Campus Update: July 8, 2021

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

I hope everyone was able to enjoy the 4th of July holiday and the long weekend. It is great to see people out and about and the return of many of the outdoor activities that we missed last summer due to the pandemic.

It is clear that vaccinations have made a remarkable difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and in helping us return to a more normal day-to-day lifestyle. Our families are safer. Our friends are safer. Our communities are safer.

While this is great news, I can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone to work together to encourage more people to get vaccinated. That’s why I was pleased to see the launch of Michigan’s new MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes.

  • Michigan residents who are 18 and older who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by this Saturday, July 10 are eligible to win $1 million.

  • Individuals 18 and over who receive at least one dose of vaccine by July 30 are eligible to win $2 million.

  • People 18 and over are also eligible to win daily drawings of $50,000.

  • And, younger people between 12-17 years of age who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 30 are eligible to win Michigan Education Trust scholarships.


It is my sincere hope that these incentives encourage more people to get vaccinated and help continue the efforts to put this deadly disease behind us. As communicated to campus last week, the University has ended many of our COVID-19 mandates in alignment with state and federal guidance.

We will offer a number of vaccination clinics, as well as other initiatives to encourage vaccinations, as the fall semester begins. We will have more to share in the weeks ahead.

For the fifth consecutive week, we have had no reported positive cases among our campus community. We continue to monitor and track cases on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard. The outcomes of the last five weeks reflect the University’s overall #EMUSafe efforts (since the start of the pandemic) that have resulted in a very low number of cases compared to our peers.

We continue to offer free COVID-19 testing in the Student Center, which will continue through the summer and fall semesters. The center is closed this week for the holiday break and will reopen next week. Please visit the testing center website for days and hours of operation.

I’d like to thank this opportunity to thank our entire community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and supporters for the ongoing vigilance to keep one another safe.

We have several other updates to cover this week:
College of Arts and Sciences Celebrates Detroit

  • Virtual Reality to Address Healthcare Inequities Featured in Forbes
  • Honors College Senior/McNair Scholar Recognized by Engineering Society of Detroit
  • YpsiWrites Public Art and Writing Tours in Ypsilanti
  • Swoop’s Food Pantry Schedule
  • Eagles Continue Olympics Tradition

College of Arts and Sciences Celebrates Detroit

The College of Arts and Sciences is celebrating the city of Detroit and its rich history with a number of public events, as part of its Detroit theme year – an opportunity to show how the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences add to our understanding of a single place.

The College and its departments, schools, and programs will host more than 30 events throughout the 2021-22 academic year that explore and illuminate the distinctive elements of the city.

One of the theme-year organizers is History Professor James Egge. In describing the theme year to EMU Today, he said, "Detroit Theme Year events will explore the rich culture and complex history of Detroit, as well as the problems and opportunities confronting the city today. We seek to foster a campus and community-wide conversation about how the EMU community can more fully participate in the life and progress of Detroit."

For additional details and ongoing updates about plans and schedules for the Detroit theme year, please visit the College of Arts and Sciences Detroit theme year website.

Virtual Reality to Address Healthcare Inequities Featured in Forbes

The School of Nursing’s initiative to develop a virtual reality program to address health inequities was recently featured in Forbes. The virtual reality program, which is specifically focused on addressing healthcare inequities among Asian Americans, is designed to teach medical personnel across the state how to deliver culturally competent care to the communities served.

I was pleased to be able to participate in the interview to highlight Eastern’s overall mission as an institution of opportunity that embraces efforts to support diversity and the distinct cultures and populations in our state. Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, professor of nursing and director of the EMU Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies, provided specific information about the virtual reality program and its importance. Dr. Wu is the project director and leads an interdisciplinary team with three core foci:

  • Implementation: Nursing professors Valerie Pauli, Jenni Hoffman, and Kathryn Hughesdon, and computer information professor Huei Lee.

  • Training and Dissemination: Nursing professors Linda Myler and Kathleen Seurynck.

  • Administrative: Nursing professors Tsu-Yin Wu, Valerie Pauli (project manager) and Meriam Caboral-Stevens (evaluator).

The virtual reality program is the result of a grant received from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For more information and background about the initiative, please visit the story in EMU Today that was published in March 2021.

Honors College Senior/McNair Scholar Recognized by Engineering Society of Detroit

A senior majoring in electrical engineering, David DeLisle, has received the 2021 “Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year” scholarship from the Engineering Society of Detroit.

Awarded each year in recognition of outstanding achievement by an undergraduate student who has distinguished themself in the engineering and scientific community, recipients receive a one-year complimentary student membership in The Engineering Society of Detroit, as well as a $2,000 scholarship.

David is in the Honors College and has been a participant in Eastern’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program since 2018. The McNair Program offers support services to high-achieving students who plan to attain a doctoral degree. EMU is among a highly elite group of institutions selected by the U.S. Department of Education to host a McNair Program.

Currently participating in a highly selective General Motors Exploring Careers through Experiential Learning (EXCEL) summer internship, David is gaining hands-on experience working on controls execution support for the manufacture of automotive transmissions. The training aligns with his goal of earning a graduate degree dedicated to the production of driverless vehicles.

YpsiWrites Public Art and Writing Tours in Ypsilanti

YpsiWrites, a nonprofit community writing center established by Eastern, along with the Ypsilanti District Library and 826 Michigan, has collaborated with the University of Michigan Museum of Art to establish a walking and writing tour that highlights the outstanding art that can be found in Ypsilanti.

The initiative consists of three walking tours of Depot Town, Downtown Ypsilanti and Eastern’s campus, featuring a piece of art or architecture at each stop, along with written prompts to encourage participants to explore their creativity through writing.

Pease Auditorium, the 9/11 Memorial, MLK Garden, and Starkweather Hall are some of the well-known stops on the EMU tour.

Artwork from nearly 50 Ypsilanti Community Schools students is also on display. This occurred after COVID-19 derailed the original plans to display the art in the U.S. Department of Education's gallery in Washington, D.C. in May 2020.

YpsiWrites co-founder and Director of EMU’s Office of Campus and Community Writing, Dr. Ann Blakeslee, told EMU Today, “The walking art tour and writing prompts were created in an effort to encourage those in the community to discover and enjoy the art hiding in the city of Ypsilanti and stretch their creativity when it comes to writing.”

Maps and writing prompts for the tour can be found in PDF form through the YpsiWrites Public Art and Writing Tour webpage; printed copies of the maps and prompts can be picked up at Ypsilanti District Library locations.

YpsiWrites is aimed at supporting and developing writing in the Ypsilanti community by providing trained writing tutors and workshop leaders to help teen and adult writers with any and all types of writing, including resumes, essays, stories, business plans, poetry, memoirs, and more. For more information about YpsiWrites and programming throughout the year, please visit the YpsiWrites website.

Swoop’s Food Pantry Schedule

Summer hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 - 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays 12 - 5 p.m.

Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

Eagles Continue Olympics Tradition

Eastern’s 61-year tradition of Summer Olympics participation will continue in this year’s games, in Tokyo, which begin July 23. Former Eagle triple jumper Donald Scott, a 2015 EMU graduate, is the first athlete in school history to qualify for the Olympics in the triple jump event.

Overall, EMU has had a track representative at every Summer Olympic Games since 1960. The Eagles have had 19 summer Olympians in 61 years.

EMU Track and Field Director/Head Coach Sue Parks said, "Donald has worked very hard for this moment since the last Olympic trials five years ago. We're really happy for him and it's exciting to continue our streak of having an EMU athlete in every Olympic games since 1960. Coach Sterling Roberts has done a great job of mentoring Donald and we're thrilled that they're heading to Tokyo!"

Tori Franklin, an MSU graduate who serves as a volunteer coach for Eastern’s track and field team, is also is heading to the summer games. Franklin will participate in the women’s triple jump competition.

Another former Eagle, Brittni Mason, is headed to the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo. Brittni will represent Team USA in the 100m and 200m dashes. The Paralympic games begin August 24.

Looking Ahead

I hope you enjoy reading this great news about our University and I thank everyone who plays a part in the programs and events highlighted.

We are working hard to prepare for a safe fall semester and are excited to welcome our students, faculty, staff and guests back for a full on-campus experience when classes begin on August 30. This will include in-person classes, a wide range on campus activities, living in residence halls, dining options, and athletics events.

Have a safe, restful and peaceful remainder of the week.

James Smith, Ph.D.