COVID-19 Update to Campus: April 8, 2020

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

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

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.

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