Latest Updates

  • 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.