State budget, new free menstrual products program, Black History Month update, PBS NewsHour feature - Feb. 10, 2022

To the Eastern Michigan University community,

I am pleased to share several items in today’s campus update:

  • Governor Whitmer’s Proposed 2022-2023 budget
  • COVID-19 Cases, Dashboard
  • Changing the Cycle Program Offers Free Menstrual Products
  • Black History Month Events
  • PBS NewsHour Features EMU Resettlement of Afghan Refugees
  • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
  • Health and Safety Reminder

Governor Whitmer’s Proposed 2022-2023 Budget

Governor Whitmer’s proposed budget for higher education, announced yesterday as part of the overall state budget proposal for the next fiscal year, marks a sharp reversal from many years of disinvestment in higher education by the state. We, including my colleagues at the 15 other public universities in the state, are pleased to see the significant support for increasing the number of college graduates in our state. We are equally hopeful that the Michigan legislature, which will consider the proposed budget, will support these initiatives as the process moves forward to its scheduled implementation on Oct. 1.

Providing talent for the knowledge economy and supporting public policies to boost college degree attainment are key to Michigan’s future. A recent column in Crain’s Detroit Business articulated this important priority very well. 

Under the governor’s plan, public universities would each receive a 5% increase in additional ongoing funding, plus another 5% one-time increase, representing the largest single-year increase in operations funding for higher education proposed in decades. 

The governor’s plan also includes a one-time $200 million supplemental funding request for universities’ infrastructure, technology, equipment and maintenance costs.

The budget package provided more good news for Eastern. The University’s capital outlay submission for the comprehensive renovation of Roosevelt Hall, as phase two of the growth and expansion of the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology, received the highest score among the proposals submitted by Michigan universities.  

The plan was approved by the Board of Regents at its October 2021 meeting. This does not guarantee the project will be funded, as the state determines annually whether it will support capital projects. However, the project is now in excellent position should funding for capital outlay be approved.

COVID-19 Cases, Dashboard

The number of COVID-19 cases involving students and employees has declined for the fourth consecutive week. In the seven days ending Feb. 8, the University administered 847 COVID-19 tests that resulted in 18 positive cases, for a positivity rate of 2.13%. A total of 48 positive cases were confirmed during this period. Please visit the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard to learn more. Other than the spike in cases immediately following the holiday break, campus positivity rates remain extremely low. Vaccination data for students and employees is also posted on the site.

A reminder that free COVID-19 testing is available at the campus Testing Center. And, the University will host another community vaccination clinic on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. No appointment is necessary.

Changing the Cycle Program Offers Free Menstrual Products

The University is pleased to announce the "EMU Changing the Cycle" initiative, which provides free 100% organic cotton tampons and pads in public buildings across campus. 

As part of a pilot program launched in late 2021, “Aunt Flow” dispensers have already been installed and are available for use in several campus locations. More than 1,000 free products have already been dispensed to the campus community, and additional dispensers will be installed in more campus buildings in the coming weeks. Please check the EMU Changing the Cycle website regularly for locations and updates.

The program is funded by EMU Student Government and has received subsequent financial support from donors. It is coordinated by the Women's Resource Center, School of Social Work, the University Grounds and Custodial Services Office, Swoop’s Foods Pantry, and the Office of the President. 

Black History Month Events

I hope you have been able to participate in the robust selection of Black History Month programming that is underway. Many individuals and departments are involved in our overall campus effort, “Celebrating Black History 365 Days a Year.” Please visit the Black History Month website to see the full list of events, virtual and in-person. Events are planned tomorrow through Sunday and nearly every day next week. Of special note is the EMU Theatre production of Pipeline.

PBS NewsHour Features EMU Resettlement of Afghan Refugees

The University’s efforts to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees into campus housing were highlighted in an extensive PBS NewsHour feature story. The story, which discusses resettlement efforts in several areas of the country, heavily focused on the activities taking place on our campus.

As announced in December 2021, the University is working in collaboration with Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County to support the resettlement of 12 Afghan families to Eastern’s campus. The PBS segment highlights the efforts of student leadership, including Student Body President Luis Romero and Vice President Auryon Azar, to coordinate student volunteers to assist these families in the moving process. I highly encourage you to read the story and watch the video insert. It is a testament to our campus community’s commitment to welcoming people from all walks of life, cultures, and backgrounds, as highlighted on the “All Are Welcome Here” signage across our beautiful campus.

Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

Please join me in celebrating these fine examples of Eastern excellence:

  • Just in time for Super Bowl LVI, Full-Time Lecturer Joseph Radding in the Integrated Marketing Communications program developed a rating system to evaluate one of our favorite activities during the game – watching Super Bowl commercials!
  • Thanks to a $445,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jamie Lawler, and Associate Professor of Psychology Angela Staples, and their students, will explore how preschool-aged children control their behavior and emotions in different environmental settings and what contributing factors make it harder for them to lose control. The study will help clinicians and parents understand when intervention is necessary to prevent long-term disorders in the future.

  • The Digital Divas program is teaming up with CODE 313 and the PNC Foundation to create two all-girl esports teams for high school students in Detroit. Through this collaboration, led by Bia Hamed, director of K-12 STEM outreach and Digital Divas program director, students will have the opportunity to explore areas of STEM through the world of competitive gameplay.

  • The latest episode of EMU Today TV features College of Business Dean Ken Lord discussing the recent $1 million gift to the college, and Professor Sanjib Chowdhury, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, who discusses the new Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship and its $25,000 venture challenge.

Health and Safety Reminder

As we head into the weekend, it is important to reiterate some of the key safety protocols we should follow:

  • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
  • Wear face coverings, particularly when indoors in public areas;
  • Observe physical distancing; and,
  • Get vaccinated (and boosted) if you are eligible.

These actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. And, vaccination minimizes the severity of cases in most situations, for those who do contract the virus. 

As always, I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to monitor your University email for future updates.

James Smith, Ph.D.