Campus Update: July 23, 2021

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

While our faculty members, student affairs and facilities teams busily plan for our in-person fall semester, we continue to keep an ever vigilant eye on COVID-19, the Delta variant, hospitalizations, and vaccination rates. As you know, the Delta variant, which is particularly dangerous and highly transmissible, is now considered the most common COVID-19 infection.

It is critical to note that most people who are currently falling ill to COVID-19 have not been vaccinated. Just yesterday, published statistics indicated that 99% of current COVID-19 deaths are among people who are not vaccinated. I join with medical experts across the state and nation who strongly encourage vaccinations for everyone who is eligible and can receive a vaccine.

We continue to work closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department to provide vaccination opportunities on campus for our students, faculty and staff. In the coming weeks, you can look for pop-up vaccination clinics on campus and a concerted effort to promote the importance of getting vaccinated.

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of COVID-19 cases at Eastern has been among the lowest among Michigan’s public universities, and we aim to keep it that way. But we can only do that with your help and continued support. I thank you for your efforts to date, but I want to make it clear that this crisis is not over yet. We have more work to do to as we continue to inform members of our community about the safety of vaccinations and the protection they provide.

Here is a link to current vaccination clinic sites in Washtenaw County.

Michigan’s MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes is an added incentive to get vaccinated. A daily $50,000 giveaway and a $2 million drawing remain available for people who are vaccinated by July 30. And, 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.

For the sixth consecutive week, we have no reported positive cases among members of our campus community. We continue to monitor and track cases on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

We continue to offer free COVID-19 testing in the Student Center, which will continue through the summer and fall semesters. As was noted in a message to campus last week, masks are required at the testing center. Please visit the testing center website for days and hours of operation.

We have several other updates to cover this week:

  • Professor Maragakis receives $1.86 million grant
  • Professors honored at national conference
  • EMU named one of the top 15 universities in the nation for veterans
  • Student-athlete Tariq Speights earns national honor
  • EMU Police Department hosts annual Bike Rodeo
  • Swoop’s Food Pantry Schedule

Assistant Professor Alexandros Maragakis receives $1.86 million grant

Alexandros Maragakis, an assistant professor in Psychology, has received a $1.86 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to improve access to behavioral health services for children in Michigan. Assistant Professor Maragakis will receive approximately $465,000 per year for four years to integrate behavioral health services with pediatric primary care practices in a variety of urban and rural Michigan communities.

“The integration of behavioral health within primary care has recently gained global attention given that almost half of all pediatric primary care visits have some type of behavioral health concern documented,” said Dr. Maragakis. “The goal of this grant is to grow the behavioral health workforce to improve access to behavioral health services for children in Michigan.” Read more about it in EMU Today.

Professors honored at national conference

Two professors from the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology were honored recently by the American Coatings Association. The team of Dr. Hamid Asemani and Dr. Vijay Mannari won the Best Paper Award at the CoatingsTech 2021 conference. Their paper focused on research funded by the Strategic Environmental Research Development Program (SERDP) involving the design, development, and evaluation of innovative non-isocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) coating systems for environmentally sustainable rain erosion coatings. Specifically, the paper details how NIPU’s prepared through environmentally sustainable approaches can be customized for high-performance military coating systems by leveraging dual-cure chemistries.

EMU named one of the top 15 universities in the nation for veterans

Eastern Michigan University has earned a spot in the top 15 of’s 2021 Best for Vets: Colleges list, ranking 13th out of more than 360 US colleges. EMU moved up more than 20 spots from its No. 35 ranking in the 2020 list.

The announcement by follows the ranking earlier this year by Military Friendly Schools in which Eastern Michigan was ranked number two in the United States and number one in Michigan.

“Eastern Michigan University and the Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles Military and Veteran Services Resource Center take so much pride in helping military and veteran students—and their families—achieve their educational goals in a caring, friendly environment,” said Lt. Col. Michael C. Wise, EMU’s Military and Veteran Services assistant director. “We’re incredibly proud of our resource center and all of the support we’re able to offer our military and veteran students across campus.” Read the full story about the military ranking.

Student-athlete nominated for Allstate Good Works Team®

Eastern Michigan University senior football player Tariq Speights has been selected as one of 109 student-athletes nationwide eligible for the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, which is widely recognized as the most prestigious community service award in college football.

The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® has been one of the most esteemed honors in college football for 30 years. The student-athletes nominated for this award not only demonstrate a unique dedication to community service and desire to make a positive impact on the lives around them, but also show tremendous perseverance as well as the ability to overcome personal struggles and come out victorious against all odds. 

Speights helped organize a voter registration drive at EMU to get students out to vote in 2020. The goal was to challenge every eligible member of Eastern's 18 varsity sports to be registered to vote. Additionally, he helped organize a Black Lives Matter rally that involved the athletic departments of both EMU and the University of Michigan. The rally was about student-athletes using their platform as college athletes, opening eyes, sharing a cause, and bringing awareness to racial inequality in this country. He also hosted a MLK Day March in Ypsilanti of Student-Athletes The celebration, which consisted of both an in-person march and virtual panel discussion. Read more about Tariq Speights.

EMU Police Department hosts annual bike rodeo event to promote bike safety

On Saturday, Aug. 7, the Eastern Michigan University Police Department will host its free and open to the public annual bike safety Bike Rodeo event. The Bike Rodeo will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the EMU Convocation Center, located at 799 N Hewitt Rd in Ypsilanti.

The event will include free bike safety checks (mechanical check and helmet fitting information), free helmets donated from GameAbove, an Eastern Michigan University alumni group, giveaways and other special items, refreshments, a fun obstacle course, and more.

“Every year, we welcome children and families from all over Washtenaw County and metro Detroit to our Bike Rodeo to learn about safe biking,” said Sergeant Joseph Torres of the EMU Police Department. “With so many bicycles out on the road each year, we’re excited to once again offer this opportunity for folks to come out, learn about bike safety, make sure their biking equipment is safe, and just have some fun.”

Please join me in congratulating everyone involved in these fine examples of Eastern Excellence!

Swoop’s Food Pantry Schedule

Shoppers are invited to come in person anytime during open hours (see website for current open hours), or they may choose to complete an Online Shopping Request Form where items will be packed by staff for shoppers to pick up at a designated time. 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.

In terms of donations, the most needed items this week are pet food, salad dressing, rice, shampoo/conditioner and spices. Monetary contributions are always appreciated and can be made online.

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 weekend.

James Smith, Ph.D.