Latest Updates

  • Thu., Nov. 19, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Nov. 19, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I would like to thank the students, faculty and staff who have shared supportive messages about the three-week transition to remote operations and the extension of the Thanksgiving break by canceling classes for two wellness days on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

    I am very grateful for all of the instructors who will need to again modify their courses, the staff who must again work from home every day, and for everyone’s support of our students and our overall campus health, wellness and safety. We recognize what a challenging year this has been and, as I noted in my Sunday night message, it is my hope that everyone our students will use the Thanksgiving break period this time to catch up, to rest and to recharge.

    I am pleased that our offer to expand free (at University expense) COVID testing for residential students leading into the Thanksgiving break also has been widely utilized. This was designed to encourage students to get tested prior to the break, primarily those students who are considering leaving campus to return home. We encourage them to wait for their test results before departing campus to help ensure they don’t bring COVID into their home environment.

    Our expanded testing process was available every day this week. As a result, more than 600 tests have been conducted in the past four days. We are pleased to be able to offer this additional and important measure of safety to our community.

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

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • State of Michigan Guidelines on Remote Instruction
    • Operational Changes - Halle Library, EMU Dining, Rec/IM
    • Revisions to University Face Cover Requirements
    • Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving and Holiday Baskets
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
    • Thanksgiving Break Health and Safety Reminder

     

    COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Nov. 17, the University administered 883 tests that resulted in seven positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.84 percent. During this time period, we identified a total of 42 positive cases, which is down 24 percent from the prior week. Of those, 21 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; 19 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 9,443 tests that resulted in 69 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.73 percent. Complete details can be found on the University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

    To reiterate a point from previous messages that remains important today: Not a single positive case in these totals is the apparent result of a contact or exposure that took place in an EMU classroom. 

    Our overall number of cases remain lower than most of our peer universities in the state. This is due to your support and compliance with the rules and processes we have put in place over the course of the semester as the result of the extensive planning and monitoring around safe practices that began this summer and included many University professionals among our faculty and staff. We continue to actively monitor wastewater to identify biomarkers of COVID-19 and adjust our student testing plans accordingly. Our active response and contact tracing teams are working aggressively to follow up on irregularities and quarantine or isolate individuals as cases are identified. 


    State of Michigan Guidelines on Remote Instruction
     

    Although most course sections have been delivered in an online/hybrid format for the current semester, the small number of course sections that had been delivered in-person moved to a fully remote format beginning yesterday, Wednesday, Nov. 18. We have granted only a very small number of exceptions for health care related course section meetings. These actions were taken in accordance with newly issued State of Michigan guidelines. This will continue through Tuesday, Dec. 8, with a scheduled return to our limited in-person scheduling on Wednesday, Dec. 9. As always, individual instructors will exercise discretion around work submission and will contact students in their courses with details. Please note that students enrolled in courses that are delivered using a fully online/hybrid format may not receive any special directions from instructors because those courses will continue to be delivered as planned. 


    Operational Changes - Halle Library, EMU Dining, Rec/IM
     

    Halle Library: Two key changes are taking place at the Bruce T. Halle Library in response to the recent pandemic health orders issued by the State of Michigan. Beginning Monday, Nov. 30, only current students, faculty and staff of EMU will be permitted to access the Library, and all such individuals will be required to use their Eagle swipe card to access the building during open hours. These changes will remain in place for the remainder of the semester and may be extended depending on various conditions related to the pandemic. The Library has also modified its hours of operation for the remainder of the semester. Those entering the Library will still be required to complete a COVID PASS Daily Health Screening, which will be verified at the check-in desk. We appreciate your patience with these recent changes. You may learn more about the Library's services on the Library website.

    EMU Dining: Due to the new Michigan restrictions and the resulting impact to class schedules and University operations, EMU Dining has adjusted operations and hours for this week and through the remainder of the fall semester. The updates were communicated to all students yesterday. Please visit the EMU Dining website or Dining’s social media channels for full details and complete hours of operation.

    Rec/IM: The Rec/IM has posted its modified schedule for the Thanksgiving break.


    Revisions to University Face Cover Requirements

    I applaud students and employees for their extremely high compliance with the University's face covering policy. Your active support of this important policy will continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our campus. As a reminder, everyone on campus (e.g., students, faculty, staff, and visitors) is required to wear a face covering over both the nose and mouth in all University buildings and grounds. Individuals need not wear a face covering in a private office with the door closed or in a living space. We have updated one aspect of this policy: “gaiter” coverings, which are worn around the neck instead of over the ears, and vented masks, are not permitted. You may review all of the University's Safe Return-To-Campus policies on the Safe Return-to-Campus Plan webpage.

    Even Swoop is helping us spread the word about how to wear a face covering properly!


    Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees

    As we have communicated on several occasions during the course of the pandemic, it is important that we remind one another of some of the supportive resources the University offers.

    • For students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at [email protected].

    • For employees: The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for expert advice and support. EAP provides free, confidential help with personal and work-related issues, 24/7. The EAP is available to employees and their family members. Additional information can be found at the EMU Employee Assistance Program webpage.

     

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving and Holiday Baskets

    Next week, due to the Thanksgiving break, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Monday, Nov. 23 from 12 - 5 p.m. The Pantry will resume its regular fall hours on Monday, Nov. 30.

    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, those most needed are chicken ramen, mustard, grape jelly, ready-to-eat meals and hand sanitizer.

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's had great response to its sixth annual Thanksgiving Basket drive! The goal was to provide 50 Thanksgiving Baskets to students – a total of 58 will be distributed. Swoop’s thanks everyone who supported this effort. And, there’s no time to rest. The team is now taking donations for Swoop's Holiday Baskets, which will be distributed on December 11. You can sign-up to donate items on the Holiday Baskets 2020 site.


    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    I am pleased to celebrate additional examples of Eastern excellence!

    • Entrepreneurship graduate program ranked in top 50 nationally: The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked our graduate program in Entrepreneurship among the top 50 programs in the nation. In its rankings, the organizations noted schools that offer exceptional entrepreneurship programs. Eastern Michigan was selected based on a survey of administrators at more than 300 undergraduate and graduate schools offering entrepreneurship studies. More details can be found on EMU Today.
    • Professor Tsu-Yin Wu conference on nursing in China and the U.S., mobile flu vaccine clinic: It was my pleasure this morning to provide opening remarks at the United States Heartland China Association Conference, “Nursing in Greater China and the U.S. in 2020.” Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, professor and Ph.D. Program Director of nursing, was a featured speaker to a large audience of healthcare experts. Dr. Wu also has been instrumental in a recent series of mobile flu vaccination clinics in communities with large Asian and Arab American populations, ranging from Hamtramck to Kentwood. Complete details and a schedule of the mobile clinics, which run through Dec. 8, can be found on EMU Today.
    • Athletics Graduation Success Rate reaches all-time high: The NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data were announced earlier this week and Eastern Michigan reached an overall multi-year GSR of 87 percent, surpassing the previous record set in 2017-18 of 85 percent. These data speak to Athletics’ commitment to ensuring our student-athletes excel in the classroom. More information about this year’s record GSR can be found on the Athletics website.  


    Congratulations to everyone involved in these fine efforts!
     


    Thanksgiving Break Health and Safety Reminder

    As we head into the Thanksgiving break, I ask everyone to take additional precautions to stay safe. Student Body President Luis Romero issued this important video message to students. I thank Luis and all of our students for everything they are doing to comply with safe practices. Additionally, the State of Michigan offered the following guidelines for students:

    For the two weeks after departing campus:

    • Wear face coverings at all times around anyone you weren’t living with on campus (even around family).
    • Where possible, stay six-feet apart from everyone, including family, particularly if anyone must remove their mask (such as during meals).
    • Where possible, avoid physical contact with others (for example, avoid hugging elderly relatives or others in high risk groups).
    • Do not attend gatherings outside the home (for example, do not meet up with high school friends in town).
    • Monitor for symptoms twice a day.
    • Check your temperature.
    • Review a symptom checklist.
    • Test if you become symptomatic at any time, and if possible once at five to 10 days after departing campus.

     

    Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will not have a message to campus next week, given the abbreviated holiday schedule. I would like to take this time to wish you and your families a warm, safe and restful holiday. 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.

  •  Sun., Nov. 15, 2020

    Important announcements about changes to University operations and class schedule – Nov. 15, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Please read this email carefully and in its entirety because it contains important information about changes to the University’s operations.

    Tonight the Governor announced significant new statewide epidemic restrictions in response to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases. These new restrictions include state-mandated suspension of  in-person instruction  at colleges and universities from Wednesday, November 18, until Tuesday, December 8. You can read the new state orders in their entirety here. In response to these actions, the University has taken several steps. 


    Changes in course delivery

    Academic courses will continue to be delivered as scheduled on Monday, November 16, and Tuesday, November 17.

    Although most course sections have been delivered in an online/hybrid format for the current semester, the small number of course sections that are delivered in-person will move to a fully remote format beginning Wednesday, November 18, through Tuesday, December 8. Instructors who teach in-person classes will need to contact students enrolled in these courses with specific details about the transition of their course to remote delivery. These courses are scheduled to return to their in-person format on Wednesday, December 9. As always, individual instructors will exercise discretion and will contact students in their courses with details. Please note that students enrolled in courses that are delivered using a fully online/hybrid format may not receive any special instructions from their instructor because those courses will continue to be delivered as planned.  We do apologize for these changes but we must support and comply with this pandemic order issued by the State of Michigan.

    Classes originally scheduled (including online course sections) on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24 are now cancelled  in advance of the Thanksgiving recess. This has been a challenging semester, particularly for our students. Simply put, our students need a break to re-charge and rest. Instructors also may use the time to prepare for the rest of the semester.  

    During this two-day period, the University will remain open and all employees will work as scheduled (though most will work remotely - see Employees section, below).


    University Housing & Dining

    With all classes (including online/hybrid courses) cancelled on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24, students will now have a one-week Thanksgiving recess. We encourage students to take full advantage of this extended recess by focusing on their physical and mental wellness.

    University Housing facilities will remain open for the remainder of the semester as scheduled.  Dining facilities will modify their operations to comply with the latest orders from the State of Michigan. Please visit the EMU Dining website in the coming days for details.

    Although campus housing facilities will be open, we encourage students who live on campus and who plan to leave campus for the Thanksgiving recess to consider leaving campus for this extended break as soon as practicable. Students who plan to remain on campus during Thanksgiving recess must sign-up here.


    COVID
    -19 testing for students who live on campus:

    Students who live in University housing and wish to receive a free COVID-19 test before leaving campus for the extended Thanksgiving break may do so by clicking on one of the links below for the day indicated:

    Schedule a COVID-19 test for Monday, November 16

    Schedule a COVID-19 test for Tuesday, November 17

    Schedule a COVID-19 test for Wednesday, November 18

    Students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to contact a health care provider. Students may visit the IHA Urgent Care @ EMU clinic on campus by calling 734-896-4112 or visiting their website.

     

    Employees:

    Consistent with current orders by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, all employees are directed to work remotely beginning Wednesday, November 18, unless their work cannot feasibly be completed remotely.  Employees will be notified of any exemption by their supervisor. We will provide more information regarding remote work in the coming days.  

     

    Safety protocols:

    As a reminder, all members of the University community are required to complete this form if they test positive for COVID-19. 

    All members of the University community are required to complete the COVID Pass Daily Health Screening every day they are on campus. Students who live in campus housing are required to complete the Daily Screening every day they are on campus even if they do not attend an in-person class.

    As a reminder, support services remain available to students. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of EMU students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit theCAPS websiteor contact the office by email at[email protected]emich.edu

    Regardless of your plans for the Thanksgiving recess, we urge all members of the campus community to engage in safe practices during the holiday break. These safe practices include wearing face coverings, avoiding social gatherings, maintaining physical distancing, and practicing good hygiene. Please comply with the updated safety provisions contained in the state order above as they relate to gatherings and other activities.

    I thank our students, faculty and staff for your compliance with these safe practices. We must all continue to work together to keep one another as safe as possible.

    James Smith, Ph.D. 

  • Thu., Nov. 12, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Nov. 12, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

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

    • President’s remarks
    • COVID-19 testing
    • State of Michigan recommendations for students returning home for the holidays
    • Emotional and mental health support services available to students and employees
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry update/Thanksgiving baskets
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence
    • Health and safety reminder

     

    President’s remarks

    Two weeks ago, in my October 29 weekly message to campus, I expressed my serious concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our community, state and nation, and the impact that our colder weather and the Halloween weekend might have in further increasing positive cases. Unfortunately, consistent with the rapidly increasing number of positive cases in our region and nation, the number of positive cases among our students is increasing as well.

    As is the case at most universities, the source of exposure to the virus occurs mostly off-campus and is the result of the widespread community spread that is underway.

    Even with the increasing numbers, our positive case numbers remain well below many of our peer institutions and for that I thank the many professionals on our team who have done excellent work in planning our strategy and executing it in order to help ensure the health, safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

    I also thank our students for their efforts to protect one another by wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, and following our #EMUSafe protocols such as participating in our widespread testing efforts, completing the COVID PASS Daily Health Screening, and reporting cases as required through the COVID-19 Report Form. I have noted previously the great compliance to our safety protocols among our students -- and their safe practices continue to this day.

    In the seven days ending Nov. 10, the University administered 1,154 tests that resulted in 12 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 1.047 percent. This is the largest number of tests conducted in one week at the University thus far, and represents our strong commitment to identifying cases and supporting our students and employees. During this time period, we identified a total of 55 positive cases. Of those, 22 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; 30 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 8,610 tests that resulted in 62 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.72 percent.

    To reiterate a point in last week’s message that remains important today: Not a single positive case in these totals is the apparent result of a contact or exposure that took place in an EMU classroom. 

    Other metrics from our Safe Return-to-Campus Plan Campus Operation Levels and Decision Making website remain stable, such as transmission rate compared to the community rate (which is also increasing dramatically), compliance with COVID protocols on campus, access to testing and face coverings, campus bed counts, and community hospital capacity.

    As I indicated earlier, Eastern’s number of positive cases remains less than at most other Michigan universities as evidenced in their most recent seven-day reporting period:

    • UM - 222
    • GVSU - 175
    • WMU - 109
    • CMU - 84
    • MSU - 71
    • OU - 68
    • EMU - 52

     

    While our overall number of cases is lower than others, the situation requires close and ongoing monitoring. Our response and contact tracing teams remain fully mobilized in this effort and are responding with urgency as pockets of cases or possible exposure are identified.

    Our determination to rapidly address situations as they develop is a significant reason why we have been able to maintain a relatively low number of cases. Please join me in acknowledging the extraordinary efforts of Ellen Gold, Sherry Bumpus, Calvin Phillips, Jeanette Zalba and the many others who are working night and day to keep our community safe. 

    COVID-19 testing

    As indicated above, the University administered the highest number of tests last week since we launched our testing efforts late this summer. Eastern’s testing process includes the following elements: 

    • Testing is free, saliva-based, and conducted on-campus;
    • EMU’s testing programs focus on populations at higher risk of exposure, including:
    • Housing students and employees
    • Student-athletes
    • Facilities, DPS, and Dining employees
    • Instructors and students with at least one on-campus course
    • Wastewater analysis is used to target housing resident testing;
    • EMU’s testing program continues to expand; and,
    • Employees and students will be notified when they are eligible for testing.

     

    State of Michigan recommendations for students returning home for the holidays, new app

    This week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released guidance for students returning home of the holidays:

    For the two weeks before leaving campus, students should self-quarantine away from others (i.e., leave only for class, work, to get food, and medical appointments) and always wear a mask while around others.

    For the two weeks after departing campus:

    • Wear masks at all times around anyone you weren’t living with on campus (even around family).
    • Where possible, stay 6 feet apart from everyone, including family, particularly if anyone must remove their mask (such as during meals).
    • Where possible, avoid physical contact with others (for example, avoid hugging elderly relatives or others in high risk groups).
    • Do not attend gatherings outside the home (for example, do not meet up with high school friends in town).
    • Monitor for symptoms twice a day.
    • Check your temperature.
    • Review a symptom checklist.
    • Test if you become symptomatic at any time, and if possible once at five to 10 days after departing campus.


    For students who leave and return multiple times (i.e., go home for Thanksgiving, then go back to school for two to three weeks, then go home for Christmas), this guidance applies each time they leave or return.

    • Students should consider remaining remote if they cannot be confident in their ability to follow these guidelines.


    MDHHS, as part of its “Spread Hope, Not COVID” campaign, also launched the MI COVID Alert app to assist with detection of exposure to COVID-19. MDHHS describes MI COVID Alert as a free, easy to use, and anonymous app to help individuals stay informed and protect themselves and others from spreading COVID-19. You can learn more at the MI COVID Alert webpage.

    MI COVID Alert is not intended to replace the procedures the University has in place, such as the COVID PASS Daily Health Screening and the COVID-19 Report Form. Please continue to use both of these important tools.


    Emotional and mental health support services available to students and employees

    As we have communicated on several occasions during the course of the pandemic, it is important that we remind one another of some of the supportive resources the University offers.

    • For students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at [email protected].

    • For employees: The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for expert advice and support. EAP provides free, confidential help with personal and work-related issues, 24/7. The EAP is available to employees and their family members. Information and contact information about the EAP can be found at the EMU Employee Assistance Program webpage.

     

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update/Thanksgiving baskets

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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, those most needed are rice, peanut butter, large and small packages of snacks, cat food and condiments (such as ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, and salsa).

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's has had a great initial response to its sixth annual Thanksgiving Basket drive! The goal is to provide 50 Thanksgiving Baskets to students. Individuals who wish to donate items can visit Swoop’s Food Pantry Thanksgiving Baskets 2020.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    Tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 13) is the final day of the weeklong online Digital Marketing Workshop, organized by the Eastern Michigan University Center for Digital Engagement and its director, Professor Bud Gibson. The programs offer expert insight into the fields of marketing, entrepreneurship, digital infrastructure, PR, and more. Additional information and registration for tomorrow’s session can be found on the event webpage. For those who were not able to attend the sessions earlier this week, recordings can be found on the Center for Digital Engagement Facebook page.  

    Also tomorrow, the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) will virtually host more than 200 students and faculty from eight different CHHS programs in the largest interprofessional education gathering to take place at Eastern Michigan. “EMU Excellence in IPE” will take place from 3-5 p.m. The purpose of the event is to engage participants to interprofessional education and examine an actual case study where interprofessional practice – collaboration between professionals from various healthcare areas – is in place.

    This year’s event was created in lieu of CHHS’s annual IPE Simulation Day, where students would normally get to work in simulated medical situations in person. This was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however the CHHS hopes to make EMU Excellence in IPE an annual event in addition to the annual in-person event in future years.

    The event is part of EMU’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) initiative, a collaborative approach to develop healthcare students as future interprofessional team members. IPE fosters an educational culture that provides pre-professional learning opportunities that integrate disciplines and teach the teamwork approach to patient/client care.

    To learn more about the event, contact EMU Associate Professor and Co-Director of Nursing and IPE Simulation//EMU Excellence in IPE, Kathy Seurynck, at [email protected] or EMU Associate Professor and Co-Director of Nursing and IPE Simulation/EMU Excellence in IPE, Linda Myler, at [email protected].

    In my acknowledgement last week of individuals associated with Eastern Michigan University who were elected to public office, I was not aware that a graduate student in biology, Maria Goodrich, was elected to the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education.

    Congratulations to everyone involved in these fine efforts!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Thu., Nov. 5, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Nov. 5, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    This week I am departing a bit from my traditional format of these messages. As you know, at the end of each week’s message, I like to highlight examples of Eastern Michigan University excellence. This is an important opportunity for us to recognize the high level expertise among our students, faculty and staff.

    Given the challenging environment and the great stress many of us are currently experiencing on two fronts -- the COVID-19 pandemic and the too-close-to-call national election – I begin this week by sharing news that reflects the overall institutional quality of Eastern Michigan University and the commitment of our campus community to our collective education and well-being.

    • Professors react to Presidential election: Five Eastern Michigan University professors, ranging from the disciplines of Political Science to Africology and African-American Studies, weighed in with EMU Today late yesterday with their perspectives on this year’s election and their primary takeaways of this year’s volatile political season. You can read the full article on EMU Today: Eastern experts weigh-in with their impressions of a historic presidential election.

    • In just a few minutes, at 6:30 p.m., the Faculty Senate Task Force on Race, Diversity and Inclusion is hosting a listening session for students tonight: What Now? A conversation with EMU professors on the aftermath of the 2020 election. Faculty experts in politics, social statistics, history, psychology, women and gender studies, and African American studies will be on hand to answer students’ questions about what is happening, what all of this means, and what steps you can take going forward. Please register on the special student discussion Zoom link.

    • The work of Professors Barbara Patrick, Kristine Ajrouch, Grigoris Argeros, and Natalie Dove is featured in a wide-ranging article in the national publication University Business titled: How colleges can help get a divided nation talking again; Eastern Michigan is one of many institutions providing forums for discussion on polarizing social issues to help students, the public gain an understanding of the other side.

    • Rema Reynolds (Vassar), assistant professor of Leadership and Counseling, was elected to the Board of Trustees at Michigan State University.

    • Caroline Sanders, assistant director of community relations and engagement, was elected as a County Commissioner for Washtenaw County.

    • David Victor, a professor of management and international business, won a major lifetime achievement award from the Association for Business Communication (ABC). Since its founding in 1935, ABC has grown into the premier international business communication organization. Dr. Victor was honored with its Award of Merit. Full details, including comments from College of Business Dean Ken Lord, can be found in the EMU Today story.

    • Stephanie Wladkowski, an associate professor in the Eastern Michigan University School of Social Work, and her research team of three colleagues from St. Louis have been awarded a National Institutes of Health Grant of nearly $430,000 over two years to study “The Impact of Live Discharge from Hospice on Patients & Caregivers.” You can learn more in the EMU Today feature.


    All told, these accomplishments reflect an outstanding body of work across many different areas of University operations. I am extremely grateful to our faculty and staff colleagues for their hard work and for the recognition they receive in these important activities, and for the positive light it shines on the overall excellence of Eastern Michigan University.

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

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees
    • University Archives Launches 20/20 Project
    • New season of EMU Today TV
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets

     


    COVID
    -19 Dashboard

    We are continuing to closely monitor positive COVID-19 tests among our campus community. It has been clear to us, with the significant increase in cases in our community, state and nation in recent weeks, that the University’s number of positive cases could increase as well. While our numbers are significantly lower than many of our peers, the latest data on the University dashboard indeed reflects a slight increase in positive cases over the past week. In the seven days ending Nov. 3, the University administered 744 tests that resulted in two positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.27 percent. We identified a total of 23 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, 13 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; eight 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 7,456 tests that resulted in 50 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.67 percent.

    It is important to note that not a single positive case in these totals is the result of a contact or exposure that took place in an EMU classroom. 

    The majority of our cases are directly tied to contacts or exposure that has occurred off campus, which is consistent with the experiences at other universities. As I said, this situation requires ongoing monitoring and our response and contact tracing team remains fully mobilized in this effort. 

    Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees

    These are unprecedented times of great stress and personal challenge. As we have communicated on several occasions during the course of the pandemic, it is important that we remind one another of some of the supportive resources the University offers.

    • For students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at [email protected]emich.edu.

    • For employees: The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for expert advice and support. EAP provides free, confidential help with personal and work-related issues, 24/7. The EAP is available to employees and their family members. Information and contact information about the EAP can be found at the EMU Employee Assistance Program webpage.

     


    University Archives Launches 20/20 Project

    Eastern Michigan University Archives is embarking on a special 20/20 Project, inviting the EMU community to contribute any materials to assist in documenting the coronavirus pandemic, the political turmoil and racial unrest of 2020.

    Official communications regarding the events of this year will, of course, be collected, but the EMU Archives wishes to ensure that the personal, day-to-day stories and experiences of the EMU community are preserved as well.

    EMU students, faculty, staff and alumni are being asked to submit content of any format. This can include recorded Zoom meetings, photography and video (phone or otherwise), journal entries, original poetry, school assignments, reactions to decisions made on and off campus, and all other representations of 2020. All of these are welcome additions to the Archives’ 20/20 Project.

    You can submit your 20/20 materials for preservation at this special project website link.

    Further details about the 20/20 Project can be found on EMU Today.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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, those most needed are granola bars, small packages of snacks, hot sauce, barbecue sauce and rice.

    Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's has had a great initial response to its sixth annual Thanksgiving Basket drive! The goal is to provide 50 Thanksgiving Baskets to students. Individuals who wish to donate items can visit Swoop’s Food Pantry Thanksgiving Baskets 2020.

    Fourth Season of EMU Today TV Begins

    The first episode of the fourth season of EMU Today TV was introduced earlier today. The production of EMU Today TV is a collaboration of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts, the College of Business, and University Communications.

    The first episode of the new season focuses on the University’s response to COVID-19. I am pleased to be a guest on the 30-minute program, along with Professor Chris Gellasch, a geologist with a focus on groundwater and water quality. Dr. Gellasch is an associate professor of Hydrogeology, Hydrology and Environmental Science. He served previously as a U.S. Army Environmental Science and Engineering Officer, and received his undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University. He is actively involved in the University’s wastewater testing process to identify the prevalence of COVID-19 in University residence halls.

    You can watch Season Four, Episode One, on the YouTube link.

    Mark S. Lee is the host of EMU Today TV. Lee is an Eastern Michigan University alumnus, and a part-time lecturer of marketing at Eastern. He is an entrepreneur, Crain's Detroit blogger and frequent contributor to various Detroit-area media outlets on business topics.

    Further details about the production and how to view it on Xfinity OnDemand can be found in the news release.

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Thu., Oct. 29, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Oct. 29, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community: 

    I have to admit, I am nervous about the week ahead. Throughout the pandemic I have attempted to be forthright and direct about the challenges we face as an institution, and also as part of our larger community. My opening statement reflects that deep concern. Despite our excellent efforts to implement a variety of safety protocols, and the positive results we have seen thus far in mitigating the number of positive cases among our campus community, we are heading into a week that frankly holds more potential risks than normal for the spread of COVID-19.

    The concerning factors confronting us are several:

    1. The rapid increase in positive COVID-19 cases in our surrounding community, state and nation.
    2. Halloween – typically a time when families interact with other families, and when students and others may be tempted to hold Halloween parties and gatherings.
    3. The resumption of more activities and events, such as the University of Michigan hosting Michigan State in football on Saturday, which is certain to trigger a desire for tailgating and crowds that are typically associated with that game in indoor establishments with little air flow, despite warnings not to do so. These warnings are reflected in Washtenaw County’s emergency stay-in-place order for U-M undergraduate students. You can find Eastern’s response to the order posted on our website.
    4. The election on Nov. 3 promises to bring massive numbers of voters out to the polls, judging by the record number of absentee ballots already submitted.
    5. The onset of colder weather – which will reduce the opportunity for families and friends to gather in a physically distanced outdoor setting, such as backyards and restaurants, where the fresh air mitigates the spread of COVID-19.


    Each of these factors is a significant concern in its own right. Today, I joined Washtenaw County community leaders, including Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, U-M President Mark Schlissel, and others, in an open letter to the community calling for safe practices during this critical time period.

    I am extremely confident in our campus community’s ability to continue the #EMUSafe initiatives that have kept our University’s case count significantly lower than many of our peer institutions in the state.

    Our campus compliance to the mandatory wearing of face coverings, maintaining physical distance, frequent handwashing and use of sanitizer, among other safe practices, has been nothing short of extraordinary! Please thank your fellow students, faculty members and staff for their continued efforts to keep one another safe.

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

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Ask for Help! Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees
    • December Commencement Update
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence and Community Support


    COVID
    -19 Dashboard
     

    I am pleased to report that we continue to see an overall low incidence of COVID-19 cases on our campus. In the seven days ending Oct. 27, the University administered 1,035 tests that resulted in two positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.19 percent. We identified a total of 14 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, eight were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; six 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 6,712 tests that resulted in 48 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.72 percent. 

    I will repeat my previous point that the engagement and support from our students, faculty and staff with the University’s #EMUSafe efforts are critical factors in keeping our overall case numbers relatively low.

    Ask for Help! Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees

    These are unprecedented times of great stress and personal challenge. As we have communicated on several occasions during the course of the pandemic, it is important that we remind one another of some of the supportive resources the University offers.

    • For students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at [email protected]emich.edu.

    • For employees: The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for expert advice and support. EAP provides free, confidential help with personal and work-related issues, 24/7. The EAP is available to employees and their family members. Information and contact information about the EAP and can be found at the EMU Employee Assistance Program webpage.


    December Commencement Update

    We congratulate our students who are nearing the completion of their degrees at Eastern Michigan University! We are proud of their accomplishments over the past few years and particularly during the last seven months, which have been extremely challenging. 

    Unfortunately, the increased number of COVID-19 cases throughout Michigan and much of the nation poses a significant challenge to how we celebrate our graduating students. In light of government restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as well as our campus commitment to safety, the University will not be able to host an in-person Commencement ceremony in December. This is disappointing news for me and for the rest of the Eastern community; celebrating our graduates in the Convocation Center is one of my favorite events of the year. This decision, however, is the correct choice.

    We are planning several activities to celebrate our graduating students and are communicating directly with students who have applied to graduate. Students who have not applied to graduate in December but will complete all degree requirements during the semester should visit their my.emich account, choose the “Student” tab, choose the “Student Records” link, and then the “Apply to Graduate” link. The deadline to apply for December 2020 graduation is December 18, 2020.

    We are determined to make this a meaningful, joyous celebration for our graduates and will continue to update the campus as our planning continues.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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, those most needed are cereal, large packages of snacks, dish soap, sugar and large containers of juice.

    Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's has had a great initial response to its sixth annual Thanksgiving Basket drive! The goal is to provide 50 Thanksgiving Baskets to students. Individuals who wish to donate items can visit Swoop’s Food Pantry Thanksgiving Baskets 2020.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence and Community Support 

    I am pleased to share information that reflects the University’s excellence and commitment to supporting our community, and offer my congratulations to all involved:

    • Beverly Mihalko, an Eastern Michigan University associate professor of health sciences and an epidemiologist, has received considerable media coverage in recent weeks for her safety recommendations for those who choose to vote in person on Nov. 3. Dr. Mihalko was featured in Everyday Health, on WEMU, and in EMU Today. Her tips range from encouraging in-person voters to be antisocial, and to being prepared by carrying some extra supplies. You can read the full range of her suggestions in the links above. It is timely advice indeed! 

    • Oksana Aliyev, an EMU alumna, has been selected as a Canadian delegate of the coveted G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA) and to participate in the G20 YEA summit scheduled today and Friday. G20 YEA is a network of young entrepreneurs and supporting organizations that meets each year in advance of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. She graduated from Eastern in 2017 with a master’s degree in Polymers and Coatings Technology. Currently, she is Chief Development Officer at AV Coatings Ltd, Canada where she develops a line of environmentally-friendly coatings and paints.

    • Campus Life and the EMU Department of Public Safety are teaming up to host a safe Halloween drive-thru trick-or-treat and drive-in movie experience tomorrow (Friday) night. The events, which are free, are open to students, faculty, staff and the greater community. The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Convocation Center. Details can be found on EMU Today


    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri., Oct. 23, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Oct. 23, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I am pleased to begin this week’s message with a positive note about Eastern Michigan University’s multi-layered efforts to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. These efforts remain robust and ongoing, and so far have resulted in a relatively low number of positive cases, as illustrated from the data on the University’s COVID-19 dashboard

    In the seven days ending Oct. 20, the University administered 840 tests that resulted in zero positive tests. We identified a total of 12 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, four were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; six 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 August 12, the University has administered a total of 5,676 tests that resulted in 46 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.81 percent.

    We greatly appreciate the engagement and support from our students, faculty and staff to the University’s #EMUSafe efforts. We continue to see strong compliance with our mandatory requirement for wearing face coverings throughout campus, inside buildings or outdoors. (Face coverings may be removed when working alone in an office with the door closed or in a residence hall room.)

    As a reminder, students who believe that they have a medical condition that prohibits them from wearing a face covering while on campus should contact the Disability Resource Center at drc@emich.edu. Employees (including student employees) who believe that they have a medical condition that prohibits them from wearing a face covering while working should contact University Human Resources at [email protected]emich.edu. Without an approved accommodation, face coverings are required. Thank you for continuing this critical practice.

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

    • Winter Academic Calendar Changes: Later Start Date, Elimination of Winter Recess
    • Quirk Building and Quirk Theatre Naming Committee
    • Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence


    Winter Academic Calendar Changes: Extended Semester Break, Continuous Winter Semester (No Winter Recess)

    As part of our ongoing efforts to safeguard the health and safety of its students, faculty and staff, yesterday The Board of Regents approved revisions to the Winter 2021 academic calendar.

    The changes were recommended in response to public health factors arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and are similar to those being enacted at many universities across the state and nation. The changes are as follows:

    • The first day of class meetings will occur one week later than originally planned, on January 13. This move extends for students the holiday break between semesters, which begins on Dec. 24. Employees will return to work on Monday, January 4, as scheduled.

    • There will be no mid-semester/winter break in 2021; the University will hold classes that week. Data indicate that minimizing community members’ travel to different locations and limiting exposures due to larger social gatherings can help minimize the spread of the disease. Our hope is to return to regular break schedules once the virus is under better control.


    The semester will end as originally scheduled, on April 27, 2021, with the final day of classes on April 20. Commencement is tentatively scheduled for April 25.

    The changes to the winter calendar mirror the efforts established this semester, which, as noted above, have so far resulted in a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases. Student Affairs staff members will be coordinating efforts to provide increased attention to student and employee mental health and well-being over the course of the academic year.


    Quirk Building and Quirk Theatre Naming Committee

    I announced to the University community on Sept. 10 that I had appointed a Committee to gather information and to provide guidance to me around the names currently given to the Quirk Building and Quirk Theatre.

    I am pleased to report that Committee members have made substantial progress on my request and I am highly supportive of their efforts. They have fully reviewed information uncovered by an Eastern Michigan University alumnus and local historian that suggests the building and theater’s namesake promoted Blackface Theater, including local performances. EMU Historian Mary-Elizabeth Murphy also was invited to share her deep expertise and insights as well.

    The Committee members, and I, have stood in strong agreement from the start of this process that our actions in this matter must be grounded and guided by our University’s statement of core values, one of which is inclusiveness. That statement asserts: “We create an environment that supports, represents, embraces and engages members of diverse groups and identities.” In order to achieve that, our institutional choices about each and every aspect of our work must convey that commitment to our students, faculty, staff and community. Our values infuse all we do here at Eastern Michigan University.

    Our next step will be for the Committee to engage our campus community, including the issuance of a call for suggestions about naming. This process will occur over the next several weeks. The Committee’s work will be finalized at the conclusion of that process and a formal recommendation regarding a name change will be brought to the Board of Regents at the Dec.10, 2020 meeting.

    I am thankful for the Committee’s ongoing work in this effort. The members are:

    • Dana Heller, CAS Dean, co-chair
    • Kathy Stacey, CMTA Director, co-chair
    • Pirooz Aghssa, CMTA Faculty
    • Pam Cardell, CMTA Staff
    • Doris Fields, CMTA Faculty
    • Jill Hunsberger, EMU Foundation
    • Sally McCracken, CMTA Emeritus Faculty
    • KC Quirk, family member
    • Ken Stevens, CMTA Emeritus Faculty
    • Rand Stewart, CMTA Alumnus

    Please look for further information about campus engagement opportunities in the weeks ahead.


    Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020

    More than 170 people attended last evening’s third and final session of the College of Arts and Sciences virtual speaker series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020. It is wonderful to see the great support the program received, given the relevant and important discussions that took place over the three sessions.

    The event website includes details of each of the sessions as well as a video recording for those who were unable to view it at the time. The recording of last night’s session will be added as soon as the editing is completed. Please join me in acknowledging the event coordinators of the series for their expertise, commitment and creativity in assembling an outstanding program:


    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12-5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12-6:30 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 – those most needed are instant mashed potatoes, large bags/boxes of snacks, cereal, hand soap and tofu.

    Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's has had a great initial response to its sixth annual Thanksgiving Basket drive! The goal is to provide 50 Thanksgiving Baskets to students. Individuals who wish to donate items can visit Swoop’s Food Pantry Thanksgiving Baskets 2020.


    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    I am proud to share several items reflecting University excellence in this week’s message:

    • Biology Professor Cara Shillington moved some of her introduction to biology class sessions outdoors this fall to give students a new experience. The students could be seen collecting samples from some of the marsh areas on campus, such as near the bridge going to the Student Center. The outdoor adventures were scheduled by Professor Shillington and her grad assistants to reduce some of the time spent in the classroom, while still engaging with the concepts traditionally covered in the class. Dr. Shillington told EMU Today, “I think it was a success all round, with both students and the lab instructors, so we will likely try and incorporate some of these activities into future semesters.”

    • Two Eastern Michigan professors have completed noteworthy research regarding area COVID-19 data. Dr. Grigoris Argeros, associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Natalie Dove, associate professor of psychology, found that more than one-third of Washtenaw County’s 3,412 COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 1 came from two ZIP codes — 48197 and 48198 — which cover Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and portions of Superior, Augusta, York and Pittsfield townships.

      Professors Argeros and Dove note that those two ZIP codes vary by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status relative to the rest of Washtenaw County. They now plan to move forward with a second round of the project, to collect data from residents in order to assess some of the demographic, structural, and psychological variables that might make a difference in responses to COVID-19. These activities are supported by the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Professional Development Award, funded by the GameAbove Faculty First funds.
    • Interior design students won the top three places in the Student Rendering category in a nationwide CET Designer contest sponsored by Configura, a major Swedish software company. The three students are Olivia Grant, Alondra Chavez and Raina Hammitte. Their impressive sweep came at the 13th annual CET Designer Awards.CET Designer is a space-planning software used around the world. Last year, Eastern took the top three spots and repeated the feat this year. The winning students were enrolled in Interior Design Studio V, taught by Dr. Diane Guevara, an NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design) licensed interior designer in the School of Visual and Built Environments in the College of Engineering and Technology.

    Congratulations to all of the faculty members and students highlighted above. They are yet another example of the excellence of Eastern Michigan University.


    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., Oct. 15, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Oct. 15, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    The University continues to actively and aggressively track any COVID-19 cases among our campus community and offer support to any individuals who are affected. The efforts taken thus far have proven successful in keeping the numbers of positive cases among our community to a relatively low level, especially in comparison to many of our peer institutions. This is testament to the great support, cooperation and collaboration shown by our students, faculty and staff to follow safe behaviors and practices.

    The wearing of face coverings is the primary safe practice members of our community can take. We continue to see strong compliance to our mandatory requirement for wearing face coverings throughout campus, inside buildings or outdoors. (Face coverings may be removed when working alone in an office with the door closed or in a residence hall room.) Thank you for continuing this critical practice.

    Maintaining physical distance from those around you, when indoors and out, frequent hand washing and using the many hand sanitizer stations located around campus are other key factors in our keeping our community #EMUSafe. It is particularly essential in an environment in which we are seeing increasing numbers of cases in Michigan and across the nation. Today, Michigan reported a record 2,030 new cases -- the largest number of new cases in the state in one day.

    I am proud of the University’s innovative and systemized processes, with leadership from the public health professionals among our faculty and staff, to protect the health, safety and well-being of our community. We have stated from the outset that this is an institutional priority and we remain vigilant in our efforts to continue to learn, evolve our practices as necessary, and implement additional safety protocols.

    I know it is a cliché to say that “it takes a village.” But it indeed does. And I am truly thankful and appreciative of everyone who is contributing their knowledge, skills, understanding and perseverance to our many safety actions.

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

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Wastewater Testing Update
    • Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees
    • COVID-19-related Temporary Leave of Absence Information for Employees
    • Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part three)
    • Deadline for Online Voter Registration for Nov. 3 Election
    • Rep. Ronnie Peterson to Host Virtual Community Conversation
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence


    COVID
    -19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Oct. 13, the University administered 835 tests that resulted in five positive results. We identified a total of 21 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, six were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; 15 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 August 12, the University has administered 4,836 tests that resulted in 46 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.95 percent.

    This data can be found on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard. In order to increase the timeliness of this important data, the dashboard is now being updated at least two times each week. These updates occur late in the afternoon/early evening on Mondays and Wednesdays, dependent on when the testing results are returned to us and processed.

    As noted previously, the University has expanded our testing processes to more effectively monitor the campus environment. As is noted above, 835 tests were conducted over the past week. The preceding week we conducted 357 tests, and the week prior to that 115 tests took place. This expanded effort is consistent with our late August announcement to delay residence hall move-in and begin the semester in a fully virtual/online format in order to develop a more robust testing process. As our testing program continues, individuals who are subject to such testing will be notified directly, with appropriate details. Please continue to monitor University email for these important communications.

    As a reminder, the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had close contact with someone on campus who tested positive are notified directly and provided information about what they should do.

    It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and mitigate future spread of the virus. This form should be utilized by anyone who meets one of the following criteria:

    • You are known to have COVID-19 by medical diagnosis or by testing positive - even if you are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.
    • You have been informed that you were in close contact with another person who was medically diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19.
    • You have any of the following symptoms of COVID-19: fever/chills, cough shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, new loss of taste/smell, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea.
    • You have learned that an EMU Community member (student, faculty, staff, employee) has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been medically diagnosed with COVID-19.


    Wastewater
    Testing Update

    As initially announced on Sept. 17, the University is engaged in an innovative process to test campus wastewater for biomarkers of the COVID-19 virus. Wastewater surveillance is a fast-evolving science and is providing an additional layer of information in the University’s ongoing monitoring and response processes. Twice a week the University is provided data that are gathered and analyzed from several sewage drains in which specialized equipment has been installed to monitor wastewater samples. Our wastewater testing process is targeted to the monitoring of residence halls due to the amount of time and depth of interaction students who live on campus have with fellow students and others across campus.

    The data gathered in wastewater testing do not identify individual cases but does provide information as to the possible presence of the virus in the monitored areas. The University then uses this information to identify and determine the need for individual testing of populations where the process informs us additional cases may be present.

    I’d like to thank the members of the wastewater work group for their ongoing efforts, and particularly the support and guidance provided by Dr. Chris Gellasch, associate professor of Hydrogeology, Hydrology and Environmental Science. Dr. Gellasch is a geologist with a focus on groundwater and water quality. He served previously as a U.S. Army Environmental Science and Engineering Officer, and received his undergraduate degree right here at Eastern Michigan University.

    Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees

    The challenges over the last eight months have been significant. Our academic processes, whether learning or teaching, have changed dramatically with the expansion of virtual/online classes. Our daily routines have been altered – many are studying or working from home or other remote locations. And, our personal lives have been impacted – in some cases due to positive cases of COVID-19 among family members or friends, as well as by adjustments in how we live, shop and entertain. It is important during these times that we remind one another of some of the supportive resources the University offers.

    • For students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at [email protected]emich.edu.

    • For employees: The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for expert advice and support. EAP provides free, confidential help with personal and work-related issues, 24/7. The EAP is available to employees and their family members. Information and contact information about the EAP and can be found at the EMU Employee Assistance Program webpage.

    COVID-19-related Temporary Leave of Absence Information for Employees

    Eastern has implemented several programs allowing temporary leaves of absence for employees whose families are affected by the COVID-19 virus. Experiencing the COVID-19 disease can affect every aspect of an employee’s life, whether the employee themselves or a family member is affected. The process for qualifying for, applying for, and taking, COVID-19-related leave should be as simple as we can make it. To help, our Human Resources department has developed a detailed guide on the various options available should employees need information related to a COVID-19 leave of absence. The information can be found on the Human Resources COVID-19-related Temporary Leave of Absence webpage. Please take a minute to review this important information. If you have additional questions about how to take COVID-19-related leave, please reach out to HR Benefits at [email protected]emich.edu.

    Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part three)

    A week from tonight, on Thursday, Oct. 22, the College of Arts and Sciences will host the third and final presentation in its virtual speaker series: Race, Police and Social Justice in 2020. The session takes place from 6:30 - 8 p.m., and is titled “A Conversation on Race, Policing, Voting and Social Justice: Where Do We Go From Here?”

    Panelists are Derrick Jackson, Director of Community Engagement, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office; Erica Hillard, Assistant United States Attorney, Northern District of Texas; Dr. Kevin Karpiak, Associate Professor of Criminology, Eastern Michigan University; and, Dr. David Klein, Professor of Political Science, Eastern Michigan University.

    The series was developed to examine the systems of policing, including socioeconomic and political challenges. It is intended to generate sustainable relationships among local law enforcement and the EMU community, in order to create systemic support and cultivate collaborations.

    Registration information can be found on the event homepage. You can also contact Dr. Barbara Patrick at [email protected]emich.edu or Dr. Stephen Jefferson at [email protected]emich.edu.

    Once again, please join me in thanking our outstanding faculty for creating this important platform for ongoing dialogue, learning and examination of these critical issues.

    Deadline for Online Voter Registration for Nov. 3 Election

    The election is drawing near and the online voter registration deadline in Michigan is next Monday,Oct.19. Please take three minutes right now to make sure that your voter registration status is up-to-date so you are ready to vote in the November 3 election. Visit StudentVote.org to register for the first time or to update your registration status if you have moved. Once you go to this website, you will also find commonly asked questions about voting in the election. To get more involved in registering other young adults, sign up here. You can also stay up to date on Eastern's voter-related actions at the Voting at EMU website.

    Rep. Ronnie Peterson to Host Virtual Community Conversation

    I am honored to participate in State Rep. Ronnie Peterson’s Virtual Community Conversation next week. The event takes place via Zoom from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20. My emphasis will be targeted toward University-community engagement activities. More information can be found on Rep. Peterson’s Facebook page.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – those most needed are large snack items, grape jelly, salad dressing, hand soap and ketchup.

    Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop's also is providing 50 Thanksgiving baskets to students for the sixth year. Individuals who want to donate items can sign up on the Swoop's2020 Thanksgiving Baskets webpage.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    I am proud to share several items reflecting University excellence in this week’s message:

    • Professors Joseph Brezaand Thomas Mast collaborated with their students in looking for ways to mimic the taste of salt in the foods we love, with the ultimate goal of helping eliminate the negative health consequences of sodium in the diet. Their research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, with a grant of nearly $430,000.

    • Professor Kristine Ajrouch was interviewed on the ABC News Nightline program for the segment “Facing racism: Activists in Arkansas chase down KKK leader with BBQ and a protest.” The program noted Dr. Ajrouch’s recent research that measured the ethnicity of peoples’ social networks.

    • Emeritus Professor and Part-Time Lecturer Betty Beard, former director of the School of Nursing, is making her expertise available as a COVID-19 volunteer contact tracer with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Beard is volunteering in this capacity nearly every day – for one to five hours – since the need is so great. She estimates she has made at least 900-1,000 calls and has talked with people living in nearly every area of both peninsulas of Michigan.


    Congratulations to the many fine people who provided their expertise and skills in the above-listed accomplishments. It is truly a reflection of the outstanding individuals who drive the success of Eastern Michigan University.

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Thu., Oct. 8, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Oct. 8, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    In an ordinary year, expanding outdoor study areas for students might not warrant significant attention. But, as we all know, this is anything but an ordinary year.

    In recent years, many students (and faculty and staff) have enjoyed the picnic tables in the area between Ford, McKenny, Starkweather and Welch halls. It is an attractive setting to study and eat, particularly on incredible fall days like today. Given the area’s popularity, and the desire to create more safe outdoor study space for students in a physically distant setting, the University has expanded outdoor study opportunities. This week, many new picnic tables were added to the grassy areas extending north from the current location toward King Hall. Tables have been placed both in the sun and the shade under our beautiful trees.

    As a reminder, everyone on campus must wear face coverings even when outdoors, including at these study spaces, and must complete the COVID PASS Daily Health Screening every day they are present. When weather permits, student staff from the Engage @ EMU team will monitor the space to periodically wipe tables, remind students to comply with the University’s Safe Return to Campus Plan, provide face coverings, and answer questions. The tables have been placed by the University’s Facilities Division and should not be moved.

    The expansion of outdoor study areas is the latest in our comprehensive efforts to establish a safe and supportive environment in the midst of the pandemic. Complete details about the University’s actions can be found at our COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website.

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

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part two)
    • Student Government Elections - New Student Body President and Vice President
    • Counseling and Psychological Services Available for Student Support
    • Newly Renovated Rec/IM Opens
    • Health Benefits Open Enrollment for Employees
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Six-Game Football Schedule Announced
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence


    EMU COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Oct. 6, the University administered 357 tests that resulted in 12 positive results. We identified a total of 21 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, 10 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; 11 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 August 12, the University has administered 4,001 tests that resulted in 41 positive results for a positivity rate of 1.02 percent.

    This data can be found on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

    As noted in our message last week, increased testing for our campus community is underway. As our testing program continues to expand, those individuals who are subject to such testing will be notified with additional details. Please continue to monitor your University email for these important communications.

    A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had close contact with someone on campus who tested positive are notified directly and provided information about what they should do.

    It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and mitigate future spread of the virus.

    Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part two)

    Tonight, the College of Arts and Sciences will host the second of its three-part virtual speaker series: Race, Police and Social Justice in 2020. The session takes place from 6:30 - 8 p.m., and is titled “Working to Bridge the Divide Between the Police and Communities of Color: Reforms in the Aftermath of the Floyd Dent Case.” The featured speaker is William T. Riley III, Chief of Police of the Inkster Police Department.

    The series was developed to examine the systems of policing, including socioeconomic and political challenges. It is intended to generate sustainable relationships among local law enforcement and the EMU community, in order to create systemic support and cultivate collaborations.

    Registration information for tonight’s session can be found on the event homepage. You can also contact Dr. Barbara Patrick at [email protected] or Dr. Stephen Jefferson at [email protected].

    The third and final session of the series takes place on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6:30 - 8 p.m. It is titled “A Conversation on Race, Policing, Voting and Social Justice: Where Do We Go From Here?” Panelists are Derrick Jackson, Director of Community Engagement, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office; Erica Hillard, Assistant United States Attorney, Northern District of Texas; Dr. Kevin Karpiak, Associate Professor of Criminology, Eastern Michigan University; and, Dr. David Klein, Professor of Political Science, Eastern Michigan University.

    More than 100 people attended the opening session on Sept. 24. Please join me in thanking our outstanding faculty for creating this important platform for ongoing dialogue, learning and examination of these critical issues.

    Student Government Elections - New Student Body President and Vice President

    The annual student government elections were held last week. You may recall they were delayed from the originally planned schedule last March due to the pandemic. Eastern’s new Student Body President is Luis Romero and new Vice President is Colton Ray. New Student Body Senators also were elected. I look forward to working with our new student government team in the year ahead. Please join me in congratulating all of the students who ran for office, and those elected, for their commitment to the University.

    Also, please join me in thanking outgoing President Ethan Smith and Vice President Hajer Abuzir for their outstanding efforts on behalf of Eastern Michigan University students over the last year.

    Counseling and Psychological Services Available for Student Support

    As we proceed through the fall semester of a very challenging year, I want to remind students about our Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office and the support it provides. CAPS is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling to students seeking support.  Students can make an appointment to talk to a counselor by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours. Students may also access CAPS after-hours phone support in the evenings and weekends by calling 734-487-1118. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at [email protected]

    Newly Renovated Rec/IM Opens

    The newly renovated Rec/IM Building opened for students, faculty and staff on Monday (Oct. 5). The renovations offer much more than a facelift – with new equipment and a striking, reimagined layout.

    Levels 1 and 2 are open – this includes cardiovascular and weight training areas, gaming tables, and a commons area. Levels 3-5, which include the basketball courts, the indoor track and social areas, will open at a later date.

    The Rec/IM is operating at 25 percent occupancy for all open areas, and staff will monitor and enforce these capacity limits.

    Users are expected to follow safety measures, such as passing the University’s COVID PASS Daily Health Screening before being permitted to enter the facility, wiping down equipment before and after using it, wearing a face covering at all times, and maintaining physical distancing from others.

    Patrons should arrive ready for their activity, as most changing spaces and showers are closed, with the exception of swimming pools.

    The $16 million Rec/IM construction and renovation project is being financed through a student rec fee, proposed by EMU student leaders, after initial studies and input that began in 2014. Students can opt out of the fee, which was approved by EMU students in 2017.

    A comprehensive effort to provide ongoing health, fitness and wellness programming, online and in-person outdoor activities, has been underway throughout the summer and remains in place this fall. The schedule is being updated on a regular basis with new health, fitness and wellness programs, and can be found at the Rec/IM website.

    Health Benefits Open Enrollment for Employees

    Open Enrollment began Oct. 1 and runs through 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. Human Resources has been actively notifying employees about the process. Please visit the EMU Open Enrollment website for additional information and special notices.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – those most needed are cereal, large containers of juice, oatmeal, barbecue sauce and sugar.

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Six-Game Football Schedule Announced

    Eastern Michigan University Football will begin its six-game regular season on Wednesday, Nov. 4, with a road game at Kent State University.

    Eastern will continue with Wednesday games at Ball State, Nov. 11, and at home against Toledo, Nov. 18. Eastern will close with three Saturday games – at home against Central Michigan on Nov. 28, at Western Michigan on Dec. 5, and at home versus Northern Illinois on Dec. 12. The regular season will conclude with the MAC Football Championship game Friday, Dec. 18, to be held at Ford Field in Detroit.

    In accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, no general public attendance or tailgating will be allowed at games.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    Eastern Michigan University faculty members have shown exceptional creativity this year in terms of engaging students amid the unprecedented environment, and Professor Frank J. Fedel is a prime example.

    Professor Fedel faced a distinct hurdle in introducing new students to the typically hands-on discipline of EMU’s Orthotics and Prosthetics program. He worked over the summer to create a virtual environment of the orthotics and prosthetics lab space, so that incoming students who either had not seen it previously, or saw it only during a quick visit, would be somewhat familiar with the layout of the program’s fabrication labs. He shared the link to the virtual reality experience with the new students and received positive feedback.

    Professor Fedel told EMU Today, “Even though that is not my area of expertise, I just like sophisticated uses of technology, and learned enough about programming when I was teaching it years ago to get involved with it. It’s something I did as a way to make students feel more present at EMU.”

    Congratulations to Professor Fedel for your exceptional efforts to support Eastern Michigan University students!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., Oct. 1, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Oct. 1, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Homecoming 2020: The Remix began Tuesday and we already have seen great participation among Eastern Michigan students, faculty, staff and alumni. We are certain this will continue through the weekend with several fun events remaining. One event that I am particularly looking forward to is happening this evening, a virtual cook-along with EMU alumna Chef Elle Simone, star of America’s Test Kitchen. There’s still time to pick up the ingredients for all who want to participate. Details about the cook-along, as well as other events such as esports game night, Friday’s drive-in movie at the Convocation Center, virtual house parties hosted by popular DJs, and a virtual 5K walk/run, can be found on our homecoming website.

    Please join me in thanking the members of the Homecoming Committee, all of whom are listed on the website, and everyone involved, for their ideas, planning and coordination of the many virtual events taking place. They have done excellent work to create something for everyone with a positive, connected homecoming experience that embraces EMU’s finest homecoming traditions in these unique times.

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

    • COVID-19 Dashboard
    • Expanded COVID-19 Testing
    • Statement on White House Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping
    • Faculty Listening Session for Students on Oct. 7: Student Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion
    • Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part two)
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence


    EMU COVID-19 Dashboard

    In the seven days ending Sept. 29, the University administered 115 tests that resulted in 14 positive results. We identified a total of 19 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, 11 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive, and eight 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 August 12, the University has administered 3,644 tests that resulted in 29 positive results for a percent positive of 0.80 percent.

    This data can be found on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

    A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had close contact with someone on campus who tested positive are notified directly and provided information about what they should do.

    It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and mitigate future spread of the virus.

    Expanded COVID-19 Testing

    When we announced the decision in late August to delay residence hall and apartment move-in for most students, and further reduce the number of face-to face classes, one of the key factors was to provide additional time to develop a more robust and ongoing testing process for our campus community. Increased testing has indeed been underway and, as our testing program continues to expand, employees and students who are subject to such testing will be notified with additional details. Please watch your emails for these important communications.

    Statement on White House Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

    On Sept. 22, the White House issued an executive order regarding “race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” that, among other actions, seeks to limit important training by public institutions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Much of the content of the White House’s order runs counter to strongly held values by Eastern Michigan University.

    While we are still examining the order, we are deeply concerned over any order that would seek to erase, minimize, or change the quality of diversity and equity training designed to promote racial and sexual equality. On its face, this order purports to affect the content of federal staff training and eventually, all training conducted by federal contractors and pursuant to federal grants.

    Eastern Michigan University embraces a culture of diversity and rigorous, deep inquiry. As outlined in our Mission, “we are an institution of opportunity, where students learn in and beyond the classroom to benefit the local and global communities.”

    This mission rests on core values such as respect and inclusiveness.

    We respect and we care for our people, communities and the environment, and show respect for the dignity of the individual.

    We seek to create an inclusive environment that supports, represents, embraces and engages members of diverse groups and identities.

    We are a community strongly dedicated to free speech and mutual understanding. As a campus community, we must engage in difficult conversations, learn from our mistakes, and ensure training and processes that push us out of our comfort zones and help us evolve.

    There are major movements afoot, such as Black Lives Matter and the Million Women March, the roots and lessons of which must be acknowledged and studied. We are in a time of major societal change, and we at Eastern Michigan refuse to sit on the sidelines of such critical cultural and intellectual evolution.

    We proudly assert our commitment to examining our blind spots, to creating improved learning opportunities for all members of our University community and to becoming better and more empathetic citizens of our city, state and country.

    Faculty Listening Session for Students on Oct. 7: Student Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion

    The Faculty Senate Task Force on Campus Climate, Race and Diversity will hold a listening session for students via Zoom on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Faculty coordinators of the listening session would like to hear from a broad range of students about how to ensure a welcoming, inclusive and diverse experience in the classroom and on campus. Other faculty members are encouraged to participate. For Zoom information and registration, please visit https://forms.gle/1M49sMSXNpbdTbA17.

    Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part two)

    Next Thursday, Oct. 8, the College of Arts and Sciences will host the second of its three-part virtual speaker series: Race, Police and Social Justice in 2020. The second session is titled: Working to Bridge the Divide Between the Police and Communities of Color: Reforms in the Aftermath of the Floyd Dent Case. The featured speaker is William T. Riley III, Chief of Police of the Inkster Police Department.

    For more information about the series and registration information for next Thursday’s session, visit the event homepage, or contact Barbara Patrick at [email protected] or Stephen Jefferson at [email protected].

    This series was developed to examine the systems of policing, including socioeconomic and political challenges. It is intended to generate sustainable relationships among local law enforcement and the EMU community, in order to create systemic support and cultivate collaborations.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12-5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – those most needed are grape jelly, cereal, gluten-free items, hot sauce and black beans.

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    It always gives me pride to celebrate another example of Eastern Michigan University excellence.

    The Student Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has been awarded a 2019-2020 Superior Merit Award for providing exceptional growth and development opportunities to its student members. The EMU SHRM chapter has received the Superior Merit Award from the national society every year since 1996.

    “Today’s members of our student chapters are the HR leaders of tomorrow,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, and President and CEO of the national society. “They are the movers and shakers of the future, and we cannot understate the vital role they play in SHRM’s success.

    The EMU SHRM student chapter is evidence that the future of HR is, indeed, in good hands. I applaud their accomplishments and ability to fiercely move forward during a time of such change and uncertainty in the workplace.”

    Dr. Fraya Wagner-Marsh, one of the faculty advisors for the chapter, said that for this past school year, the EMU Student Chapter of SHRM focused on sustainability and HR for its merit award project. As a student chapter, the goal was to bring awareness about sustainability and HR’s role. Sustainability has been a major focus for most organizations today, and HR professionals are at the heart of their organizations' sustainability efforts, Wagner-Marsh said.

    The chapter’s faculty advisors also include Dr. Anushri Rawat and Dr. James Krolik. EMU SHRM’s student President is Olivia Smith, a current Masters student in Human Resources and Organization Development.

    Congratulations to the students and faculty members who make the Student Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management another point of pride for the University!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri, Sept. 25, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Sept. 25, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Thank you to our faculty and staff, who have helped facilitate a great start to our delayed and limited in-person class schedule. Your commitment and focus on maintaining an excellent and enriching educational experience for our students in these challenging times continues to shine. And, to our students who are making adjustments in their approach to learning and classes, whether online, hybrid or in-person, thank you. This unprecedented situation requires flexibility and understanding from each of us. Overall, our collective efforts to support one another and accomplish our educational mission remain positive and successful.

    As we proceed through the semester, the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our Eastern Michigan University community remains our overarching priority. I remind everyone to follow health and safety guidance, and the #EMUSafe signage you see across campus.

    I have many items to cover in this week’s message:

          COVID-19 dashboard

          Virtual speaker series: Race, Policing and Social Justice

          Recent sexual assault investigations regarding incidents from several years ago

          Mid-American Conference reconsideration of fall football

          Homecoming 2020: The Remix

          National Hispanic Heritage Month

          Important reminders: Updates to processes and procedures

          Swoop’s Five Days to $5,000 fundraiser

          Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence


    EMU COVID-19 Dashboard

    We continue to conduct testing for COVID-19 and are tracking both the number of tests conducted as well as positive cases. As reported last week with the introduction of the EMU COVID-19 Dashboard, we will update this Dashboard regularly on the number of tests conducted, positive case counts, and the utilization of residence hall space reserved for students in isolation or quarantine.

    In the seven days ending Sept. 22, the University administered 452 tests that resulted in two positive results for a percent positive of .44 percent. During that same time period, we identified a total of 10 positive cases from the University-administered tests, self-reporting, or other verified sources. Of those 10, seven were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive, and three 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 new cases were reported among University employees.

    As I indicated last week, we will continue to seek insights from faculty and staff experts and make adjustments to the Dashboard going forward.

    A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had close contact with someone on campus who tested positive are notified directly and provided information about what they should do. It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and mitigate future spread of the virus.


    Virtual speaker series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020: Looking Back and Moving Forward

    Last night, the Eastern Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences hosted the first of a three-part virtual speaker series titled “Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020: Looking Back and Moving Forward.”

    Last night’s session was titled “Addressing the Ills of Policing within Minority Communities: Precursors to the Floyd Dent Police Brutality Case in Inkster, Michigan.” The program featured Dr. Barbara Patrick, Associate Professor of Political Science.

    The next two sessions will take place on Thursday, Oct. 8, and Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6:30 - 8 p.m.

    The events are free and open to the public. Those interested in attending the virtual sessions, which are conducted via Zoom, must register through the links below:

          October 8 registration link

          October 22 registration link


    The series was developed to examine the systems of policing, including socioeconomic and political challenges, and is intended to generate sustainable relationships among local law enforcement and the EMU community in order to create systemic support and cultivate collaborations.

    For more information, visit the event homepage, or contact Barbara Patrick at [email protected] or Stephen Jefferson at [email protected].


    Recent sexual assault investigations regarding incidents from several years ago

    We are deeply concerned about the reports of criminal sexual conduct involving our former students. We stand by and strongly support all survivors of sexual assault. There is no place for sexual violence in our campus community and we will always take swift action to stop it.

    When these criminal cases came to light this past summer, the University immediately initiated a thorough review into the original allegations, which occurred at off-campus residences a number of years ago.

    Our initial review of Title IX and Department of Public Safety records regarding this situation indicate that in no case did a complainant come forward who wished to proceed with a formal investigation by our Title IX or Public Safety office. With few exceptions, no Title IX investigation can proceed without such a person coming forward, or without the evidence such a person might share. Thus, although our Title IX office did offer continuous support services where appropriate, the law did not allow us to launch a more formal Title IX investigation in either case.

    To be clear: this does not mean that the University reached any conclusion about what happened in either case.

    This past summer, when a complainant came forward to University Police, we immediately and proactively contacted the Ypsilanti Police Department, which has jurisdiction because the incidents occurred off campus and in the city of Ypsilanti. The University has actively provided information and supported the Ypsilanti Police investigation throughout.

    In 2019, the University initiated a comprehensive independent external review of our Title IX polices and procedures. That review and final report, which can be found athttps://www.emich.edu/documents/title-ix-policy-and-process-report-2019.pdf, drew the following conclusions:

          “Eastern complies with Title IX in all of the following aspects of its sexual misconduct policies and procedures.”

          “My recommendation moving forward is that the University continue with its high level of compliance.”

          “In sum, my review of Eastern Michigan University’s Title IX compliance office and related policies and procedures reflects that the institution has made a very meaningful commitment to addressing sexual misconduct in its educational community. This commitment is reflected in the University’s highly-trained and highly-competent Title IX Coordinator and Title IX Investigator; in its efforts to provide widespread prevention education and training to the University community; in its detailed student investigation procedures which are fair to both parties; and in the cooperation, respect and support the Title IX office receives from its many campus partners.”


    Given the recent cases that have come to light, the University recognizes the importance of taking a further look at the specific handling of these incidents. Earlier this month the University commissioned the external firm of
    Cozen O’Conner, with whom the University has no existing relationship, to review and audit our Title IX and related policies, procedures, and actions regarding these events. We are committed to knowing if our processes related to the recent 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. The results of this independent review will be made public.

    To reiterate, EMU takes all claims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct seriously and is committed to the thorough investigation of these incidents. If you have any information or wish to report any incident of sexual assault or misconduct, please contact EMU Police at 734-487-1222 or at [email protected], or file an incident report with the EMU Title IX Office: https://www.emich.edu/title-nine/index.php.


    Mid-American Conference reconsideration of fall football

    Last month, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) moved all fall 2020 sports to spring 2021 competition as a result of concerns over COVID-19. The MAC was among the first Division 1 conferences to take that action, which was quickly followed by similar decisions by the Big Ten and the PAC-12 conferences. Now, with those conferences and others reversing course and reinstating fall football on a reduced schedule, the MAC is considering a similar return to fall football on a reduced schedule.

    Collectively, the MAC presidents have received presentations from health and safety experts, and had extensive discussions about appropriate testing processes and the frequency of such testing. During our discussions, I have made clear my deep concern for student-athlete safety and well-being. Any consideration of a return to a limited fall football schedule must be accompanied by a robust process that ensures frequent testing and monitoring of all matters related to student health and well-being.

    Because the NCAA championship schedule has already been set for all of the fall sports that were moved to spring, the MAC will not move other sports, such as women’s soccer, back to fall.

    The discussions regarding football remain underway. I expect a decision will be made soon, as early as this weekend.


    Homecoming 2020: The Remix

    A truly unique and special homecoming celebration will take place next week: “Homecoming 2020: The Remix.”  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EMU’s homecoming celebration will take place virtually and remotely. It begins next Tuesday, Sept. 29, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 4. 

    During the celebration, a variety of fun and interactive virtual events will be available for EMU students and alumni, faculty, staff and community members to celebrate the start of the Fall 2020 semester “together,” while remaining physically distant. 

    Highlights of “Homecoming 2020: The Remix” include an evening of bedtime stories featuring a selection of children's books by EMU alumni authors, an EMU student talent show on Instagram live, a series of live virtual DJ parties, a virtual cooking demonstration with Chef Elle Simone – who is an EMU alum and America’s Test Kitchen chef, a virtual game night, and much more. 

    The details for how to participate in these events, as well as the full schedule of events can be found on the EMU Homecoming webpage.


    National Hispanic Heritage Month

    September 15 marked the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Hispanic community represents the second largest population in the nation – and Eastern is proud of our many connections to the Hispanic community. The annual César Chávez Day of Celebration on campus is always a standout event and the most emblematic of our efforts to celebrate the cultures and contributions of the Hispanic community. Despite the demographic trend with a substantial reduction in graduating high school seniors, first-year Hispanic enrollments have increased by 15 percent.

    Please join me in celebrating our Hispanic community and the many contributions made to Eastern Michigan University, and to our state and nation.


    Important reminders: Updates to processes and procedures

    We continue to provide regular updates to students, faculty and staff on important matters or changes in processes and protocols. Over the past week, we have issued the following messages. Please make sure you have reviewed these and are familiar with the information.

          Social Gatherings: University Policies and Practices - Sept. 18, 2020

          Face Coverings and Physical Distancing: University Policies and Practices - Sept. 18, 2020

          Political Campaign Participation – Sept. 23, 2020

          Federal CARES Act Student relief Funds Fall Distribution - Sept. 24, 2020

     

    Swoop’s Five Days to $5,000 fundraiser

    Swoop’s Five Days to $5,000 fundraiser is underway to celebrate the five-year anniversary of Swoop’s Food Pantry and the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room. Click on the Swoop’s Food Pantry five-year celebration link to watch a video about Swoop’s first five years, and to donate.

    The fall hours for Swoop’s Food Pantry are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – those most needed are large snacks, granola bars, paper towel, barbecue sauce and tofu.

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.


    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    In these times of international uncertainty, it is wonderful to acknowledge the work of an instructor who is doing his part to make a positive impact at the student level.

    Dr. Geoffrey Stanton, a part-time lecturer in the Department of Music and Dance, recently completed a five-week summer residency as a visiting professor for Szechuan University in the People's Republic of China. This was an experimental on-line endeavor in which a handful of American professors and instructors across the country were specifically invited to participate. Dr. Stanton taught two courses in music appreciation, which required writing 40 two-hour lectures.

    Dr. Stanton has been with EMU since 2008. He is a prize-winning composer and recipient of the 2015 Part-Time Lecturer Outstanding Teaching Award. In an interview with EMU Today, Dr. Stanton said students reacted very positively to his teaching, making many comments on the papers he graded, "(Eastern) is definitely on the radar with China. A lot of Chinese students are interested in coming here."

    On behalf of our students, faculty and staff, thank you for these fine efforts, Dr. Stanton!


    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri, Sept. 18, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Sept. 18, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today marks the second day of our “official” move-in for students living in residence halls and apartments. I reference “official” in quotes because we actually have nearly 1,000 students living on campus already – including graduate students who live here year-round, residence hall staff, and other students who notified us of special circumstances and requested to move in as initially planned starting on August 27. To all new residential students, welcome! Our Housing and Residence Life staff has been working incredibly hard to make your move-in experience as safe and smooth as possible, with a staggered schedule of check-in times throughout the weekend and a maximum of two guest helpers for each student to ensure physical distancing.

    For the rest of our campus community, an important reminder is that all students who moved in previously as well as those students who are moving in over the course of the next few days must have screened negative for COVID-19 in order to move in. Mandatory COVID-19 tests were provided free of charge by the University.

    We have several important announcements in today’s communication and I encourage you to read it fully:

    • Class formats beginning Monday, Sep. 21
    • COVID-19 dashboard
    • Wastewater monitoring
    • Important reminders: Updates to processes and procedures
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry update
    • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence


    Class formats beginning Monday, Sept. 21

    On Monday, Sept. 21, the University will transition a limited number of classes that have been online to in-person and hybrid delivery. On-campus, in-person instruction will take place primarily in subject areas where in-person teaching is necessary to achieve the learning outcomes for the course. These courses are most commonly science, technology and engineering labs and in the fine and performing arts, but are scattered among other areas as well.

    Our initial plans for the start of the semester included 20-25 percent of classes with an in-person component. We have reduced that number over time as we reviewed and considered safest practices, as well as input from members of our campus community including the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. As of today, we estimate that 10-14 percent of classes will have some in-person component during the remainder of the semester.

    Students with scheduled on-campus courses should follow these steps to see their fall 2020 schedule in totality:

    • Log in to my.emich
    • Click Student across the top
    • Scroll down and click the link for Student Schedule
    • Submit to accept the Fall 2020 semester
    • Building and room will display in the Location column


    If students have questions about course requirements after checking this information, they should first contact their course instructor and then the offering department to inquire.

    COVID-19 public dashboard

    The initial version of the University’s COVID-19 dashboard has been posted and is available for viewing at EMU COVID-19 Dashboard. We have received considerable insight on the dashboard from members of the Safe Return Steering Committee and members of the University’s Public Health Work Group. The dashboard reflects the number of University-administered COVID-19 tests conducted each week, along with the number of positive COVID-19 cases identified by those tests. The dashboard also provides weekly updates on the number of positive cases among students and employees, with student data segmented by whether the positive test was for a student on-campus or off-campus. The dashboard also includes a breakdown of residence hall units reserved for students in isolation or quarantine and the usage of those spaces.

    This dashboard is an excellent starting point for effective and transparent testing and case reporting. As I indicated, we will continue to seek insights from faculty and staff experts, so as to make additions to the site going forward.

    A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had close contact with someone on campus who tested positive, are notified directly and provided information about what they should do. It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and mitigate future spread of the virus.

    Wastewater monitoring

    I am pleased to report that we are adding another layer of testing to our return-to-campus plan and thus will soon begin testing wastewater for infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

    The University is partnering with the Michigan-based firm Aquasight to track the presence of the virus in wastewater flowing from residence halls and apartment complexes on the EMU campus. This monitoring process, while not diagnostic, may provide early detection of asymptomatic cases.

    Click on the Wastewater Testing Photo Gallery for a look at Aquasight’s preliminary work on campus to prepare for the testing.

    Wastewater surveillance, as practiced by Aquasight, is a fast-evolving science. It works for both asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals, an important distinction, because it has been shown that individuals with COVID-19 may not display symptoms at all or it may take two weeks to show symptoms. Other universities, such as University of Arizona and Utah State University, are doing similar testing.

    Tests have shown that wastewater contains infectious biomarkers such as COVID-19 RNA, which can signal the growth or reduction of the virus in a community or around a campus such as Eastern’s.

    Such scientific advance notice will provide vital information for EMU and local healthcare officials to both predict potential outbreaks and to monitor whether infectious diseases are lessening in the University community.

    The results of the tests will help us pinpoint any concerning trends and expand individual testing among specific populations as necessary.

    Important reminders: Updates to processes and procedures

    We continue to provide regular updates to students, faculty and staff on important matters or changes in processes and protocols. Over the past week, we have issued the following messages. Please make sure you have reviewed these and are familiar with the information.

    Messages to Students, Faculty and Staff:

    Messages to Employees:

    Messages to Students:


    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room fall hours are: Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – those most needed are pasta, tea, razors, rice and dish soap.

    Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Please join me in celebrating Swoop’s five-year anniversary on Monday, Sept. 21! Watch for a special video and help us celebrate by participating in Swoop’s 5 days to $5,000 goal. You can access both the video and crowdfunding page by visiting Swoop's Food Pantry website on Monday!

    Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

    We received a great visual reminder about Eastern Michigan University excellence. It was provided by Art Professor Amy Sacksteder.

    This photo gallery captures the images of students in Professor Sacksteder’s 302/502 painting class, as they used the beauty of Eastern’s campus, the necessity for a physically-distanced class format and the safety of outdoor space to take their work outside of Sherzer Hall.

    Professor Sacksteder is teaching the course as a hybrid, combining a heavy outside painting component with video demonstrations, video lectures, and the use of the Canvas platform.

    In an interview with EMU media relations, she said, “The outdoor painting came about because I was feeling that nature was one of the things that was helping me cope.” She said the French call it “en plein air” painting, that is, painting in the open air. Professor Sacksteder drew upon her rich and varied experiences painting outside as a student in Provence, France, as an undergraduate in Dayton, Ohio, and as a graduate student in DeKalb, Illinois, at Northern Illinois University. She added, “EMU has a gorgeous campus. It’s been really nice to experience it."

    A great way to wrap up this week’s message – thank you and your inspiring students Professor Sacksteder!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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. As Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this week: “These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have ... we have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine."

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu, Sept. 10, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Sept. 10, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:
     

    Tomorrow marks a tragic day in United States history – the 9/11 terrorist attacks that forever changed America. It was 19 years ago that 19 terrorists took control of four airplanes, crashing two of them into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the fourth into a field in Pennsylvania.

    Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost. Among them were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers. It is the deadliest day in history for our first responders.

    Annually, on the morning of the anniversary and consistent with the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center, Eastern Michigan University holds a memorial remembrance at our 9/11 Memorial, which features a damaged steel beam from the 74th floor of the south tower. The memorial is located in the grassy area adjacent to Pease Auditorium.

    This year, due to COVID-19 physical distancing and restrictions on public gatherings, a formal memorial event will not take place. I ask that our EMU community join me in a collective moment of reflection tomorrow at 8:46 a.m. to mark this tragedy and the lives of the mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends and first responders who perished on that day.

    The words emblazoned on our memorial are profound:

    “In honor of the many lives lost in the attacks of 2001, and to recall the courage shown by so many that day, we solemnly place this memorial here. May we forever remember their lives and courage.”

    Although EMU will not be able to host our annual memorial event in Ypsilanti, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City will be holding a memorial live stream program tomorrow morning. To view it, visit: https://911memorial.org/watch. The program begins at 8:40 a.m.

    Today’s campus update includes:

    • New Public Health Work Group
    • Campus COVID-19 testing update
    • Reporting of tests and positive cases
    • Quirk Theatre name review
    • EMU Aviation Program new partnership
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry update
    • Highlighting Eastern Michigan University excellence


    Ongoing COVID-19 guidance: New Public Health Work Group

    Eastern Michigan University is fortunate to have a wealth of expertise in the public health arena, and this has helped guide our actions concerning COVID-19. I am pleased to announce the members of the second iteration of the University’s Public Health Work Group. The initial Work Group engaged through the summer and developed the Safe Return-to-Campus Plan guidebook. Several members of the original team have agreed to continue on the new Work Group alongside some of their esteemed colleagues. The Work Group members are:

    • Dr. Murali Nair, Dean, College of Health and Human Services (chair)
    • Dr. Sherry Bumpus, Associate Professor and Director of Nursing Operations
    • Dr. James J. Carroll, III, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Administration
    • Dr. Matthew Evett, Professor, Computer Science
    • Dr. Judith Kullberg, Professor, Political Science
    • Dr. Beverly Mihalko, Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences
    • Dr. Karen Saules, Professor, Psychology, and Director of the Community Behavioral Clinic
    • Dr. John Sonnega, Associate Professor, Health and Human Performance, and Director of Public Health
    • Dr. Michael Williams, Director, School of Nursing
    • Dr. Andrea Gossett Zakrajsek, Professor, School of Health Sciences

    I extend my gratitude to each of the members for agreeing to serve, or continuing to serve, in this most important role for the University. The Public Health Work Group will continue to monitor public health guidance and the latest research into the spread of COVID-19, and advise the University accordingly.

    Campus testing in response to COVID-19

    We continue to move closer to expanding testing of our campus community as previously discussed in our campus messages on Aug. 24 and Sept. 3. We are committed to a robust testing process that will include ongoing testing of students and employees. This important undertaking will allow us a broader opportunity to provide care and resources to those individuals who test positive, as well as to identify any concerning trends in positive cases, so that we can react as necessary. Preliminary plans for this expanded testing process are being discussed with the Public Health Work Group tomorrow.

    Public dashboard for COVID-19 cases and testing

    The testing data noted above will be reported on a public dashboard that is in the final stages of development. The dashboard will be posted on the University website and will track the aggregated results of campus testing along with a percentage of those testing positive. It will also include a week-by-week view of the number of positive cases among students on-campus, students off-campus, and employees. The dashboard is being developed by the Institutional Research and Information Management (IRIM) office. We expect the dashboard to be published next week, and we will continue to fine-tune it going forward.

    Current data: During the time period of Aug. 23 - Sept. 4, EMU registered 23 new positive cases of COVID-19. Fifteen were off-campus individuals who self-reported or were reported by another person. (“Off-campus” means that these persons reside off campus and had no close contacts on campus.) During the same time period, Eastern conducted a total of 1,418 tests and registered eight that were positive, for a positivity rate of 0.564 percent. Currently, we have two students who tested positive and are isolated in campus housing. Additionally, five students who may have been in close contact with a COVID-positive person are being quarantined in campus housing.

    A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community member who is deemed to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive is notified directly and provided information about what they should do. It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and prevent a spread of the virus.

    Quirk Theatre name review

    Earlier this week, I formally requested that College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dana Heller and Kathleen Stacey, Director of the School of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts and Professor of Communication, initiate a review of the Quirk name as referenced on the University’s Quirk Building and on Quirk Theatre. As many have noted, recent social media posts by a historian who is an Eastern graduate, provide archival materials that suggest a Quirk family member from Ypsilanti in the late 1800’s - early 1900’s, promoted blackface shows in the local community. The University issued a statement about this on Sept. 1, 2020, expressing our deep concern about this racist history, stating that these types of demeaning and hurtful stereotypes are an affront to everything we stand for as an institution.

    I asked Dean Heller and Dr. Stacey to establish a committee charged with moving quickly to conduct a review of the historical considerations and investigate/make recommendations of a course of action around the naming of these facilities.

    College of Engineering and Technology announces new partnership for Aviation Program

    Eastern Michigan University’s Aviation Program has entered into a new partnership withCrosswinds Aviation, a flight training school dedicated to having a transformative impact on the lives of youth beginning careers in aviation.

    The new partnership will add a variety of benefits to the Aviation Program. With three airport locations in Livingston, Genesee and Oakland counties, Crosswinds Aviation will offer easier access for commuter students. With plans to add a Willow Run location in the near future, EMU Aviation students will soon have four convenient locations for training. Complete details of the partnership can be found in the news release.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will resume its regular fall hours: Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – those most needed are: white rice, barbecue sauce, ramen noodles, dish soap and hand soap.

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Highlighting Eastern Michigan University excellence

    One of the best parts about my role as president is to highlight excellence among our students, faculty and staff. I have another such example to share with you today.

    History Professor Steven Ramold, who has taught 19th century U.S. and American military history at Eastern since 2005, has been rated Washtenaw County’s best professor in annual reader rankings by Current Magazine.

    The 2020 rankings, which cover a wide range of entertainment, eating and other elements of Washtenaw County, draw upon reader votes and are a popular feature of the magazine, which is published in Ann Arbor.

    "Teaching at Eastern is a great experience,” Ramold told EMU Today. “The students have such a desire to succeed that it makes it a pleasure to work with them every day, and the chance to conduct research and publish my work is very fulfilling. Even after 15 years at Eastern, I still look forward to going to work."

    Congratulations Professor Ramold!

    In that same set of reader rankings in Current Magazine, Eastern’s excellent public radio station, WEMU, was also featured. WEMU was rated Washtenaw County’s best radio station. Reporter Jorge Avellan was rated top journalist in Washtenaw County, and EMU graduate Daniel Long, producer and host of The Groove Yard, was rated as the county’s top radio host.

    Congratulations #TeamWEMU!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. 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.

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

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu, Sept. 3, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Sept. 3, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    The fall semester is underway and I am pleased to report that we have had an excellent start to the new academic year. Thank you to our students for the great adjustments in their lives as they work hard to continue their education in the midst of a pandemic that has caused such great fear and uncertainty. Whether you are currently a senior, junior, sophomore, graduate student, or a member of the incoming class of 2024, we are aware of the enormous challenges you are overcoming. And, likewise to our faculty and staff, a huge thank you for the accommodations you have made and continue to make in your lives, work schedules, teaching and work practices in order to ensure our students have a great experience.

    A reminder to monitor the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website (link below) for all matters related to our plans moving forward. The site is the primary hub for University initiatives related to our planning and response to COVID-19, including the Safe Return-to-Campus Plan Guidebook, the COVID PASS Daily Health Screening, the COVID-19 Report Form, Building Entry and Exit Points, and more. Bookmark this page as updates will continue to be posted here on an ongoing basis.

    LINK: COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness

    Today’s message will address many important topics:

    • First week of classes opening impressions
    • Expanded COVID-19 testing
    • Reporting of COVID-19 cases
    • Take the Pledge. Stop the Spread.
    • Important reminders: Updates to processes and procedures
    • Swoop’s Food Pantry fall hours
    • Highlighting excellence

     

    First week of classes opening impressions

    In my visits to campus this week I was able to see firsthand the results of our planning over the summer. They include:

    • Plexiglass check-in stations staffed by conscientious Student Ambassadors.
    • The online daily health screening process that pushes a green “go” message to your mobile device or computer if you are cleared to come to campus, or a “red” message if you are not. Those who receive a red message are provided detailed instructions on next steps that follow our health protocols.
    • Classrooms expanded or rearranged to accommodate physical distancing.
    • Moveable plexiglass> shields in many classrooms.
    • #EMUSafe signage everywhere – from the campus digital monitors inside buildings and the exterior large displays, to directional arrows in hallways and stairways, clear markings for building entrances and exits, floor markers indicating six-foot distancing, seat markings in classrooms showing where to sit to maintain physical distance, room capacity signs outside of classrooms, labs, elevators and restrooms, and many reminder signs across campus about #EMUSafepractices – mandatory face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, and hand sanitizer stations that are well marked and visible.
    • A one-button “hotline” on classroom VoIP phones that goes directly to facilities when a faculty member becomes aware of the need for additional cleaning supplies.

    A word about our Student Ambassadors. We have hired, through [email protected], 80 students to help staff our check-in tables and encourage fellow students to follow #EMUSafepractices. The Ambassadors completed a training program prior to taking on the role. It is wonderful to be able to provide this opportunity to our students while fulfilling an important University need. You will see our Student Ambassadors on campus in their green #EMUSafe t-shirts with the message “We’ve got your back” on the back side.

    The University’s media team did a tour of campus on Monday’s opening day to capture the experiences of students and others, as well as many photos of the items described above. Please visit “Scenes from a most unusual opening morning of classes at Eastern Michigan University.”

    Expanded COVID-19 testing

    In the August 24 announcement delaying move-in and transitioning to online classes for the start of the semester until September 21, I indicated that one of the primary reasons for the delay was to provide more time to identify expanded opportunities for testing greater numbers of students. The availability of rapid and reliable COVID-19 testing kits is increasing as more testing providers come into the marketplace.  

    As you recall, our initial plan was to test all incoming residential students and certain specific student populations (student-athletes, marching band members and employees who work with these groups).

    Several options for expanded testing were presented at the University’s Safe Return Steering Committee meeting this morning. Those options will be evaluated further over the next week with the hopes of firming up our plans by the end of next week. We will share the plan with the campus community when completed.

    Reporting of COVID-19 cases

    The University is in the process of developing a public dashboard to post the number of positive cases of COVID-19 among our campus community, as well as other important data about the number of tests administered on behalf of the University and the aggregated results of those tests. Plans and details for the content of the dashboard were discussed at today’s Safe Return Steering Committee meeting. We expect to have an initial version of the dashboard posted publicly next week.

    As part of the development of the dashboard, the University initiated a review of reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic. We had not previously reported these cases in the aggregate because nearly all cases between March and July involved no close campus contacts owing to the greatly reduced scope of campus operations during that time. However, the cumulative impact of COVID-19 on members of our campus community is deep and should be recognized and understood both currently and cumulatively.

    As of August 31, the University has received a cumulative total a total of 68 positive COVID-19 cases dating back to March 2020. Of those 68 cases, three are employees who tested positive in March and April; 61 represent students that were off-campus and had no on-campus interactions; and, four are students who had been on-campus. The majority of these cases date to March and April when the University was for the most part operating remotely.

    As noted above, we will report aggregate positive case numbers and tests initiated by the University on a regular basis now as we begin the phased increase in campus operations. Please watch for the official launch date for the dashboard in the coming days!

    A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had the potential to be exposed to the virus from someone on campus, who tested positive, are notified directly and provided information about what they should do. Please use the COVID-19 Report Form (link below) should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself so that we may follow up and prevent any spread of the virus.

    LINK: COVID-19 Report Form

    Take the Pledge. Stop the Spread.

    I’m pleased to report that more than 1,200 community members have signed on to the voluntary effort to encourage safe behavior. This includes more than 1,000 students. We understand that while taking classes remotely if you are a student, or working remotely if you are faculty or staff, it may not seem as important to participate in this voluntary campaign. Regardless of where and how you are taking classes or working, we hope everyone will see the value in participating and their personal responsibility to make a difference in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Please visit “Take the Pledge. Stop the Spread.” to sign up if you have not already done so.

    Important reminders: Updates to processes and procedures

    Over the past two weeks we have distributed several University messages regarding updates on processes and protocols related to the start of the fall semester. Given the fluid situation in which we find ourselves, we will continue to provide our community with updates on critical matters related to our operations this fall.

    It is vitally important that you continue to monitor your University email for these messages. Please read these carefully, save them and refer back to them as needed.

    To recap these important messages of the week (links included for each):

    For students

    Obtaining EagleOne Cards

    For students and employees

    Protocols for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or have exposure to an individual with COVID-19

    Daily health screening, building entrances/exits, and check-in desks

    Halle Library hours

    EMU Dining hours and locations

    For employees

    Mandatory COVID-19 mitigation and response training

    Compliance with COVID-19 campus protocols

    Revised return to work for employees

    Ordering PPE supplies

    We will continue to share important information in the days and weeks ahead.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry fall hours

    Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Wednesday (9/9/2020) from 12 - 6:30 p.m. and Thursday (9/10/2020) from noon 5 p.m.

    Regular fall hours will begin the following week (starting 9/14/2020). They are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 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 – Swoop’s “Top Ten” are:

    • Non-dairy milk
    • Condiments
    • Pasta sauce
    • Microwavable meals
    • Beef ramen
    • Notebooks and backpacks
    • Razors
    • Size 6 diapers
    • Condoms
    • Hand soap and hand sanitizer


    Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Highlighting Eastern Michigan University excellence

    I am pleased to again share with you an example of University excellence!

    Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation and Cultural Geography Matthew Cook is part of a five-person team that has received a $508,350 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research the extent to which museums serve the public through documenting, preserving, and interpreting difficult contemporary events alongside and in cooperation with their communities.

    The grant focuses specifically on African American historical and cultural narratives, building upon earlier pilot research that asked “What is the role of the museum in the 21st century?” and “How do American museums change and adapt their narrative emphasis in response to contemporary events?”

    The grant abstract reads: “In an era of increased public awareness of interracial police violence, the school-to-prisons pipeline, cycles of racially infused violence and protest seen, for example, from the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012 to the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, and the Black Lives Matter movement, this research seeks to analyze how museums situated in varied geographic locations address controversial current events as part of their missions to support communities at the local, regional, and national levels.”

    Using funding in the summer of 2019 from the James H. Brickley Endowment for Faculty Professional Development and Innovation, Cook first gathered pilot data at museums in the Midwest and Southeast, which helped in the successful application for the NSF grant.

    Congratulations Professor Cook!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. This is more important than usual as we enter into a long Labor Day holiday weekend, which for many of us brings back memories of large gatherings. 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.

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

    Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, Aug. 28, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Aug 28, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Three days and counting to the start of the fall semester! To say that this semester is unusual is a most serious understatement. Thanks to the hard work, planning and commitment from everyone on our team, we are prepared to move forward in providing the excellent education and student support that are hallmarks of the Eastern Michigan University experience.

    Our faculty is ready. Our advisors are ready. Our support staff is ready. As an institution, each of us is fully committed to the success of every student.

    I understand the near fully online course experience that will be in place for the start of the semester, through September 20 as noted in Monday’s announcement, may not have been the desired option for some students. Our faculty is 100 percent prepared to support students through the transition to online coursework. Several faculty members led a lively and informative session yesterday “Let’s Talk About Online Learning” for students about how to have the best online learning experience. I encourage all students to click on the link to view the session. I was pleased to learn the virtual seminar was attended by more than 200 students. It was received positively and I have asked our team to post and share the recording of it with all students so that everyone has an opportunity to learn the valuable insights that were presented.

    I want to express my gratitude to everyone who made adjustments in their lives and their schedules to accommodate our revised plan for the beginning of the semester that was announced on Monday. Delaying residence hall move-in and transitioning to a mostly online course format for the start of the semester was done out of the utmost concern for the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. While it was an extremely difficult decision, it is a decision that was based on the fast-changing circumstances and information available to us at the time, which, as has been the case throughout this pandemic, changes by the day.

    The continuing outbreaks of COVID-19 over the past week at universities around the region and country reinforce that the decision to delay move-in until September 17 and transition to online classes through September 20 was, for us, absolutely the right thing to do.

    I thank our faculty colleagues on the Faculty Senate Executive Council for their advocacy late last week for such action. It opened the door to the further analysis of our plans, which led a comprehensive review of what was happening at other universities where students were returning, discussions with the University’s health experts, and a further examination of how to increase COVID-19 testing among our campus community.

    I have heard from a great many of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff, who appreciate and are supportive of the action. The largest area of concern expressed by some was about the timing of the decision and the absence of advance notice. I appreciate those concerns and will offer three points to address them: 1) The increase in the outbreaks of COVID-19 that we are witnessing on campuses across the region and nation only happened in the past two weeks when students began returning to universities. To ignore what was happening would have been highly irresponsible. 2) We have stated from the beginning our intent to closely monitor the fast-changing impact of this disease and the need to adjust our plans on short notice to new information and government/public health guidance. This decision reflects that continued careful attention. 3) Our overarching guiding principle in all decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been, and continues to be, the health and safety of our community.

    Updates to processes and procedures as we begin the semester

    Over the past several days, you have received several University messages regarding updates on processes and protocols related to the start of the fall semester. Given the fluid situation in which we find ourselves, we will continue to provide our community with updates on critical matters related to our operations this fall.

    It is vitally important that you continue to monitor your University email for these messages. Please read these carefully, save them and refer back to them as needed.

    To recap our important messages of the week (links included for each):

    For students and employees

    Protocols for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or have exposure to an individual with COVID-19

    Daily health screening, building entrances/exits, and check-in desks

    Halle Library hours

    EMU Dining hours and locations

    For employees

    Compliance with COVID-19 campus protocols

    Revised return to work for employees

    Ordering PPE supplies

    As I indicated, we will continue to share important information in the days ahead. Next week, look for an update on a new training platform: COVID-19 mitigation and response training for all employees.

    New Chief Human Resources Officer (pending Board of Regents approval)

    I am pleased to inform you that Brett Last has accepted an offer from Chief Financial Officer Mike Valdes to become the University’s Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). 

    He previously served as CHRO at Skidmore College. Prior to that he was CHRO at a community college. He also worked in the private sector.

    Last’s permanent appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Regents. He will begin work on Monday, September 14, 2020. Associate General Counsel Jeff Ammons, who has been serving as interim CHRO and will return to his position in Legal Affairs, will help transition Last into his new role. Last will serve on the Executive Council.

    Last will report to CFO Valdes. This change aligns EMU with all of our peers, and we believe it will create excellent synergies with the Budget and Controller’s Offices, both of which work closely with UHR.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Thursday (9/3/2020) from 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 should complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are dish soap, hand soap, barbecue sauce, salad dressing and cereal. Please email [email protected]emich.edu in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Highlighting Eastern Michigan University excellence

    I am pleased to again share with you an example of University excellence, this time from our College of Arts and Sciences.

    A chamber music trio including Eastern Michigan University Assistant Professor of Cello, Deborah Pae, received major international recognition this summer.

    The trio’s debut album “Masterpieces Among Peers,” was awarded the German Record Critics’ Award/Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in the category of chamber music. The awards are among the most notable music honors in Europe, ranking with the GRAMMY Awards in prestige.

    Professor Pae, who joined Eastern in 2016, has appeared as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, and Asia, at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Wigmore Hall in London, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Hyogo Performing Arts Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Berlin Philharmonic, and the 45th GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden.

    I highly encourage you to listen to an excerpt of their beautiful work here: Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 (1889 Version) : I. Allegro con brio

    Congratulations Professor Pae!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder as we head into the weekend. 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.

    Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

    Have a safe weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Mon, Aug. 24, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Aug 24, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Over the course of the last 72 hours, I have made the exceptionally difficult decision to delay our on-campus move-in for three weeks, until September 17, 2020 (move-in was scheduled to begin this Thursday, August 27). We will begin classes as scheduled on August 31 but will transition the small number of classes that were scheduled to be in-person to a near fully online schedule through September 20.

    The decision follows an assessment of the reopening of campuses across the country that has shown increased outbreaks of COVID-19 among students and challenges in limiting social gatherings and parties.

    From the outset of our planning process, we have stated that the health, safety and well-being of our campus community were paramount in our actions. We also made clear that we would evolve our planning in order to be responsive to the changing science, data, government directives and other critical information regarding COVID-19.

    I am taking this action with the support of the University’s Executive Council, based on the recommendation of our Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and after a careful analysis of our on-campus preparations for fall, and -- in particular -- a benchmarking review of challenges facing our peer institutions attempting to open both in Michigan and around the country. Provost Longworth and I have both spoken to some members of the University’s Public Health Advisory Committee and they have offered full support for this decision as well.

    A small number of students such as international students, some student-athletes and other individuals have already moved in to residence halls and will be allowed to remain should they wish to do so during this time. Additionally, some students who plan to live in campus housing may have unique circumstances that would call for them to move into their campus housing sooner than provided under this revised schedule. Such requests will be granted in rare instances, on a case-by-case basis. Students living in residence halls will receive additional information via email about how to request such an accommodation.

    Students who have made housing and dining deposits or payments will receive a full pro-rata credit of those deposits and payments for the time period between their original move-in day and their new move-in day.

    In-person, on-campus courses were scheduled to make up approximately 20-25 percent of our classes for the fall semester. In concert with today’s announcement, we will transition most in-person classes to an online format for the start of the semester on August 31 through September 20.

    There will be a small number of exceptions to allow in-person instruction primarily within the School of Nursing and other Schools in the College of Health and Human Services. Students will be notified individually of any exceptions as soon as possible and should check their email accounts for further direction between now and August 31.

    I understand the challenge and hardship that the uncertainty of all matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic has created for students, their families, and our faculty and staff. All of our campus resources at this time are being directed to working closely with students affected by this decision to help them through the transition.

    Additional factors in our decision to delay move-in and the start of in-person classes were the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend and its potential impact on community case numbers, as well as an expected increase in the capacity for increased rapid and reliable COVID-19 testing kits within the month.  

    Health officials predict another spike in cases following the long Labor Day holiday weekend, not unlike what was experienced following Memorial Day weekend when the number of positive cases increased dramatically in early to mid June. The three-week delay in on-campus activity accommodates the 14-day incubation period for cases materializing during Labor Day weekend and allows us to have a safer move-in environment.

    The delay also provides us with additional time to identify and establish expanded COVID-19 testing protocols beyond the testing of all students moving in to residence halls that is currently underway. New testing providers and processes are increasing rapidly and we are working toward further testing of students and other members of our community as part of our planning for the return to limited on-campus activities on September 21. Students living in residence halls who are participating in the testing that is underway will receive additional instructions shortly from the University’s Office of Housing and Residence Life.

    Time and data have proven invaluable in the fight against this disease. Delaying move-in will provide valuable information regarding the spread of the disease on college campuses, both in Michigan and across the country. It will allow us additional time to work with local officials around enforcement and increased education. It also will tell us whether further protective actions may be necessary, and inform us of other strategies that may be proving successful in the county and elsewhere. 

    Without knowing the future, I cannot be 100 percent certain of any decision concerning this disease, but a three-week delay in move-in is highly prudent and in the best interests of our campus. It gives us increased access to testing resources and vital information, as the semester begins; while continuing to place our emphasis where it belongs: on our students’ health and that of our entire University community.  

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, Aug. 21, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Aug 21, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    This week, we have witnessed numerous alarming incidents around the country of large groups of college students participating in parties as they return to their campuses for the start of the fall semester. These students are ignoring the warnings and concerns of physical distancing, and in many cases, the wearing of face coverings. In some cases, the crowds are upwards of 100 people.

    These cases have been met with swift condemnation from the universities involved – from their leadership, employees and from fellow students. Large social gatherings and parties, which could become “super-spreader” events, are one of the primary fears I have had since the start of our planning for the fall semester. I am watching these developments extremely closely to determine any necessary modifications to our current re-opening plans. Please watch your e-mail for any further developments in this regard.

    Washtenaw County takes action to limit indoor and outdoor social gatherings

    I was pleased to see Wednesday’s emergency order from the Washtenaw County Health Department to prohibit indoor gatherings in the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people. These restrictions on social gatherings are important for students to follow. My hope is that through this effort and the proactive efforts of our student leaders and Campus Life staff, we will avoid the scenarios that have occurred at other institutions.

    New policies and procedures

    I know students and employees are both nervous and excited about the fast-approaching fall semester. The campus will look different this fall, with many activities occurring remotely.

    We will continue sharing information about new policies and procedures for employees and students. Most of these topics have been addressed in previous communications, and are outlined the University’s Safe Return-to-Campus Plan, but it will also be helpful to have these policies spelled out in emails covering individual topics.

    As part of our recent communications efforts, earlier this week we distributed a message to students from Student Government encouraging them to “Take the Pledge. Stop the Spread.” encouraging grassroots support for actions to stop the spread of COVID-19. The pledge is open to all members of our campus community and I ask you to join our students and colleagues in taking it. In addition, all employees received a message about the ordering of face coverings, hand sanitizer and similar health-related supplies for their work area(s). These important messages will continue over the next week and I ask again that you continue to closely monitor your email.

    Building entry, exit and circulation information

    As we have discussed in previous messages, every building on campus will have a designated entrance door and a designated exit door. A building access webpage has been developed listing each building with corresponding entry and information.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry will be closed next week

    As noted in last week’s message, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be closed to shoppers next week in order to prepare for the start of the semester.

    Swoop’s will continue to take donations of items during the week. Items most needed are razors, toothbrushes, dish soap, salad dressing and tofu.

    Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

    Highlighting success

    As always, I’m extremely proud to shine a light on another academic success: Tsu-Yin Wu, professor in the College of Health and Human Services, was named the winner of the 2020 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) National Civic League Health Equity Award.

    Professor Wu was recognized virtually for her accomplishments during a livestream award ceremony last Tuesday.

    During her acceptance speech, Dr. Wu thanked both RWJF and the National Civic League for the recognition, stating that she’s grateful to be part of the University’s Center for Health Disparities, Innovations, and Studies team.

    Congratulations Dr. Wu!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder as we head into the weekend. 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.

    Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

    Have a safe weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri, Aug. 14, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Aug 14, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today’s email message addresses the following:

    • Commitment to Protecting our Community
    • Fall course schedules
    • Testing protocols
    • Swoops Food Pantry
    • Highlighting successes
    • Health and safety reminder

     

    Safe Return-To-Campus Plan

    Our Safe Return-To-Campus Plan continues to circulate among our students and their families, and our faculty and staff. I urge you to review it in its entirety. It provides a comprehensive view of the University’s extensive response to COVID-19 and the actions we have in place to mitigate its spread. The plan is accessible from the University’s website and is posted on several key University pages to ensure its availability.

    A key element of the plan is outlined in the section titled Commitment to Protecting our Community. I will share the section in its entirety, as it is a critical element of our steps toward on-campus interaction:

    Commitment to Protecting our Community

    As members of the Eastern Michigan University community, each of us share in the responsibility to limit the spread of COVID-19.  We’re all in this together, and we want to stay safe together. We ask each member of our community to make the following commitment.

    As a community and as individuals, we will follow on-campus procedures and protocols designed to stop the spread.

    We will complete EMU’s daily screening for possible COVID-19 symptoms and exposure every day before coming to campus. We will honestly disclose any and all symptoms of illness and exposure to the disease after having been in close contact with someone who has it.

    We will promptly disclose to EMU’s Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs at emu_deanofstudents@emich.edu if we test positive for COVID-19.

    We will read and follow the procedures and precautions the University provides regarding COVID-19 and the University’s ongoing effort to eradicate transmission of the virus on our campus.

    We will:

    • Practice physical distancing (the wingspan of an Eagle is 6 feet!);
    • Practice good hand washing (20 seconds minimum!) or, when soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer;
    • Wear face coverings as required;
    • Cover coughs and sneezes appropriately (use an elbow, not a hand, and keep a face covering on!);
    • Follow directional signs telling us where to enter and exit buildings, and how to get around;
    • Check in at any screening desks that are located in any University building we enter;
    • Stay home when we are feeling sick;
    • Follow any enhanced cleaning procedures we encounter; and,
    • Treat each other with respect and empathy.


    Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires active participation by all members of our EMU community. We understand that the University’s information and safety procedures will be updated.

    Because these instructions are critical to the continued health of the campus community, we understand that there will be consequences enforced by Human Resources, the Office of Wellness and Community Responsibility, and other appropriate departments, for people who do not follow these safety protocols.

    We understand that by coming to campus, we may be in contact with people who are also at risk of community exposure to COVID-19, and that no list of restrictions, guidelines or practices will remove 100 percent of the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The virus can be transmitted by persons who are asymptomatic and before some people show signs of infection.

    We understand that each of us plays a critical role in keeping everyone on campus safe and reducing the risk of exposure by following the practices outlined here.

    We are #EMUSafe. We will work to minimize the spread of COVID-19, learn all we can, keep each other safe, and strengthen our community.

    On Monday, August 17, Student Body President Ethan Smith will introduce an online pledge that includes key elements from this commitment. The pledge offers voluntary participation with an online sign-in to “take the pledge.” I look forward to sharing it with our entire community following its introduction to students.

    It is important for everyone in our community to review the specific sections in the Safe Return-To-Campus Plan related to Actions for Students and Actions for Employees. It is your individual responsibility to understand protocols for completing the daily health screening, wearing face coverings and physical distancing, among other essential details. The more we all follow these actions, the safer everyone in our community will be as we proceed through the fall semester. It must be a shared commitment amongst all of us.

    If you would like additional perspectives about our plans for fall, I encourage you to listen to an interview I participated in this morning with 89.1 WEMU Morning Edition host David Fair. The 15-minute segment may address some questions you have about these plans.

    Fall course schedules

    Fall course schedules and delivery methods were finalized today and students have been notified. The changes are viewable in Banner and in my.emich.

    Decisions about how individual course sections will be delivered were made at the college and department level to ensure that each course’s pedagogical needs are addressed and that students receive access to the excellent education they expect. The Office of the Provost staff and the Registrar have worked with Deans to execute this process.

    As noted in prior messages, classroom space is extremely limited due to physical distancing standards. A substantial majority of class sections are being offered in an online or hybrid format.

    Testing protocols

    As recommended by the campus' Public Health Work Group, the University requires a variety of populations to be tested for COVID-19 prior to or upon arrival on campus, including housing residents, student-athletes, marching band members, and employees who work with these groups. The details and timing for these testing protocols vary based on the population; those details are being shared with the impacted individuals via separate communications. The University is also developing protocols for publishing campus testing data in a way that does not violate privacy laws. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues from IHA and the testing company, Vault, for their assistance in making this testing possible.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Tuesday (8/18) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (8/20) from 12 – 3:30 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are garbanzo beans, cereal, condiments such as salt, pepper, ketchup and mustard, as well as notebooks and dish soap.

    They can be dropped off on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Please note that Swoop’s will be closed the last week of August in order to prepare for the start of the semester.

    Highlighting success

    Continuing our ongoing theme of highlighting academic and student success, Dr. Vijay Mannari, professor of polymers and coatings, is among the exceptional American innovators inducted this summer into the National Academy of Inventors in recognition of his innovations in the field of ultraviolet (UV)-curing materials and systems.

    Professor Mannari is the director of the Coatings Research Institute in the College of Engineering and Technology. His selection provides another exclamation point in a career marked by innovation and scholarship in the development of advanced and sustainable UV-curable materials and systems.

    Recent innovations from Dr. Mannari’s research group include a UV-LED light curable bio-based nail-gel, along with design and demonstration of advanced dual-curable material for 3D-printing applications. His long list of inventions includes six patents that have been issued to Eastern Michigan University.

    Women's golf standout Julia Stevenson won the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Women's Championship this week. A graduate and current first-year MBA student at Eastern, Julia played for Eastern for the past four years, since joining us as a freshman. She is the second Eastern Michigan student-athlete to win the GAM tournament in its 29-year history.

    Congratulations to Dr. Mannari and Ms. Stevenson on these accomplishments!

    Health and safety reminder

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder as we head into the weekend. 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.

    Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

    Have a safe weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri, Aug. 7, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – Aug 7, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    We are moving ever closer to the start of a fall semester filled with a level of uncertainty that is unprecedented in our time. While I am very confident that the extensive precautions and planning that have been underway for the last several months are being executed with the highest level of professionalism, expertise and concern for the health and safety of our community, many variables remain that will impact our path forward.

    Be assured that we will continue to closely monitor the situation around us in our community and here on our campus as we move forward. We will be vigilant in our pursuit of new information and data, as we have been. This will help us make informed decisions.

    As you know, through this process we have relied a great deal on the University’s own expertise and talent among faculty and staff. Nowhere is this more evident than the members of our Public Health Work Group, who were appointed in May with the critical charge of researching and recommending our path forward to the reopening of campus. I am pleased to announce that while the original working group completed its work and issued its recommendations, a second iteration of the group is being formed. The new committee will focus on the implementation of public health guidelines within work units, continually reviewing and researching government orders and developments related to COVID-19, and recommending corresponding actions as we proceed to the start of classes on August 31 and through the fall semester. It also will suggest metrics to be considered for the ongoing monitoring and review of campus conditions related to COVID-19. We hope to announce the members of the group within the week.

    Today, we are issuing the Eastern Michigan University Safe Return-to-Campus Plan. The Plan provides an outline for a safe phased return to campus in the fall. As we have expressed many times over the past months, the health and safety of our community is our highest priority. The well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our guiding principle in every action we take. 

    While the currently posted version of the Safe Return to Campus Plan is a PDF, a web-based version is in development and will be available next week.

    The Plan includes a collective commitment to protecting our community, articulating our shared responsibility towards one another, as well as the guiding principles that inform our decisions and actions going forward.

    Most importantly, it features the EMUSafe actions that are being implemented to provide a safe environment. As noted in the Plan, until a vaccine is developed, any single measure, standing alone, is likely insufficient to slow the spread of COVID-19. The University will therefore take a layered approach using multiple strategies that, together, will make our campus community safer by reducing the spread of COVID-19. Following all health protocols in conjunction with each other (e.g., wearing a face covering, physical distancing, personal hygiene) dramatically reduces your risk of contracting COVID-19 and that of other campus members as well. These requirements are therefore designed to overlap and reinforce each other and must be observed in their entirety

    Below is an overview of the key safety actions included in the Safe Return to Campus Plan. As you review the Plan, each of these areas is discussed in much greater detail than outlined here. It is important to read the plan in its entirety to fully understand all of the measures taking place.

    • Daily health screening for students and employees. All students and employees present on campus will be required to complete a daily screening process to identify potential symptoms of COVID-19. This strategy has been used effectively by hospitals, retail stores, and other organizations. This system requires everyone’s participation to succeed. Compliance will be verified at check-in stations located at the entrance to buildings.
    • Face coverings. Wearing a face covering is one of several important actions that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Everyone on campus (e.g., students, faculty, staff, and visitors) is required to wear a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth while inside all university buildings and on our grounds. Individuals need not wear a face covering in a private office with the door closed, in private living space with a door closed, or in some other isolated spaces such as when alone inside a vehicle.

    • Physical distancing. Physical distancing is one of the most effective strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Whenever practical, all individuals on University grounds must maintain physical distance of six feet or more from other individuals who are not part of their household. Although on-campus housing roommates are part of the same household, these standards will apply in campus housing common areas. 
    • Reduced density of individuals on campus. Campus offices and student services will continue to operate in a mix of formats including in-person, by appointment only, and online. This will help to significantly reduce overall traffic within buildings. Office hours and in-person meetings will continue to be reduced and limited as well. Traffic patterns within buildings will be prescribed in order to support the maintenance of physical distancing requirements mentioned earlier. In most buildings, swipe card/appointment only access will be maintained except at the appointed entrance for student access.

    • Cleaning and disinfecting. All public areas in campus buildings (e.g., restrooms, hallways, classrooms, offices) are subject to frequent and in-depth cleaning. For example, disinfectant electrostatic fogging is used in large areas and spaces that are difficult to clean using traditional methods (such as locker rooms), and touch points (e.g., light switches, elevator buttons, desks, and door handles) are cleaned on a daily basis. The standards for each building vary based on the building size, layout, use, and other relevant criteria, and cleaning standards may evolve depending on the time of year, day of the week, government regulations, and other criteria.

    • Class instruction. Course sections will be delivered in-person, online, or in a hybrid format. Decisions about how individual course sections will be delivered have been made at the college and department level to ensure that each course’s pedagogical needs are addressed and that students receive access to the excellent education they expect. The Office of the Provost staff and the Registrar have worked with Deans to execute this process. Classroom space will be extremely limited in the fall because of physical distancing standards. Room scheduling is therefore being managed centrally by the Office of the Provost, and a substantial majority of class sections will be offered in an online or hybrid format.


    Fall course delivery methods are currently being updated. This process will continue through the weekend and is expected to be completed mid-week next week. While any completed changes are viewable in Banner and my.emich in real time, we will notify students when all changes are complete and they may view their revised course schedule.   

    The Safe Return to Campus Plan also includes information about plans for dining, housing, athletics, travel, and visitors and guests, among other important information. As I stated, it is critical to review the Plan in its entirety to understand the full scope of safety actions that are being put in place.

    The details surrounding EMU’s phased safe return to campus will continue to evolve. I therefore urge you to continue to carefully read email updates and check the Safe Return to Campus Plan online for the latest information. The safety actions will be updated as we learn more about the most effective ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as government regulations evolve, and as new decisions are made.

    Remote work plans for employees

    We appreciate employees' patience as the global pandemic continues to evolve. A few offices have resumed on-campus operations consistent with government orders and guidelines to ensure a safe environment for employees, students, and a small number of authorized visitors. Understandably, we are hearing from increasing numbers of other employees who are eager to begin preparing their offices to re-open on-campus operations for the fall semester. In some cases, this planning work is already underway. In other cases, division leaders will, in the coming days, begin working with their offices to develop and execute plans for the safe phased return to on-campus operations. We will provide more information on return to on-campus work plans in the coming days.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Tuesday (8/11) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (8/13) from 12 – 3 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – they can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Highlighting success in research and academics

    I take great pride in “bragging” about the wonderful work of our students, faculty and staff. I have two such examples to share today.

    Dr. Kasim Korkmaz, a professor in the School of Visual and Built Environments, has joined a research team formed by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to work on a two-year project to improve the resilience of historic, sacred buildings along the Texas Gulf Coast Region.

    The project, entitled, “Resilience Analysis of Historically Designated Sacred Places in the Texas Gulf Coast Region,” is aimed at ensuring that the structures can better survive and in turn help others during severe weather events such as the recent Hurricane Hanna, which hit the southern Texas Gulf Coast this past week.

    Professor Korkmaz, an expert in structural engineering, will evaluate the buildings in terms of their current status and structural capacities.

    The Eastern Michigan University chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national accounting honors organization with a strong emphasis on community service, has been recognized internationally as a superior chapter for the 21st consecutive year.

    In a letter announcing the honor, Beta Alpha Psi Chapter Services Manager Lisa Wicker praised the club’s efforts during a difficult year. “You and your students should be proud of this achievement during this especially challenging year,” Wicker said. “We thank you for all your efforts and look forward to another great year for your chapter.”

    Howard Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern, is in his 21st year as faculty adviser, and the chapter has been honored as "superior" each of those years.

    The EMU chapter performs hundreds of hours of community service each semester, including work on behalf of other organizations such as Meals on Wheels, the Walk to Fight Cancer, Habitat for Humanity and Food Gatherers.

    In addition, this winter members of Beta Alpha Psi again filled out the tax returns for low-income individuals in the Ypsilanti community, an annual activity for the club.

    Congratulations Dr. Korkmaz and the members of Beta Alpha Psi for your fine work and the recognition it brings to Eastern Michigan University!

    As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder as we head into the weekend. Please continue to:

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

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

    Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

    Have a safe weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri, July 31, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – July 31, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As we continue our preparations for the start of the fall semester that is now just one month away, many of our planning initiatives to adjust operations for our new normal are becoming clearer. You can see signs of this across campus.

    In some areas, classrooms are being expanded by knocking down walls to provide additional space for physical distancing. Directional signage is being placed campus-wide that notes one-way entry and exit from buildings and in and out of certain classrooms. Seats in lecture halls are being marked off to reflect at least six-foot spacing. Floor stickers are being prepared to note where to stand to maintain appropriate physical distancing. Face coverings are being purchased to distribute to all students and employees. Hand sanitizer stations are being set up all over campus. Plexiglas shields are being placed in classrooms. And, significantly enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices by the University’s facilities team remain underway.

    One of the most significant efforts now occurring is the finalization of the course schedule. We expect to post that late next week, the result of a tremendous amount of work and input from faculty, department heads, deans and academic administration.

    We will have fewer students on campus, fewer in-person classes and a far greater number of online classes. This is a planned outcome of our intent, as outlined from the outset of the planning process, to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and to keep our campus community as safe as possible. This effort also included the mapping of every classroom space by Geographic Information Science (GIS) students and faculty to determine the layout of each classroom to allow for six-foot distancing.

    The one certainty to which I can attest in this very uncertain time is that, through this process, the excellence of our faculty and their teaching methods, whether in-person or online, will continue to provide outstanding opportunities for our students to succeed!

    University housing and single rooms

    Housing is in the midst of its annual planning process to welcome students for the fall semester. This year the process is very different than in years past. Ensuring the health and safety of our on campus residents is the number one priority; a great deal of planning is underway to ensure distancing, regular cleaning and disinfecting, and safe practices to limit the spread of COVID-19.

    We will share more about these specific plans in the days and weeks ahead.

    One important point to note is the success of the University’s single room initiative, which was announced the beginning of June. The effort was designed to provide opportunities for students, who felt safer living alone, to be able to do so at a reduced cost. It turned out to be exactly what many students were seeking. We have 601 single room commitments for the fall semester. This compares to 279 last year.

    Updates for employees

    Work Share: This week marks the end of the University’s Work Share program that was initiated in mid-May. It expires tomorrow, August 1. As of August 2, employees who were on a Work Share plan will return to their pre-Work Share program appointment and should consult with their supervisor regarding their schedule for next week.

    VERIP: This week the University expanded its Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Plan (“VERIP”) to include non-instructional staff. Eligible faculty members were offered the plan in late June. Eligibility requirements can be found on “As You Retire” on the University Human Resources website. Eligible faculty members have until August 31, 2020 to participate in the plan. Eligible non-instructional staff members have until September 25, 2020.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Tuesday (8/4) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (8/6) from 12 – 3 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are condiments such as salt, pepper, ketchup and mustard, as well as cereal, tofu, ramen, and ready to eat meals.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    More information

    Understandably, we are receiving many requests for more information about the University’s plans for the fall semester. As you know, we communicate at least once a week, and sometimes more, to share details about the University’s plans or important announcements. At times of great uncertainty though, you can never communicate too often.

    To that end, I just recently participated in an interview for a special summer edition of EMU Today TV, along with Dr. Michael Williams, associate professor, director of the School of Nursing, and a member of the University’s Public Health Work Group. The 30-minute program is focused on the planning underway for the safe return to campus. The program is hosted by Eastern Michigan alumnus Mark S. Lee, a part-time lecturer in the College of Business, a blogger for Crain’s Detroit and a frequent contributor to various Detroit-area media outlets on business topics. EMU Today TV is available on Xfinity On Demand and on the University’s YouTube channel. The program is produced by the School of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts.

    As I do on many of these messages, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder as we head into the weekend. Please continue to:

    1)    Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;

    2)    Wear face coverings; and,

    3)    Observe physical distancing from those around you.

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

    Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

    Have a safe weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  •  Fri, July 24, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – July 24, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    We continue to move forward cautiously and pragmatically toward the opening of the fall semester on August 31. University planning teams continue to provide great expertise and a deep commitment to best practices -- incorporating the most up-to-date science about the epidemiology of COVID-19 and its spread as well as public health guidance to minimize risk factors. As I’ve noted on several of these messages, ensuring a safe and healthy experience for our students and employees remains the University’s number one priority.

    The most significant contribution to these efforts has been the work over the spring and summer of the Public Health Work Group, which is chaired by College of Health and Human Services Dean Murali Nair. The group, appointed in early May, has made an invaluable contribution to our University. In many cases they have met daily. They held countless meetings, and used their expertise in conducting an enormous amount of research into the science and guidance surrounding all aspects of COVID-19 – its epidemiology, spread, the various tests -- their shortfalls and pros and cons, as well as the directives from government and public health experts.

    The members of the Work Group deserve the full appreciation of our University community, and I will acknowledge them individually for the fine work and outstanding contribution:

    • Dr. Murali Nair, Dean, College of Health and Human Services
    • Dr. Sherry Bumpus, Associate Professor and Director of Nursing Operations
    • Ellen Gold, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
    • Dr. Beverly Mihalko, Associate Professor of School of Health Sciences
    • Dieter Otto, Director of Custodial Services & Grounds
    • Elizabeth Radzilowski, HR Business Partner, University Human Resources
    • Dr. Karen Saules, Director of the Community Behavioral Clinic & Professor of Psychology
    • Dr. Michael Williams, Director of the School of Nursing
    • Dr. Andrea Gossett Zakrajsek, Professor of School of Health Sciences
    • William Pollard, Office of the President, provided administrative support

    The Group has issued its final report and recommendations, which can be found on the University’s COVID-19 information website.

    Among the areas in which detailed recommendations are provided:

    • Screening, Testing, & Contact Tracing
    • Travel Reporting
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Personal Hygiene Practice
    • Physical Distancing
    • Environmental Cleaning & Disinfecting


    I encourage everyone in our campus community to review the report and recommendations, as these will guide the University’s actions in the days and weeks ahead.

    I will review the Work Group’s final report and recommendations and am receiving feedback from others on campus before making a final decision about the scope of our return to campus plan.

    Importantly, the report articulates a key point that I have been making for several weeks. The completion of the Public Health Work Group’s work and the issuance of its report and recommendations are by no means the end of the planning process. I understand, as do the members of the University’s Safe Return Steering Committee, that the report is based on where things stand today and what we know about the virus and its spread. If we know one thing about COVID-19, it’s that constant change, led by new research and government and public health guidance, is the norm.

    Implementation of the recommendations, as well as an ongoing systematic process to monitor the latest updates and information regarding the disease as we proceed through summer into fall, must continue. University expertise from faculty and staff will continue to be a part of these important and ongoing efforts.

    As I noted in last week’s message, our plans for fall include:

    • Wearing of face coverings while on campus;
    • Most classes will be offered in modified formats this fall, including in fully online, remote (synchronous meetings online) and hybrid designs;
    • The University’s facilities team plans a detailed and proactive cleaning and disinfecting regimen;
    • Highly visible hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout campus; and,
    • #EMUSafe signage, window/mirror clings and floor markings promoting a safe community will be placed across campus.


    Updates for non-instructional staff

    University Human Resources shared an important update yesterday for non-instructional staff. The update included information concerning the continuation of working remotely beyond August 3; the end of the Work Share program effective August 1; and, the expiration of the weekly $600 federal CARES Act supplemental payment as of this weekend. The federal government is continuing to consider another stimulus package at this time. You can monitor news reports to see if anything changes.

    Please view yesterday’s message here if you did not see it.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (7/28) from 12 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (7/30), from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are tofu, flour, and ready-to-eat items such as canned ravioli, rice side dishes and canned beans.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected]emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Faculty and alumni in the national spotlight

    When the expertise of Eastern Michigan University students, faculty, staff and alumni makes the national stage, it is always worth noting and sharing. This week, we have two such examples, both of which focus on one the most critical issues facing America today, systemic racism targeting our Black community and the determined effort to create change.

    Two individuals with strong connections to Eastern, one a faculty member and the other a noted alumnus who served as a cabinet secretary under President Clinton, contributed their voices to addressing these challenges in recent weeks.

    Associate Professor of History and Philosophy Mary-Elizabeth Murphy wrote a column that was published in the Washington Post: Black women are the victims of police violence, too. The article examines the killing of Breonna Taylor as the most recent example of the history of attacks against Black women. Professor Murphy previously authored “Jim Crow Capital: Women and Black Freedom Struggles in Washington, D.C., 1920-1945."

    Eastern Michigan University alumnus Rodney Slater, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and current vice chair of the National Archives Foundation Board of Directors, authored an article published in USA Today: July Fourth: Frederick Douglass found hope in our Declaration of Independence. So can we. The article discussed Secretary Slater’s personal challenges with racism and his positive faith in the future.

    Both articles provide powerful perspective and context to the issues that are so critical in our society today.

    As we head into the weekend, please continue to:

    1)    Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;

    2)    Wear face coverings; and,

    3)    Observe physical distancing from those around you.

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

    Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

    Have a safe weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, July 17, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – July 17, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    We were again confronted with the scope of the ongoing public health threat caused by COVID-19 as the number of new cases in Michigan swelled to 891 on Wednesday, the highest number of new cases since mid-May. Last week’s executive order from Governor Whitmer mandates the wearing of face coverings in all indoor public spaces as well as crowded public outdoor spaces.

    This requirement includes the wearing of face coverings on campus and is in alignment with our campus plans for fall as recommended by the Public Health Work Group.

    I can’t emphasize enough the importance of following public health directives to slow the spread of this disease. The health, safety and well-being of everyone in our campus community are paramount as we actively plan for the fall semester.

    Our team has been actively planning and developing protocols for safe operations. We will be sharing that information throughout the summer on the EMU Safe website. We also are preparing mailings, social media posts and other communication materials to disseminate this information as we expand our scope of operations during August.

    The Eastern Michigan University community continues to be supportive of wearing face coverings, keeping physical distance, engaging in frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers. We need everyone in our community to maintain that commitment.

    We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and know that circumstances, government directives and health guidance may change. We are prepared to adapt to any changes in operations that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

    A high percentage of classes will be offered in modified formats this fall, including in fully online, remote (synchronous meetings online) and hybrid designs. The University is conducting an intensive process to identify the best method for individual course delivery based on necessary adjustments that include changing room/building assignments to accommodate the need for physical distancing as well as faculty input on course delivery.

    The University’s facilities team plans a detailed and proactive cleaning and disinfecting regimen. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms, surfaces, bathrooms, high volume touch points such as doorknobs and handles, and shared common areas. Facilities also will employ a new antimicrobial polymer that when applied to surfaces, materials and equipment kills a wide variety of viruses, including COVID-19. Once applied, the antimicrobial adheres to surfaces and remains effective in killing viruses for several months. Other universities in Michigan and health care facilities successfully use this product as well.

    The physical plant team also is making adjustments to air intake in buildings on campus in order to bring in more outside/fresh air.

    Highly visible hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout campus. To encourage ongoing disinfecting, hand sanitizer stations will be available in buildings, entrances, residence halls, classrooms and other areas. 

    In conjunction with the Washtenaw County Health Department, we are finalizing a comprehensive contact tracing protocol for those who come in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

    #EMUSafe signage, window/mirror clings and floor markings promoting a safe community will be placed across campus. These include messages promoting physical distancing (did you know the average wingspan of an Eagle is six feet?) and hand washing, as well as signage for building entrances and exits, and arrows on the floor for one-way walking where necessary. You can view the #EMUSafe printable signs and stickers/window clings on the EMU Safe website.

    Initial recommendations from the Public Health Work Group are being reviewed by our Steering Committee. They were presented to the Faculty Senate for review during its meeting on Wednesday and a final set of adjustments will be made before they are finalized and shared broadly with the campus community shortly.

    The planning effort for a return to campus this fall continues to be a collaborative process. I remain grateful for the expertise of our faculty and staff colleagues who contribute so significantly to addressing the issues at hand. It is a collective priority to ensure the health and safety of all members of our campus community.

    It is important to note that the planning process does not end with the approved recommendations from the Public Health Work Group. Additional planning teams will continue to work through the summer and into the fall. We all stand prepared to address any future changes in health guidance or government directives.

    Online course fees for fall semester

    Earlier this week, to clear up confusion and misinformation, the University clarified its plans for assessing student fees for online courses this fall semester:

    1) If a course was originally listed during registration as an in-person class and is transitioned to an online or remote course because of COVID-19 concerns, no additional fees will be added to the course. Students in these sections will be charged the amount that was originally scheduled to be charged. We understand that students registering for in-person courses had an expectation for no additional online course fees and the University will not add such fees if the course is modified to online delivery.

    2) If the course was originally designated as an online/remote/hybrid course during regular registration, the fee structure will remain the same as initially offered to the student at registration. There will be no change in the originally communicated fee structure for the class since there are no changes in the initial plan for course delivery from the time the student registered.

    Final course delivery determinations for the fall semester, whether in person or virtual/online, are expected to be completed in the coming weeks based on feedback from departments/schools and colleges.

    GameAbove $400 gift remains available to new first-year students

    The generous $400 Alumni Pay-It-Forward gift for every new first-year student from the alumni group GameAbove remains available to students enrolling through the start of the fall semester. The $400 gift is to be used at the student’s discretion without obligations or restrictions – it does not have to be applied to tuition, housing or a meal plan. We thank GameAbove’s members for their ongoing strong support of our University and our students and faculty. Game Above has donated more than $15 million in funding a variety of initiatives supporting the University and our community over the past eight months. We thank its members for their unprecedented support.

    Broad levels of student financial support

    The University has several initiatives in place to help students navigate the unprecedented challenges associated with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. These include:

    • The FY21 University budget includes $51.3 million in financial aid. More than 80 percent of EMU's students receive some form of financial aid including more than 95 percent of entering freshmen. Over the last 13 years, the University has increased financial aid by 140 percent, from the $21.4 million in aid provided in 2007-2008, reflecting Eastern’s mission to be an institution of opportunity, with the state’s most diverse student body.
    • The University is distributing nearly $6.9 million in federal student-relief CARES Act funds. The University provided direct assistance to students in need who were enrolled during the past winter semester when the COVID-19 crisis began, and plans to also distribute the CARES Act funds to students taking classes in the upcoming fall and winter semesters.


    Support of international students

    As many of you know, the University actively opposed the policy change announced on July 6 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which attempted to curtail visa rights for international students who wish to take full course-loads online at American universities. As a member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, Eastern, along with 179 other universities, proudly signed on to the Alliance’s amicus brief to the court in support of a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, challenging ICE’s action.

    Three days ago, the United States government rescinded the policy change. We are pleased to be on the right side of history in our support of international students at Eastern and at universities across the nation.

    We are aware that there remains continued speculation that the government will attempt another similar action against international students. We are monitoring the situation and will continue to do everything we can to actively support our international community.

    Highlighting student, faculty and staff excellence

    One of the true highlights of being President of this great University is the opportunity to share the outstanding accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff. Recently, our student chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and its president, recent EMU graduate Brionna Bryant, were honored as one of four outstanding chapters in the country for 2020.

    Eastern’s chapter was recognized for its outstanding campus engagement, student conference involvement, timely reporting and overall student leadership.

    Bryant and Eastern’s chapter were recognized at the virtual 2020 National Convention and Expo, held earlier this month.

    This EMU Today story has additional information including comments from Brionna Bryant, College of Business Dean Ken Lord and faculty advisory Anthony Kurek (a full-time lecturer in accounting).

    Congratulations Brionna and NABA members!

    This wonderful news wraps up this week’s message. I encourage you to continue practice good hand washing, wear face coverings as required, and maintain physical distance when encountering others. We all have an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

    Continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website for ongoing updates and #EMUSafe return to campus plans.

    Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, July 10, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – July 10, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    We continue to move forward with planning for the fall semester against a backdrop of unknowns, the biggest of which, as noted in last week’s message, is the roughly three-week long increase in COVID-19 cases in the state.

    This trend is deeply concerning. The University’s leadership team, members of the Safe Return to Campus Steering Committee and the Public Health Work Group, among other faculty and staff, are closely monitoring developments. We remain committed to following government and public health guidance and directives and are prepared to respond accordingly. We couldn’t agree more with Governor Whitmer’s new executive order, issued today, requiring broader use of face coverings.

    The Safe Return to Campus Steering Committee discussed these and other related items at length during yesterday’s meeting. Among the areas covered:

    • The recommendations of the Public Health Work Group will be reviewed for input by the Faculty Senate at next week’s Faculty Senate meeting. (The Public Health Work Group’s preliminary recommendations were shared at the June 23 town hall meetings). The recommendations will be posted once finalized.
    • Dean of Students Ellen Gold initiated a discussion of process, communications and needed materials related to the assessment of case reports, screening outcomes, reporting of verified cases of COVID-19 involving members of the campus community and contact tracing efforts. Several communication pieces and materials will be developed in advance of fall. Once finalized, the plan will be posted.
    • Provost and Executive Vice President Rhonda Longworth discussed the plan for course and room assignments, which is ongoing and quite complex, based on room mapping for physical distancing and pedagogical needs regarding in-person or online class delivery. As part of this discussion, Faculty Senate President and Professor of University Library, and Women's and Gender Studies, Suzanne Gray, discussed the results of a survey of faculty members about their desired instructional preferences for fall (in person or online). A separate process will follow to address individual accommodations and requests.
    • The Safe Return to Campus Guidebook is nearing completion and will be finalized once the recommendations of the Public Health Work Group are adopted. This will be a visual guide to the University’s current plans for the fall semester – including face coverings, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and more. It will be posted publicly and is designed to be updated as the evolving and changing situation dictates.

    We are making good progress -- but much work remains to be done. And, as I noted at the beginning of this message, our planning must take into account the changing circumstances and evolving directives designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. I’d like to thank all of the members of our community who are participating in these efforts, whether taking part in a survey or providing input and ideas that contribute to the planning process. All of these actions and expertise are critically important to our institutional planning.

    Eastern joins formal opposition to new government policy targeting international students

    We were shocked and deeply disappointed in a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy, released on July 6, which curtails visa rights for international students who wish to take full course-loads online at American universities. As a member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, we are working in strong opposition to this new policy, and will proudly sign the Alliance’s amicus brief to the court in support of a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, challenging ICE’s action.

    As stated on Wednesday, we take great pride in being a welcoming environment for international students, as evidenced by the 100 light post banners around our campus and the large 80-foot mural celebrating "You Are Welcome Here" with images of international students and flags of their home nations. The recently announced policy change by the government runs counter to our efforts to support international students, who bring great diversity of thought, culture and perspective to our campus community and to our classrooms. We are proud to have them as part of our campus community.

    We will continue to evaluate the best ways to support our international students so that they may continue their education in this country safely.

    10 days left for online registration to vote in August 4 primary election

    The online voter registration deadline for the August 4 primary election is Monday, July 20. To make sure that you can cast your vote in the upcoming local, state, and federal elections, you need to be registered to vote.

    Students can register here if they are registering for the first time of if they need to update their registration status and address.

    The Michigan Secretary of State’s office also provides an online voter registration process.

    In-person voter registration is offered through Election Day at the local clerk’s office where you live.

    Now is the time to make your voice heard. I encourage all of you to get registered, and vote!

    Students (and others) needed for paid election worker positions

    Poll workers are urgently needed to staff polling sites in our communities for the August 4 primary election and the November 3 general election. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office informs us that due to the current COVID-19 crisis, local clerks statewide are facing poll worker shortages. These are paid positions. Clerks rely on election workers – they are critical to the running of safe, smooth and fair elections. Election workers will assist clerks and count ballots. According to the Secretary of State’s office, election workers will follow strict public health guidelines, including exercising physical distancing, using sanitary equipment, and maintaining strong hygiene to protect themselves and others from coronavirus transmission. Those interested in learning more about this opportunity can visit the Secretary of State’s information and application site, Democracy MVP.

    Student and faculty excellence

    I like to conclude these weekly updates with examples of excellence among our students, faculty and staff. The work of Associate Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Tom Mast is such an example. Dr. Mast is a pre-health advisor supporting undergraduate students who are pursuing careers as doctors by applying to medical school. This past year, Dr. Mast’s efforts helped 11 recent Eastern graduates enter medical school. I encourage you to read the EMU Today story, A Holistic Process: Eastern's pre-health sciences track is more than science classes and straight A's ” about Dr. Mast’s efforts, and also learn about some recent student success stories.

    Please be safe this weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu., July 2, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – July 2, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Before we head into what promises to be a signature Fourth of July weekend in Michigan, there are some important updates to share with you.

    The Safe Return Steering Committee met this morning as part of our weekly schedule and discussed several important items related to our fall operations. The Public Health Work Group presented its recommendations, which provide additional detail and follow the preliminary recommendations presented at the virtual town hall meetings on June 23. (The slides from the meetings can be viewed here. Links to the recordings of the meetings can be found on the University’s COVID-19 website.)

    The recommendations will be reviewed by the Faculty Senate for input before they become final.

    As a reminder, we continue to operate pursuant to a series of executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer. The Public Health Work Group’s recommended guidelines focus on fall semester preparation and planning.

    A Safe Return to Campus guidebook is being finalized. The guidebook will serve as a comprehensive source of information for faculty, staff and students around public health standards, community expectations, education and training, enforcement, how to request accommodations, and other important topics. The plan is to have the guidebook completed over the next two weeks, at which time it will be shared broadly with the campus community.

    We know that classroom space will be extremely limited in the fall because of physical distancing standards. The comprehensive mapping of campus classrooms, with adjustments for physical distancing, continues. This is being done in coordination with an analysis of courses and class sizes to determine right-fit classrooms. Beginning next week academic departments will be asked to provide information about their fall schedule in order to facilitate the scheduling process.

    This work is of the highest priority. As this process nears completion in the next two weeks, we will have a clearer picture of what classes will be in-person and what classes will be virtual/online. These findings will be communicated broadly once finalized.

    The members of the Public Health Work Group, the Safe Return Steering Committee, and the rest of our campus community are closely following the ongoing and changing landscape surrounding COVID-19. As all of us have observed, the number of cases is increasing and the population of those testing positive is becoming younger. These trends are deeply concerning and bear close monitoring in the days and weeks ahead.

    State budget update

    Earlier this week, the governor and state legislature announced an agreement to resolve the state budget deficit for FY20. Public universities will receive an 11 percent reduction in state appropriations (for Eastern Michigan that amounts to $8.4 million), with the difference being made up for FY20 with one-time federal CARES Act funds received by the state. No plans were announced for the FY21 budget. While the agreement lessens the financial impact to the University from COVID-19 for FY20 (which just ended), considerable uncertainty for FY21 remains. Michigan has a multi-billion dollar revenue gap for FY21, without the benefit of the one-time federal CARES Act funds. It is not known at this time whether this year’s 11 percent reduction for state universities will establish the new starting point for the FY21 state budget discussions.

    The impact of COVID-19 on the University’s budget cannot be understated. The massive and growing expense for the purchase of face coverings, gloves, plexiglass, cleaning and disinfecting products, the movement of furniture to ensure appropriate physical distancing, and many more items, are all happening at significant cost. The expenses related to this work continue to grow daily and represent a key element of the University’s budget moving into FY21.

    Federal CARES Act funds distribution to students

    The University has begun to distribute nearly $6.9 million in federal student-relief CARES Act funds directly to students. Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented hardships on our students, making these funds a vital form of support. The broad distribution of funds will focus on Eastern students with significant needs.

    The University is also providing direct grants-in-aid to undergraduate students who receive a federal Pell Grant, or to those who did not receive a federal Pell Grant but demonstrate unmet financial need of $1,000 or more. That need is based on Eastern Michigan University’s federal cost of attendance and the expected family contribution from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and other forms of financial aid, including loans. 

    Graduate students who receive an unsubsidized federal student loan also are considered for funding.

    The federal CARES Act funds are being distributed in the following overall amounts:

    • Winter 2020: one-fifth of the funds, or $1,379,440.
    • Fall 2020: two-fifths of the funds, or $2,753,793. 
    • Winter 2021: two-fifths of the funds, or $2,753,793. 


    A total of 7,260 students who were enrolled in the Winter 2020 semester have received $190 each for that semester.  Winter 2020 students are receiving a smaller grant because the first half of the semester was uninterrupted prior to the pandemic.

    Our plan for distribution of the federal CARES Act funds recognizes that the COVID-19 disruption to education is not a one-time event. It will continue to impact students in many ways over the coming months until there is a vaccination for the disease. Additional details can be found on the University’s CARES Act website.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Swoop’s provided 1,122 pounds of food to 37 shoppers this week. Next week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (7/7) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (7/9), from noon – 3:30 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are tofu, non-dairy milk, canned red beans, hand sanitizer and dental hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected]emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    July 4 holiday information for employees

    As a reminder, Friday, July 3, 2020, is a University holiday so EMU will be closed. If employees have any questions about how your typical work shift may be affected by the University holiday, please discuss it with your supervisor. Of course, any collective bargaining agreement provisions applicable to University holidays apply in this case as well.

    For employees who are participating in the Work Share program, sections D.3 and D.4 of the Work Share FAQ have been updated with details about how to account for the holiday. In short, you need to (1) follow the Work Share rules included in the FAQ and (2) agree with your supervisor on what your work week will look like.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend and well-deserved break. Be safe and stay well.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, June 26, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – June 26, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    It has been a very active week as we continue to plan for the fall semester and adjust to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. I thank our faculty and staff for their tireless work, their ideas and expertise, and their commitment to helping us plan for a safe return to campus.

    As we slowly transition some activities to occur in-person on campus, it is important to remember that employees heading to campus must complete and submit a Daily COVID-19 Screening Form that can be found on the University Human Resources website. Employees are not permitted to enter a campus building unless the form has been completed and submitted, in advance, to their supervisor.

    Additionally, students, faculty and staff must follow health guidance while on campus:

    • Wear face coverings;
    • Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer; and,
    • Maintain a minimum of six-foot physical distance from one another.


    Individuals who are approved to come to campus may wear their own face covering or face coverings are available at the Department of Public Safety on 1200 Oakwood Street. Face coverings also are available every day at the entrances to buildings where classes for Summer B are being held – the Science Complex/Strong Hall, Sherzer, Ford Hall and Sill. A single entry point to each building has been designated -- tables at each entrance are staffed for student check-in, with face coverings and hand sanitizer available. Students and instructors teaching courses in these buildings have received instructions regarding these issues.

    Following these steps is necessary to help keep everyone on our campus as safe as possible.

    Virtual town hall meetings

    I am pleased with the participation in this week’s virtual town hall meetings for faculty and staff. Both sessions provided an excellent opportunity to share the work of the Public Health Work Group, under the leadership of CHHS Dean Murali Nair. I thank Dr. Michael Williams for leading us through the group’s preliminary recommendations.

    The primary areas covered in the meeting were:

    • An overview of the planning effort related to the fall semester, in which I was joined by Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Rhonda Longworth;
    • Preliminary recommendations of the Public Health Work Group; and,
    • A budget update by Chief Financial Office Mike Valdes.


    Recordings of both sessions are posted and available for viewing in their entirety on the University’s COVID-19 website. I encourage everyone to view one of the meetings to learn more about our planning efforts. A Questions and Answers document stemming from the meetings is being prepared and will be posted next week.

    We were able to answer many questions posed during the meetings. We also readily acknowledge that we do not have all the answers – plans are still being put in place, led by various work groups and including many faculty and staff members who bring great expertise to the operational areas and questions that are being addressed. We continue to move forward cautiously but deliberately toward a comprehensive plan for the fall semester, with the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as the guiding principle.

    Fall semester planning

    Classes will begin as scheduled on Monday, August 31 – as noted in the Academic Calendar. We plan to follow the calendar as posted through the fall semester and do not plan to end the semester early unless necessitated by changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Courses for fall will be offered in-person, online and in hybrid (mix of online and in-person) modules, depending on instructional needs and classroom availability. An evaluation of individual courses and the most effective method of delivery of classes is currently being conducted by the colleges and departments, under the direction of Provost Longworth.

    We will continue to closely monitor federal, state and local health guidance and will be prepared to adjust our plans if necessary.

    Winter semester

    While January, the beginning of the winter semester, may seem like a long way away, we will continue to assess our best path forward based on campus safety, student needs, pedagogy and government guidance. In the months ahead, we will evaluate whether any adjustments to the winter semester calendar are necessary.

    University guidebook

    With the town hall meetings, regular email updates, and the ongoing planning work and discussions taking place in the various committees and subcommittees, a great deal of information is circulating. It can be difficult to find or recall specific information that has been shared. For that reason, it’s important for us to have a one-stop location for accurate and detailed information about the planning process and what the fall semester will look like for employees and students. To address this, the University will publish a detailed guidebook. This is planned for mid-July, once the Public Health Work Group’s recommendations are finalized. This will be a useful planning resource for everyone on campus.

    Celebrating faculty expertise

    As you know, I like to end our weekly updates by highlighting student, faculty or staff excellence. This week, I am proud to share the work of Dr. Judy Foster Davis, professor of Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications in the College of Business.

    Professor Davis’s research focuses on marketing communications strategies and policies in corporate and entrepreneurial settings and historical and multicultural marketing topics. Her book, Pioneering African-American Women in the Advertising Business: Biographies of MAD Black WOMEN, was published in 2017.

    Professor Davis was recently quoted by several news media outlets in their coverage of racism related to brand name products. This quote, in an article in the Los Angeles Times, is particularly relevant: “Advertising and marketing play an important role in selling whiteness. They have played a role in perpetuating an image that whites are superior.”

    Professor Davis was also quoted in articles appearing in The Washington Post and ConsumerGoods.com.

    Thank you for sharing your expertise, Professor Davis.

    As we head into the weekend, it is important to remember that despite the state’s “reopening,” we remain in the midst of a pandemic. Frequent hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer, and wearing face coverings continue to be critically important to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

    Please stay safe and stay well.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, June 15, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – June 15, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I hope everyone had a safe weekend. Like many of you, I am concerned about how some people are reacting to the reopening of our economy. In my limited travels over the weekend, while maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask in public settings of course, I observed a number of people conducting themselves as if it is business as usual. The COVID-19 pandemic is very much still with us, as evidenced by the dramatic increases in cases in many other states. I hope everyone will continue to follow the necessary and ongoing safety guidelines issued by county, state and national public health professionals.

    At the same time, individuals and communities around the nation continue to protest our nation’s systemic and institutionalized racism and the deadly actions that claim the lives of Black individuals. Yesterday’s new video released by the attorney for the family of George Floyd provides further documentation of the horrific killing of Mr. Floyd and the inaction by other police officers on the scene as witnesses plead with them to check his pulse.

    Sadly, the violence targeting Black individuals did not end with George Floyd. The weekend killing of Rayshard Brooks by police in Atlanta is the latest such incident demanding justice. And, while not deadly, the actions of a white San Francisco skincare CEO and her husband captured in a now viral video confronting a man writing Black Lives Matters on his own property, point to the racism prevalent in our society and the common transgressions against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

    Black Lives Matter! As an institution of learning, we must commit to more listening, learning, teaching and the promotion of greater awareness and understanding surrounding racism and demands for accountability, change, activism and social justice. This is a major focus of many of our faculty colleagues across the University and I commend them for their actions and planning to further this dialogue in the months ahead.

    Last week, the Faculty Senate issued a statement condemning acts of hatred, bigotry and discrimination. The Faculty Senate statement, and others issued by the University, can be found on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.

    There are several other important items to cover today.

    Virtual Town Hall Meetings

    The uncertainty due to COVID-19 and its impact on the University and our fall planning process is creating a considerable number of questions among many on campus. We continue to focus on sharing information broadly and as frequently as possible. To that end, next Tuesday, June 23, we will hold two virtual town hall meetings via Zoom for University employees.

    From 8:30-10 a.m., a virtual town hall meeting will be held for University faculty and instructors. Visit https://emich.zoom.us/j/95438307935?pwd=ZUpQWUlwSVRtZjJOdThFZzFEcnFVQT09

    From 1-2:30 p.m., a virtual town hall meeting will be held for all other University employees. Visit https://emich.zoom.us/j/91107628428?pwd=V2hTdGZQRjJZSUJRT3RaYTloQ2xDZz09

    Presentations will focus on two areas:

    1)     Plans for the fall semester, which will include a report by the Public Health Work Group; and,

    2)     The University budget situation and outlook.

    Opportunities for questions and answers will be an important element of the sessions.

    Due to the information to be provided in the virtual town hall meetings, next Monday’s administrative leadership meeting is canceled.

    This weekend’s virtual town hall meeting: Empowering Communities in Responding to the Challenges of COVID-19

    I had the opportunity to participate and provide opening remarks for Saturday’s virtual town hall meeting, “Empowering Communities in Responding to the Challenges of COVID-19.” The town hall was co-hosted by EMU’s Center for Health Disparities, Innovations and Studies (CHDIS). Great dialogue and discussion took place among the 140 attendees. Please join me in acknowledging the fine work organizing the event by Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, professor of nursing, Dr. Meriam Caboral-Stevens, associate professor nursing, and Dr. John Sonnega, assistant professor of HPHP in organizing this event. CHDIS is planning more sessions in the future covering a broader array of matters.

    Visa processing for international students

    Visa processing is the number one discussion topic in our international student advising community. The U.S. Department of State has suspended visa processing globally. Our understanding is that there are limited visa appointments available and those appointments are for emergency and essential reasons. Our recommendation for international students is to continue to check their local embassy and consulate for any updates. It is our understanding that some students might obtain visas late in the process -- mid-to-late August -- and will need to make flight arrangements on short notice. Other students who are unable to get visas due to Consulate closure and lack of flights or imposition of travel restrictions might have to defer their classes to the winter semester. 

    For students unable to enter the country for fall classes, virtual/online classes may be a possibility. International students can contact Joe Vainner or Dr. Eva Ye at the International Admissions Office by phone at 734.215.0205 or email at [email protected]emich.edu

    Students should continue to be flexible in their planning. Those students who have received their I-20 forms should continue to check the U.S. Department of State website for the local embassy and consulate operation: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html

    For travel information, they can check the CDC's webpage: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html 

    For a comprehensive list of travel restrictions around the world: https://www.fragomen.com/about/news/immigration-update-coronavirus  

     

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    This week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (6/16) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (6/18), from noon – 3:30 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are toilet paper, dish soap, hand soap, pasta sauce and rice side dishes.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected]emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Looking ahead

    I am very much looking forward to sharing with employees the fine work of the Public Health Work Group in the virtual town hall meetings a week from tomorrow. Attendees will get a good sense of the group’s level of expertise and the great efforts undertaken to research guidelines and best practices as part of the fall planning process. I look forward to seeing many of you then.

    Have a great week.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, June 8, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – June 8, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As we head into a week that brings with it the ongoing reopening of businesses, restaurants and other activities outside our homes, I hope everyone will continue to observe safe practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

    While the number of cases and deaths in Michigan continues to decline, the disease is still very much present and we all need to observe physical distancing, hand-washing hygiene, and the wearing of masks when in enclosed public places or when in close proximity (within six feet) of others. These practices will not end anytime soon, so I encourage you to remain vigilant in taking appropriate and necessary precautions. 

    As noted in my message to campus on June 1, the Governor’s executive order states “Any work that is capable of being performed remotely (i.e., without the worker leaving his or her home or place of residence) must be performed remotely.Accordingly, the University will continue to operate in the same safe manner in which we have been functioning, with remote working to continue for the time being. Multiple University work groups are discussing what it will look like when employees may begin returning to work on campus. The conclusions of those efforts will be communicated as they are reached throughout the summer.

    The Public Health Work Group, which includes several expert faculty and academic leaders from the College of Health and Human Services, is preparing proposed campus standards for public health protocols. They have met with the County’s Public Health Department, conducted in-depth research about screening and prevention strategies, and are actively exploring a variety of proposals to promote the health and safety of students, employees and visitors.

    The Remote Work Group Committee has begun its work to develop policies, strategies and training to support remote work by non-instructional staff. The group consists of a cross-section of staff with various expertise, as well as Denise Tanguay, Professor of Management, whose specialty includes remote work. 

    The Steering Committee, which oversees the safe return to on-campus operations planning, continues to meet. The Steering Committee will review plans from across campus as we implement a careful, phased return to on-campus operations. I appreciate the excellent support of the faculty and staff who are engaged in this laborious but important process.

    The Faculty Senate is scheduled to meet this week and will review a proposal to re-open research labs on campus consistent with the health protocols outlined in the Governor’s executive order. 

    Inquiries about Personal Protective Equipment 

    We have had many questions from across campus about purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). As noted in Thursday’s message to employees from University Human Resources, University departments should not purchase PPE individually.  

    The University is in the process of securing relationships with vendors who have ample inventory and who can provide assurances regarding the quality and effectiveness of their equipment. This will enable the University to achieve volume pricing, making purchases significantly less costly for departments. In addition, we want to avoid imposter products, which have unfortunately become prevalent, and ensure that equipment is purchased consistent with the standards being developed by the Public Health Work Group. 

    Later this month, the University will announce the process for getting equipment to departments. If you have a unique situation that has particular/special requirements, please reach out to Purchasing at busfin[email protected]emich.edu.

    Summer enrollment trends positive

    Overall summer enrollment has been quite robust and student credit hour (SCH) production has been the best we have seen in recent years. Right now, summer SCH is up 4 percent compared to last year. Summer B is even more impressive, with a gain of nearly 25 percent. The combination of cooperative planning work with faculty, strategic marketing, EMU Cares grants, and the work of our faculty and lecturers to deliver fully online course selections have all contributed to this positive outcome.

    You Are Welcome Here grants issued to international students

    We are pleased to announce that the You Are Welcome Here Summer Tuition Grant Program has completed its awards process. A total of 65 international students are being awarded grants of up to $500 to help offset summer tuition costs, with a total amount of $30,000 awarded. Under the program, current international Eastern Michigan University undergraduate and graduate students could apply for a one-time, university-funded grant toward summer tuition and fees for Summer 2020.

    Summer camps canceled

    Given the continued concerns regarding gatherings of people in close proximity, even with appropriate safety precautions, we have decided to cancel all in-person camps scheduled for this summer. This allows the University to keep its focus on preparing for the fall semester with the appropriate safety protocols in place. 

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    Next week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (6/9) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (6/11), from noon – 3:30 p.m. 

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are rice and pasta side dishes, pasta sauce, flour, sugar, baked beans and hand soap and hand sanitizer.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected]emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Eastern Michigan University community speaks out collectively against racism 

    The Eastern Michigan University community continues to speak out in a variety of ways against the systemic racism and violence that has claimed the lives of too many members of our Black community. The messages of support to those actively protesting and demanding change, and to our Black students and employees, come from different areas of campus – departments, public safety, deans, student body leaders, athletics, Diversity and Community Involvement, the Provost, and others. The EMU Faculty Senate Committee of Campus Climate, Race and Diversity announced a video project today: EMU Standing Against Injustice.

    While individually we speak with one voice, together we speak loudly as an institution unified against hate, racism and police brutality that targets our Black citizens. We speak in support of diversity, equity and inclusion as core and guiding principles. 

    We have collected many of these messages on the Diversity. Equity & Inclusion website so that everyone can see the scope of our campus concern and sentiments. 

    One of the most insightful messages I have read from anywhere in the nation is an essay written by one of Eastern’s faculty, Toni Pressley-Sanon, Associate Professor of Africology and African American Studies. It is titled “Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired”: A Reflection and Some Resources. You will be, as I was, profoundly moved by her words. 

    I thank Dr. Pressley-Sanon for allowing us to share this important reflection. 

    Please be safe and look out for one another. 

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, June 1, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – June 1, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today Governor Whitmer announced a major update in Michigan’s fight against COVID-19. The stay-at-home order that was announced on March 23, 2020 was largely rescinded allowing retailers and restaurants to reopen effective June 8. In the new executive order, the Governor stated “While Michiganders are no longer required to stay home, we must all continue to be smart and practice safe social distancing.”

    The University administration is assessing the new order and its impact on our operations going forward. For the immediate term, we will continue to operate in the same safe manner in which we have been functioning, with remote working to continue; Summer B classes will proceed as initially announced (see below). The Governor’s new order states the following: “Any work that is capable of being performed remotely (i.e., without the worker leaving his or her home or place of residence) must be performed remotely “

    There is other major news affecting our community and nation. We must continue to call attention to the most pressing issue facing America today – and it is an issue that has afflicted this nation for far too long – the hatred and racial violence that led to the brutal death of George Floyd. On Friday, along with Provost Longworth and Steven Bryant, Director of Diversity and Community Involvement, I addressed the death of Mr. Floyd and the recent racial incidents against Black men and women that have plagued our communities (read Friday’s campus message). Over the weekend citizens across the nation protested racial violence and discrimination. I continue to stand firm in my resolve that racism and discrimination have no place in our communities. Public universities like ours simply must be agents for social justice and change. Please join me in championing these values at Eastern Michigan University.

    Course delivery for remainder of summer

    Our primary mode of delivering instruction will continue to be online/remote through the remainder of the summer. The Provost's Office will provide exceptions for a very limited number of late start (Summer B), in-person instructional experiences in areas where remote operation makes effective instructional delivery and outcomes difficult to achieve. These decisions to allow in-person instruction on campus will be made on a case-by-case basis and delivery will be subject to any and all government and University health regulations.

    Details about summer registration, the EMU Summer CARES Grant, and program/class options can be found on the summer enrollment website.

    Fall semester planning process

    The University continues to move forward in the planning process for fall semester as outlined in my May 21 campus message: Update: Fall Semester Planning Process – May 21, 2020. These are our overall principles governing fall decision-making:

    • Our number one priority is the health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff. This will be the guiding principle in every action we take.
    • We are committed to providing students with the outstanding education they deserve, excellent service to our community, and a safe working environment for our employees.
    • Many questions remain unanswered about the epidemiology and future pattern of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, our planning process will not make specific predictions about a single course of action. Instead, we will model different scenarios with varying timelines and contingencies.
    • This planning process should be expeditious but cannot be rushed; our goal is to make the best decisions, not necessarily the fastest decisions.
    • As with everything we do at Eastern, we must ensure that our actions are consistent with inclusive excellence – namely, the goals of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

    The University’s Public Health Work Group and the Steering Committee, helping to manage these processes, have started meeting and will continue to meet regularly for the foreseeable future. A Remote Work Group is also being established. As outlined in the May 21 campus message, Wade Tornquist, Interim Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Education, has drafted a process for re-opening research laboratories, as permitted in the Governor’s recent Executive Order. This process will be submitted to the Faculty Senate for review at its June meeting.

    Work Share for non-instructional bargained-for employees

    On Friday, May 29, the University submitted Work Share applications for bargained-for staff to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. This includes employees from the FM, CS and PT unions who will work a reduced schedule effective Sunday, May 31 through August 1. The University’s intent in this process is to minimize the financial impact on our employees. Depending on individual base salaries, participation in Work Share could more than compensate employees for the decrease in their base salaries. This is similar to the application filed for the University’s non-bargained-for staff that started on May 18.  An FAQ about the Work Share program can be found on the Policies & Procedures page of the Human Resources website.

    These other budget actions were announced previously:

    • Non-bargained-for staff will not receive a salary increase in FY21.
    • A salary reduction of 7 percent for me and members of the executive leadership team, who will continue working full-time. This reduction also applies to the head coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball.
    • University travel is frozen until further notice.
    • Capital projects are being suspended or delayed, other than those prioritized.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry schedule update

    Based on a recent survey of shoppers, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry is modifying its hours to accommodate shoppers with work schedules that end later in the afternoon. This week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (6/2) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and on Thursday (6/4), from noon – 3:30 p.m.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are pasta sauce, sugar, flour, toilet paper, barbecue sauce and black beans.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to swoops_pantry@emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Student-athletes achieve record GPA; football student-athletes attain record APR

    Eastern’s more than 430 student-athletes earned their highest semester GPA with a 3.516 winter semester GPA. That surpasses the previous best of 3.238 set in the fall of 2016. Overall, 86 percent of the student-athletes earned a 3.0 GPA or higher. It marked the 21st semester in-a-row EMU posted an average GPA above 3.0.

    Meanwhile, the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) figures for the four-year period from 2015-16 to 2018-19 earlier this month and the Eastern Michigan University football program set a new multi-year school record of 976. That is second highest among football programs in the Mid-American Conference and tops the previous EMU record set last year at 970. The team also posted the highest single-year rate in program-history with a 987 to better the previous record of 982 set in 2016-17.

    Ongoing community support

    As I’ve stated in several of these messages and on many occasions, I am extraordinarily proud of the community support provided by our faculty, staff and alumni during this crisis. A reflection of that fine work was published in Friday’s MLive: Ypsilanti residents can apply for COVID-19 assistance ‘care packages’. The story discusses how Ypsilanti residents can receive a cloth face mask, hand sanitizer and more as part of a COVID-19 assistance care package program that launched earlier this week. [email protected] is a significant part of the effort.

    To see the full scope of Eastern’s community efforts, please visit this news release with a complete roundup of our activities.

    As a final note, I have included a link to a video I recently completed that was distributed last week to University alumni. The video celebrates the many great efforts of those on our campus and among alumni to support our communities in the wake of COVID-19.

    To our colleagues and partners across the University, thank you for your support and contributions to these important community initiatives, as well as your efforts to assist in planning for the summer and fall academic semesters. With the great degree of uncertainty ahead, our future success will require that we continue to work together constructively and with greater collaboration than ever before.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, May 22, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – May 22, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I hope your Memorial Day weekend brings you some respite from the challenges that surround us. While a slow “reopening” of our businesses and economy is underway, it is still vitally important that we remain vigilant in following health and safety guidance for the prevention of COVID-19--continue physical distancing, wear masks in public settings, and wash your hands frequently.

    Keep in your thoughts the people of mid-Michigan whose lives became a nightmare this week due to the severe flood damage caused by two burst dams. And, most importantly, take some time to reflect on the reason for Memorial Day as we celebrate our freedom and remember the cost at which it came and the sacrifices of our veterans.

    I have several important updates to share with you as we wrap up the week.

    Summer grant available for international students

    Last week, we informed our international students about a new summer grant, the You Are Welcome Here Summer Tuition Grant. Under this program, current international Eastern Michigan University undergraduate and graduate students may apply for a one-time, university-funded grant toward summer tuition and fees for Summer 2020. To be considered for the grant, students must enroll for a minimum of three summer credit hours and must complete the application form. The deadline for submission of the application is the end of the business day (5 p.m.), Friday, May 29.

    Application: You Are Welcome Here Summer Grant

    A committee will review the applications and announce decisions on or before June 8, 2020. Awards will range in value up to a maximum of $500. Please note that our internal funding source for this grant is limited and not all applicants may be selected to receive an award.

    Planning process

    Yesterday, I provided an update to campus on the comprehensive planning to ensure the University is well prepared to support students and employees in the coming months and into the fall semester. As I stated, I have tremendous confidence that we can conduct an inclusive planning process that involves our campus stakeholders, as we face the challenges of how best to educate and serve our students in a time of great change and challenge.

    Yesterday’s message can be found here: Update: Fall Semester Planning Process – May 21, 2020.

    As previously announced, our primary mode of delivering instruction will continue to be online/remote through the remainder of the summer semester. The Provost's Office will consider a highly limited number of exceptions for late start (Summer B) in-person instructional experiences on campus in areas where remote operation makes effective instructional delivery and outcomes difficult to achieve successfully. Decisions to allow in-person instruction on campus will be made on a case-by-case basis, be vetted in Departments, approved by Deans and delivery restrictions will be subject to any and all government and University health regulations.

    Details about summer registration, the EMU Summer CARES Grant, and program/class options can be found on the summer enrollment website.

    Budget update

    We continue to develop and implement plans to address the serious budget constrictions facing the University, which are not unlike those facing universities across the country due to COVID-19. In my May 15 budget message, I noted several budget actions, which include:

    • A reduced work schedule for most of our 200+ non-bargained-for employees in all areas of the University, and participation in the State of Michigan’s Work Share Program. The University’s intent in this process is to minimize the financial impact on our employees. Depending on individual base salaries, participation in Work Share could more than compensate employees for the decrease in their base salary. Please visit the Work Share FAQ on the University Human Resources Policies and Procedures webpage for additional information.
    • Non-bargained for staff will not receive a salary increase in FY21.
    • A salary reduction of 7 percent for members of the executive leadership team and me, all of whom will continue working full-time. This also applies to the head coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball.
    • The University continues to work with the leaders of our collective bargaining units to implement the Work Share program for our non-instructional bargained-for staff. We appreciate the dialogue we have had with those leaders and the insight they have provided us. We will have further information to share in the days ahead.
    • University travel is frozen until further notice.
    • Capital projects are being suspended or delayed, other than those prioritized.

    This week’s meeting with the administrative leaders’ group detailed several of these actions, as well as provided an update and overview on the University’s budget situation and a number of other items. The slides from the meeting can be viewed on the Office of the President Communications page.

    To the extent that it is helpful to see COVID-19’s impact on other universities in our state and region, below is a partial list of links to media coverage of those institutions. A full list can be found on our budget impact website.

    Ohio University cuts 200 more employees, announces furloughs and salary cuts

    'Substantial' layoffs still coming at Western Michigan University as budgets cut by 20%

    UM, MSU pad admissions for fall, brace for decline of out-of-state, international students

    >WMU could lose $85 million in next fiscal year due to COVID-19, plans to cut staff

    University of Akron to eliminate six of 11 colleges as part of cost-saving measures due to coronavirus pandemic

    Work on the budget for the balance of this fiscal year and the 2021 fiscal year remains ongoing. I have stated several times our commitment to open dialogue, transparency and we will share that information as it is updated. Toward that end, Provost Longworth and I met with the University Budget Council to discuss budgetary considerations as recently as 10:00 this morning.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room served 66 shoppers this week and will be open again next week on Tuesday (5/26) and Thursday (5/28), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are pasta sauce, baking items such as sugar and flour, butter, packages of rice and pasta side dishes, hand soap, dish soap and garbage bags.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Highlighting the positives

    Often, at times like these, the positives that surround us are overlooked due to the challenges at hand. I don’t want that to be the case, because we certainly have many positives to celebrate. I will share four recent highlights with you:

    1)Eastern Michigan University and the $2 million gift to graduating students and incoming first-year students from GameAbove was highlighted in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal;

    2)Eastern’s new partnership to expand awareness and involvement in esports among high school and current students received significant local, national and international coverage. Here is a link to the story in the Detroit Free Press;

    3)Lecturer Tony Kurek was honored as an outstanding instructor by the state’s top accounting organization, the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants; and,

    4)The activities undertaken by Eastern Michigan University faculty and staff to support the greater community in the wake of COVID-19 are highlighted in this story in EMU Today.

    As I noted, we have so much of which to be proud. Thank you for your patience, understanding, ideas and support as we confront the challenges ahead.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu, May 21, 2020

    Update: Fall Semester Planning Process – May 21, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As outlined in my message to the campus on May 7, 2020, we have begun a comprehensive planning process to ensure the University is well prepared to support students and employees in the coming months and in the fall semester. I have tremendous confidence that we can conduct an inclusive planning process that involves our campus stakeholders as we face the challenge of how best to educate and serve our students in a time of great change and challenge.

    It is worth repeating that, despite the many uncertainties facing every aspect of our lives, Eastern Michigan University will continue to provide an outstanding education to our students. That is our mission, and our commitment to that mission remains unchanged.

    In this context, we will continue to regularly update the campus about our planning process to keep our campus community safe and resume on-campus operations in the near future.

    Our goals

    While some factors may not be in our control, our goal is to resume in person operations for the fall semester including, wherever safely possible, classroom instruction, housing, dining, and similar activities. But we will not likely return to anything like the “normal” we left behind in March. In the coming months, we must develop health protocols, cleaning schedules, new ideas around space, traffic patterns, room configurations, hybrid work designs, and much more. We must have as our goal the remaking of our community in a way that upholds the key relationship between us and our students that defines Eastern Michigan University. Several principles will guide this planning process.

    Our principles

    Our number one priority is the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. This will be the guiding principle in every action we take. We are committed to providing students with the outstanding education they deserve, excellent service to our community, and a safe working environment for our employees.

    Many questions remain unanswered about the epidemiology and future pattern of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, our planning process will not make specific predictions about a single course of action. Instead, we will model different scenarios with varying timelines and contingencies.

    This planning process should be expeditious but cannot be rushed; our goal is to make the best decisions, not necessarily the fastest decisions. I therefore ask that our campus community remain patient.

    Whenever possible, owing to their expertise, existing campus committees will be used to propose, evaluate, and respond to plans for topic areas within their purview. Examples of such groups include the Faculty Senate and its standing committees, the Academic Affairs Educational Environment & Facilities Committee (EEFC), and University Budget Council (UBC). When needed, we will create ad-hoc work groups to address specific issues. Each group will be expected to not only bring their individual expertise to the questions and challenges we face, but also to engage the campus community of experts to inform their work and to seek feedback and input from appropriate bodies as they deliberate.

    Our process

    Following the principles outlined above, our planning process will be thorough, deliberate, and inclusive.

    As I previously announced, a Steering Committee of staff and faculty from throughout the University will oversee the planning process. I will chair the group with support from Rhonda Longworth, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, and Mike Valdes, the Chief Financial Officer. This group will oversee planning and communications efforts and include faculty and staff members skilled in those needed areas. I have also invited and await an appointment from our Faculty Senate.

    We have convened a Public Health Work Group to recommend public health standards and protocols that will help guide the University as we resume on-campus operations. As outlined in my message on May 7, this group is comprised of faculty, administrators from our College of Health & Human Services, the Dean of Students who has been the University’s point person with the county and state health officials throughout this crisis, and other staff from key areas. I have charged them to convene other campus experts from our faculty and staff as they conduct their work and to engage with government officials for guidance and expertise as needed. Some outcomes may warrant focused dialogue with our campus union leaders around health and safety issues as we receive recommendations and guidance both internal and external.

    We will soon launch a Remote Work Group that will develop trainings, resources and any needed policies surrounding remote work for our administrative, service and other non-instructional staff. They will advise and recommend policies, strategies and practices to ensure that staff working remotely have the tools available to continue to provide excellent service to current and prospective students, co-workers, and other stakeholders. This group will be chaired by Jeff Ammons, the Assistant General Counsel and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer, and will include faculty and staff experts whose specialties include organizational behavior, design, and strategy.

    The academic planning process will be managed by the Provost’s Office, our Deans and the University Librarian. They too will engage additional faculty and staff experts and each will seek contractual input from key faculty bodies as appropriate.

    The Provost has charged Wade Tornquist, Interim Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Education, to convene a group of faculty and administrators to draft a process for re-opening research laboratories, as permitted in the Governor’s recent Executive Order. This process will be submitted to the Faculty Senate for review at their June meeting. Provost Longworth will also convene working groups around instructional delivery and support, student support services, and Supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

    Further, Provost Longworth and her Academic and Student Affairs team will confer with the Faculty Senate and its standing committees (Budget, EEFC, GEC) regarding calendar, policy, facility, and capacity issues, as well as the budget implications we face as the result of the COVID-19 situation. We know our new working parameters will impact our mix of course offerings and needed delivery formats but specific plans and guidance are needed. We will likely have a higher percentage of classes offered online, and more classes in creative hybrid formats or hy-flex designs, or offered remotely. These issues must be discussed among faculty, instructors, Academic and Student Affairs staff at the department, college and university levels in the coming weeks and months as we develop and finalize our fall semester plans.

    We truly are fortunate to have robust processes in place to consider the myriad issues that must be addressed, and we appreciate the work that will be done by faculty leaders over the summer to recommend courses of action on these issues.

    We will continue to inform the campus community about our planning efforts as this process evolves. Unfortunately, during this unprecedented era in which we live and work, there are, for now, more questions than answers. With patience and diligence, that trend will slowly reverse. In the meantime, we will continue to adhere to these principles and update the campus as often as possible about this planning process.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, May 15, 2020

    Budget Message – May 15, 2020

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    To Eastern Michigan University faculty and staff:

    You don’t have to look far to see that substantial budget challenges, and the responses to them, permeate the entire higher education community in response to COVID-19.

    Every university in the nation is making significant adjustments to address the financial impact of the disease. Sadly, Eastern Michigan University is no exception. (For a national snapshot of this impact, visit our budget impact website, which has a long list of universities and the budget reductions they have announced over the past month.)

    As noted in my prior messages to our campus community, these are unprecedented times that require unprecedented actions. And while these actions may not be the kind we like to take, they are necessary to address the mounting budgetary challenges we face.

    We don’t yet know, nor can we yet predict, COVID-19’s substantial impact on our primary revenue drivers – tuition, auxiliaries, and room and board. Meanwhile, the future availability of state aid is another great unknown, and it, too, is sure to have a significant revenue impact. While Michigan has not yet announced its state aid plans in response to the disease, discussions of a 10-20 percent state aid reduction for both the state’s current fiscal year (which expires in September) and next fiscal year, are receiving considerable attention.

    For Eastern Michigan University, this situation requires us to continue to plan for significant budgetary impacts. We have taken great effort to research, evaluate and implement these next steps in the most respectful and supportive manner for our valued employees.

    As a result of that effort, effective Monday, May 18, most of the University’s employees not covered under a collective bargaining agreement will begin a reduced work schedule/three- or four-day work week under the State of Michigan’s Work Share program, with a corresponding reduction in pay of 40 or 20 percent. This will be in place through August 1, 2020, and will affect more than 200 administrators and staff in all areas of the University. Further, effective today, six positions have been eliminated. One of these was unfilled, but five individuals have been separated.

    These are not actions we had thought were part of our University’s future only a few months back, prior to the COVID-19 disruption to operations. I am aware that this is a difficult time to be without work, and I am very sorry to those affected by the position eliminations. Again, a few months ago I couldn’t have dreamt of a more unlikely prospect – eliminating positions and moving to a three/four day week for most of our administrative staff. It was not in any playbook that I ever anticipated, but this pandemic and its resulting economic impact is not in any historical playbook either.

    The University will participate in the Work Share program through at least August 1, 2020. Our participation in the program exemplifies our determined efforts to proceed in a way that minimizes the financial impact on our employees to the best of our ability.

    What is Work Share?

    The Work Share program is offered through the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). Under Work Share, the UIA will pay unemployment benefits to employees based on the 20 percent or 40 percent they will not be working.

    Plus, there is an important, additional benefit now available (currently through the end of July 2020) through the federal CARES Act. The federal CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week for anyone receiving state unemployment benefits. Although we cannot guarantee or promise any federal benefit, we believe we are doing what is required to ensure our Work Share participants are eligible for it.

    We anticipate that, due to our expected involvement in the Work Share program, our administrative staff members may receive federal and state benefits in addition to their salaries that, depending on their base salaries, could more than compensate them for the decrease in their base salary during their participation in the Work Share program.

    Individual employees will not need to file for unemployment benefits as part of this program. The Work Share program is entirely employer-driven. Once the UIA approves an employer’s Work Share application, employees are paid unemployment benefits by the UIA in accordance with the details included in the University’s application. According to the state, all employees participating in the programs should be automatically eligible to receive the federal $600 weekly CARES Act supplement as well.

    Our affected administrative personnel have been notified about the Work Share program by supervisors and divisional vice presidents over the past week. We appreciate the many questions that have been raised, as well as the overall understanding that these work reductions are necessary. Many employees also expressed appreciation for the steps the University is taking to manage this process in a way that supports employees to the degree possible.

    The UIA has developed a helpful FAQ for employees participating in Work Share. University Human Resources is also developing its own FAQ, which will soon be available on the UHR website.

    On April 29, I announced a salary reduction of 7 percent for myself and the executive leadership team, who will continue working full-time. Those efforts, along with the Work Share program, are among the first steps to be announced to address the budget challenges brought about by COVID-19. As a reminder, all University travel remains frozen until further notice and many capital projects are being suspended or delayed. All divisions of the University are equally affected by these earlier steps, including Athletics: the Athletic Director and three highest-paid coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball have also taken 7 percent pay reductions, and the large majority of athletics administrative staff will take part in the University’s Work Share program.

    The University is now in the process of working with the leaders of our collective bargaining units to implement the Work Share program for our bargained-for staff. We appreciate the dialogue we have had with those leaders and the insight they have provided us. We hope to have further information to share in the days ahead.

    Thank you for your understanding as we work through the many challenges ahead of us. I am confident we are pursuing this difficult process with as much care and concern as possible for our employees. I understand that these are difficult times and understand the impact these actions may have on your lives and the lives or your families, friends and associates.

    We will have more to share in the days and weeks ahead. We will continue to work to be as transparent as possible as we undertake these actions.

    Stay safe, all, and my best wishes to each of you.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, May 8, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – May 8, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As we head into a weekend that feels way too much like winter, I want to take the opportunity to wrap up the week to share some positive highlights and other initiatives among our colleagues that you might find useful.

    Yesterday, I outlined the fall semester planning process in my note to our campus community. I will not rehash that message today, but I do want to emphasize its importance. I encourage you to read the message if you haven’t already done so. As with all of my messages, it is posted on the Office of the President Communications page. I would like to thank those of you who have written me and shared your views and perspectives about the importance of a planning process in these uncertain times.

    I choose not to see these as dark times. While they are difficult and uncertain times, and certainly tragic times for those who are directly affected by COVID-19, I remain hopeful. With the great support of the Eastern Michigan University community, we will get through this together. The guidance from public health experts, faculty leadership, the facility team and administrative professionals gives me confidence that we will identify the best path forward to support our students and employees.

    Recap: Giving Tuesday Now

    The impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis has disrupted everyday life throughout Eastern Michigan University, but no population has been more adversely affected than our students. The Student Emergency Fund received 294 applications in March, compared to four in February. The John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room has had over 730 visits since March 11, 2020, distributing 16,679 pounds of food. Our students continue to be in desperate need of assistance during this time of uncertainty. This past Tuesday, thousands of caring and compassionate individuals across the globe celebrated Giving Tuesday Now.

    Thanks to the generosity of our EMU community, in just 24 hours Swoop's Food Pantry received over $19,000, the Student Emergency Fund received more than $44,000, and WEMU raised $22,334.

    With the generous matching gift of $50,000 from GameAbove, all donations to the Student Emergency Fund will be matched 1:1. Our Giving Tuesday Now efforts were also supported by two generous gifts to both the Student Emergency Fund and Swoop's Food Pantry from DTE and an allocation of funds to both by the EMU Foundation Board of Trustees. These funds will make a positive and immediate impact on our students.

    Thank you so much to those who made a gift to the Student Emergency Fund, WEMU, or Swoop’s Food Pantry in honor of Giving Tuesday Now. Your support will help create a safety net for students who are facing financial hardship and want to return to school in the fall.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room served 62 students this week and will be open next week on Tuesday (5/12) and Thursday (5/14), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed this week are milk, black beans, barbecue sauce, flour, sugar, hand soap and toothpaste.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Campus events canceled for June

    With Governor Whitmer’s extension of the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order through May 28, and the uncertainty surrounding any form of large gathering in the immediate future, the University has extended its moratorium on campus events through the month of June. A determination for the scheduling of events in July and August will be made in the weeks ahead, consistent with the recommendations of public health officials and government directives.

    Eastern Michigan is operating remotely; we are not “closed”

    I continue to hear from many people that some of our employees have messages on their office voicemails or in an automatic reply to emails that indicate the University is “closed.” I ask that anyone who has that sort of message to please change it to indicate we are operating remotely. It can be very confusing to our guests who try to reach us.

    Where to get free WiFi

    WiFi access has become a challenge for many in our community who counted on access in University buildings or residence halls. Campus Technology, an online publication, has posted a list of locations where students can get free WiFi access during COVID-19. Please click on the link to access the list.

    As announced previously, Eastern Michigan has joined with other area universities to establish a network of on campus outdoor hotspots where people can access WiFi from inside their vehicles. An Eastern hotspot is located at the Convocation Center, Parking Lot B. The strongest signal can be found nearest the entrance of the Convocation Center. Hotspot access is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and users should remain in their vehicles when using the hotspot due to physical distancing guidance.

    Complete details about how to access Eastern’s hotspot, as well as the location of hotspots at other participating universities, can be found on the Information Technology hotspot link.

    Faculty highlight

    One of my highlights each week is learning about our faculty members’ creative efforts to inspire our students. I learned of another such example this week.

    Dr. Eric Acton is a professor of linguistics. He shared with us a class project about linguistic discrimination that his students accomplished this past semester, overcoming the challenges of working remotely in the face of the pandemic.

    Professor Acton shared how at the beginning of the semester, his students in Linguistics 310 (African American Language) “planned to put together a workshop for other EMU students about the problems of linguistic discrimination (discrimination on the basis of one's language/dialect) and the value of linguistic diversity. Then came the COVID crisis, which meant no opportunity to host an in-person workshop.

    “However, we instead pulled together and developed a rich asynchronous workshop. For what would've been a live slide-based presentation, students recorded themselves presenting their portion of the slides, which I then compiled into a single presentation with interactive questions. They also took footage from interviews they had conducted on campus earlier in the semester and created a very powerful video on language and diversity at EMU.”

    To Professor Acton, I thank you for sharing this story. It is a great way to end the week – remembering, and celebrating, why we do what we do.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu, May 7, 2020

    Fall Semester Planning Process – May 7, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    With the close of the winter semester, I again extend my deep appreciation to students, faculty and staff who have endured an unprecedented upheaval in their educational experiences and workplaces.

    As we begin the summer term, many uncertainties permeate every aspect of our lives. There are, however, at least two certainties. First, Eastern Michigan University will continue to provide an outstanding education to our students. That is our mission, and our commitment to that mission remains unchanged. Second, our university -- like every other university -- faces a challenging financial future as a result of the global pandemic and resulting rapid contraction of the global economy. These challenges require careful planning but decisive and quick action.

    It is in this context that we now turn our attention to planning to resume on-campus operations in what can best be described as a “new normal.”

    Our goals

    While some factors may not be in our control, we are planning for University operations to be held in person on campus this fall including, wherever possible, classroom instruction, housing, dining, and similar activities. Several principles will guide this planning process.

    Our number one priority is the health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff. This will be the guiding principle in every action we take. We are committed to providing students with the outstanding education they deserve, excellent service to our community, and a safe working environment for our employees.

    Many questions remain unanswered about the epidemiology and future pattern of the COVID19 virus. Therefore, our planning process will not make specific predictions about a single course of action. Instead, we will model different scenarios with varying timelines and contingencies.

    This planning process should be expeditious but cannot be rushed; our goal is to make the best decisions, not necessarily the fastest decisions. I therefore ask that our campus community remain patient.

    Whenever possible, owing to their expertise, existing campus committees will be used to propose, evaluate, and respond to plans for topic areas within their purview. Examples of such groups include the Faculty Senate, the Educational Environment & Facilities Committee (EEFC), and University Budget Council (UBC), When needed, we will create ad-hoc work groups to address specific issues.

    Steering Committee

    When most on-campus activities began operating remotely in March, I quickly convened a group of administrators and faculty to focus on responding to the crisis and the countless decisions that needed to be made. That group has met regularly, several times each week, for more than two months. It has been extremely effective, and I thank the team members for their excellent work.

    It is now time to transition our focus away from crisis management and toward planning for the future. We are convening a steering group of staff and faculty from key areas of the campus who will oversee the planning process. I will chair the group with support from Rhonda Longworth, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, and Mike Valdes, the Chief Financial Officer.

    Public Health Work Group

    The first step in the planning process must be the identification of public health standards that will help guide the University as we resume on-campus operations. We have convened a Public Health Work Group to recommend such standards for the campus. They will begin work immediately, consult with relevant experts from the campus and community, and rely on applicable government guidance.

    This group will be led by Murali Nair, Dean of the College of Health & Human Services. Other members are: Michael Williams, Director of the School of Nursing; Sherry Bumpus, Director of Nursing Operations; Bev Mihalko, Associate Professor of Health Administration; Andrea Gossett Zakrajsek, Professor of Occupational Therapy; Ellen Gold, Dean of Students; Dieter Otto, Director of Custodial Services & Grounds; and Elizabeth Radzilowski, University Human Resources Business Partner.

    Additional planning

    Other aspects of the campus planning process are under way or will begin soon. Issues to be addressed include developing scenarios for academic instruction in the fall, management of campus events, and offering a vibrant but safe student life program (e.g., housing, dining, recreation).

    Again, the principles outlined above will guide this planning process, including, where applicable, the use of existing campus committees. For example, Provost Rhonda Longworth and I will meet with the Faculty Senate next week where we expect to begin discussions about planning academic operations and budget.

    Thank you again for your patience and passion. I will continue to update the campus as often as possible. This is a challenging time, but I know we are up to the task of providing an excellent campus environment for all of our community members.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, May 1, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – May 1, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As we head into what appears to be a beautiful Michigan spring weekend, it is good to reflect back on the week and celebrate our raison d'être as students and employees of this great institution.

    Last Saturday was Commencement Day, and while our graduates didn’t get to walk across the stage we created a memorable experience for them nonetheless. Through a creative process that included text messages, social media filters, a digital/virtual experience and selfie videos we were able to celebrate our graduates in TRU(EMU) Eagles fashion. By the looks of things, did they ever have a great time!

    Hundreds of graduates participated. Scroll through the commencement virtual wall to experience their celebration.

    The congratulations selfie video montage, which includes fellow students, faculty, staff, alumni and family members, received more than 21,000 views on Facebook alone!

    A major part of our annual graduation celebrations is the Multicultural Graduation Celebration. This would have taken place last Friday. In recognition of that and to celebrate our graduating students of color, the Center of Race and Ethnicity (CORE) honored our graduates with a wonderful video that includes messages from faculty and others. It is sure to bring a smile to your face as it did mine.

    Budget challenges due to COVID-19 disruption

    I wanted to follow up on my message earlier this week about the budget challenges the University is facing due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 and the initial steps we are taking to address those. These steps include a 7 percent pay reduction for me and the senior leadership team who report to me. I appreciate the understanding words I have heard from those who acknowledge how difficult the weeks ahead may be and the uncertainty that surrounds us. I was able to further discuss the current situation and our approach to future reductions this morning in an extended 12-minute interview on WEMU with Morning Edition host David Fair. It is a wide-ranging interview - you may find it helpful in understanding our priorities moving forward.

    Staying secure while working remotely

    Because of COVID-19, Eastern Michigan University employees find themselves working remotely, either for the first time or more than ever before. We want to provide some guidance to help stay cyber-safe during this time.

    • Be vigilant with emails you receive. Hackers and phishers are actively working to play on our emotions and take advantage of our collective COVID-19 anxieties. Be skeptical of emails that you receive from unexpected sources. The sender that you see may not be the true sender of the message. Links may not go where they seem like they would go. For anything even a little unusual we recommend verifying by communicating through a different channel. Try to avoid clicking links directly in email. If possible, find the information by directly visiting the company's web site.

    • Working remotely means new consideration on data handling. See our Sensitive Data Guide at https://tiny.emich.edu/sdg to see where sensitive data can be stored.

    • If you must download EMU data to a personal owned device, create a dedicated folder (or folders) to store all EMU files so that you can easily remove them when the University transitions back to normal operations.

    • If you print any files that contain EMU data, printouts should not be left where others can view them. Printouts should be disposed of by shredding or other fully destructive processes.

    • Make sure your computer’s operating system, web browser, and other software programs are up-to-date. Turn on automatic updates wherever possible. If you have Windows 10 or MacOS, visit https://checkup.emich.edu to verify your computer meets these requirements. If you try this tool and have trouble please reach out to [email protected] for help.

     

    This information also can be found on the IT website.

    For those of you utilizing Zoom, IT has added a "Latest Updates" section to the IT support page for Zoom. The updates highlight new security features available in Zoom v 5.0.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry hours next week

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open next week on Tuesday (5/5) and Thursday (5/7), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed this week are cereal, large bags of snacks, dish soap, ready-to-eat meals, baby formula, gluten free pasta, chicken ramen, rice, milk and deodorant.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Financial contributions to support Swoop’s should be directed to Swoop's Food Pantry.

    Good news to share

    Today’s good news story comes to us from halfway around the world, from India to be precise. Ankit Soni is a 2009 graduate of the International Business/Entrepreneurship Program and is a third generation member of a family jewelry store ownership in India. The company is now making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including intubation boxes and masks for health care workers to send to the United States. You can see photos of his company’s efforts in the Everyday Eastern Heroes photo gallery.

    Please continue to let us know about positive initiatives among our students and faculty, and in the community. Send a message to [email protected].

    Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. Continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    I hope you are able to get outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weekend. Take care of yourselves, and continue to look out for and support others.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Wed, April 29, 2020

    Budget Message – April 29, 2020

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    To Eastern Michigan University faculty and staff:

    Universities, state and local governments, and businesses across Michigan and the nation are implementing unplanned and significant budget reductions to address the serious disruption of standard operations due to the COVID-19 crisis. While none of the institutions I listed above want to enact such measures, the economic circumstances of the current situation make them unavoidable.

    We at Eastern Michigan University are not exempt from these issues. The impact of lost revenue is already significant and, with the uncertainty of returning to any sort of normal operations, we have to plan, and adjust, for a challenging road ahead.

    Before I detail specific actions we are enacting and the planning underway for future operations and cost savings, it is important to know the lay of the land prior to mid-March, when the COVID-19 crisis hit Michigan full force and disrupted the entire state and our University operations.

    Enrollment projections for fall 2020 were very positive – applications were up 20 percent year-to year. Undergraduate and graduate numbers were both trending strong. Financially, the University was in a significantly better operating position than we were in previous years.

    This improved financial picture was the result of our turnaround plan, which represented a significant commitment over the last several years to cost containment and repositioning our operations to restore financial stability. As I outlined in my State of the University address in October 2019, the turnaround plan included budget cuts, early retirement incentives, and new initiatives to reduce costs and increase investment with the help of outside partners. These efforts succeeded in doubling our unrestricted reserves and turned seven years of deficits to balanced operating returns in FY 18 and FY 19, and, as I indicated, we were on our way to another positive year in FY20.

    As has been the case for every university in the nation, that situation changed drastically, and quickly.

    As an example, take a look at one operating area alone -- Auxiliaries. The revenue loss in Auxiliaries this year is $6 million. This doesn’t begin to project what those losses may look like if the current distancing directives extend into the summer and the next fiscal year. This exemplifies a single area of operations and does not begin to project the added impact on revenue of changing enrollment patterns and state funding models.

    As a result of the direct budgetary impact already identified, and the uncertainty surrounding future revenue, we are compelled to take significant actions to further reduce expenses.

    I am announcing the first of these actions today:

    • The University’s senior leadership team that reports to me will take a 7 percent salary reduction. This reduction takes effect the next pay period, beginning Friday, May 1, and will continue until further notice.
    • All University travel is frozen until further notice.
    • Capital projects are being suspended or delayed, other than those prioritized.
    • Non-bargained for staff will not receive a salary increase in FY21.


    While these are difficult first steps, they cannot be the last. The University’s leadership team is identifying other budget reduction plans that will involve both SS&M reductions and additional personnel savings. We will continue to work closely with our labor partners as we address these difficult issues and determine next steps moving forward. It is my promise and commitment to share information with you in the days ahead.

    It is also my promise to you that we will work to treat people fairly and with respect as we proceed through this process. Our people are what make Eastern Michigan University the great institution it has been for 170 years.

    As I have stated from the beginning of this crisis, the resilience of our community has never been as evident as it is today. While these actions will be difficult, I know that we all understand their importance and necessity.

    With deep appreciation,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

    President

  • Fri, April 24, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 24, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today Governor Whitmer issued a new executive order extending the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” directive through May 15, 2020. The new order included some changes to the previous order, some of which are significant to our University and our students and employees.

    Below are details of today’s executive order that specifically impact our campus community:

    Students living on campus

    The new order relaxes restrictions on travel between two homes or for the purposes of moving. This allows students living in residence halls who were unable to move out, to return to their primary residence beginning today.

    It also allows students living in residence halls who had previously left but did not remove their belongings, the opportunity to return to campus to do so. Students are expected to move their items out of the rooms by one week from today, Friday, May 1.

    Employees working on campus

    Employees who have been working remotely will continue to do so, pursuant to the terms of the new executive order, through at least May 15, 2020.

    Employees who have been designated as "critical infrastructure workers" or who have been specifically assigned to conduct “minimum basic operations” (as noted in the Governor’s executive order) should continue to work on campus as directed by their supervisors. Under the Governor’s new executive order, all employees working on campus are required to wear a non-medical grade facemask. The University must provide facemasks for any employee who needs one. Many employees working on campus, such as those in the Department of Public Safety, have already been wearing facemasks. Any employees working on campus with questions about facemasks should consult with their supervisors, who are working out the arrangements to ensure all on-campus workers have and are wearing facemasks.

    Moving forward together

    We know that students and employees are eager for more information about when campus offices will re-open, as well as details about how academic instruction and other University programs will operate in the fall. I share your eagerness for more certainty about our future. Our shared desire for more clarity in the face of so many unknown factors is not unique to EMU; every institution of higher education in the United States is struggling with these same issues.

    The global pandemic and resulting economic crisis are unprecedented in our nation’s history. In this rapidly changing environment, fixed timelines are simply not possible. Instead, we must plan for various scenarios with different possible timelines. That planning process must be methodical; it cannot and will not be rushed. Therefore, we cannot answer all questions as quickly as one might wish. This approach requires patience. It is also, however, a best practice used by government health agencies, our peers, and public and private organizations around the world.

    In the coming days and weeks, we will use the University’s existing input structures to execute a collaborative process to develop these scenarios. As always, we will keep the entire campus community informed as this process and its resulting decisions come to fruition.

    Celebrating our graduates!

    Tomorrow, instead of lining up at the Convocation Center for Commencement ceremonies, our graduates will have the opportunity to take part in a digital media/virtual experience. As we all know, our in-person commencement plans were postponed due to public health directives related to the COVID-19 crisis. A traditional in-person ceremony for our current graduating students will take place at a date yet to be determined.

    The virtual experience will create a memorable celebration for the graduating class while also providing an opportunity for faculty, staff, alumni, and fellow students to offer their congratulations. The platform includes celebratory content, including a wonderful video from the EMU community and social media filters that allow graduates to virtually wear a graduation cap and celebrate the occasion.

    Graduating students will receive both a text and email tomorrow with links on how to participate. We all will have the opportunity to celebrate our graduates and watch the fun unfold on the University’s social media channels starting tomorrow.

    Graduates seeking regalia

    We have heard from many of our April graduating students who wish to purchase graduation gowns and mortar boards for their “at home” celebrations and photos. We’ve arranged through the bookstore to make that happen. Please visit this site to learn more.

    Diplomas

    Diplomas will begin being shipped on June 10, 2020 via UPS to the address students provided when applying for graduation. For address updates, please email [email protected].

    Yesterday’s Board of Regents meeting

    As you know, yesterday’s Board of Regents meeting was held remotely and streamed live due to the COVID-19 crisis. I am pleased, thanks to the work of the Board of Regents Office, IT and Communications, that the video stream of the meeting went smoothly and we have received positive feedback on the process.

    We were able to complete several important pieces of business, the primary of which was Board of Regents authorization to pursue the sale of the Gary Owen Building at a price of $2.7 million. This transaction will allow us to return the College of Business to main campus, thereby enhancing interdisciplinary opportunities for faculty and students. Moreover, this arrangement will reduce the University’s annual utility, custodial and other expenses by nearly $1 million and eliminate $13.2 million in deferred maintenance for the building and the adjacent parking garage. Full details can be found here: Eastern Michigan University announces plan to move College of Business to central campus

    Collective bargaining agreements with the unions representing police officers and the command officers in the EMU Department of Public Safety also were approved. We thank our officers for their commitment and service in these challenging times. Details of the agreements can be found here: Eastern Michigan University reaches contract agreements with unions representing EMU police officers and command officers

    In my regular report to the Board of Regents, I thanked the entire Eastern Michigan University community for your supportive and collaborative efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    You can read all of the documents from yesterday's meeting on the Board of Regents website.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry update

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open next week on Tuesday (4/28) and Thursday (4/30), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are cereal, rice, tofu, dish soap, hand soap, pasta sauce, and ready to eat items.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Financial contributions to support Swoop’s should be directed to Swoop's Food Pantry.

    Good news to share

    We have another good news story to share in our ongoing effort to highlight projects in which our campus members are supporting one another and the community. Today’s highlight is the work of the Family Empowerment Program (FEP). On-site Eastern Michigan social workers are currently assisting families living in all Ypsilanti Housing Commission (YHC) communities – serving as a key point for social, health and economic access, education support and community navigation.

    During the COVID crisis, FEP's social workers are deemed essential workers and continue to provide daily on-site support and critical resources to almost 1,000 YHC residents, including coordinating bi-weekly deliveries by Food Gatherers and American Muslim Neighbors. You can find photographs of the efforts on our Everyday Eastern Heroes photo gallery.

    Visit the [email protected] Family Empowerment Program website for additional information or contact [email protected].

    Please continue to let us know about positive initiatives among our students and faculty, and in the community. Send a message to [email protected].

    Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. Continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    I hope you are able to enjoy the warmer weather we are expecting this weekend. I wish you and your families and friends safety and good health in the days and weeks ahead.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, April 17, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 17, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Greetings on a snowy mid-April Friday. I’m not sure what happened to spring, but I know many of you join me in not welcoming the cold and the sight of the white stuff this time of year!

    I hope many of you are able to enjoy some respite in the weekend ahead. It is a good time to get away, emotionally, and decompress from the stress and challenges in the world around us. A mental health expert interviewed on WEMU this week emphasized the need to focus on simple things – such as sleeping, walking, laughing, eating healthy, practicing mindfulness and taking deep breaths. Finding diversions from the 24-hour news cycle is important – as is staying connected with family and friends through all the various online social sharing platforms. Most of all, continue to stay home and stay safe.

    I have several good news items to share as we wrap up the week.

    EMU CARES Grant expanded to graduate students

    I am very pleased to announce that we have expanded the EMU CARES Grant for students affected by the COVID-19 crisis to include graduate students. The EMU CARES Grant was introduced last week, initially for undergraduate students while the University assessed the most effective way to support graduate students. After that assessment, we determined that graduate students would benefit from the grant under the same terms.

    The one-time grant provides $500 to all students, undergraduate and graduate, enrolling in three credit hours, and $1,000 for all students, undergraduate and graduate, enrolling in six credit hours.

    The grant is designed to offset new costs and other hurdles students face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the additional expenses associated with online and hybrid courses. It provides an additional benefit to students to help them persist in their education and complete their degrees.

    Many of our graduate students face layoffs and other financial hardships and we want to support them, as well as our undergraduate students, as they navigate these unprecedented challenges.

    No application is required to obtain an EMU CARES Grant. It will be automatically credited to students’ accounts for eligible summer 2020 courses. If you have already registered, the grant will be reflected in a future ebill.

    Because the grant is designed to offset additional online fees students must pay due to COVID-19, the grant is available to students who take courses in which an online fee is charged -- this includes the majority of summer courses. The grant aims directly to address concerns raised by some students about being required to take an online course because of the COVID-19 crisis.

    A few important qualifications should be noted. Students who receive full-tuition scholarships for their summer classes and international students may not be eligible for the EMU CARES Grant. Students may e-mail [email protected] if they have questions.

    Summer registration is currently underway, with more than 650 courses to choose from. Classes begin May 4. Students can visit the University’s online enrollment page to learn more about the University’s extensive online and transferable summer course offerings.

    Renewal conditions relaxed for 2020-2021 student scholarships

    Some students have expressed concern that the changes in the delivery of instruction and housing status due to the COVID-19 global pandemic may impact their ability to meet the GPA requirements for EMU scholarship renewal. I am pleased to announce that all scholarships listed below will automatically be renewed for the 2020-2021 aid year if students meet other scholarship conditions such as their remaining semesters of eligibility, enrollment requirements for the 2020-2021 aid year, and Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP):

    • Presidential Scholarship
    • Regents Scholarship
    • Recognition of Excellence Scholarship
    • Education First Opportunity Scholarship EFOS (must maintain Pell eligibility)
    • Emerald Scholarship
    • National Scholars Program Scholarship

     

    Students should contact [email protected] with questions about this process or other scholarship awards not listed above.

    Update to pass/fail reporting requirements

    The Provost’s office yesterday distributed a helpful update to students about the University’s Winter 2020 Pass-Fail Grade Reporting Options. Details are included in this link: Provost's Update to Students.

    COVID-19 international students survey

    A survey has been designed specifically for our international students to request feedback on their experiences at Eastern during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Provost’s Office and the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) will review the information to determine the best ways to continue our support of international students during this difficult time. We ask international students to please check their email in order to access and complete the survey by April 24, 2020.

    Campus hotspots identified, coordination with other universities

    In order to provide students throughout the region with free access to WiFi, Eastern Michigan has joined with other area universities to establish a network of on campus outdoor hotspots where people can access WiFi from inside their vehicles. An Eastern hotspot is located at the Convocation Center, Parking Lot B. The strongest signal can be found nearest the entrance of the Convocation Center. Hotspot access is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and users should remain in their vehicles when using the hotspot due to physical distancing guidance. Other University parking lots are being evaluated for hotspot/WiFi access. We will provide further details as these are determined.

    Eastern is participating in a regional hotspot project with other universities to assist students across the area with hotspot/WiFi access. Students from Eastern or any of the participating institutions can access hotspots at participating institutions. Complete details about how to access Eastern’s hotspot, as well as the location of hotspots at other participating universities, can be found on the Information Technology hotspot link.

    GameAbove offers $50,000 matching gift to Student Emergency Fund

    The EMU Foundation is reporting a positive response to our message earlier this week about the $50,000 matching gift directed to the EMU Student Emergency Fund. This opportunity is offered by the GameAbove alumni group in response to the COVID-19 crisis. If you would like to help us realize the full match by making a gift, please follow this link: EMU Student Emergency Fund.

    Next week’s Swoop’s Food Pantry hours/donations needed

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open next week on Tuesday (4/21) and Thursday (4/23), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items – those most needed are milk, tofu, canned beans, pasta and pasta sauce, cleaning items such as dish soap, laundry pods, dishwasher pods, canned cat food and baby wipes.

    Items can be dropped off Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Financial contributions to support Swoop’s should be directed to Swoop's Food Pantry.

    Looking ahead

    As many of you know, we truly value the inspiring stories emerging among our students, faculty, staff and community volunteers. I like to capture highlights of these efforts in our messages, and today I have a wonderful and profound message to share about the work of a faculty member and her engagement with our students. It seems a fitting way to close out the week – with a strong reminder of why we all do what we do.

    Dr. Beth Henschen, associate professor of political science, sent this message to us:

    I applaud my faculty colleagues for the creative ways in which they have connected with their classes during this pandemic as well as their remarkable dedication to continuing to “teach well.” I’d like to say a few words about the students...

    I was fortunate to be the recipient of a Faculty Research Fellowship (FRF) for the winter 2020 semester. My research “team,” a graduate assistant and an undergraduate funded by the fellowship, have continued to work diligently. Electronic conversations replaced our regular in-person meetings and our methods for coding data were adapted to an online format. Through it all, they have cheerfully continued to work, thanking me when I send them another set of items to code. A work-study student in the department asked if I had any projects for her to undertake, even though she would continue to be paid for the remainder of the semester whether she logged any hours or not. I offered her a contained data-gathering task. She thanked me for giving her something interesting to do, for bringing a bit more focus to her days, and completed the assignment in record time.

    My point is this: These students have had their lives upended. Symposium presentations that have gone undelivered, honors events that have not taken place, send-offs to law school put on hold, graduate student receptions cancelled. Yet through it all, these students—our students—have shown grit and grace and good humor. Let’s applaud them.

    Thank you for sharing this poignant message with us, Dr. Henschen.

    To all in our community, please continue to let us know about positive initiatives among our students and faculty, and in the community. Send a message to [email protected].

    Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. Continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    Have a safe, warm and relaxing weekend.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Tue, April 14, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 14, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Students have expressed considerable interest in the EMU CARES Grant, a one-time grant initiative to support registration for undergraduate students in 2020 summer online/virtual classes, which was announced in an email to students last Thursday (4/9).

    The Grant provides a $500 grant for students enrolling in one class/three credits and $1,000 for students enrolling in two classes/six credits.

    Some of the positive comments we have received include:

    • “Thanks so much, I have already enrolled, and was considering dropping the class, but this will really help me and I can stay enrolled :)”
    • “Thank you very much. This will help tremendously since my husband lost his job due to COVID-19.”

    The grant program was established to address the serious disruption in students’ pursuit of their degrees. We understand the profound impact the global health crisis is having on everyone, particularly the financial hardship on students and their families. We are committed to doing everything we can to help students persist in their education and complete their degrees.

    The new EMU CARES Grant directly addresses concerns raised by some students about the online fees for summer courses, which total $240 for a three-credit class. In fact, the CARES grant not only covers the online fee, but also provides students with an additional financial benefit. With the new grant, students will benefit with an additional $260 ($500 grant minus $240 online fee) for those taking three credits. Students taking six credits will receive an additional $520 ($1,000 grant minus $480 online course fees).

    The CARES grant was designed to maximize a student's ability to qualify for financial aid because the CARES grant is specifically excluded from a student's financial aid award calculation. Removing the online fee does not accomplish this goal and may, in fact, negatively impact a student's financial aid award calculation.

    As you might expect with a grant offering of this nature we received several questions, which I will answer below:

    Q: What do I have to do to apply for the EMU CARES Grant?
    A: There is no application process. The grant is automatically credited to your account upon registration.

    Q: What if I have already registered, do I still qualify?
    A: Yes. The credit will be reflected in a future ebill.

    Q: Why isn’t this particular grant offered for graduate students?
    A: We greatly value our graduate students and are evaluating the best way to support them.

    Q: Why do students have to pay online course fees for summer classes now that we are required to take these courses online?
    A: The online course fee is an existing fee that has been in place and supports the additional technology, software and design support required to offer these course sections on an ongoing basis. As outlined above, however, the CARES grant is designed to address this concern in a way that does not negatively impact students’ financial aid eligibility.

    Q: Will I receive the CARES grant if I take a one- or two-credit summer course?
    A: Yes. The grant will be pro-rated based on the number of credits taken. For example, a student taking a one-credit course will receive a CARES grant of $166, and a student taking a two-credit course will receive a CARES grant of $333. The maximum allowable grant is $1,000 for undergraduate students taking six or more credits this summer.

    Join us in celebrating our 2020 graduates

    As I indicated last week, we are finalizing plans for an online/virtual celebration for our more than 2,200 soon-to-be new graduates in advance of an in-person Commencement ceremony that will occur this fall (we hope to announce the date soon). We’ve had a great response to our request for “selfie videos” congratulating the class of 2020. It’s not too late -- all students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to send us a video to be included in the celebration.

    Even though we are apart -- learning, teaching and working remotely -- we can come together virtually to cheer on our graduates and acknowledge all they have achieved.

    The deadline for video submissions is Saturday, April 18.

    Please send your video to [email protected]. In your email, please include your name and your connection to the EMU community (graduation year if alumni, faculty/staff title, student standing, community member, etc.).

    Suggestions for making the video:

    • Be enthusiastic!
    • Be dynamic and active in your presentation.
    • Be concise.
    • Hold camera vertical - selfie angle.
    • Wear EMU gear.
    • Record selfie message in a controlled environment to limit background noise.
    • Do not record with a large window in the background to avoid being backlit.
    • Have fun!

    I encourage everyone to participate, have fun and be creative, as we start to celebrate our 2020 EMU graduates in a memorable way.

    GameAbove offers $50,000 matching gift to Student Emergency Fund

    After listening to EMU student leaders discuss their priorities for this year, the GameAbove group made a significant investment in the well-being and success of students by creating the Students Matter Most Initiative, which launched in January 2020. Through this initiative, the Student Emergency Fund received a substantial boost with the first round of gifts from GameAbove. The fund now stands to receive additional funding through a $50,000 match that this group of passionate alumni is offering in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

    If you would like to help us realize the full match by making a gift, please follow this link: EMU Student Emergency Fund.

    [email protected] PPE volunteer effort

    [email protected] has initiated a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) volunteer effort. More than 100 individuals (mostly EMU students, faculty and staff) are participating in the project, making masks, face shields and gowns for St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital and community organizations in need. Engage and its volunteers will produce 1,200 masks. Once this first round is complete, more fabric will be purchased and more masks constructed and distributed. The project is supported by GameAbove (see above). [email protected] has established a website with additional details about the PPE initiative.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry hours/donations needed

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room was open today and will be open again on Thursday (4/16), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Last week saw 115 clients in the seven hours Swoop’s was open.

    Clients 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.

    If you wish to donate items, the most needed items this week are:

    • Bread
    • Ketchup and other condiments
    • Tofu
    • Rice side dishes
    • Chicken noodle soup
    • Large snack items
    • Individual frozen meals

    Items can be dropped off Thursday from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Financial donations to support Swoop’s should be directed to Swoop's Food Pantry.

    Moving forward/community support

    I continue to be amazed by our University colleagues and the great support we provide to the community. Below are just a few new initiatives that are underway, as well as an update on an item we had noted previously:

    • EMU faculty members in the College of Engineering and Technology have built plastic intubation boxes to be donated to hospitals/health care workers. You can see images of the devices in the Everyday Eagle Heroes photo gallery.
    • EMU Police continue to support Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, with officers volunteering to make deliveries.
    • EMU Police joined other area agencies last week to acknowledge the front-line health care heroes at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital with a Parade of Lights.

    Let us know about positive initiatives among our students and faculty, and in the community – send a message to [email protected].

    Please follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. Observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    Thank you for your resilience and care for one another as we all work through this crisis.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu, April 9, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 9, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    It is with great sadness that I share news about the death of Marilyn Horace-Moore, a longtime and distinguished instructor and advisor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology.

    Marilyn earned a master’s degree in criminology from EMU in 1989 and a bachelor’s degree in 1978, and has been teaching criminology and sociology courses at Eastern since 1994. Prior to becoming a lecturer and advisor in the department, she enjoyed a successful tenure with the City of Ypsilanti Police Department, retiring as a police lieutenant in 1994. Her research issues have included race, discrimination issues and career advising. She has worked with students at Fast Track and athletic recruiting, and actively supported Commencement activities.

    Surviving Marilyn are her husband, two children and 11 grandchildren. Our heartfelt thoughts are with her family, friends, students and University colleagues. We will provide memorial details when they become available.

    Governor extends Executive Order

    Today, Governor Whitmer extended Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order through April 30, 2020. Due to the University’s previously announced cancellation of in-person classes through the end of the semester, there will be no change to current University operations under the extension.

    Employees should continue to work remotely through April 30, with the exception of those employees designated as critical infrastructure workers or those conducting minimum basic operations. Employees designated to work on campus have received a letter from their supervisor stating this, and are the only EMU employees who have swipe card access to their buildings.

    We will continue to keep you updated as the situation warrants in the days and weeks ahead.

    Please continue to follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. Continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    I wish everyone a healthy, peaceful and restful weekend with the extra day off tomorrow for Spring Recess, and also for many in our community who observe the holidays of Passover and Easter.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Wed, April 8, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 8, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today’s message begins with an important request. Help us celebrate the EMU Class of 2020!

    As I noted in Monday’s message, our graduating students are among the most affected by the disruption to the academic year -- their celebration plans for Commencement were put on hold due to the global health crisis.

    To be sure, our graduates will have the opportunity to participate in a formal Commencement ceremony at a date to be determined.

    Until that moment, when our graduating students get to don their cap and gown and walk across the Convocation stage in person, we plan to do a few special things to celebrate their achievements and let them know proud we are to have them as graduates of Eastern Michigan University.

    As I indicated Monday, we are finalizing plans for an online/virtual celebration for our more than 2,200 new graduates.

    You can play a part in one important element of the celebration. The University is assembling a “selfie” video montage of congratulatory messages to our graduating students. We are hoping current students, faculty, staff and alumni will take part. Even though we are apart -- learning, teaching and working remotely -- we can come together virtually to cheer on our graduates and acknowledge all they have achieved.

    I invite you to send us a short “selfie” video offering congratulations to our 2020 graduates. The video should be between 5-15 seconds. If you are at a loss for words, here are some suggestions below:

    • "Congratulations class of 2020!"
    • "Congrats Eagle grads!"
    • "Cheers to the class of 2020!"
    • "Best of luck and happiest wishes to the class of 2020!"

    The deadline for video submissions is Wednesday, April 15.

    Please send your video to [email protected]. In your email, please include your name and your connection to the EMU community (graduation year if alumni, faculty/staff title, student standing, community member, etc.).

    Suggestions for making the video:

    • Be enthusiastic!
    • Be dynamic and active in your presentation
    • Be concise
    • Hold camera vertical - selfie angle
    • Wear EMU gear
    • Record selfie message in a controlled environment to limit background noise
    • Do not record with a large window in the background
    • Have fun!

    I encourage everyone to participate, have fun and be creative, as we start to celebrate our 2020 EMU graduates in a memorable way.

    We have several additional updates to share with you today.

    Remote answering of office telephones

    It is important that offices answer incoming calls from people seeking information from University offices. Callers, particularly those with important or urgent needs, want to connect with people and don’t like being stuck in voicemail. Thanks to the Division of Information Technology (IT), software exists to allow office phones to connect with an employee’s remote work place and we encourage offices to use this technology.

    Employees working remotely may request access to install and use the Cisco "Jabber" softphone (software phone) client. A softphone is software that runs on your computer and connects to the EMU VoIP phone system. Requirements to use a softphone:

    • You must be connected to the EMU VPN to use the Jabber Softphone.
    • You must complete this service request in order for remote access to be configured and available for your phone.
    • You must have a computer equipped with a microphone and speakers or a headset with a microphone to use this software.
    • You agree that you have a cell phone or a landline available in the location you will be using the softphone. You agree that 911 calls from remote locations must be placed using your cell phone or landline to provide accurate location data to emergency responders.

    Once we configure your access, Jabber Installation instructions are found at https://tiny.emich.edu/jabberinstructions

    Please note: Requests from departments prioritized by the Executive Council are completed first. Requests from other departments will be completed when time permits.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry donations needed

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open again tomorrow, Thursday (4/9), from noon – 3:30 p.m. More than 70 clients visited Swoop’s in the 3½ hours it was open yesterday. The need is great. Clients 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.

    A significant need continues for certain items. These include:

    • Bread
    • Pasta sauce
    • Ketchup and other condiments
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Large snack food items
    • Size 6 diapers
    • Toilet paper

    Swoop’s also requests self-care and creative items such as lotions, bubble bath, journals, crayons, and markers.

    For those wishing to make donations, items can be dropped off on Thursday from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Financial donations to assist students should be directed to:

    Curbside COVID screening and testing

    The Curbside COVID Screening and Testing Area at the St. Joseph Mercy campus in Ann Arbor offers COVID-19 screening and testing for patients that meet the CDC and State of Michigan testing criteria. A physician's order is NOT required for screening; however, if you have a doctor's order for testing, you are asked to please bring that prescription with you.

    WHEN: Open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week.

    WHERE: Screening/Testing Area is located at the Outpatient Surgery entrance on the campus of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, 5360 McAuley Drive, Ypsilanti, 48197.

    HOW: Drive through screening/testing – people can stay in their vehicles.

    WHO: Open to the public, no prescreen or appointment is necessary.

    St. Joe’s is offering this service to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk to patients and their families. If you have any questions, please call 734-712-0918.

    For more information on the CDC testing requirements, please review https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html.

    United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund established

    The United Way of Washtenaw County has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to raise funds for the emerging and critical needs of our local community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have not already donated to the Eastern Michigan University campaign, or wish to make an additional donation, please use this link to support the families and community affected. Please put “EMU” in the company field on the relief fund donation page so we can keep track of how our EMU community is helping during this time.

    COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub

    Many of the nation’s most respected mental health organizations have combined efforts to create a new resource hub for access to mental health services and guidance. Please visit the COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub for additional information. The Hub has been added to the University’s COVID-19 resource website.

    Community support initiatives

    We continue to highlight EMU community members making a difference during this crisis. Here are some excellent examples:

    • Some of our outstanding EMU alumni have spent the last two weeks making and donating masks to local hospitals and medical professionals. Anne Houston Chapman (BME02), band teacher at Summit Academy in Romulus, has made over 200 masks, going through three sewing machines to create them. Another alumni, Lynn Klammer (MS88), helped her friend start The Mid-Michigan Mask Makers (4M) and in just one short week has donated over 1,000 masks to hospitals and other health professionals. The new group has 130+ volunteers. Learn more about 4M and how you can get involved by visiting the Facebook Page.
    • EMU professors Cathy Fleischer and Ann Blakeslee have worked to extend the YpsiWrites resources to the community via an online initiative since people are unable to physically utilize those services at Ypsilanti district libraries. The team has created and curated sources to help children, teens, and adults with writing invitations that they can do at home -- individually or together as a family. They are being rolled out on the YpsiWrites website and through the YpsiWrites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

    It is wonderful to learn about these efforts, which speak to Eastern’s long-standing Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement recognition. Please continue to relay details of any other special efforts you are aware of to [email protected].

    Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. Continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    The University will be closed on Friday for Spring Recess, and as many in our community observe the holidays of Passover and Easter I will not have another update this week unless necessary.

    Once again, I thank you for your ongoing support, for your commitment to staying safe, and for your care of one another during these challenging times.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, April 6, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 6, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today marks the beginning of our fourth week of online/virtual class instruction -- it also marks three weeks away from the end of the winter semester. The level of understanding and acceptance among our students, faculty and staff to the adaptations we have been forced to implement continues to be a source of great gratitude, pride and admiration for all of us.

    Commencement and graduation celebrations for current seniors

    Perhaps nowhere are the effects of the pandemic as impactful as they are to our seniors, who were anticipating the traditional celebration to mark the milestone of the attainment of their degrees. Commencement day is the most special day on a university campus, and I, along with our faculty, University leadership, staff and the Alumni Office, were so looking forward to celebrating this day with our students and their families and loved ones.

    We announced previously, with sadness, that Commencement activities would be postponed due to the health crisis. Postponed is the appropriate term. Graduating seniors will still have a celebration. University leadership is working on some creative solutions to mark April 25, which was to be Commencement day, in an appropriate but responsible way given the public health guidance limiting public interaction. We will have more to share once the plans are finalized, which is expected in the next week.

    Most importantly, the University is committing to our graduating students’ participation in a full public Commencement ceremony once it is safe to do so, whether later this fall or in tandem with the University’s Fall Commencement ceremony. These plans also are being finalized with plans to be announced soon.

    Seniors, we know this time is important to you. It is important to us as well. We will make sure you have the celebration you deserve!

    Reminder for employees working on campus to answer screening questions

    Although most EMU employees continue to work remotely, a few, who have been designated as “critical infrastructure workers,” are still coming to campus. As a reminder for these employees and their supervisors, the Washtenaw County Health Department emergency order dated March 26, 2020 is currently in place until April 13, 2020. That order requires EMU employees to answer screening questions each time they report to work on campus (or before reporting to campus for work). Some supervisors have chosen to use a paper form for employees to answer the questions. Others are using the Google Form that has been made available. Supervisors and employees should coordinate regarding which form should be used. As a reminder, if any EMU employee answers "yes" to any of the screening questions, that employee may not work on campus. Further information regarding the Order is available on EMU's COVID-19 website and the Washtenaw County Health Department website. The paper and Google forms are available on the HR Forms website.

    Here are the relevant links:

    Paper Form:

    https://www.emich.edu/hr/documents/benefits/covid-19-daily-screening-requiements.pdf

    Google Form:

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc3q9jJpHHcbdydrJBGadHTklhKhMV8_Y-ELkB4tc7XvySh7g/viewform

    Health Department:

    https://www.washtenaw.org/3122/Critical-Infrastructure-Businesses-Guida

    HR Forms:

    https://www.emich.edu/hr/working/employment/forms.php

    Remote working resources/Zoom

    As we continue to adapt to the remote working environment, the Division of Information Technology (IT) continues to work to share and support technology resources. IT has updated its remote-work resources and information page to assist the campus community in these efforts. Please visit the webpage: Technology Resources for Working Remotely. It also is linked on the University’s COVID-19 website.

    Given the questions and concerns that you may have observed in national media about the use of the video conferencing platform Zoom, the IT page also includes security tips for using Zoom effectively and securely. It also includes information about Jabber - the softphone (software-based phone) that people can request access to so they can make/receive calls from their campus phone right on their computer.

    Wellness programs now available online

    Classes and working remotely aren’t the only major adjustments taking place on our campus. Wellness programs for students, faculty, staff and community members have moved online as well. These include exercise, fitness and other initiatives, including yoga, pilates, meditation and even “Wellness Woof” dog therapy. Sean Woolf, associate director of the EMU Office of Wellness and Community Responsibility, is helping coordinate these efforts. He indicates that these programs are a great way to help deal with stress and grief, as well as helping to build resilience and adjust to adversity. Individual classes can be found on the University calendar.

    Reminders/updates

    • The number of students living on campus is now at 313. We expect that number to continue to decline slightly in the days ahead. As this transition continues, we remain committed to supporting students who are still on campus. Students with questions about their on-campus housing or the move-out process should email [email protected].
    • The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open tomorrow (Tuesday, April 7) and Thursday, April 9, from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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. Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Creative approaches to virtual class delivery

    We continue to learn about Eastern faculty members who are implementing creative approaches to engage their students in our virtual/online world. Professor Linda Kinczkowski shared with us how she adjusted her three classes in the Simulation, Animation and Gaming program. Considering they were design classes, being able to see and interact with students was imperative. While she misses the personal approach of in-person classes, she has used CANVAS and ZOOM to continue course delivery and meet with students, seeing their continued project work and hearing their reports on each assignment. Professor Kinczkowski indicates that during these meetings she reassures students that “we will get through this together” while also allowing the opportunity for a few laughs, which she says helps lighten some of the challenges faced by students during the health crisis.

    Please continue to relay details of any other special efforts you are aware of to [email protected].

    Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe.

    Please continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    Many thanks for your continued engagement and commitment to Eastern as we weather this crisis.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, April 3, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 3, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As we head into the weekend, I want to again acknowledge the outstanding collaboration we continue to see from across the University. In these challenging times, our Eastern community is working tirelessly and creatively to support one another and our students.

    We have several updates to share with you today.

    Support of health/medical professionals at IHA and St. Joe’s

    As part of the University’s ongoing support of our community and our health partners, Eastern will assist IHA and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital physicians, nurses and health professionals by providing temporary living arrangements in the Village Apartments. This helps to address a major issue for St. Joe’s and IHA -- helping provide a nearby apartment living space for their professionals who are working long hours in the face of this crisis and need a place to self-isolate. These professionals will occupy a single building in the Villages complex – students will not be housed in the same building. The use of Village Apartments for this purpose begins next week.

    Students living on campus

    The number of students living on campus is now less than 400. We expect that number to continue to decline slightly in the days ahead. Students remaining on campus include international students – some who are not being allowed to enter their home countries due to the crisis, as well as students from long distances away, students who consider Eastern their permanent address, and those who are unable to return to their permanent address for other reasons, such as someone in their home being at high risk for COVID-19.

    As this transition continues, we remain 100 percent committed to supporting students who are still living on campus. Students with questions about their on-campus housing or the move-out process should email [email protected].

    Registering for summer and fall classes

    Processes for summer and fall registration remain underway. Students interested in fall registration should visit the fall registration appointment page for details. Students interested in summer classes, which are moving to an online format, should visit the summer registration appointment page to learn the schedule for registration.

    Adjustment to student account hold policies to support students is and the disruption it has created, students currently registered for the Winter 2020 semester will now be able to register for Summer and Fall semesters with up to a $500 account balance. The previous outstanding balance limit was $200.

    We recognize that there are unique situations that students and the University have never encountered as a result of the pandemic. For unique situations, please contact the business office via email at [email protected] to arrange a time to discuss your situation.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry hours next week

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open next week on Tuesday (4/7) and Thursday (4/9) from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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.

    Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

    Swoop’s continues to receive great support and is well stocked to support students’ needs. The “hot list” of needed items includes bread, milk, pasta sauce, pasta, rice and tofu.

    For those wishing to make donations, drop-off times are Monday (4/6) from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and on Tuesday (4/7) and Thursday (4/9) from 10 a.m. – noon. Donations can be dropped off to The John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room in 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Financial donations to assist students should be directed to:


    Campus Medical Pharmacy changed hours of operation

    Beginning Monday, April 6, Campus Medical Pharmacy, located in the IHA Health Center @ EMU, will be changing its hours until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday – Friday, and 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

    The Pharmacy encourages patients to contact them ahead of time at (734) 547-5995 to set up a curbside pick-up of medications to limit exposure to others. Contact the Pharmacy with any questions.

    Community volunteer opportunities

    As you might expect, there continues to be high demand among social service and not-for-profit organizations for volunteer assistance. Eastern has a wonderful resource for people who have some time to share and an interest in helping others. Through our VISION Volunteer Center, and in tandem with the University of Michigan Ginsberg Center and the United Way of Washtenaw County, volunteer opportunities can be found at the EMU Volunteer Connection website.

    Further, organizations who wish to have assistance from the EMU community as they combat the disease can fill out this form on the [email protected] website. The staff at engage will connect these organizations with EMU community members who may be able to help. Please feel free to share this website throughout the wider community, and to use it to channel all requests for EMU assistance with supplies or volunteers.

    In addition to the community support opportunities listed on the Volunteer Connection, we continue to receive information about other efforts to support one another and our community. This is one you can do from home. The team at [email protected] is collecting thank you notes for our friends at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital who, like many others, are working tirelessly to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as provide care for all other patients. More than 40 notes have already been generated. One example of the positive messages received reads:

    “Your love and commitment to your job, but more importantly, to the people that you serve every day in the healthcare setting is an amazing and admirable trait. Compassionate and caring people like you make this world a better place, even more so during these dark times. Thank you for just being you!”

    Any and all support we can give to them is appreciated. If you are interested in writing a note of support, please visit this form. The notes, which can be anonymous if you choose, will be printed and shared with the St. Joe’s staff. For more information, contact Engage at [email protected].

    Please continue to relay details of any other special efforts you are aware of to [email protected].

    And, just as important today as when the public health guidance was initially issued -- please “Stay Home, Stay Safe” and continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

    Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe.

    Stay well!

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Wed, April 1, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – April 1, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Strength. Character. Resilience. These terms capture the sentiments I observe each day in communications with others on campus about the adjustments made by Eastern Michigan University students, by our faculty and by our staff. Each of us is adjusting rapidly to the turmoil and health crisis that surrounds us, which is affecting every area of our lives. I applaud the Eastern Michigan community for your perseverance, patience and support of one another during this difficult time. This is truly a mark of distinction and something of which we all should be very proud.

    I have several updates to share today as the University continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Campus housing

    We currently have fewer than 500 students who have not checked out of campus housing at this time. The number is expected to further decline in the days ahead. This has been an extremely important process as the University follows government and public health directives for physical and social distancing. We know that the actual number of students currently living on campus is likely less than the number referenced above -- including students who returned to their permanent addresses but have not formally moved out.

    The students remaining on campus include international students – some who are not being allowed to enter their home countries due to the crisis, as well as students from long distances away, students who consider Eastern their permanent address, and those who are unable to return to their permanent address for other reasons, such as someone in their home being at high risk for COVID-19. As this transition continues, we remain 100 percent committed to supporting students who are still living on campus. Students with questions about their on-campus housing or the move-out process should email [email protected].

    Registering for summer and fall classes

    Processes for summer and fall registration remain underway. Students interested in fall registration should visit the fall registration appointment page for details. Students interested in summer classes, which are moving to an online format, should visit the summer registration appointment page to learn the schedule for registration.

    New Psychology Department chatbot provides additional support for students

    The EMU Psychology Department, in collaboration with X2ai.com, is conducting a research study that will provide all EMU students free access to a mental health chatbot during the COVID-19 crisis. "Tess" is an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot that is trained to deliver evidence-based emotional wellness and coping strategies in this difficult time. To learn more about the study and how to access this resource, please click here. You can enter the study directly by clicking the link at the bottom of the flyer, but you may also receive an email from the investigators in the near future, asking you if you would like to join the project. We encourage you to take advantage of this free service by participating in our study. Please contact the primary investigator, Dr. Karen Saules ([email protected]) or co-investigator, Krithika Prakash ([email protected]), if you have any questions.

    This effort complements the important and ongoing efforts of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which has transitioned to fully phone and video sessions with Zoom. If students have questions or need to speak with a counselor, they should email CAPS at [email protected] and communicate their interest. Phone messages can be left at 734.487.1118 and will be returned as soon as possible. CAPS will also continue to offer after-hours (after 5 p.m. and on weekends) phone support through its main CAPS phone line, 734.487.1118.

    Cleaning and disinfecting

    The deep and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of campus areas remains a priority and is ongoing. This process will continue through the spring and summer and is being conducted by our facilities team and external specialists as necessary.

    Building access via card swipe for critical infrastructure employees only

    A reminder that only employees designated as critical infrastructure workers or those conducting minimum basic operations are permitted on campus at this time, under the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order. Employees designated to work on campus should have received a letter from their supervisor stating this, and are the only EMU employees who have swipe card access to their buildings. All others do not have such access. Any employee seeking one-time or temporary access must have consent from their supervisor and divisional vice president. The Department of Public Safety requests that anyone visiting campus buildings contact them so they are aware of the building entry and can ensure appropriate cleaning of those areas by our facilities team.

    Update for employees working remotely

    Employees working remotely will continue to do so until further notice. We will keep you advised as any new directives are issued. If employees have a specific date on their “away” phone or email auto-reply messages, such dates should be changed to “until further notice.”

    Looking ahead

    We continue to identify positive efforts to inform and support our campus community. This week’s EMU Today includes three outstanding illustrations of the excellence and creativity of our faculty members and their important connection with students. Please check out the efforts of our School of Music and Dance; the inspired methods of Political Science Professor Jeffrey Bernstein, who has added a bedtime story to his virtual lessons; and the expertise provided by Economics Professor David Crary about the longer term implications of the health crisis.

    And, in true Broadway tradition, “The show must go on!” Virtually, of course. Examples include this year’s virtual delivery of the 24th annual Student Gold Medallion Awards and the 40th Undergraduate Symposium, which is posting one student presentation a day via its social media channels:

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emusymposium/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/EMUsymposium

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emuundergraduatesymposium/

    These are wonderful and creative representations of the use of technology to continue to support our students! My thanks to everyone involved. Please continue to relay details of any special efforts you are aware of to [email protected].

    Follow physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Monitor your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates.

    Stay well and stay safe,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, March 30, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 30, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    We have several important updates for you today as the University’s continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a very important deadline for students living on campus.

    Deadline for residence hall/ on-campus apartments move-out

    Tomorrow is the deadline for students to move out of their residence halls or on-campus apartments. As stated in several previous messages, to be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit all personal items must be removed from on-campus housing and formal checkout and keys must be returned no later than tomorrow, March 31 at 5 p.m. Students will not receive a credit if they have not removed their belongings and completed the formal checkout process/key return by that date and time.

    A few students and parents have asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. The Governor’s executive order does allows travel for such purposes, as noted in Section 7(b) of the order:

    Individuals may also travel:
    (1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
    (2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
    (3) To travel between two residences in this state.

    Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within the above exceptions.

    We understand that for some Eastern is a permanent address, or a destination for international students and students from far away in the U.S. Other students have other special circumstances that affect their ability to return to their permanent place of residence.

    Please contact the housing office if you have questions about this process. As indicated previously, students who remain in campus housing may be asked to change rooms or consolidate based on total occupancy.

    Update for employees working remotely

    Employees working remotely will continue to do so until communicated otherwise. This applies to all employees other than those designated as a critical infrastructure worker or necessary to conduct minimum basic operations under the terms of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. We will keep you advised as any new directives are issued.

    Working remotely presents distinct challenges for those who have not done so in the past. Our Learning and Organizational Development office has developed the following Tips For Maximizing Your Productivity While Working From Home.

    New Psychology Department chatbot provides additional support for students

    The EMU Psychology Department, in collaboration with X2ai.com, is conducting a research study that will provide all EMU students free access to a mental health chatbot during the COVID-19 crisis. "Tess" is an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot that is trained to deliver evidence-based emotional wellness and coping strategies in this difficult time. To learn more about the study and how to access this resource, please click here; you can enter the study directly by clicking the link at the bottom of the flyer, but you may also receive an email from the investigators in the near future, asking you if you would like to join the project. We encourage you to take advantage of this free service by participating in our study. Please contact the primary investigator, Dr. Karen Saules ([email protected]) or co-investigator, Krithika Prakash ([email protected]), if you have any questions.

    This effort complements the important and ongoing efforts of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which has transitioned to fully phone and video sessions with Zoom. If students have questions or need to speak with a counselor, they should email CAPS at [email protected] and communicate their interest. Phone messages can be left at 734.487.1118 and will be returned as soon as possible. CAPS will also continue to offer after-hours (after 5 p.m. and on weekends) phone support through its main CAPS phone line, 734.487.1118.

    Hospital and healthcare organizations requests for donations, supplies and volunteers

    Several offices and individuals across the University have been contacted by hospitals and other healthcare organizations with requests for donations, supplies and volunteers. In some cases, the outside organizations have contacted several different offices at the University seeking assistance. This has led to different offices and individuals working to fulfill the same requests as other colleagues on campus. We have designated the Engage @ EMU office as the central point for coordinating the University response to these varied, and in some cases duplicate, requests. If you receive a request from a hospital or healthcare agency, please direct it to Engage @ EMU at [email protected].

    State of Michigan launches COVID-19 volunteer website

    Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have launched a new volunteer website, www.michigan.gov/fightcovid19, where trained medical professionals can register to serve their fellow Michiganders by assisting hospitals in fighting COVID-19. Other state residents also can use the site to find out how they can help in their local communities, give blood, donate money or needed medical supplies, or assist public health officials in tracking infections.

    Returning books to Halle Library

    The library is not accepting returned books at this time. Fines are not being assessed. The library is working on a procedure for how to return books once the University resumes in-person operations.

    Donations to Student Emergency Fund and Swoops Food Pantry

    The Eastern Michigan University community continues to step up to support our students. I am pleased to announce that over the last two weeks the EMU Student Emergency Fund has received 34 gifts totaling $2,647, while Swoop’s has received 106 gifts totaling $10,046. Thank you to everyone who is supporting these important initiatives! Donations can be directed to:


    Swoop’s Food Pantry hours this week, items in need

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open tomorrow, Tuesday (3/31) and Thursday (4/2) from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients 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 “hot list” of needed items includes:

    • Tofu and other meat alternatives
    • Non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, or coconut milk
    • Bread and flour tortillas
    • Eggs
    • Cheese
    • Pasta and pasta sauce
    • Rice and rice sides
    • BBQ sauce
    • Can openers
    • Toilet paper
    • Board games and puzzles
    • Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils
    • Bubble bath, shower gel, bath bombs


    For those wishing to make donations, drop-off days and times are Tuesday (3/31) and Thursday (4/2) from 10 a.m. – noon. Donations can be dropped off to The John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room in 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items up from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

    Moving forward

    We have made it a priority to update our campus community regularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. Given the growing number of cases both in the county and statewide, the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) no longer issues public announcements about individual cases. The majority of our student body and employees have not been on campus since Wednesday, March 11, more than two-and-a-half weeks ago. Given that time lapse, it is no longer likely that students or employees who test positive would have had close contact with others on campus. Additionally, this time frame is beyond the period of exposure. Anyone who has had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 during the period of high risk would be contacted and provided directions by the Health Department typically between 36 and 48 hours after receiving test results. Moving forward, the University will no longer issue announcements about individual cases, unless circumstances warrant. Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about individuals who test positive is permitted to be released. The health department has an established protocol to track close contacts of any individual who tests positive and will notify anyone who may be at risk.

    We continue to identify positive efforts to support others in these challenging times, as exemplified in this story reported on WDIV-TV’s website. Please continue to forward positive stories and any corresponding photos to [email protected] so that we can share them with the rest of our community.

    Our faculty members continue to share their expertise regarding COVID-19. Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Health Administration Dr. Beverly Mihalko offered practical advice for protecting ourselves during an interview segment this afternoon on WEMU.

    As Dr. Mihalko noted, please continue to follow physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Sat, March 28, 2020

    EMU instructor tests positive for COVID-19 – March 28, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Late yesterday, we received the unfortunate news that an EMU instructor has tested positive for COVID-19. According to the health department, the instructor’s last day on campus was March 16 and they did not develop symptoms until March 19. Eastern last held in person classes on March 11 before moving to online class operations as a result of the health crisis.

    The health department is following its protocol of tracking close contacts of the instructor. Those individuals will be contacted separately and advised by the health department to self-quarantine or take other actions, if necessary.

    Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about the instructor is being released. We have been, and continue to be, in very close and regular contact with public health officials at the County and State.

    Our thoughts and support are with the instructor and their family at this time.

  • Fri, March 27, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 27, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today you may have heard Governor Whitmer confirm that it is unlikely Michigan K-12 students will return to the classroom this school year. While summer registration at Eastern Michigan formally begins Monday (3/30) for Honors students, the University is looking closely at the summer schedule in terms of maximizing the online class delivery model we are currently using. We will have more to share about that in the days ahead as we work out the details with our faculty leadership.

    With more than 3,600 COVID-19 cases and 92 deaths in Michigan as of this morning, it is becoming increasingly clear that the duration of our health crisis may extend for some time and we need to prepare, as uncertain as it may be at this time.

    The pandemic is causing extreme stress on our state’s hospitals and health care system. The health care workers and first responders who continue to work extraordinarily long hours and under highly stressful circumstances deserve our support and praise. They are our heroes in this crisis.

    So too are the individuals who are supporting others in our community: students, faculty and staff who are volunteering to collect food, medical supplies, and those who are delivering these items to the places, and the people, in need.

    I continue to see great collaboration among the Eastern community throughout this challenging period. I am particularly grateful to the leadership of our faculty and labor partners across the University. They have expressed their unity, support and ideas every step of the way. We would not be able to get through this effectively without that level of collaboration and commitment to our students and institution. This unity and shared effort represents the very best we can be as a University, serving and supporting one another and our students.

    I know all of you join me in trying to stay positive as we confront this crisis. At times it may not be easy. But it is more important than ever to search for and embrace those things that give us solace, hope, peace and happiness. As we head into the weekend, it is a good time to think about how we can mentally get away. How we can recharge. The massive effort over the past two weeks to transition to online classes did not come without a lot of anxiety and stress – for our students, our faculty and our staff.

    Practice self-care. Search for moments of peace. Find creative outlets for positive energy. It may be reading, taking a walk or a hike and enjoying nature, meditating, or even putting on that energizing Zumba home workout video! Binge watch a program. Listen to music. And how about this? Don’t check your email or phone messages for an hour or two. Whatever you do, find a break from the turmoil, even if just briefly. Take care of yourself!

    As we wrap up the week, I have a couple of updates as well as some reminders for students about campus resources to support your online/virtual learning.

    Extension of eligibility for Temporary EMU COVID-19 Leave

    The 80-hour Temporary EMU COVID-19 Leave for full-time, benefits eligible employees continues to be available through Monday, April 13, 2020. Due to the Washtenaw County Health Department's Order dated March 25, 2020, which requires University employees to answer certain screening questions before working on campus, EMU employees may not be permitted to work because of their answers to the questions. EMU employees who are sent home because of their answers to the screening questions are permitted to use the Temporary EMU COVID-19 Leave for this reason.

    Update to operations of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

    Counseling support has been transitioned to fully phone and video sessions with Zoom. If students have questions or need to speak with a counselor, they should email CAPS at [email protected] and communicate their interest. Phone messages can be left at 734.487.1118 and will be returned as soon as possible. CAPS will also continue to offer after-hours (after 5 p.m. and on weekends) phone support through its main CAPS phone line, 734.487.1118.

    Important March 31 deadline reminder for students living in residence halls

    To be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit previously announced, all personal items must be removed from on-campus housing and formal checkout and keys must be returned no later than March 31 at 5 p.m. Students will not receive a credit if they have not removed their belongings and completed the formal checkout process/key return by that date and time.

    A few students and parents have asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. The Governor’s executive order does not prohibit travel for such purposes. Section 7 of the Governor's executive order states:

    Section 7(b): Individuals may also travel:
    (1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
    (2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
    (3) To travel between two residences in this state.

    Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within these exceptions.

    Online resources to assist students -- Holman Success Center and Halle Library

    Services at the Holman Success Center have been adjusted during this period of modified operations in order to continue to support students through online offerings. Please visit the website for details and contact information.

    Services at Halle Library also have been adjusted during this period of modified operations to support students’ online learning needs. Visit the website to explore how the library can assist and to find contact information.

    The Dean of Students Office

    The Dean of Students Office is a resource for students on any issues or concerns they are facing. Like other campus offices, the Dean of Students Office is operating remotely. It is prepared to assist with student questions or concerns of many types, including food insecurity, academics, technology, health and wellness, or any other challenges a student may face. Please contact the Dean of Students at [email protected].

    Supporting our Asian American community

    There have been ongoing reports nationally of COVID-19 related racism and discrimination targeting the Asian American community. As we stated in one of our initial messages about the crisis: It is not an illness associated with contact with Asian community members. The Washtenaw County Health Department states, “Let’s fight this public health concern with compassion and science, not fear and discrimination.” As we proudly say here at EMU, “You Are Welcome Here!”

    WEMU essential coverage of COVID-19 and community impact

    On March 12, WEMU made the painful but necessary decision to postpone its spring on-air fundraiser. While WEMU’s needs for funds are essential to its survival, it was more critical to concentrate on serving the community with real-time news and information: global and national coverage from NPR, local news from the WEMU news team, and coverage of the arts and cultural community through the music programs.

    Since that time, WEMU has been tirelessly on the job, with daily updates from elected officials, community leaders, the medical community, EMU faculty, public safety and public health officials, and the EMU administration. Morning and afternoon news hosts David Fair and Lisa Barry have spent hours gathering information, speaking to news leaders, doing key live interviews, and keeping up with breaking news. The music team has covered the local music scene and its loss of performance income and live concerts. The behind the scenes staff has provided support wherever it’s been needed including the endless updating of social media.

    Putting aside their own anxiety for themselves, family, and friends, the WEMU team has been on the job every day (at a social distance and in a carefully sanitized environment) to make sure the community has all the critical information they need.

    While this critical coverage has been ongoing, WEMU decided to do a soft fundraiser. This was done using a mix of recorded and live donation requests for online gifts to try and offset some of the loss from not producing a full-fledged on air fundraiser, with program breaks, special guests, and in-studio volunteers answering telephones.

    And the community responded in amazing fashion with $93,925 from 455 donors over 8 days, 24 of whom gave $1,000 or more as part of WEMU’s Community Champions giving circle.

    Samples from the many comments that accompanied these gifts are below.

    • “In these times, it is this independent reporting and news that is crucial to deliver to local residents, thank you for all of your work!”
    • “WEMU is doing a heroic job of keeping the community informed.”
    • “Keep the light of music coming in these dark days.”
    • “I really appreciate your coverage of our community and its efforts to help.”
    • “Thank you for keeping things ‘jazzy’ during a difficult time for us all.”
    • “To the wonderful WEMU crew in this time of crisis, thank you for supporting the community with your timely and accurate news coverage. We appreciate your dedication to serving all of us.”


    We send our sincere gratitude to our colleagues at WEMU!

    Inspiring stories of support

    This section continues to be dedicated to sharing positive efforts among those in our campus community to support others.

    Zuzana Tomaš, EMU associate professor of ESL/TESOL, is feeling extra proud of her children after they designed and created a flyer for Swoop's Food Pantry donations and organized a food drive in their neighborhood! Professor Tomaš and her children were able to deliver a trunk full of goods to the pantry. During the 10 minutes she and her children were at Swoop's, three other cars came by to drop off donations. Professor Tomaš stated in an email, "It is incredible to see our community stepping up and thinking of others during these difficult times.”

    Photos of Professor Tomaš and her children’s efforts are highlighted on a new photo gallery designed to showcase these fine efforts among our campus community. Visit Everyday Eagle Heroes and please continue to forward stories and photos to [email protected]. We will highlight more of these wonderful initiatives in future communications.

    Again, as we head into the weekend, please take the time to recharge and get away. Continue to follow social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe.

    With appreciation,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thu, March 26, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 26, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Earlier today we received word of a second positive COVID-19 test result involving one of our students. The student lived in campus housing and was last on campus two weeks ago, on March 12 (the day the university stopped in person classes). The student lived in a single unit and did not have symptoms when they departed campus. The student is now under care at home. Our thoughts and support are with the student and their family.

    As in yesterday’s report, public health officials indicate there is no concern of exposure to others on campus due to the length of time between the student’s departure from campus and the onset of symptoms.

    The health department is following its protocol of tracking close contacts of the student. Those individuals will be contacted separately and advised by the health department to self-quarantine or take other actions.

    Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about the student is being released. We have been, and continue to be, in very close and regular contact with public health officials at the County and State.

    Washtenaw County Health Department Emergency Order

    Late yesterday, the Washtenaw County Health Department issued an Emergency Order requiring essential service providers and businesses to use recommended screening and social distancing to protect everyone’s health to the greatest degree possible.

    As we’ve stated repeatedly, guidance and directives in this crisis continue to evolve and change rapidly with little notice. Eastern Michigan has been working through the day to develop a screening process to meet the County’s order, which provides for employees to do their own daily health check prior to working. Specific details about the process were included in an email to employees on behalf of University Human Resources a short time ago.

    Credit eligibility for residence hall/housing move-out

    An important reminder: To be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit previously announced, all personal items must be removed from on-campus housing and formal checkout and keys must be returned no later than March 31 at 5 p.m. Students will not receive a credit if they have not removed their belongings and completed the formal checkout process/key return by that date and time.

    A few students and parents have asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. The Governor’s executive order does not prohibit travel for such purposes. Section 7 of the Governor's executive order states:

    Section 7(b): Individuals may also travel:
    (1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
    (2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
    (3) To travel between two residences in this state.

    Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within these exceptions.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room had more than 100 shoppers over the past three days. Clients 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.

    Also, Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

    Next week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (3/31) and Thursday (4/2) from noon – 3:30 p.m.:

    Thanks to donations, Swoop’s has received many wonderful personal care items, games, puzzles, and coloring books, which clients have appreciated.

    Currently needed items include bread, non-dairy milk, tofu, toilet paper, cheese and cream cheese, canned beans, and condiments such as barbecue sauce and hot sauce.

    Please email Swoop’s to inquire about making a food or self-care product donation at [email protected].

    For those who wish to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client needs, donations are accepted here:

    Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

    In addition, donations to support students can be made here:

    EMU Student Emergency Fund

    More stories of inspiration

    In addition to the important and wonderful work by the staff of Swoop’s, we continue to receive many examples of campus community members who are going above and beyond to support our students and fellow citizens during these challenging times. It is truly heartwarming and inspiring!

    • Chad Hutchinson, who became Eastern’s new orchestra director this past year, is one of many great examples of faculty who continue to support our students remotely and is also ensuring they are practicing self care. As you can imagine, the orchestra director normally spends all of his time working with EMU students in person. Director Hutchinson is now working with all of his students using Zoom and other technologies. He also made a self-care video for his students, and now they are sharing their own self-care ideas on discussion boards within Canvas. He has played piano pieces for his students (some classical, some jazz) both as a gift to them and also to demonstrate that performing their own art is still very important in these times. His is but one example of all of the large ensemble directors in the School of Music and Dance who have continued teaching content to their students, despite the challenges inherent in those classes.
    • Counselors Krystol Alpert and Olivia Kaiserian with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) have volunteered to serve as crisis counselors for the Crisis Textline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Krystol is completing her master’s degree in counseling at EMU and Olivia is completing her master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. Both are finishing their respective placements at CAPS this year. The Crisis Textline is a national crisis support service that can be accessed by texting "Hello" to 741-741.

    • Last Thursday, the Eastern Michigan University Children's Institute hosted a drive-up opportunity for families to pick up an activity bag and pantry items needed from the Children's Institute Little Free Pantry. Nearly 70 families drove through, with eight Children's Institute staff helping to distribute the items. The activity bags included a book, playdough, craft items and paper. Mailers with additional activities for families to do at home were also mailed this week, and more are planned to be mailed next week.

    I enjoy learning about these efforts as much as I like sharing them with you. As they say, and it is especially true here at Eastern Michigan University, adversity brings out the best in people. We should all be proud of these fine efforts, and the many others that are taking place. Please continue to forward them to us. Send to [email protected]. We look forward to highlighting more wonderful initiatives in future communications.

    Last, but certainly not least, please continue to follow social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe.

    With warm regards,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Wed, March 25, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 25, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    As indicated in my message earlier today, this morning we received the unfortunate news from the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) that an Eastern Michigan University student has tested positive for COVID-19. Our thoughts are with the student and their family.

    According to the WCHD, the student has not attended classes since March 5. The student lived off campus and is from Wayne County.

    There is no indication that the student had the disease at any point while on campus. The WCHD indicates the student would not have been at risk of exposing others until March 19, and at this time there is no indication that the student visited campus since in person classes ended on March 11.

    The student is currently hospitalized and is not part of the study abroad group that visited Italy, which we communicated about previously. The health department is following its protocol of tracking close contacts of the student. Those individuals will be contacted separately and advised by the health department if needed to self-quarantine or take other actions.

    Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about the student is being released. We have been, and continue to be, in very close and regular contact with public health officials at the County and State.

    As this disease spreads, it is increasingly likely that many of us will at some point know of a family member, friend or associate who has been affected. Our thoughts and support are with all of those who are fighting this disease, those family members who are worried about their loved ones, and also with our health, medical and first responder communities who are on the front lines every day.

    Credit eligibility for residence hall/housing move-out

    An important reminder: To be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit previously announced, all personal items must be removed from on-campus housing and formal checkout and key must be returned no later than March 31 at 5 p.m. Students will not receive a credit if they have not removed their belongings and completed the formal checkout process/key return by that date and time.

    A few students and parents have asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. The Governor’s executive order does not prohibit travel for such purposes. Section 7 of the Governor's executive order states:

    Section 7(b): Individuals may also travel:
    (1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
    (2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
    (3) To travel between two residences in this state.

    Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within these exceptions.

    Academic policy change for Winter 2020 only

    Yesterday, Michael Tew, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Programming & Services, provided information via an email to all students about extended deadlines for student grade and class withdrawal options. Details and email addresses for questions and additional information can be found here.

    Employee leave

    We understand there remain a number of questions about the recently announced Temporary EMU COVID-19 Related Leave as well as the emergency leave acts recently enacted by the federal government. Details regarding each of these leaves may be found on the University Human Resources Leaves of Absence webpage. Additional questions may be directed to the University Human Resources Benefits Office at [email protected].

    Inspiration in challenging times

    In recent campus messages, we have provided examples of exemplary work among members of the Eastern community in supporting others in these difficult and uncertain times. I have asked students, faculty and staff to send other such stories to me so that we might share them with you as we move through this crisis. It is important that we continue to embrace and acknowledge the positive and inspirational efforts of our colleagues and associates. I thank those of you who have taken the time to bring those to our attention. We look forward to highlighting them in future communications.

    Please continue to follow social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. My very best to all of you.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Wed, March 25, 2020

    EMU Student Tests Positive for COVID-19 – March 25, 2020

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    To students, faculty and staff:

    Late this morning, we received the unfortunate news from the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) that an Eastern Michigan University student has tested positive for COVID-19. Our thoughts are with the student and their family.

    According to the WCHD, the student has not attended classes since March 5. The student lived off campus and is from Wayne County.

    There is no indication that the student had the disease at any point while on campus. The WCHD indicates the student would not have been at risk of exposing others until March 19, and at this time there is no indication of visits to campus since in person classes ended on March 11.

    The student is currently hospitalized and is not part of the study abroad group that visited Italy, which we communicated about previously. The health department is following its protocol of tracking close contacts of the student. Those individuals will be contacted separately and advised by the health department if needed to self-quarantine or take other actions.

    Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about the student is permitted. We have been, and continue to be, in very close and regular contact with public health officials at the County and State. It is important to continue to follow hand-washing, social distancing and other prevention measures.

    As this disease spreads, it is increasingly likely that many of us will at some point know of a family member, friend or associate who has been affected. Our thoughts and support are with all of those who are fighting this disease, those family members who are worried about their loved ones, and also with our health, medical and first responder communities who are on the front lines every day.

    Please monitor your email, the Eastern Michigan University COVID-19 website and our FAQ for further information and updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Tue, March 24, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 24, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    The light of dawn this morning brought with it the new day, but also a new way of conducting our personal and professional lives. Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order went into effect this morning, further restricting our day-to-day routines as we all adjust to this unprecedented crisis. The Governor’s actions, and those occurring in other states and at the federal level, are deeply needed and necessary as we fight the global pandemic of COVID-19.

    As announced yesterday, the University implemented several additional actions following the Governor’s Executive Order. Those actions are in alignment with and extend the steps the University already has in place to reduce the on campus work force.

    At this time, employees working on campus include only those designated by their supervisors in the following areas: 1) those engaged in the safety and well-being of our community; 2) those involved in the maintenance of facilities and business operations; 3) employees in housing who are supporting the remaining students who live on campus; 4) support services personnel who facilitate online/virtual/distance learning technologies; and, 5) those working at WEMU 89.1 for their role in providing critical information to the public.

    In each of these cases, it is expected that public health guidance for social distancing and hand washing/hygiene is followed. We also ask that any of the above designated employees or students who still live on campus who feel ill or symptomatic of COVID-19, stay home, self-monitor and contact their medical provider as necessary.

    We have several updates to share with you today.

    Extension of Temporary COVID-19 Related Leave Allowance for eligible employees

    The University is extending the time frame in which its Temporary COVID-19 Related Leave is available. Full-time, benefits-eligible employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of additional paid time off pursuant to this leave through Monday, April 13, 2020.

    This additional time must be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure or illness, or other related scenarios, including a temporary lack of work assignments. This is a one-time allowance of paid time off to be utilized during this current pandemic. If the leave allowance is exhausted before April 13, sick leave and/or other leave may be used. This COVID-19 leave allowance is subject to prior approval by your supervisor.

    Employees with questions may contact the University Human Resources Benefits Office at [email protected]. Please continue to monitor EMU’s COVID-19 website for updates.

    Residence halls/housing move-out questions

    We have received many questions from students who have left their resident hall room or apartment, but did not formally checkout and still have items remaining in their room or apartment. We also have been asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.

    First, yesterday’s Executive Order by the Governor does not prohibit travel for such purposes. Section 7 of the Governor's executive order states as follows:

    Section 7(b): Individuals may also travel:
    (1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
    (2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
    (3) To travel between two residences in this state.

    Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within these exceptions.

    Further, to be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit previously announced, all personal items must be removed and formal checkout and key return completed no later than March 31 at 5 p.m. The University cannot store personal belongs or furniture.

    In addition, the University must undertake a deep cleaning of all residence hall rooms and apartments, and cannot begin that process until a room has been officially vacated for 14 days, in the interest of the safety of our employees who clean the rooms, following public health guidance.

    Update on student grade and withdrawal options

    We received several questions from students about the announcement from the Provost’s office yesterday about extended deadlines for student grade and class withdrawal options. As indicated yesterday, these include:

    • Extending the deadline until the end of the semester for students to request the Pass/No Pass grading option;
    • Extending the deadline until the end of the semester for students to request certain types of withdrawals from courses;
    • Waiving degree requirements related to the cancellation of one-credit-hour in person PEGN courses since the decision to suspend in person operations; and,
    • Implementing alternative means of completing LBC requirements for graduation.

     

    Students will receive details on how to extend the deadlines and waivers noted above in a separate email from the Provost’s Office that will be sent within the hour.

    Student government elections postponed until September 2020

    As a result of the unprecedented disruption to campus life that affects every student, the University has postponed until September 2020 the Student Government election that was scheduled to occur tomorrow, March 25, and Thursday, March 26. The exact date of the September election will be determined and announced in the near future.

    To ensure that students retain representation, the current Student Government – which was scheduled to remain in place until late-April – will continue in their roles until the transition to a new Student Government this fall. All candidates who submitted a valid petition to run in the March election will automatically appear on the September election ballot unless they request to have their name removed. As with all matters related to this rapidly evolving global crisis, we will continue to update students about the election process.

    Moving forward

    This morning I participated in an in-depth interview on WEMU 89.1 conducted via phone by Morning Edition host David Fair. The extensive discussion included recent actions taken by the University to ensure the health and safety of our campus community, and the transition to distance/online learning and remote operations for a majority of our employees. The interview addresses many of the ongoing questions that have been raised by our students, faculty and staff – you may find it helpful in answering questions you have.

    In addition, today we posted a new Frequently Asked Questions resource to the University’s COVID-19 website. It features a drop-down format with individual sections for questions pertaining to specific areas of our University community: University Operations; Students; Instructors; Staff; Parents and Family; Community Members; Prospective Students; Travel; and, COVID-19 Information. We hope you will find this to be helpful resource in addressing questions you may have.

    Despite these times of trial and challenge, the Eastern Michigan University community continues to do wonderful things to support our fellow citizens. We have continued to highlight the work of Swoop’s Food Pantry. Some other recent initiatives include:

    • Eastern’s nursing program developed a plan for nursing students, faculty, and/or alumni to assist IHA at their nearby drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites. A total of 245 people have volunteered to participate in this effort.
    • EMU Police committed to assisting in the delivery of Meals on Wheels in the community, with more than 20 officers volunteering for deliveries next week.
    • And, as mentioned in previous messages, our community continues to donate medical supplies to be delivered to local hospitals.

    There are undoubtedly many more examples of these kinds of efforts happening throughout the University community. Please share them with us. It is important at these times of challenge that we continue to embrace and support the positive actions around us -- they reflect the very best of the human spirit.

    Please continue to heed social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures, and follow your University email and our COVID-19 website for additional updates, as well as resources to keep you safe.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, March 23, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update – March 23, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    In light of Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order issued this morning, the University implemented a number of actions today. They are designed to further reduce the workforce working daily on campus beyond our initial actions, which require non-designated employees to work remotely.

    This remains an extremely fluid and evolving situation, reflecting the emergency and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 global crisis. As we all know, guidance and directives are changing daily. The University is working diligently to adjust operations rapidly to meet the changing situation as we assess their impact on University operations and implement the new directives.

    Today, under the terms of the Governor’s Executive Order, we are instructing employees to refrain from coming to campus unless they are part of a smaller group of designated employees, which include those:

    • Needed to maintain essential business and facility operations.
    • Providing instructional support services for online/virtual/distance learning.
    • Involved in urgent health and wellness needs of students.
    • Assisting in the wind-down of on campus housing and student resident checkout, which is to be completed by 5 p.m. March 31. A majority of our on campus residents have moved out, including more than 1,200 students who left over this past weekend. As noted previously, not everyone can move out. For some students, Eastern is a permanent address, or a destination for international students and students from far away in the U.S. Other students have special circumstances that affect their ability to return to their permanent place of residence.
    • Involved in vital public communications during the crisis, such as WEMU 89.1, the University’s National Public Radio station.


    Employees who are included in this smaller group and designated to work on campus will be notified by their supervisors. Other employees who have been working remotely should continue to do so.

    Employees who have items in the workplace they need to retrieve before the order goes into effect at midnight should get them this evening. Swipe card access to all buildings is in place for today only. Buildings will be closed tomorrow. Employees designated to work on campus should call DPS (734.487.1222) to advise them of the building they are working in and the length of time they will be there.

    Due to the Governor’s Executive Order, the Student Center closed at 5 p.m. today and will remain closed at least through April 13 as noted in the Governor’s Executive Order. This includes:

    • EMU Credit Union, which had been open by appointment only. Drive thru operations continue at nearby branches; and,
    • EMU Bookstore, which offers several free online initiatives to support students, including eBooks, access to Lumen Learning OER Courseware, online shipping, and deadline extensions.

    Student grade and withdrawal options

    Under these unprecedented circumstances and consistent with our commitment to support the academic needs of students in every way possible, the Provost’s Office is adjusting student grade and withdrawal options. These include:

    • Extending the deadline for students to request the Pass/No Pass grading option;
    • Extending the deadline for students to request certain types of withdrawals from courses;
    • Waiving degree requirements related to the cancellation of one-credit hour in person PEGN courses since the decision to suspend in person operations; and,
    • Implementing alternative means of completing LBC requirements for graduation.

    Summer registration

    The Provost’s Office today announced the delay of the start of Summer Registration until Monday, March 30 in order to allow for a review of the Summer A course schedule. Fall Registration began today as previously announced.

    Student employees

    Student employees may, if they wish and if their supervisor approves, continue to work remotely (and only on campus within the bounds of the Governor’s Executive Order, with the approval of a vice president and following strict social distancing guidance). Timesheets are due tonight by 11:59 p.m. per the standard reporting process. Students should only report on their timesheets those hours that they have worked.

    Tips for working remotely

    The Division of Information Technology has prepared a set of tips for working remotely: Resources to Prepare for working remotely [PDF].

    Swoop’s Food Pantry reopens tomorrow

    The John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room reopens tomorrow (Tuesday, March 24) from noon – 3:30 p.m. It will be open during those same hours from Tuesday - Thursday of this week. Swoop’s is seeking donations of these supplies:

    • Refrigerated items such as milk, eggs and cheese. Also, beans - both canned and dried - and pasta, rice and bread.
    • Self-care items such as body lotion, soap and bubble bath. Also creative outlets such as used (but with all the pieces!) puzzles, games, journals, and other creative things such as coloring books, markers, and crayons.


    Swoop’s can arrange pick-up of these items from your porch if you are in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area. Please email Swoop’s to inquire about making a food or self-care product donation, or to arrange a pickup, at [email protected].

    For those who wish to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client needs, donations are accepted here:

    Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

    In addition, donations to support students can be made here:

    EMU Student Emergency Fund

    Please join me in thanking the staff of Swoop’s for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students and the community.

    Additional community resources

    Engage @ EMU has compiled a list of community resources. It includes services available for financial assistance, childcare, business support, food services, housing, internet, volunteer opportunities, and other community needs.

    The Dean of Students Office

    The Dean of Students Office is a resource for students on any issues or concerns they are facing. Like other campus offices, the Dean of Students Office is operating remotely. It is prepared to assist with student questions or concerns of many types, including food insecurity, academics, technology, health and wellness, or any other challenges a student may face. Please contact the Dean of Students at [email protected].

    Urgent need for donations to local hospitals

    Many people responded to our campus wide initiative that we shared yesterday. As noted in the message, area health systems are being tested as a result of COVID-19, with several seeking supplies for patient care. The University is soliciting the following items, in any quantity, to help our colleagues on the frontline of caring for these patients:

    • Face masks, N95 masks, and face shields
    • Gowns
    • Surgical caps/protective caps
    • Eyeglass shields/goggles
    • Lysol or Clorox wipes
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Nasal testing swabs
    • M4 viral media
    • Acetate transparency sheets - blank ones (which will be used to make "face shields")

    Please drop off donations at EMU's Department of Public Safety located at 1200 Oakwood.

    Additionally, our local hospitals are down to a 1-day supply of blood. If you can donate, please contact the American Red Cross and schedule your appointment today.

    Questions about these needs can be directed to the School of Nursing at [email protected] or 734.487.2310.

    Student Gold Medallion Awards to be live streamed

    In an effort to celebrate this year’s nominees and award winners, Campus Life will live stream the announcement of the winners tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, at 4 p.m. That is the time the event was originally scheduled before it had to be canceled. Watch the announcement live on Campus Life’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

    Future steps

    The actions we are taking today, consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order, further reflect our ongoing commitment to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the Eastern Michigan University community. I ask you to continue to heed social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention [PDF] measures.

    Please continue to follow your University email and our COVID-19 website for additional updates, as well as resources to keep you safe.

    Thank you for your continued attention to these urgent matters.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, March 20, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update: March 20, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding in these difficult times. The actions and decisions we are implementing daily are in direct response to the national emergency surrounding COVID-19 and directives from the executive and state branches of government. They also are in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washtenaw County Health Department.

    In response to yesterday’s message about closing residence halls and on campus apartments effective Tuesday, March 31, more than 700 students are scheduled to move out this weekend. Housing staff is deliberate in the scheduling process to spread the move-outs apart in observance of social distancing guidance. I thank students and families for your cooperation through this process. My sincere appreciation to housing staff who are working tirelessly to ensure a safe and efficient process.

    As noted in yesterday’s communications, students living in residence halls or on campus apartments should visit the housing website for move-out details and to schedule a check-out time. This must be completed by 11:59 p.m. tonight, Friday, March 20. Our housing team will not be able to accommodate all those who want to check out at the same time, so please be flexible. At their scheduled time, students should check-out at their respective service desk. Parking will be free during the move-out process.

    We understand that not everyone can move out. In some cases, Eastern is a permanent address, or a destination for international students and students from far away in the U.S. Other students have other special circumstances that affect their ability to return to their permanent place of residence. Exceptions to the mandatory move-out exist for those students. Please email the housing office if you have questions at [email protected].

    Some students have asked how they will be notified about their housing and/or meal plan credit, as was announced yesterday. Eligible students will be notified by email from Student Business Services once the assessment process is completed. As noted yesterday, processing the entire population of students living in campus housing and on meal plans will take some time, and we ask for your patience. It is important to remember the unprecedented time we are in and the state of emergency that surrounds, and affects, all of our actions.

    The Dean of Students Office

    The Dean of Students Office is a resource for students on any issues or concerns they are facing. Like other campus offices, the Dean of Students Office is operating remotely. It is prepared to assist with student questions or concerns of many types, including food insecurity, academics, technology, health and wellness, or any other challenges a student may face. Please contact the Dean of Students at [email protected].

    Student employees

    Student employees received their regular pay yesterday, March 19. Student employees may, if they wish and if their supervisor approves, continue to work remotely (and only on campus with the approval of a vice president and following strict social distancing guidance). Students should only report on their timesheets those hours that they have worked.

    The University recognizes that with the temporary modification of campus operations, certain student employees may not be needed. We understand that many students rely on their student employment to make ends meet and that the impact of not working could lead to serious financial consequences. We are reviewing this matter, as well as guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies. We hope to provide additional information as soon as possible.

    Students should examine the Student Emergency Fund and seek assistance if eligible. Students are also encouraged to explore the Community Resource Page developed by Engage @ EMU.

    Halle Library

    Library services have been adjusted during this period of modified operations. Although in person services are suspended because of the Governor’s executive order, the library is committed to providing research support, which is available online in a variety of ways:

    • 24/7 chat reference through the Ask a Librarian service (EMU Librarians are now staffing most hours normally covered in person via this chat service);
    • E-mail or phone by filling out this online form; and,
    • Virtual appointments via phone or Google Meet with subject specialists.


    Much of the library's collection is available electronically via Esearch and the library's other databases. This includes many ebooks assigned in courses. Faculty and students who need to access specific material that is not available electronically should contact their subject specialist to help identify alternatives.

    The computer labs in Halle, which reopened temporarily yesterday and today with limited hours and social distancing, usage limits and cleaning and hygiene protocols in place, will close effective Monday, March 23. They will remain closed until further notice.

    The labs were reopened to assist students who do not have access to a computer during the wind down of on campus operations. The labs received very limited use over the past two days. Students with challenges for resources to finish classes online should contact the Dean of Students Office, as noted above, for assistance.

    The library has a number of resources available for faculty for online learning (via Canvas or another option.) In Canvas, there is a "Library Guides" link at the bottom of the LH navigation column that will take you directly to an appropriate research guide. Additionally, the library offers a number of tutorials and instructional videos that you can point students to.

    Please keep library materials until the library reopens, including EMU, MelCat, and Interlibrary Loan items. Due dates will be automatically extended and fines will be waived.

    Please see the Library Services for Online Learners and Library Services Updates pages for additional information.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    Over the past three days of being open 3½ hours a day, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room was visited by 159 shoppers. The need is great and demand is high. We are working to continue to support those in need. Swoop’s will be open next week from Tuesday – Thursday from noon to 3:30 p.m.

    Swoop’s is seeking these supplies through donation to keep up with demand:

    • Refrigerated items such as milk, eggs and cheese. Also, beans - both canned and dried - and pasta, rice and bread.
    • Self-care items such as body lotion, soap and bubble bath. Also creative outlets such as used (but with all the pieces!) puzzles, games, journals, and other creative things such as coloring books, markers, and crayons.


    Swoop’s can arrange pick-up of these items from your porch if you are in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area. Please email Swoop’s to inquire about making a food or self-care product donation, or to arrange a pickup, at [email protected].

    For those who wish to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client needs, donations are accepted here:

    Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

    In addition, donations to support students can be made here:

    EMU Student Emergency Fund

    Please join me in thanking the staff of Swoop’s for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students and the community.

    Additional community resources

    Engage @ EMU has compiled a list of community resources. It includes services available for financial assistance, childcare, business support, food services, housing, internet, volunteer opportunities, and other community needs.

    Further guidance and information

    As many of you, I am closely monitoring government and public health updates. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan today increased to more than 500. There were no cases reported in Michigan just 10 days ago, until Tuesday evening, March 10. The predicted escalation in the number of cases is clearly happening now and the health care system is under tremendous stress.

    The University is taking every precaution to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. This guides every decision we make, every day. As I’ve said repeatedly, our students, faculty and staff have conducted themselves with the greatest of skill, expertise and understanding throughout this crisis. This is a time for everyone to work together, to protect one another, and ensure we follow hygiene and social distancing guidance.

    Please continue to follow that guidance and the Washtenaw County Health Department prevention recommendations that have been provided in my daily updates.

    If you know of someone who has contracted the disease, or an individual or family that is quarantined as a result, you might find this Health Department guidance helpful: Directions for Isolation, Quarantine, Monitoring and Social Distancing. It is one of the many helpful resources on the University’s COVID-19 website. Please continue to monitor it, and your campus email, for ongoing updates.

    Please be safe.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thur, March 19, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update: March 19, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and declarations of emergency at the national, state and local level, we have instructed our residence halls to close effective Tuesday, March 31 at 5 p.m. This applies to all students living in residence halls, with the exception of international students, students from far distances, or those who have other special circumstances.

    We have given great and careful thought to this decision, as we have to every action taken as we respond to this global crisis. It follows our announcement yesterday to extend online-only course delivery through the end of the winter semester, which eliminates the possibility of in-person classes for the remainder of the semester. We are not the first University to order such actions, and we won’t be the last.

    We have implemented a credit process to reimburse students for some of their housing and meal plan expenses this semester. These plans were articulated directly to students a short time ago in a message from Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Calvin Phillips and Chief Financial Office Mike Valdes. The message also provided specifics and directions about the move-out process to take place starting tomorrow through March 31.

    These decisions and actions are intended to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our entire community at a time of crisis and great uncertainty. We all are witness to the rapidly changing world around us. We all are trying to adjust to these changes – changes that affect us personally and professionally. While we work to maintain University operations, we are concerned about our loved ones and friends. Keeping apart from one another, socially distancing ourselves, is the most effective way to slow the spread of the disease.

    Please continue to follow that guidance and the prevention recommendations that have been provided in my daily updates. In short, this is best thing all of us can do to make a difference in the midst of this crisis.

    I have other important updates for you today:

    Temporary COVID-19 Related Leave Allowance

    To ease the impact of COVID-19 on full-time, benefits-eligible staff, EMU has established a temporary, 80-hour leave allowance. Effective today, March 19, through April 6, full-time, benefits-eligible staff members are eligible for up to 80 hours of additional paid time off.

    This additional time must be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure or illness, or other related scenarios, including a temporary lack of work assignments. This is a one-time allowance of paid time off to be utilized during this current pandemic. If the leave allowance is exhausted before April 6, sick leave and/or other leave may be used. This COVID-19 leave allowance is subject to prior approval by your supervisor.

    Staff will be instructed on how to report use of the COVID-19 leave allowance in a future communication. We understand there will be other questions. Feel free to contact University Human Resources and monitor EMU’s COVID-19 website for updates.

    Summer/Fall registration

    Due to the evolving situation, we have made some changes to our registration schedules. Registration for fall classes will begin Monday, March 23. Registration for summer classes is being pushed back to a later date to be announced, as we work to adjust to changes in class delivery and scheduling.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    In just the last two days, The John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room has seen more than 100 shoppers. Swoop’s is currently operating on a modified schedule to serve and meet our EMU student's needs during the COVID-19 crisis. Swoop’s current needs include:

    Food Donations: Milk, bread, eggs, pasta, pasta sauce, canned beans, baby food, and other refrigerator type items.

    Self-care products: Journals, body lotion, bubble bath, as well as gently-used items such as puzzles, games, and creative items, including things like markers, crayons and coloring books.

    These items can be dropped off at the pantry, please either email [email protected] or call (734) 487-4173 to make arrangements.

    For those who want to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client need, donations are accepted here:

    Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

    In addition, donations to support students can be made here:

    EMU Student Emergency Fund

    The following items below are being shared again due to their importance:

    Holman Success Center

    The Holman Success Center services have been adjusted during this period of modified operations. A detailed list of the Center’s online services can be found here. You may e-mail the Holman team at [email protected].

    Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions will be held via Google Meet. Sessions will continue during their regularly scheduled times. If you are registered for a course that offers SI, the Center will send you links to the Google Meet session.

    Tutoring will also be available virtually. Students should navigate to the tutoring schedule, locate their supported course, and e-mail the listed tutor for the day and time they choose to attend. Tutors will e-mail links to a Google Meet to all students for a specific session.

    Peer Academic Coaches (PACs) will be available for virtual meetings via Google Meet. PACs are available to assist students with how to manage their time and stay organized in an online environment. They can also assist with learning strategies for virtual learning. Links to schedule virtual meetings with peer academic coaches can be found on the EMU Engage app.

    Success Coaches will continue to meet with students virtually through Google Meet. Students can schedule virtual meetings with success coaches here and here.

    The Holman team is also creating a series of videos for students about how to remain an active learner in an online learning environment. Those videos will be posted to the Holman website and YouTube channel as they are completed.

    Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

    During the on-campus modification of operations, CAPS is working to provide support to students, while maintaining the physical health of our campus community. All in-person appointments have been canceled. Current clients have been contacted by email and will also be called by a CAPS therapist. CAPS will be offering phone support to any students in need from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. CAPS will continue to offer after-hours phone support through the main CAPS phone line (734-487-1118) after 5 p.m. and on weekends. If you have questions or need to speak with a counselor, please contact CAPS at 734-487-1118 or [email protected].

    Other mental health resources include:
    1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    2. Crisis Text Line: Text "hello" to 741741

     

    IHA Health Center @ EMU

    IHA has notified the University that due to a surge in urgent care volume, it has expanded urgent care capabilities and shifted more routine care to its Arbor Park location. Students and employees who need routine care should go to the Arbor Park Location at 4940 W. Clark Road. IHA requests that anyone experiencing upper respiratory or fever symptoms should complete this form, at which time IHA will contact individuals with further information and appropriate care.

    The Campus Medical Pharmacy located in the health center will remain open with regular hours.

    Computer lab

    The ground floor computer lab in Halle will be open again tomorrow, Friday, March 20, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The technology computer labs also will open for technology students. Usage will be limited to meet social distancing guidelines, with many computers not activated to ensure more than six feet of distance between users. In addition, a new hand sanitizing station has been set up just outside the computer lab. Anyone who enters the lab will be required to use the hand sanitizer or wash their hands in the nearby restroom. Users also will have to use the hand sanitizer or wash their hands upon leaving the lab.

    Due to space limitations and the observance of social distancing, users will not be allowed to bring guests or family members with them to the lab. Given the limited number of computers available under these circumstances, we are asking users to work as efficiently as possible on only university academic assignments so that others can have access to the computers. There may be times when capacity is reached and students will not be allowed inside. They will have to return at a time when computers are available. Swipe card access will be required to enter the building, and access is limited to the computer labs only. The library areas of Halle are closed and gated. Lab hours for next week are being determined.

    Looking ahead

    We will continue to provide updates and new information as warranted. Once again, I thank all members of this great University for staying focused on responding to these enormous challenges. To all students, faculty and staff – please continue to operate with patience and understanding. Support one another any way you can. Together, we will confront the issues we need to address, and maintain the qualities of excellence and distinct student connection that are part of our rich 170-year history.

    Please monitor your University email and visit our COVID-19 website for ongoing updates, as well as resources that are helpful during these difficult times.

    Sincerely,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Wed, March 18, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update: March 18, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Due to the continuing spread of COVID-19 and based on declarations of emergency and guidance from federal, state, and local government and public health officials, the University has made the important decision to extend online/virtual class program delivery through the end of the winter semester, April 27. This decision was made after discussion and consultation with bargaining unit leadership and support, which I greatly appreciate. In person, on campus classes will not take place for the remainder of the semester.

    Employees, other than those designated by their supervisors, will continue to work remotely for the time being. A return date to regular on campus operations for employees will be communicated at a later date, as this evolving situation warrants.

    These are important actions. They would have been unheard of just months ago. But they reflect the severity of the health crisis facing our community, state, nation and world. It is not a time for business as usual. It is a time for reassurance. It is a time for action, and leadership. And, it is a time for addressing the University’s number one mission and priority – protecting the health and safety of our community. It also is a time for creativity and ingenuity as we deliver Eastern’s high quality education to students in new and different ways to ensure their continued success.

    I again want to offer my sincere appreciation to everyone who is adjusting to these changes. Our faculty and staff have responded with overwhelming support, with a “can do” attitude that reflects the very best qualities of everything Eastern Michigan University stands for. Your passion for what we do and your commitment to making a monumental operational transformation to an online/virtual environment is a source of deep pride for all of us.

    Several other operational items are important to address in today’s update, including helpful information for students about the computer lab, Holman Success Center, and CAPS:

    Computer lab to open

    The ground floor computer lab in Halle will open tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, and Friday, March 20, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The technology computer labs also will open for technology students. Usage will be limited to meet social distancing guidelines, with many computers not activated to ensure more than six feet of distance between users. In addition, a new hand sanitizing station has been set up just outside the computer lab. Anyone who enters the lab will be required to use it, or wash their hands in the nearby restroom. Users also will have to use the hand sanitizer or wash their hands upon leaving the lab.

    Due to space limitations and the observance of social distancing, users will not be allowed to bring guests or family members with them to the lab. Given the limited number of computers available under these circumstances, we are asking users to work as efficiently as possible on only university academic assignments so that others can have access to the computers. There may be times when capacity is reached and students will not be allowed inside. They will have to return at a time when computers are available. Swipe card access will be required to enter the building, and access is limited to the computer labs only. The library areas of Halle will be closed and gated. Lab hours for next week are being determined.

    Students living in residence halls

    Due to this public health crisis, and in light of the need to continue online course delivery through the end of the semester, we strongly encourage students living on campus to return to their permanent place of residence for the remainder of the semester (unless they are international students, are from far distances, or have other special circumstances requiring them to remain).

    Dining hours are continually being adjusted to meet our on-campus student population and directives from the State of Michigan. Please check hours at EMU’s dining website.

    The University is developing plans to provide financial adjustments for students who have moved out of residence halls and for those who have dining contracts. We will provide further details in the very near future as those plans are finalized.

    Holman Success Center

    The Holman Success Center services have been adjusted during this period of modified operations. A detailed list of the Center’s online services can be found >here. You may e-mail the Holman team at [email protected].

    Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions will be held via Google Meet. Sessions will continue during their regularly scheduled times. If you are registered for a course that offers SI, the Center will send you links to the Google Meet session.

    Tutoring will also be available virtually. Students should navigate to the tutoring schedule, locate their supported course, and e-mail the listed tutor for the day and time they choose to attend. Tutors will e-mail links to a Google Meet to all students for a specific session.

    Peer Academic Coaches (PACs) will be available for virtual meetings via Google Meet. PACs are available to assist students with how to manage their time and stay organized in an online environment. They can also assist with learning strategies for virtual learning. Links to schedule virtual meetings with peer academic coaches can be found on the EMU Engage app.

    Success Coaches will continue to meet with students virtually through Google Meet. Students can schedule virtual meetings with success coaches here and here.

    The Holman team is also creating a series of videos for students about how to remain an active learner in an online learning environment. Those videos will be posted to the Holman website and YouTube channel as they are completed.

    Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

    During the on-campus modification of operations, CAPS is working to provide support to students, while maintaining the physical health of our campus community. All in-person appointments have been canceled. Current clients have been contacted by email and will also be called by a CAPS therapist. CAPS will be offering phone support to any students in need from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. CAPS will continue to offer after-hours phone support through the main CAPS phone line (734-487-1118) after 5 p.m. and on weekends. If you have questions or need to speak with a counselor, please contact CAPS at 734-487-1118 or [email protected].

    Other mental health resources include:
    1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    2. Crisis Text Line: Text "hello" to 741741

    IHA Health Center @ EMU

    IHA has notified the University that due to a surge in urgent care volume, it has expanded urgent care capabilities and shifted more routine care to its Arbor Park location. Students and employees who need routine care should go to the Arbor Park Location at 4940 W. Clark Road. IHA requests that anyone experiencing upper respiratory or fever symptoms should complete this form, at which time IHA will contact individuals with further information and appropriate care.

    The Campus Medical Pharmacy located in the health center will remain open with regular hours.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    More than 60 shoppers visited Swoop’s yesterday. The number reflects the importance of the Pantry. Using appropriate social distancing and cleaning protocols, Swoop’s was open today and will be open again tomorrow, Thursday (3/19), from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. We will have an update on next week’s schedule later in the week.

    To minimize social contacts, the shopping process has been adjusted: Staff walks the aisles with clients and staff fills the bags, thereby reducing touching of handles, food and produce by clients. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator.

    Many have asked how they can support Swoop’s during this time. Staff is on hand from 11-11:30 a.m. tomorrow to take food donations.

    For those who want to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client need, donations are accepted here:

    Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

    In addition, donations to support students can be made here:

    EMU Student Emergency Fund

    Community Resources

    Engage @ EMU has compiled a list of community resources. It includes services available for financial assistance, childcare, business support, food services, housing, internet, volunteer opportunities, and other community needs.

    Campus events cancelation extended

    Today, I am instructing that the cancelation of University events be extended beyond the initial March 31 date we announced last week to May 8. This reflects Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance announced earlier this week for an eight-week moratorium on large gatherings. Out of an abundance of caution, our actions will not only limit large events, but smaller ones as well. All University and non-University hosted events scheduled at Eastern Michigan are canceled through May 8. As we had announced previously, this includes the postponement of Commencement ceremonies on April 25 and the Multicultural Graduation on April 24.

    EMU Credit Union (EMUCU) open by appointment only

    The EMU Credit Union in the Student Center has moved to a “by appointment only” schedule during its regular business hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. Please email the branch at [email protected] to schedule an appointment. Nearby EMUCU branch offices are open for drive-thru (Jackson Road, Carpenter Road, South State Street, Bristol Road). If you any questions, contact the EMUCU during regularly scheduled business hours at 800-968-8628.

    IBM SPSS

    During the COVID-19 situation, IBM SPSS is allowing free home-use licenses for SPSS Statistics Standard for instructors and students. To obtain the software please visit http://emich.onthehub.com and sign on with your EMU NetID and password. IBM limits the SPSS Statistics Standard software to one download per user.

    For graduating students – questions about diplomas and transcripts

    Information about diplomas and transcripts is available on the Office of Records and Registration website.

    Moving forward

    I am committed to keeping our community well informed of our updates and actions as we proceed through these uncertain times. I ask that you share with me any items that we need to know about, positive ways we are working together, or challenges we face, so that we can learn more, and share that knowledge and information.

    While this is indeed a challenging phase in all of our lives, it is one that we must continue to meet together by embracing the very best in one another, and the noblest qualities of our human spirit.

    Please continue to monitor your University email and visit our COVID-19 website for ongoing updates, as well as resources that are helpful during these difficult times.

    Sincerely,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Tue, March 17, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update: March 17, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    These are unprecedented times. The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the speed at which things are changing around us are affecting our lives in ways we could not have imagined. Our Eastern community continues to work constructively during these challenges, with the highest priority on the health and safety of everyone at our University. As you have observed, we are continually adapting our operations to meet this health crisis. We are working tirelessly, and taking every precaution. We also are committed to keeping you informed on an ongoing basis.

    To our faculty and staff, thank you for all you have been doing to lead our campus through a very difficult time. We appreciate your dedication and compassion for our students and your co-workers.

    University operations

    Based on questions we are receiving, it is important we are clear about University operations, and that any emails, out-of-office messages, websites and other communications, conversations or presentations reflect the following:

    • The University is not "closed." The University is "open with modified operations.”

    • We continue to serve our students in a virtual/online environment with most employees working remotely.

    • Our operations reflect the emergency orders on the national, state and local levels, as well as ongoing guidance we receive from federal, state and local public health officials.

    Internet access/computer support

    Students and employees have contacted us about what to do if they do not have internet access or a computing device. With Halle Library operations suspended under the Governor’s executive order, it is a priority for us to provide students with access to the computer labs. We hope to finalize this plan shortly and expect to have information to share tomorrow.

    In the wake of the COVID-19 health crisis, many internet providers are offering plans to support individuals at this time with low cost or free services. Below is additional information about some of those plans:

    • FCC agreement states that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots;
    • Comcast COVID-19 response: offers free WiFi for 2 months to low income families; all Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time;
    • Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months;
    • AT&T COVID-19 response: offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families;
    • Verizon COVID-19 response: no special offers, but follows the FCC agreement above;
    • Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge; and,
    • T-Mobile COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge.


    Adobe Creative Cloud Suite for student home use:
    Eastern’s I.T. team has applied for Adobe's temporary student home use license, allowing students to run the Creative Cloud suite on their personal computers through May 31. We are coordinating with departments to prioritize known course requirements and will provide additional request options shortly. Visit the I.T. software resource page for details.


    Students living in residence halls

    Due to this public health crisis, students living on campus are strongly encouraged to return to their permanent place of residence temporarily (unless they are international students, are from far distances, or have other special circumstances requiring them to remain).

    Dining hours are continually being adjusted to meet our on-campus student population and directives from the State of Michigan. Please check hours at EMU’s dining website.


    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    Food insecurity remains a problem for many of our students and others in the community. This health crisis will increase the demand for food supplies, and we are working to support this growing need. Using appropriate social distancing and cleaning protocols, Swoop’s Food Pantry reopened today from 11:30 a.m. – to 3 p.m. It will be open tomorrow, Wednesday (3/18) and Thursday (3/19), also from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. We will provide an update on next week’s Swoop’s schedule later in the week.

    To minimize social contacts, the shopping process has been adjusted: Staff walks the aisles with clients and staff fills the bags, thereby reducing touching of handles, food and produce by clients. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator.

    Many have asked how they can support Swoop’s during this time. Staff is on hand from 11-11:30 a.m. tomorrow and Thursday to take food donations. For those who want to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client need, donations are accepted here: Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

    In addition, donations to support students can be made here: EMU Student Emergency Fund


    Community Resources

    Engage @ EMU, which is part of the Provost's Office, has compiled a list of community resources that are available during this challenging time. The list includes services available for financial assistance, childcare, business support, food services, housing, internet, volunteer opportunities, and other community needs. The list will be updated regularly. Please refer to and share this resource. Special thanks to Decky Alexander, Kristen Klochko, Janice Lee, and Caroline Sanders from the Engage Team for this excellent work.


    IHA Health Center @ EMU

    IHA has notified the University that due to a surge in urgent care volume, it has expanded urgent care capabilities and shifted more routine care to its Arbor Park location. Students and employees who need routine care should go to the Arbor Park Location. IHA requests that anyone experiencing upper respiratory or fever symptoms should complete this form, at which time IHA will contact individuals with further information and appropriate care.

    IHA indicates the Campus Medical Pharmacy located in the health center will remain open with regular hours.

    ParkEMU

    ParkEMU is planning to have limited staff on campus from Monday - Friday through March 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the following:

    • assist with transient parking;
    • vehicle assistance;
    • cleaning/disinfecting high touch points in surface lots and garages;
    • enforcement; and,
    • office assistance for parkers (office doors will be closed to the public, but we assist through phone/email).


    ParkEMU will not have employees on campus before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. during weekdays, and will not have employees on campus over the weekend.

    Other items

    The Campus Bookstore, EMU Credit Union, and Amazon are maintaining their regular hours in the Student Center.

    Eastern Michigan University’s public radio station, 89.1 WEMU, is presenting a special on COVID-19 tonight at 7 p.m. All Things Considered host Lisa Barry will present a live one-hour on air program (also on Facebook Live). Lisa Barry will be joined by EMU Professor of Health Administration Beverly Mihalko and Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, with a special call from Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Email questions to [email protected], or call 888.299.8910 during the event or submit questions through WEMU’s Facebook page.

    The Washtenaw County Health Department has published a comprehensive list [PDF] of prevention measures.

    Anyone who experiences symptoms is advised to call their health provider, contact the IHA Health Center @ EMU as noted above, or the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Health officials request that anyone experiencing symptoms call in advance to advise them of the reason for the visit.

    Please continue to monitor your University email and visit our COVID-19 website for ongoing updates, as well as resources that are helpful during these challenging times.

    Sincerely,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon, March 16, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update: March 16, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan now up to 53 today, Governor Whitmer hours ago issued several important executive orders that directly affect our operations. These include the closure of restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, and libraries. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has revised its guidance regarding large crowds, recommending that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.

    Therefore, effective today, the University is announcing the following:

    • Campus Dining: Consistent with Governor Whitmer’s executive order, all campus dining operations will move to a “grab and go”/takeout format, effective this evening. Campus dining options are limited to the Eateries, Homestyle @ Cluck, and the Market in the Student Center for the immediate future. Operating hours are posted on the dining website. Students should not congregate and eat with one another due to public health social distancing recommendations.
    • Rec/IM: The Rec/IM will close at 3 p.m. today and will remain closed for the immediate future, under the executive order from Governor Whitmer. This includes the Jones Pool and locker facilities.
    • Halle Library: Halle Library will close at 3 p.m. today, again following the executive order issued by Governor Whitmer. It will remain closed for the immediate future. We are assessing whether the computer lab can remain open and will have a further update soon.

    • Spring Commencement: Spring Commencement, scheduled for April 25, is postponed to a later date to be determined. We understand that this is a disappointment for the students who worked hard to earn their degree as well as their families, but this action is necessary pursuant to the various government emergency directives and guidelines regarding large audiences as our entire nation seeks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are committed to re-scheduling Commencement ceremonies to a later date, and all graduates and their families will be advised of those plans once decided. This also includes the Multicultural Graduation ceremony, which also is postponed until further notice.

    • Extending online class schedule: The University is continually evaluating its initially announced plans to resume in-person classes on April 1. We stated from the beginning that this timeline was fluid and would be adjusted if necessary. In light of the recent changes in guidance from the Governor’s office and the CDC, it now appears likely that we will need to further extend online/virtual class delivery and delay resumption of in-person classes on campus. We will have an announcement in this regard later this week.

    • Students living in residence halls: Due to this public health crisis, students living on campus are strongly encouraged to return to their permanent place of residence temporarily (unless they are international students, are from far distances, or have other special circumstances requiring them to remain).


    I will continue to emphasize: The most important thing any of us can do at this time is to follow recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes avoiding close interaction and practicing social distancing. We understand that tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, an occasion in which many people want to gather and celebrate. I emphasize, and both Michigan’s Governor and our health experts agree, this is not the time for those activities. Please refrain from such gatherings this year. Such interaction puts you in danger of contracting the disease and spreading it to others.

    This is a time for all of us to practice self-care. Take care of yourselves. The Washtenaw County Health Department has published a comprehensive list [PDF] of prevention measures.

    Anyone who experiences symptoms is advised to call their health provider, the IHA Health Center @ EMU, or the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Health officials request that anyone experiencing symptoms call in advance to advise them of the reason for the visit.

    As a result of this health emergency, we ask that you continue to monitor your University email and visit our COVID-19 website for ongoing updates, as well as resources that are helpful during these challenging times.

    Sincerely,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Sun, March 15, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update: March 15, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    These are challenging times filled with uncertainty and stress. This evening, Governor Whitmer announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, bringing the total number of people infected in the state to 45, with many more tests currently underway.

    The days and weeks ahead are going to be difficult as we all navigate this global pandemic and declarations of emergency in our nation, state, county and municipality, and the evolving changes in guidance and recommendations from public health and government officials.

    It is our commitment to you to continue to keep you informed and updated as the University responds to this health crisis.

    Public health experts are clear: social distancing is critical to preventing the spread COVID-19. Our actions reflect that priority.

    All EMU employees who have not been otherwise informed or designated by their supervisor are expected to begin working remotely tomorrow, Monday, March 16. Supervisors should be in touch with each employee via email or phone to confirm arrangements for their work and to resolve any areas of concern. A guide has been developed to assist employees in this effort: Preparing to work remotely [PDF]. Employees should contact their supervisor immediately if they are unclear about whether they have been designated to work on campus or have not confirmed work arrangements.

    Tomorrow, March 16, 2020, the University will launch an online/virtual schedule and support structure as noted in previous campus messages last week. Only a very few offices should be operating in person and protocols should be worked through for how this will occur in a manner than maintains social distancing and hygiene expectations to the highest degree possible. This is a significant undertaking and a process for which we have prepared. It requires many changes to the typical class delivery model and we ask everyone’s patience as we work through these new processes and adjust in the coming days. Please be patient and supportive with colleagues and community members who are less comfortable with this form of interaction. Our community’s support for each other during this time has made me so proud as a leader. Let’s stay strong as we dive into the deep water this week!

    FOR STUDENTS

    Online class plans

    Instructors either have or will soon be in contact with their students about next steps in their courses. We realize that some issues remain to be determined including full lab, practicum, and studio solutions but contact should be underway. If there are questions about this, students should (as always) first contact their instructor via email and then the department head or school director who leads the area that sponsors the course.

    We continue to work with faculty and staff who conduct performance classes such as dance and art, as well as laboratory classes, to determine the best approach for those classes. I ask for your patience as we work through these items. These courses are difficult to recreate virtually but solutions continue to emerge out of the creativity and commitment of our outstanding instructional staff. Please be patient as we problem solve -- we all remain committed to a full educational experience in the face of an unprecedented disruption in the national educational system.

    ServiceEMU

    ServiceEMU is open via email or telephone as outlined below.

    Inquiries regarding Financial Aid should be directed to [email protected] or 734.487.0455.

    Inquiries regarding Student Business Services should be directed to [email protected] or 734.487.3335.

    Inquiries to the Office of the Registrar should be directed to [email protected].

    Students in residence halls

    Due to public health recommendations for social distancing during this emergency, students living on campus are strongly encouraged to return to their permanent place of residence temporarily (unless they are international students, from out of state or have other special circumstances).

    Hours for Halle Library, EMU Dining and Rec/IM

    Updated hours for these operations are posted on their respective webpages:


    Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

    During the on-campus suspension of activities, CAPS is working to provide support to students, while maintaining the physical health of our campus community. All in-person appointments have been canceled to minimize social contacts. Instead, current clients have been contacted by email and will also be called early this week by a CAPS therapist. CAPS will be offering phone support to any students in need from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.

    CAPS will continue to offer after-hours phone support through the main CAPS phone line (734.487.1118) after 5 p.m. and on weekends. If you have questions or need to speak with a counselor, please contact us at 734.487.1118 or by email at [email protected].

    Other mental health resources include:

    1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255
    2. Crisis Text Line: Text "hello" to 741741

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    Swoop’s Food Pantry will reopen on Tuesday (3/17), Wednesday (3/18) and Thursday (3/19) from 11:30 – 3 p.m. Staff will be busy on Monday restocking the shelves and preparing the pantry for visitors.

    To minimize social contacts, the shopping process will be adjusted: Staff will walk the aisles with clients and staff will fill the bags, thereby reducing touching of handles, produce, etc., by clients. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator.

    We will provide an update on next week’s Swoop’s schedule later in the week.

    Overall student issues and concerns

    The Dean of Students office is a central point for students who have a concern or need assistance that has not been addressed elsewhere in our updates. They will likely direct you to other offices on campus as needed so please carefully review their responses. We ask that you please hold questions that are not time sensitive issues until midweek to allow for adjustment to this new mode of operation. The Dean of Students office is best contacted via email at [email protected]. Please recall that course related issues should be addressed first with your instructor and then the relevant Department Head or School Director.

    FOR EMPLOYEES

    Buildings open tomorrow for retrieval of laptops, materials

    As indicated previously, all buildings will be open tomorrow, Monday, March 16, so that employees can retrieve office items needed to work remotely.

    ID/swipe cards

    After tomorrow, employees should expect that buildings will be locked and will require swipe card access if returning to campus. If you have misplaced your swipe card you will need to replace it in order to swipe in.

    Employees who need replacement ID/swipe cards to access buildings the remainder of the week should visit Student Business Services (SBS) in 203 Pierce Hall. SBS will be open from 9:30 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Monday, March 16) for replacement cards.

    Desktop computers

    Employees who wish to take desktop computers and peripheral equipment out of their office to work remotely should complete an equipment checkout request form.

    Campus Shipping, Receiving, and Mail Services

    In order to minimize interaction and embrace social distancing, mail pickup will be centralized at Shipping, Receiving & Mail Services (SRMS) from Monday, March 16 through the planned return to campus operations on Monday, March 30. Departmental mail and packages will be available for pick up between 2 – 3 p.m. each day. Please drop off any mail to be sent out, which will be delivered the Post Office the following morning. If your department is expecting a specific delivery, please contact SRMS at 734.487.4386 or at [email protected].

    LOOKING AHEAD

    The most important thing any of us can do at this time is to follow recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus. Please review this comprehensive list [PDF] of prevention measures compiled by the Washtenaw County Health Department.

    Anyone who experiences symptoms is advised to call their health provider, the IHA Health Center @ EMU, or the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Health officials request that anyone experiencing symptoms call in advance to advise them of the reason for the visit.

    As a result of this health emergency, we ask that you continue to monitor your University email and visit our COVID-19 website for ongoing updates, as well as resources that are helpful during these challenging times.

    Sincerely,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri, March 13, 2020

    COVID-19 Campus Update, March 13, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Preparations for the start of online classes on Monday, March 16 are moving forward. We appreciate student, faculty and staff understanding and patience as we begin this journey, along with our university colleagues across the country, into what are largely uncharted waters.

    We are committed throughout this process to operate with the utmost concern for the health and well being of students, faculty and staff. Our decisions are based on fully supporting social distancing recommendations as guided by the Centers for Disease Control as well as local and state public health officials.

    We have several important operational items for today’s update:

    FOR STUDENTS

    Student employees

    Student employees can continue to work at the discretion of their supervisors, either on campus or remotely as directed by supervisors.

    The University recognizes that with the temporary reduction in on campus operations, certain student employees will not be needed, such as in dining and other areas. We understand that many students rely heavily on their student employment to make ends meet and that the impact of not working could lead to serious financial consequences. The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing this matter and is expected to provide guidance to universities within the next week. The University will evaluate the federal guidance and assess how best to support our students. We hope to be able to provide a plan for those students within the next week. In the meantime, all students who worked over the past two weeks will receive their pay as scheduled on March 19.

    Registration for Fall 2020 classes delayed one week

    Given the disruption in the regular class schedule, the University is delaying the opening of Fall 2020 class registration by one week, to Monday, March 23.

    Hours for Halle Library, EMU Dining and Rec/IM

    Updated hours for these operations are posted on their respective webpages:

    Rec/IM

    Halle Library

    EMU Dining

    Student Center

    FOR EMPLOYEES

    Webinars for faculty

    We understand today’s webinars did not go as planned for faculty. We are working through these issues and appreciate your patience and understanding. We will continue to provide updates as soon as possible. As I indicated on Wednesday, with such a massive undertaking and transition to online/virtual classes, there are bound to be some challenges along the way. Working together, we will overcome them.

    Building access

    Swipe card access should work for your building in order to access workspaces and offices over the weekend and over the next two weeks when online/virtual classes are held.

    As indicated previously, all buildings will be open Monday, March 16 so that employees can retrieve laptops and materials needed to work remotely. If you are unable to swipe into your building, please contact the Department of Public Safety at 734.487.1222.

    Desktop computers

    Employees who wish to take desktop computers and peripheral equipment out of their office to work remotely should complete an equipment checkout request form.

    Payroll and timesheets

    Payroll operations continue as standard. Employee pay will be processed in accordance with the typical schedule.

    For timesheets, employees should classify yesterday and today (March 12, 13) as they would for a snow day. Beginning Monday, March 16, all employees should resume routine timesheet entry – those who work remotely and designated employees who work on campus.

    Campus mail pickup

    In order to minimize interaction and embrace social distancing, mail pickup will be centralized beginning Monday, March 16 through the planned return to campus operations on Monday, March 30. All offices will be required to pick up their mail from the mail office.

    OVERALL CAMPUS

    Campus cleaning

    The University’s facilities team continues its enhanced cleaning efforts across campus. They are concentrating on touch points (door handles, light switches, desk tops, etc.) and will cover all of campus before the currently scheduled employee return to campus on Monday, March 30, with on campus classes currently scheduled to resume on Wednesday April 1.

    By Monday, March 16, bathrooms in the following buildings will have been power-washed and fogged with an electrostatic disinfectant: Porter, Marshall, Halle, Quirk, Pray-Harrold, Mark Jefferson, Strong, Sherzer, Hover, Briggs, Student Center, Rec/IM, Bowen and Alexander.

    Public spaces that are used daily, such as Halle Library, the Rec/IM and the Student Center, will continue to receive daily cleaning and disinfecting.

    The University has expanded its purchase of disinfectant wipes to distribute across campus. The demand for wipes locally and nationally is great and we are working to purchase and distribute as many as we can obtain.

    Swoop’s Food Pantry

    The University recognizes the importance and need for Swoop’s Food Pantry. Given the challenging circumstances with employment both on campus and off, the need for a resource such as Swoop’s is likely more important today than it was a week ago. We are currently reviewing plans to resume some level of operations next week. We will advise you when the plan is in place.

    MOVING FORWARD

    My most important request of everyone as we enter the weekend is to continue to practice prevention. Practice social distancing. Employees should work remotely if and when you can (and if you are not a designated employee). Wash hands thoroughly and frequently. Sanitize and disinfect. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

    The Washtenaw County Health Department has published a full set of prevention measures.

    Monday’s launch of fully online classes will be challenging, but I know we are capable of meeting that challenge. As I said earlier, these are uncharted waters – not only for us but for our university colleagues across the country.

    We communicated previously our intention to resume on campus classes on Wednesday, April 1, with employees returning on Monday, March 30. We are closely following the changing situation, including guidance from the Governor’s office and public health officials in this regard. These dates may be modified as we indicated from the outset. We will update you further next week.

    I appreciate your patience, support and understanding as we move forward through these unprecedented days that test our creativity and resilience. Please continue to monitor Eastern's COVID-19 website and your campus email for further updates

    Sincerely,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thur, March 12, 2020

    COVID-19 Update, March 12, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Our teams are working swiftly and with great precision to prepare our campus community for the launch of a nearly fully virtual/online course schedule beginning on Monday, March 16, as was noted in yesterday’s announcement.

    FOR STUDENTS

    Canvas

    Earlier this morning, students were sent an email about newly created course shells in Canvas for those courses that were not using Canvas previously.

    Your instructor will communicate with you soon, if they haven't already, about how they intend to modify their course plan. Plan on checking your email and Canvas (if appropriate) at least daily for messages from your instructor or the University about staying connected with your courses.

    If you're new to Canvas, review our EMU Student Canvas Guide. If you're having technical problems with Canvas, call the 24/7 Canvas Help Desk at (844) 326-6322. Click on the Help icon in the lower left-hand menu for other Canvas resources, including Help Desk Chat.

    Residence halls

    Most students living in residence halls have chosen to return to their permanent place of residence for the next two weeks due to public health recommendations for social distancing.

    As noted yesterday, on campus, in person classes are suspended through March 31. This date is subject to change depending on new information and health updates.

    Public health experts are clear on this: staying apart from one another is one of the most significant actions one can take to avoid COVID-19.

    We understand that international students, students living out of state and others may not be able to return to their permanent place of residence. For that reason, limited residence hall and dining are available for those students.

    Students who stay on campus must register online by Saturday, March 14, so the University can appropriately prepare and staff residence halls and dining facilities.

    FOR EMPLOYEES

    As discussed in yesterday’s announcement, all EMU employees who have not been otherwise informed or designated by their supervisor will be expected to work remotely as of Monday, March 16. Accordingly, EMU employees need to prepare to work remotely. A step-by-step guide has been developed to assist employees in this effort: Preparing to work remotely.

    As of today, EMU employees are expected to return and work on campus on Monday, March 30, 2020. However, the COVID-19 situation is evolving daily so EMU continues to evaluate this timeline. University email is the official form of communication for all EMU employees – so all EMU employees are expected to monitor it for updates.

    All instructional personnel should continue to communicate with their department and monitor emails from the Office of the Provost for updates related to the delivery of online classes and instruction.

    CANCELLATIONS

    We continue to receive many questions about cancellations. As announced yesterday, all University events have been cancelled through March 31. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution. Governor Whitmer’s recommendation is that any gatherings of more than 100 people should be cancelled. We determined it was important for the health and well being of our community that we go above and beyond that recommendation.

    This decision has unfortunate consequences of which we are aware. For example, the 40th Undergraduate Research Symposium on March 27, one of Eastern’s signature events, has been canceled. We are assessing whether it can be rescheduled for a later date, but as you know the environment as it relates to COVID-19 remains fluid. We understand and share in the disappointment of participating students and faculty. We understand many students have questions – including honors and LBC6 credits for graduating. We are working to get answers as quickly as possible.

    A partial list of other campus cancellations include:

    Thursday, March 12

    • Celebration of Black Women

    Saturday, March 14

    • Colors in Harmony Performance
    • Fast Track Orientation

    Monday, March 16

    • Women’s Resource Center Student Parent Resource Fair

    Thursday, March 19

    • WEMU Spring Fundraiser (postponed, new dates TBD)
    • Third Annual Creative Faculty Showcase
    • The George Liepa Sigma XI Speaker Series 2020
    • Latinx Student Association’s Fifth Annual Quinceanera Celebration

    Friday, March 20

    • EMU Orchestra Festival
    • The Graduate Research Conference

    Tuesday, March 24

    • Student Gold Medallion Awards

    Wednesday, March 25

    • Distinguished Contributions Award Ceremony

    Thursday, March 26

    • Get Your Vitamin 5K! Run/Walk

    Friday, March 27

    • 40thAnnual Undergraduate Symposium

    Saturday, March 28

    • Performance of “Tartuffe” at Sponberg Theatre (also Sunday, March 29)

    Spring sports: Discussions are currently underway with the Mid-American Conference regarding the cancellation of spring sports and action is expected by tomorrow.

    SCHEDULES

    Halle Library: Closed, will reopen Monday, March 16.

    Dining: Open, visit dining website

    Rec/IM: Open, Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. See REC/IM calendar for next week.

    PREVENTION

    The most important thing any of us can do at this time is to follow recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus. I strongly encourage everyone – students, faculty, staff as well as all administrators -- to follow these guidelines to their fullest extent.

    Please review this comprehensive list of prevention measures compiled by the Washtenaw County Health Department.

    Anyone who experiences symptoms is advised to call their health provider, the IHA Health Center @ EMU, or the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Health officials request that anyone experiencing symptoms call in advance to advise them of the reason for the visit.

    QUESTIONS

    We understand this is a fluid situation and many of you have questions. We are working hard to address these as quickly as we can.

    If you don’t hear back from us, it is not because we are ignoring you. We are working through these questions, some which may take longer than others.

    In the immediate term, please do not call the Department of Public Safety with any non-emergency related matters. Student questions should be directed to the Dean of Students at [email protected]. Faculty questions should be directed to the Provost’s Office at [email protected]. Staff should contact their supervisors.

    GOING FORWARD

    We continue to pay close attention to changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and are in regular contact with the Washtenaw County Health Department. We will advise when there are further updates. Our plans for events in April and May continue as scheduled for the time being, including Commencement on Saturday, April 25. However, as noted several times in this email and in previous messages, the situation remains fluid and subject to change.

    Please continue to monitor your University email and visit our COVID-19 website for ongoing updates, as well as resources that are helpful during these challenging times.

    I appreciate your patience and understanding as we, along with the rest of the world, adjust to this “new normal.”

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Thur, March 12, 2020

    EMU Athletics Suspends Activities, March 12, 2020

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    Statement from EMU Athletics: The single-most important priority of the Eastern Michigan University Athletic Department has been and continues to be the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, and personnel. After consultation with officials from the Mid-American Conference, public health and medical professionals, and university administration, and in compliance with the NCAA and MAC's decision to cancel its winter and spring championships for the 2020 season, the EMU Department of Athletics has suspended all athletic activity. This includes practice and voluntary workouts until the University resumes normally scheduled operations.

    Teams that are currently traveling for away competition have been instructed to forgo scheduled activities and return home immediately. This decision was not easy, but undoubtedly serves the best interest of the department and its student-athletes.

    Eastern Michigan University and EMU Athletics will convey additional information, when available, via its social media channels and EMUEagles.com.

    Statement from EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee: "Eastern Michigan Athletics fully supports all measures to protect the health and welfare of the EMU family and beyond during this unprecedented time. This decision was not easy, but undoubtedly serves the best interest of the department and its student-athletes."

  • Wed, March 11, 2020

    New Actions Regarding COVID-19 Response, March 11, 2020

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Today we made several important decisions regarding University operations in light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 (new coronavirus) and Governor Whitmer’s declaration of a state of emergency in the State of Michigan. There remain no known cases at this time of COVID-19 on our campus or among the Eastern Michigan University community.

    Out of an abundance of caution, we are announcing the following actions:

    Classes and instruction

    • Effective tomorrow, March 12, we are suspending face-to-face instruction in lectures, seminars and other similar classroom settings. The suspension of on campus/in person classes will last through Tuesday, March 31 -- with on campus/in person classes tentatively set to resume on April 1. This decision and timing will be reevaluated on an ongoing basis and may be modified as more information becomes available.

    • Current classes that are presented in an online format will continue as scheduled.

    • The University is working to move on-campus classes to a virtual/online instruction format. On Monday, March 16, the University will transition classes to a virtual/online format. Instructors will contact their students with the online class plan.

    • We are working with faculty and staff who conduct performance and laboratory classes to determine the best approach for those classes, and will provide further guidance next week. This is an evolving process and I ask for your patience as we work through these items.

    • Halle Library will remain open with reduced hours beginning on Monday.

     

    Residence halls

    • While completing classes virtually, students are encouraged to return to their permanent place of residence due to public health recommendations for social distancing.

    • For students who choose to continue living on campus or are not able to return home, the University’s residence halls and dining facilities will remain open. Students who stay on campus must register online by Saturday, March 14, so the University can appropriately prepare and staff residence halls and dining facilities.

    • We urge all students to make the choice that is best for their own personal situations.

    • Everyone is encouraged to practice appropriate social distancing and enhanced preventative public health and hygiene measures, as we have previously shared in our campus communications.

     

    Employees

    • Certain designated personnel, as notified by their supervisors, may be required to work in the period between Thursday, March 12 and Sunday, March 15. All other employees should plan not to work and remain at home Thursday through Sunday to allow for greater attention to campus-wide cleaning initiatives and transition to online instruction.

    • As of Monday, March 16, all employees, other than certain designated personnel notified by their supervisors, will be expected to work remotely through Sunday, March 29 and return to work on Monday, March 30, 2020. Employees can return to campus to retrieve computers and necessary materials on Monday, March 16.

     

    Events

    • Governor Whitmer today announced recommendations to cancel large events or gatherings of people.

    • Following that recommendation, all University events are canceled through the end of March. This includes tomorrow's (March 12) ribbon cutting for the new Campus Wellness Center and weekend events.

    • We have suspended scheduling any new events for the immediate future. Of course, we will continue to reassess this decision as the situation unfolds.

     

    Travel

    • All University-related travel to international destinations is now suspended. This is a change to our previous announcement suspending only travel to countries with Level Three and Level Four travel advisories.

    • All non-essential University travel to domestic locations is also suspended. Any domestic travel requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Office of the Provost and the CFO.

     

    Prevention

    As a reminder, the Centers for Disease Control recommends practicing these good prevention strategies:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash or cough into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

     

    Next steps

    I understand many of you will have questions about these actions and decisions. We are not going to have an answer right away for all questions, but you can be assured we are working through these issues as quickly as we can.

    Every step we take and decision we make is focused on this overarching priority: protecting the health and safety of our campus community and guests to our campus.

    The decision to move to online instruction was made with great consideration. The objective is to minimize gatherings of large groups and avoid extended time in close proximity with one another in classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of local, state and federal health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.

    There is no question that moving to online delivery of a broad array of classes and programs is a challenging undertaking. Our teams have been preparing for this possibility and we have confidence we will be ready to expand our online offerings on Monday, March 16, as noted above. That doesn’t mean all will be smooth sailing. This is a complex process -- changes and modifications to these plans as likely as we proceed. Your understanding and cooperation as we work through these matters is greatly appreciated.

    We continue to be in very close and regular contact with public health officials at the County and State, and are closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control guidance on the evolving situation. We will reevaluate our actions on an ongoing basis and share updates or modifications as more information becomes available.

    Finally, I want to thank our deans and faculty leadership for their guidance and involvement, as well as all of our faculty, staff and students. These campus leaders are often at the forefront, hearing the concerns of our colleagues and fellow students, and we appreciate that they continue to bring these concerns forward so that any issues can be appropriately addressed.

    The COVID-19 situation is evolving daily. This is a difficult time for us all and for many around the world, but we will work together and get through it. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts, as well as those students, faculty and staff who may have loved ones in states or nations where the outbreak is more severe.

    University email is the official form of communication with students, faculty and staff – and you are expected to monitor it for updates. Please continue to check the Eastern Michigan University Coronavirus website for further information.

    Respectfully,

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Tue, March 10, 2020

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - March 10, 2020

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    11:15 p.m.

    We learned late tonight that State officials have identified the first cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Michigan. Our understanding is that there are two cases, neither case is in Washtenaw County, the patients are under medical care, and that the State is completing the re-tracing process to assess how these individuals were infected. There is no indication that either of these cases have any connection to EMU's campus.

    As we have shared in communications on this topic, the University has been constantly monitoring this situation, closely following guidance from the CDC, and is in regular contact with our public health and medical partners. This situation has been, and will continue to be, fluid. We understand, however, that it creates significant concern for many members of our community.

    We have developed a variety of plans based on different scenarios. Please understand that some decisions about next steps may need to be made quickly. If that occurs, we will notify all campus partners as quickly as possible. We appreciate your cooperation as we navigate this rapidly-evolving situation.

    We expect to announce some changes tomorrow regarding the ability of instructors to voluntarily teach their classes remotely. Also, as a reminder, we have undertaken a variety of enhanced cleaning procedures across campus in an effort to ensure the health and safety of the campus community. These measures include: enhanced cleaning of touch points (e.g., light switches, door handles) in common areas; enhanced power-washing and/or electrostatic disinfectant spray in public restrooms; increased frequency of cleaning of shared restrooms in residence halls with shared restrooms; and enhanced access to hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. We have additional steps we intend to take that we will announce and implement as soon as possible.

    Again, we will keep you informed as much and as quickly as possible. We appreciate your cooperation and patience.

    Jim Smith, President

  • Mon, March 9, 2020

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - March 9, 2020

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    There remain no known cases of Coronavirus among Eastern Michigan University students, faculty or staff.

    All University operations continue as normal and all classes and events are taking place as scheduled.

    There are no reported cases in Michigan.

    The University continues to monitor all updated CDC guidance and is working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and state health officials.

    The University continues work to inform the campus community about precautionary measures that everyone can take. Several hundred posters and flyers have been distributed across campus:

    March 5 - Share facts about COVID-19 (CDC) [PDF]

    March 9 - Do you know how to wash your hands? (Washtenaw County Health Department) [PDF]

  • Fri, March 6, 2020

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - March 6, 2020

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    There are no known cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) among Eastern Michigan University students, instructors or staff.

    All University operations continue as normal and all classes and events are taking place as scheduled.

    Out of an abundance of caution, and following County, State and Federal guidance, a group of students and instructors who attended a study abroad trip to Italy over Winter Break have been instructed to self-quarantine.

    This means they remove themselves from contact with others while they monitor for any signs of the illness.

    These students have returned to their homes and are not on campus during the self-quarantine period.

    As long as they continue to show no symptoms of the illness, they will be allowed to return to campus and resume normal campus activities on Sunday, March 15.

    As a reminder, the Centers for Disease Control recommends practicing these good prevention strategies:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash or cough into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

     

    As we have noted previously, information and guidance regarding the spread of Coronavirus is changing daily. Eastern Michigan will continue to provide ongoing updates as necessary. The University has prepared a website dedicated to our Coronavirus communications and resources, which will continue to be updated. It provides helpful resources about the virus, government travel advisories, and information from the Washtenaw County Health Department.

  • Wed, March 4, 2020

    Coronavirus Update - March 4, 2020

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    Students, faculty and staff:

    Today the Center for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidance for people who visited countries designated as Level Three due to Coronavirus. Under the new guidance, individuals returning from Level Three countries, even if showing no symptoms of the illness, are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from that country. For Eastern Michigan University, this change is relevant to our students and instructors who recently returned from Italy. The earlier guidance was to self-monitor and resume normal activities as long as an individual was without symptoms. Today the guidance for those same individuals is to self-quarantine. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, instructors and students returning from Italy must now self-quarantine for 14 days after their return from the country. Eastern will follow this directive with regard to any other trip -- all members of our University community returning from a country designated as Level Three or higher due to the Coronavirus must self-quarantine for 14 days after their return.

    According to the CDC: "Quarantine in general means the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease." The students and instructors returning from Italy are being notified of this change today and can return to campus on Sunday, March 15 as long as they show no symptoms of the illness.

    As we have indicated from the outset, information and guidance surrounding the spread of the Coronavirus is fluid and is changing rapidly. In some cases, such as this, CDC guidance changes overnight. Our team continues to be in close contact with the Washtenaw County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and we are closely monitoring all available federal, state and local information and updates regarding Coronavirus.

    As a reminder, there are no reported cases at Eastern or in Michigan at this time. We are taking these precautions to ensure the continued health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff. Normal University operations continue, and there are no current plans to cancel main campus classes.

    The University remains committed to sharing information with our campus community in a timely way to ensure the safety and well being of everyone on our campus and community. Further information and resources can be found at Eastern's Coronavirus information website.

    The CDC's Travel Health Notices are posted on its website.

    The Eastern Michigan team monitoring this ongoing and evolving situation includes the Office of the President, the Provost's office, the Dean of Students, and Academic Programs Abroad, among others. The University will continue to closely follow all advisories and guidance and advise the campus community as necessary.

  • Mon, March 2, 2020

    Coronavirus Update - March 2, 2020 - from President Smith

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    Students, faculty and staff:

    Since my initial message to campus regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Jan. 31, University leadership has been closely monitoring the spread of the virus and the additional travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department. Primary teams involved in this process include the Office of the President, the Provost’s office, the Dean of Students, and Academic Programs Abroad, among others.

    We continue to proactively monitor the situation and are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Department of State, and the Washtenaw County Health Department. The University community will be notified if there is any immediate health threat.

    There are no reported cases at Eastern or in Michigan at this time. We are taking multiple precautions to ensure the continued health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff. Normal University operations continue, and there are no current plans to cancel main campus classes. The University is committed to sharing important updates to keep students, faculty and staff safe and informed. Information and resources can be found at our Coronavirus information website.

    Travel restrictions

    Pursuant to existing practice, the University is suspending all University sanctioned travel to countries that have level three or level four travel advisories as reported by the U.S. State Department. The list is updated regularly on the State Department Travel Advisory website.

    Following careful review of guidance from the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO), and out of an abundance of caution, the University is implementing the following updates to travel restrictions:

        • All future University-affiliated travel to China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran is suspended, effective immediately.
        • The University strongly recommends that all students, faculty and staff avoid all personal travel to China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea.
        • Any member of the University community who travels to or from China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea is required to self-identify prior to returning to campus and must self-monitor for 14 days. Students, faculty and staff returning from these countries must contact the Dean of Students office at [email protected]. The University needs a single point of contact with county, state and federal agencies to coordinate and track information on behalf of the Provost’s office.
        • Public health advisories and health precautions can change with little notice. Current guidance is country-specific. Students, faculty and staff returning from Italy who are symptom free must self-monitor but can attend class. Students, faculty and staff who exhibit any of the symptoms described below should not attend class and observe government guidance regarding self-quarantine, along with notifying the Dean of Students.
        • Students, faculty and staff returning from South Korea must self-quarantine for 14 days per CDC guidance.
        • If after reviewing health-related guidelines, any instructor who needs to consult about accommodations should email the Provost’s office for further guidance at [email protected].

    In addition to these travel restrictions and previously announced actions, the University is implementing the following measures:

    • Study abroad programs in China, Italy and South Korea, scheduled to begin later this semester through the end of summer, have been suspended, effective immediately.
    • The University is communicating directly with students who are currently out of the country on study abroad programs to ensure their safe return to the U.S. and to minimize disruption to their academic studies.
    • The Study Abroad office continues to work directly with students enrolled in global academic programs. Study abroad students who have questions should email [email protected] edu.

    Coronavirus symptoms

    As a reminder, relevant signs of the virus include a cough, fever greater than 100.4 degrees and shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should stay away from campus and contact their medical provider or the IHA Health Center @ EMU at 734.896.4110 to speak to medical personnel who can assess and guide next steps. In addition, they should notify the Dean of Students at [email protected].

    General advisories for student, faculty and staff travelers

    • Anyone planning international travel should check the status of COVID-19 alerts and precautions at all destinations, including layovers, and continue to do so until their return to the U.S.
    • Monitor travel advisories daily, including potential restrictions on border crossings; countries you visit may decide to implement travel restrictions with very little notice, impacting your ability to return to campus.
    • Airlines may cancel/limit flights in or out of a country or region.
    • Additional quarantine measures may be applied by the U.S. and other countries.
    • Re-entry to the U.S. could be restricted – some areas are posting a 14-day self-isolation requirement.

    Safeguards regarding the spread of Coronavirus

    Person-to-person spread of the Coronavirus in the United States has been detected. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Practice these good prevention strategies:

    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have soap and water.
    • Cover coughs with your elbow and sleeve.
    • Stay away from others if you or they are sick.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

    The Washtenaw County Health Department has prepared background information and frequently asked questions [PDF] to better inform the public about Coronavirus. In addition, the health information office at UC Davis produced a helpful video about Coronavirus.

    A reminder: anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their health provider or the IHA Health Center @ EMU at 734.896.4110 to speak to medical personnel who can assess and guide your next steps.

    University encourages use of sanitizers, disinfectant wipes

    Effective immediately, the University has approved the use of p-cards for the purchase of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to use in classrooms, offices and other public spaces, and encourages all employees to use them daily to wipe down frequently touched surfaces such as door and drawer handles.

    We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and provide further updates as warranted.

    Jim Smith

  • Tue, Feb 4, 2020

    A message for you from EMU Dean of Students and OISS about the coronavirus outbreak

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    Dear International Students from China,

    Last Friday, you received an email from EMU President Smith about the recent Novel Coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. We want to reinforce to you that the University is closely monitoring this outbreak and is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Health officials and administrators throughout the University will continue to work closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department to prepare for, screen and prevent the spread of illness. As this situation continues to develop, we will provide updates and information to help you stay healthy.

    We wanted to reassure you that Eastern Michigan University has systems in place to monitor, identify and respond swiftly to any potential case of coronavirus. For now, it is important to know when and how to access care:

    • If you have traveled from China or a surrounding Asian country — or have been in contact with someone who has — within the past 14 days and you subsequently develop a cough, fever greater than 100.4 degrees and shortness of breath, you will need to seek medical attention.
    • Call the IHA Health Center @ EMU at 734.896.4110 to speak to medical personnel who can assess and guide your next steps.

    Because we are also at the height of the influenza season, here are some tips to decrease your risk of contracting influenza of which we are seeing many active cases:

    • Get vaccinated against influenza! It is not too late. As in other years, the coverage is not 100 percent effective, but it can reduce symptoms for those who do become infected and decrease the risk of severe complications. Your flu shot is covered by the EMU Student Insurance policy.
    • Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or more with soapy water and don’t touch your face.
    • If you are sick, do not go to classes, cover your cough and seek help, especially with severe symptoms or if you are at high risk for complications due to such conditions as asthma or diabetes.
    • Avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments.
    • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
    • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

    We recognize that many of our students and employees are natives of China and/or have family and friends in the country and may be concerned about their well-being. Please know that the University community supports and cares about you, and we send our best wishes for the health of your loved ones.

    Two offices on campus, in particular, can serve as helpful resources should you find yourself in need of support. You may call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 734.487.1118 if you would like to speak to a counselor. For other assistance, consider talking with a staff member at the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) at 734.487.3116 or by stopping in the Office at 240 Student Center.

    Sincerely,

    Ellen Gold
    Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

    Esther Gunel
    Director of the Office for International Students and Scholars

  • Fri, Jan 31, 2020

    Coronavirus update

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    To students, faculty and staff:

    The University’s leadership team continues to closely monitor escalating global developments regarding the Coronavirus.

    Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it has classified Coronavirus as a global health emergency and the U.S. State Department elevated its China travel advisory to its highest-level warning, Level 4, which recommends a “Do Not Travel” to China due to the illness.

    The Eastern Michigan University health and wellness team, under the direction of Dean of Students Ellen Gold, is involved in ongoing dialogue with state and local public health officials, primarily the Washtenaw County Health Department.

    It is important to note that no suspected cases of Coronavirus have been reported on our campus or among any of our students, faculty or staff. No cases have been confirmed in Washtenaw County or in the state of Michigan.

    Given the heightened warnings from the WHO and the State Department, we have taken important steps to ensure the safety and well being of our community:

    • Student programs with planned travel to China through the end of summer are being assessed, with the possibility of being redirected.
    • All university-related and university-sponsored travel to China is being suspended for the next two months and will be evaluated on a rolling basis to account for changing developments in the course of the emergency.

    Our utmost priority is the health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff, as well as our neighbors in the greater Ypsilanti and Washtenaw communities. This priority will guide our actions in response to this health emergency in the days and weeks ahead.

    The Washtenaw County Health Department also reminds us that Coronavirus is a travel-related illness, and not an illness associated with contact with Chinese or Asian community members. The Health Department states, “Let’s fight this public health concern with compassion and science, not fear and discrimination.”

    The Washtenaw County Health Department has prepared background information and Frequently Asked Questions [PDF] to better inform the public about Coronavirus.

    We will provide further updates as necessary.

    Sincerely,

    James M. Smith, Ph.D.
    President