education were ranked 144th this year, in the top four among the Michigan public university online education programs. The College of Education has online master’s programs in Educational Leadership, Educational Psychology, Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education and the Social Foundations of Education.


    Congratulations to everyone involved in these fine efforts!


    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.


    These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., Jan. 21, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Jan. 21, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines underway, albeit somewhat haltingly due to supply and distribution issues, we can now see a future in which a return to expanded in-person classes and limited public gatherings can resume. We also know that the new administration in Washington, D.C. is making vaccine distribution an urgent priority. For certain, we are months away from having a majority of citizens vaccinated, but there is comfort in knowing a return to some level of our past routines is on the distant horizon. This gives me great hope and optimism as we enter the new year and a new semester.

    This Monday, Jan. 25, we will transition from the fully online course delivery model in place for the start of the semester to the course schedules as noted in the syllabus, which include a small number of in-person classes (approximately 10 percent). This is consistent with the course delivery model last fall, and reflects our ongoing institutional commitment to slow the spread of COVID-19, reduce the number of positive cases among our campus community, and keep everyone as safe as possible.

    I am proud of our efforts in this regard, which are the result of extensive planning, the expertise and work of our faculty and staff, a commitment to an inclusive team approach to problem solving, and our flexibility in adapting to the ever-changing pandemic landscape. Our overall number of COVID-19 cases remains quite low in comparison to state and national averages. Our efforts were documented in an MLive story this week: Testing, telehealth, teamwork: How Eastern Michigan University kept COVID-19 cases low (readers will need an MLive subscription to read the story in full).

    Despite the optimism for the future, now is not the time to let our guard down:

    • Face coverings are required to be worn on campus grounds, both indoors and outdoors, with few exceptions. The covering must cover your nose and mouth.
    • All members of the campus community must complete the COVID PASS Daily Health Screening each day they are on campus. This requirement also applies to students who live in on-campus housing.
    • All members of the campus community must complete the University’s COVID-19 Report Form if you test positive for COVID-19, have close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or experience symptoms of COVID-19.


    We have several items to cover in this week’s message:

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Preliminary Summer Semester Planning
    • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
    • Center for Jewish Studies to Host Antisemitism Author
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Health and Safety Reminder

     

    COVID-19 Dashboard 

    We continue to support the free testing effort for students and employees. In the seven days ending Jan. 19, the University administered 1,648 tests that resulted in 18 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 1.09 percent. During this time period, we confirmed a total of 28 positive cases. Of those, 18 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; seven were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Three cases were reported among University employees.

    Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 18,332 tests that resulted in 178 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.97 percent. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

     

    Preliminary Summer Semester Planning

    Summer classes begin on May 5. Now is a good time for students to plan to take advantage of the summer semester to catch up or get ahead on credit hours. Our current plan is for Summer “A” to be fully online as it was last summer, with Summer “B” to offer a small number of in-person classes as occurred last summer as well. This information is preliminary and will be finalized with our University community’s input in the weeks ahead.

     

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

    This year’s virtual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, “We the People Speak: No Justice, No Peace,” may have been modified to accommodate the pandemic, but it was certainly no less powerful and meaningful. 

    From the scholarship awards, to the CloseUP Theatre performance, to the academic programs, to the keynote speech and following panel discussion, the celebration reflected Eastern at its finest. As an institution dedicated to opportunity – our MLK Celebration helps contextualize our rich diversity and ongoing efforts to establish a more inclusive environment and is committed to creating broader awareness and understanding of systemic racism.

    Keynote speaker Yamiche Alcindor, PBS White House Correspondent, provided sound and heartfelt advice in these challenging times. EMU Today provided a thorough overview of her remarks. This year, our keynote address reflected the collaboration between Eastern and The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. The collaboration expanded awareness and visibility of the event. It is our hope to build on the relationship with the Museum in the weeks and months ahead.

    Two students, Maliyah McGowan and D’Anna Hayes, and Professor Rema Reynolds, were honored for their community and campus service that honors the legacy of Dr. King. Three students were awarded scholarships for their creative efforts: Lawrence Smith, Alexandria McCormick and Kennede Thomas. I encourage you to read more about their accomplishments and achievements, as well as review a list of student honorable mention recipients, in this EMU Today story.

    Please join me in thanking everyone who worked on this year’s Celebration, in particular Steering Committee members Ellen Gold, Steve Bryant, Doris Fields, and Tray McGuire. A complete list of the Planning Committee can be found on the Planning Committee website.

    The Committee is thankful for our community’s participation, and asks that you complete an evaluation of this year’s Celebration. 

     

    Center for Jewish Studies to Host Antisemitism Author

    Next Tuesday, Jan. 26, which is the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holly Huffnagle, the U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), will give a special lecture: “After Auschwitz: Antisemitism in America.” The presentation, which is hosted by the Eastern Michigan University Center for Jewish Studies, is scheduled for 7 p.m. The talk will offer insights from Huffnagle’s efforts to spearhead her global organization’s response to antisemitism in the United States and its efforts to better protect the Jewish community. There is no cost to attend. Details and registration information can be found in the EMU Today story.


    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update

    The winter hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 12 – 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 – 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays 12 – 5 p.m. Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Items most needed at this time: Ramen, rice, large snacks, salad dressing and grape jelly.

    If you wish to donate items, please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery. Please maintain physical distancing when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.


    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

    I am pleased to begin the new year by highlighting these examples of Eastern excellence:

    • Susan Schanne, Eastern Michigan University College of Business Writing Center consultant and lecturer of management, has been named The Association for Business Communication’s (ABC) 2020 Rising Star. ABC’s Rising Star Award recognizes the meaningful contributions to the mission and membership of the Association and to the business communication field at large through excellent teaching, research, and/or practical applications. The international award recognizes only one recipient each year.

    • Graduate and undergraduate programs in human resources received grand prize honors and first place rankings in awards announced by HR.com. The Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development (MSHROD) was ranked first in the category of “Master’s Programs with Emphasis in Human Resources,” and, our BBA-Management Major/HR Concentration was also ranked first in “Diploma Program with Emphasis on HR.” Congratulations to the College of Business, its faculty and Graduate Coordinator for the MSHROD program, Dr. Fraya Wagner-Marsh.

    • A new book by Eastern Michigan University Professor of English Language and Literature Christine Hume, "Saturation Project," was featured in a recent review in The New York Times. "Saturation Project" is Hume's fourth book. While the review is too lengthy to include in its entirety, I do want to share the reviewer’s concluding sentence: “When Hume’s thematic connections and redemptive insights arrive, it’s with the force of a hurricane." The full review is posted on EMU Today.


    Congratulations to everyone involved in these fine efforts!


    Health and Safety Reminder

    An important reminder as I conclude. Please continue to:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings; and,
    • Observe physical distancing.

     

    These actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Tue., Jan. 12, 2021

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Jan. 12, 2021

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    It is my pleasure to welcome you to the winter semester of 2021! Despite the challenges around us, I hope you are as filled with optimism as I am about what the future holds in terms of the increasing rollout of vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

    I am proud of how our campus community has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hard to believe that we are approaching the one year mark, in mid-March, when the pandemic forced a major upheaval in the education process for students, faculty and staff at Eastern Michigan University and at schools and colleges across the nation. We indeed now see “the light at the end of the tunnel” as they say.

    Despite that optimism, it is not the time to let our guard down. In that spirit, this email contains important updates:

          COVID-19 vaccination update – survey responses needed

          Health & safety reminders

          Modifications to the winter semester schedule

          Winter semester registration remains open

          Looking ahead

     

    COVID-19 vaccination update – survey responses needed

    Because there are limited supplies of vaccine available, it will likely be several months before vaccines will become available to everyone. I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to receive a vaccination to do so as soon as permitted. The state of Michigan, using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has developed a prioritization for vaccination eligibility.

    We are working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) to share information about the availability and scheduling of vaccinations. First and most important, all members of the campus community should have received a vaccine survey designed to help assess individual placement into the vaccination priority groups. Invitations to register for open vaccination appointments will be driven in part by survey information. Please complete the survey if you have not done so.

    Specific information about the scheduling of vaccinations for students and employees will be communicated with you individually once it is determined. The availability of vaccine appointments is impacted by a wide array of local, state and national factors so please be patient with WCHD and with us as we communicate on their behalf in the coming weeks. We are very early in this process and as I shared earlier, for most of us, vaccinations are likely two to three months away.

    It is important to remain patient and to wait for notification.

    In the coming weeks and months, WCHD will use the University’s Convocation Center as a community mass vaccination site. We are pleased to collaborate with the County in support of this critical public health effort. Individuals should not visit the location to receive a vaccine without an appointment. You will not be permitted to enter for that purpose. As noted above, you will receive an email about scheduling your vaccine pursuant to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services protocols.

    Important health and safety reminders for the winter semester

          Face coverings are required to be worn on campus grounds, both indoors and outdoors, with few exceptions. The covering must cover your nose and mouth.

          All members of the campus community must complete the COVID PASS Daily Health Screening each day they are on campus. This requirement also applies to students who live in on-campus housing.

          All members of the campus community must complete the University’s COVID-19 Report Form if you test positive for COVID-19, have close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or experience symptoms of COVID-19.

          Monitor your emich.edu email for updates on campus testing and other important information.

          Practice physical distancing. Stay at least six (6) feet from other people who are not from your household. It is important to do this everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.

          Wash your hands often for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible.

          Watch your health and check for symptoms of COVID-19, including taking your temperature twice a day.


    Modifications to the winter semester schedule

    As you know, we delayed the start of winter semester classes to tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 13, in order to reduce the number of people returning directly from the break with possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus. When courses begin tomorrow, virtually all of them will be held in fully online/remote formats through Sunday, Jan. 24. Beginning Monday, Jan. 25, a limited number of classes (approximately 10 percent) will transition to in-person formats as indicated on course schedules. 

     

    Winter semester registration remains open

    For students who have not registered for classes yet, there’s still time. Please visit the winter registration appointments page to start or complete the registration process. Advisers are available to assist students in determining their classes and meeting program requirements. Information about how to contact an adviser and other details are available on the winter registration site. 

    Eligible registered students will again receive Federal Emergency Relief Funds under last spring’s CARES Act. Eligibility, timing and other details can be found on the EMU CARES Act website. Last fall, an estimated 11,240 EMU students received direct grants of $446 under this program.

    Looking ahead

    I look forward to continuing to work together with students, faculty and staff to ensure we are doing everything in our power to ensure a safe and successful environment this semester.

    Later this week, we will share more details about the University’s 35th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, “We the People Speak: No Justice, No Peace,” which begins this Friday, Jan. 15. Our keynote speaker is White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour and NBC and MSNBC Political Contributor, Yamiche Alcindor. The keynote takes place on Monday, Jan. 18, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. Registration is required on the link above.

    Please continue to monitor the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing information and updates. 

    James Smith, Ph.D.