COVID-19 Update to Campus: April 14, 2020

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.

Engage@EMU PPE volunteer effort

Engage@EMU 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). Engage@EMU 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.

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