COVID-19 Update to Campus: June 8, 2020

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

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 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.

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