Undergraduate Symposium, Amazon Career Choice, Campus Vote Project, COVID-19, Eastern Excellence - March 10, 2022

To the Eastern Michigan University community,

The Undergraduate Symposium will take place on Friday, March 25. Our annual event, now in its 42nd year, is regarded as one of the nation’s oldest undergraduate research symposiums and is a point of great pride for us. The Undergraduate Symposium changes the lives of participating students and reflects the best of everything that Eastern Michigan University stands for.

We are excited that this year will see a return to an in-person Symposium experience. The event will follow all University COVID-19 protocols, including a health screening and mask wearing while inside the Student Center.

For those of you who are new to the Undergraduate Symposium, it is Eastern Michigan University’s celebration of the exceptional academic work of EMU's undergraduate students. The event, hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences, is filled with presentations of scholarly and creative projects by our undergraduate students in collaboration with their faculty mentors. The presentations, posters, performances, and exhibits illustrate an impressive level of research and accomplishment due to these academic mentorships.

Novelist and alumna Bethany Ball will serve as the Dennis M. Beagen keynote speaker for this year’s event. Please visit the Undergraduate Symposium website to learn more. I look forward to seeing you there!

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

  • COVID-19 Cases, Dashboard
  • Amazon Career Choice Program
  • Campus Vote Project
  • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence
  • Final Thoughts

COVID-19 Cases, Dashboard

The number of COVID-19 cases involving students and employees has declined for the eighth consecutive week. In the seven days ending March 8, the University administered 624 COVID-19 tests that resulted in two positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.32%. A total of nine positive cases were confirmed during this period. The University’s COVID-19 Dashboard continues to add updated data, including the high vaccination rates among our students, faculty and staff. Free COVID-19 testing remains available at the campus Testing Center.

If the University continues to experience a low number of cases over the next week, there will be renewed consideration of modifying some of our COVID-19 protocols. We need to get past the two-week period following the return from spring break to determine if there is any significant increase in cases. As we get to the end of next week, we should have a clearer picture. Please continue to follow your campus email for updates.

Amazon Career Choice Program

Eastern Michigan University is proud to have been selected by Amazon among two universities and two community colleges in the state to participate in the Michigan Amazon Career Choice program. The program, representing a $1.2 billion investment by Amazon nationally, encourages Amazon employees to pursue a college education by providing funds that pay for tuition costs. Amazon employs approximately 26,000 people in Michigan. For more information about the program, read Amazon’s news release. It was also featured on Detroit’s WJBK-TV.

Campus Vote Project

Campus Vote Project, a nonpartisan national nonprofit, is hosting the first-ever Midwest Student Voting Summit on March 25. The free summit is open to students, faculty, administrators, and community partners from campuses in 13 Midwestern states. Along with regional sessions on different student voting topics, the Michigan Secretary of State's Office is partnering with Campus Vote Project on a Michigan session to bring together campuses from around the state. Items to be covered in the Michigan session include the 2022 elections, redistricting, Michigan election law, campus voter engagement, and more. Join the summit to learn more about action planning and how to get students engaged this November. Register for the summit.

Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

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

I hope you will enjoy learning more about the individuals and programs behind our successes.

Final Thoughts

I was pleased to be interviewed recently for WXYZ-TV’s Spotlight on the News public affairs program. During the 12-minute segment, which aired last Sunday, I was asked about Governor Whitmer’s higher ed budget proposal, enrollment, COVID-19, the Welcome Home 2025 housing plan, the Ukraine crisis and our support for Afghan refugees.

As I conclude, with refugees in mind, we must acknowledge the extremely uncertain and challenging times in our world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the resulting devastation, deaths and refugee crisis, is on all of our minds. The war’s impact on our economy and rising prices at the gas pump affects many Americans, particularly those earning low wages or living on fixed incomes. America is at its best when we stand united in confronting these challenges. As we move through our days, I hope that we will reflect on the role each of us can play in making life easier for someone affected by these or other crises.

Stay well and stay safe.

James Smith, Ph.D.