In the news

How therapy dogs can help student with stress on college campuses

By Christine Kivlen  At a private college in the Northeast, a first-year student said it was the highlight of her day whenever she would lie on the floor of her adviser's office and cuddle with a therapy dog, a Leonberger named Stella. At a large public university in the Midwest, a graduate student spoke of how a therapy dog there provided some much-needed relief. "What stands out for me is how comforting it felt to pet the therapy dog, especially when I started to miss my family and my own dog at home," the student, who is in a demanding health professional program, told me for my study of therapy dog programs for graduate students. The student spent about 35 minutes a week with three other students who all got to spend time with the therapy dog, petting her and giving her treats. Another student in the same program said spending time with a therapy dog helped her prepare for high-stakes tests. "It was always really nice to spend time with the therapy dog before big exams," the student said. "I felt like it gave me time to relax before the stressful test." 
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Defining terms that refer to people of Latin American descent

As we enter Hispanic Heritage Month, there are a plethora of different terms which refer to peple of Latin American descent. These terms, including Latino, Latina, LatinX, Hispanic, and Afro-Latino, are all used with the community that is largely referred to as “Latino.” Alicia Díaz, an instructor at Wayne State University’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, joins host Lisa Germani in a conversation about these terms. Díaz explains how these terms are not all necessarily interchangeable or accepted by everyone in the community.
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Return of Dlectricity shines a light on new plans for Detroit's Cultural Center district

By Lee Devito  It's been quite some time since we last saw Dlectricty, Detroit's biennial-ish festival of eye-popping light-based art installations. First launched in 2012, the fest returned in 2014, but the 2016 edition was postponed by the construction of the QLine streetcar. Then a plan to return in 2020 was scrapped due to the pandemic. It could be the start of a new rhythm for the festival. "You know, there doesn't really seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason between these years," Annmarie Borucki, director of arts and culture at Midtown Detroit, Inc., tells Metro Times. "It could change over time, but I think because of the amount of time and the amount of money it costs to do this, it really will either be a biennial or triennial moving forward." Borucki says the proposal would complement a master plan for a reimagined campus for Wayne State University, and the two plans would share various design elements for a more cohesive whole. Some of Dlectricy's programming extends onto WSU's campus, including a Tron-like installation in WSU's Prentis Building by the Japanese artist Takatuki Mori, which covers an ultraviolet-lit space with a grid, making it look like you're walking into a virtual reality space.     
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Therapy dogs help students cope with the stress of college life

Christine Kivlen, assistant professor (clinical) of occupational therapy in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, wrote an article for The Conversation detailing the benefits of therapy dog programs for college students. As the demand for mental health counseling continues to increase, more colleges are using therapy animals as a way to improve student mental health. Such programs, more formally known as canine-assisted interventions – can improve student well-being while helping students achieve a stronger sense of belonging, cope with being homesick and lonely, and lessening their anxiety and stress. College students who spent even just ten minutes petting a dog or cat saw significantly decreased cortisol levels, which are known to indicate stress.
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COVID-19 infection increases risk for preeclampsia reported by WSU and PBR investigators

A newly published study found that women who contract COVID-19 during pregnancy are at significantly higher risk of developing preeclampsia, the leading cause of maternal and infant death worldwide. The research, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, shows that women with SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy had 62% higher odds of developing preeclampsia than those without the infection during pregnancy. The research was led by Roberto Romero, M.D., DMedSci, chief of the Perinatology Research Branch and professor of molecular obstetrics and genetics at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, and Agustin Conde-Agudelo, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “This association was remarkably consistent across all predefined subgroups. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was associated with a significant increase in the odds of preeclampsia with severe features, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome,” said Dr. Romero.

Libraries aren't neutral ground in the fight for anti-racist education

While conservative movements and bills taking aim at anti-racist approaches to education have primarily focused on schools, libraries can also be particularly vulnerable as repositories not just for books, but for information, education, and resources. As library boards can often operate with very little oversight from other branches of local government, who has control over budgets, services, and programming can have widely spanning effects on a community. In many areas, libraries function as community centers offering public access to the internet, after-school programs, citizenship classes, and assistance in applying for public benefits. Book displays centering LGBTQ+ and BIPOC stories and multilingual programming can go a long way toward making marginalized community members feel welcomed and included. And it is precisely because of the expansion of library services in recent decades that many officials want to clamp down on their reach. “I think if you look at the source of that anger, it’s about power and resources,” said Kafi Kumasi, an associate professor of library science at Wayne State University. “It’s wanting to make sure that children are fed this myth of what America is and are not exposed to the realities of racism, classism, sexism.
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Michigan 2022 budget deal includes spending boosts for child care, higher education, infrastructure, and more

By Laura Gibbons  Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration on Thursday unveiled a $70 billion budget deal fueled in part by federal pandemic aid, funneling funds into child care eligibility expansion, a boost to direct care worker wages, additional funds for environmental cleanup and bridge repair and across-the-board increases to higher education funding. The budget, which includes $2.7 billion in federal COVID-19 funding, is expected to pass both chambers of the Legislature this week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has indicated she will sign it in time for it to take effect for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Lawmakers and the administration still have billions of unspent money left on the table. Budget Director David Massaron said the state has about $7 billion in federal funds left over, as well as “a few billion” in general fund and $1 billion in school aid state surplus. The upcoming fiscal year budget will be the last Massaron works on, as will soon be leaving his state government position for a new role at Wayne State University. A search for his replacement is ongoing. 
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New NIH research study to investigate psychosocial determinants of cardiovascular disease risk among urban African American adults

The Biopsychosocial Health lab from Wayne State University has been awarded $3,590,488 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to conduct a project titled “Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Among Urban African American adults: A Multilevel, Mixed Methods Approach.”  The project, led by Samuele Zilioli, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University, aims to provide a fine-grained characterization of the psychosocial factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and inflammation among urban middle-aged and older African American adults.  According to Zilioli, despite the steady decline in CVD morbidity and mortality in the U.S. over the last few decades, African American adults bear a disproportionate share of CVD burden.” Most of the research in this area has focused on proximate medical risk factors — such as diabetes and dyslipidemia — for CVD risk,” said Zilioli. “Only recently, however, have researchers started to consider the role of more distal risk factors, such as psychosocial stressors.” 
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Wayne State mandates flu vaccine for fall, winter semesters

Wayne State University in Detroit issued a flu vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus any day during the fall and winter semesters. All students, faculty and staff who the mandate applies to are required to get the vaccine by Oct. 20. “As we continue to navigate the pandemic, vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu play a crucial role in keeping our community safe and allowing us to offer in-person classes and on-campus events. Thank you for your continued cooperation and commitment to your fellow Warriors,” said WSU in a letter sent to students on Monday. WSU in addition to other colleges and universities around Michigan and the country have also mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for all students. Students at WSU were required to show proof of vaccination by Aug. 30 ahead of the fall semester. 
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UM, MSU, Wayne State lead nation in graduating mobility professionals

Michigan’s three major research universities are leading the nation in preparing students who will take their talents into the ever-changing mobility industry, according to a new report released today by Michigan’s University Research Corridor. The URC, an alliance of Michigan State University (MSU), the University of Michigan (U-M), and Wayne State University (WSU), leads the nation’s top university innovation clusters in preparing the greatest number of graduates for careers in the mobility industry – 14,824 total, more than university clusters in California, Texas and Massachusetts. It also prepares more than 46% of Michigan graduates who hold degrees in high demand by the mobility industry, such as business, computer science and engineering. “Mobility research draws on such a wide spectrum of knowledge, from changing the motor vehicles we create to finding new ways to make communities safer, cleaner and more connected for all,” said WSU Wayne Mobility Initiative Chair Weisong Shi. “Our research in the fast-evolving world of mobility helps bring the work of our URC institutions in front of the companies around the world developing the mobility technology of tomorrow.” 
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Wayne State, faculty union agree to new 3-year contract

Wayne State University in Detroit and a faculty union have reached an agreement on a new three-year contract. Members of the Wayne State Chapter of the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT Local 6075) will receive a 2% lump sum salary increase in the deal’s first year, the university said Wednesday. “We regard our world-class faculty and academic staff highly, and it’s important as a university that we compensate them fairly in recognition of the groundbreaking work they do,” Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said. “We also have a responsibility to our students to provide them with the best and most innovative instruction available at an affordable cost, and we feel this agreement succeeds on all counts.” 

Governor Whitmer announces grants to accelerate mobility and EV investments in the state

Governor Whitmer announces grants to accelerate mobility and EV investments in the state  Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by state, local, and university officials at Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center in Flint today to announce the first round of Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grants. Five mobility companies received more than $444,000 in funding to deploy mobility pilots in Michigan that alleviate mobility barriers and help accelerate electric vehicle adoption. “These grants are securing a foundation for mobility companies across the state that builds on our reputation as a global leader in testing and deployment of future mobility solutions, but also create a runway to future growth and jobs right here in Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “These five companies will help bring Michigan closer to our goal of providing sustainable, equitable, and accessible transportation options for all residents, and I’m confident this technology will have a lasting positive impact on our communities.”   Further demonstrating the state’s leadership in workforce training around mobility and electrification-related careers, Michigan’s University Research Corridor today released a report showing the alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University leads the nation’s top university innovation clusters in preparing the greatest number of graduates for careers in the mobility industry – 14,824 total, more than university clusters in California, Texas and Massachusetts. It also prepares more than 46% of Michigan graduates who hold degrees in high demand by the mobility industry, such as business, computer science and engineering degrees.    
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Managing conversations around COVID-19 when scheduling playdates for your kids

By Keenan Smith  With school back in session and kids making new friends, there will no doubt be requests for playdates. But, the pandemic is hitting kids harder than ever with infections and hospitalizations on the rise. Parents are left to balance the social and emotional health of their children and protecting them from the virus. We went to get guidance to help you manage the awkward situations and uncomfortable conversations you'll have to manage with kids back in school, the weather turning colder and the request for playdates heating up. Dr. Lucy McGoron, a developmental psychologist at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute at Wayne State, says unless you know someone is vaccinated or they wear masks, you should ask. "It's really not that different from other really tough conversations that we have to have as parents and doing playdates," she said. Those include who will be at the home during a play date or will the kids be wearing helmets when riding their bikes. McGoron says start by making the questions universal. "Say, hey, I asked everybody this, or it's just my policy to ask everybody about this, to preface that before digging into these questions about vaccines and masks," McGoron said. Or, you can start by sharing your practices as a way to get the ball rolling. McGoron says it's important to let your child see you navigate these issues in the pandemic and in life. 

Detroit confronting an infrastructure challenge

By Ari Shapiro  Before the month is up, the House is expected to vote on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. There's funding to improve the electrical grid, provide internet access for rural areas and much more. And the widespread need for these funds is already clear and present. Each day this week, we will hear from people and communities who are experiencing the frequent, if not daily, obstacles of failing infrastructure that this bill hopes to address. Our co-host Ari Shapiro starts our coverage in Detroit, Mich., where the city is confronting a challenge that will only get worse as the planet keeps heating up. ARI SHAPIRO: The sentiment goes beyond just the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. Professor Carol Miller of Wayne State University in Detroit has been studying water infrastructure for decades, and she tells me people used to ask her about contaminants, whether the local fish they caught were safe to eat. But these days... CAROL MILLER: The questions that are being asked at dinners and out with friends is a - questions relating to flooding - like, why is this happening? Why is it that disadvantaged people in the city have to go into their basements several times a year to pump out, or pail out, sewage that has gathered in the basement from a storm?SHAPIRO: And when somebody at that dinner party says - so is this big infrastructure bill going to make a difference? - what do you tell them? MILLER: I would tell them it should, that there's tons of money that look like it's going to be heading in that direction - so it should. I'd say it all depends on the people that are making those decisions. 
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Michigan colleges took financial battering in first months of COVID-19, new documents show

By David Jesse  The first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 took a sledgehammer to the revenues of Michigan's public and private colleges and universities, causing losses of more than $250 million collectively. The majority of the losses — more than $140 million — came from the school's auxiliary enterprises like dorms, dining and facility rentals. A Free Press review of audited financial numbers in each school's annual financial statement for the 2019-20 school year, which ended at the end of July 2020 for nearly all the schools, shows the extent of the wreckage. Full financials for the 2020-21 school year, when schools spent the entire session in the grip of the pandemic, are not yet complete. When it became clear in the spring of 2020 COVID-19 was unlike other diseases, college officials across the state warned it could have devastating effects on budgets. In early 2020, university administrators across Michigan could see the end of the school year drawing quickly closer. Plans had been made and projects started. It was time to start working on next year's budget. A few folks — including the presidents of the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Oakland University, all medical doctors by training — were aware of COVID-19, but many people weren't. 
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Wayne Law welcomes four new faculty members

Wayne State University Law School announced this week four new faculty members: Nancy Chi Cantalupo, Daniel Ellman, Jamila Jefferson-Jones and Hillel Nadler. Cantalupo is a nationally respected voice on Title IX, sexual harassment and gender-based violence. She has contributed significantly to U.S. public policy, including as a member of the 2013-14 Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for the Violence Against Women Act. Her scholarship focuses on using the law to combat discriminatory violence and draws from her more than two decades of work as a researcher, campus administrator, victims’ advocate, attorney and policymaker. She joins the Law School as an assistant professor of law. She was previously a faculty member at California Western School of Law. Ellman is a former trial lawyer at New York City’s Bronx Defenders. He joins the faculty after clerking for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein and teaching in the Sociology Department at the University of Michigan. Drawing in part on his work at the Bronx Defenders, he has been instrumental in launching Wayne Law’s innovative new Holistic Defense Partnership with the university’s School of Social Work. 

What death feels like, according to research and real accounts

By Lucia Peters and JR Thorpe  Humans are fascinated by death — and a lot of that fascination may stem from the fact that most of us just can’t comprehend death in its entirety. Indeed, the answer to the question “What does it feel like to die?” is largely, we don’t really know — mostly because (for what are perhaps obvious reasons) there aren’t a lot of ways to gather this information. Scientists do have some guesses, though, whether that’s through research on near-death experiences or through listening to people recount their first-hand brushes with the great hereafter. We do know what happens to the body when you die, per research published in Nature in 2016: Your oxygen depletes, which slows your circulation, making your skin mottle and your extremities turn cold; it gets harder to breathe, and what breathing you are able to do becomes noisy (although for what it’s worth, the “death rattle,” as it’s called, isn’t thought to be painful); and when your heartbeat, breathing, and circulation stop, clinical death occurs. Biological death follows a few minutes later as your brain cells die from the lack of oxygen. But as for what death feels like? Well, a lot of it depends on exactly how you die. People who die from illness, for example, aren’t typically able to describe what they’re feeling. As Margaret Campbell, a decades-long palliative caregiver and nursing professor at Wayne State University, told The Atlantic in 2016, “Roughly from the last two weeks until the last breath, somewhere in that interval, people become too sick, or too drowsy, or too unconscious to tell us what they’re experiencing.” As a result, much of the talk around death in these situations centers around what those observing it see, rather than what those experiencing it feel. 
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Hospitals innovate amid dire nursing shortages

By Patrick Boyle  At Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, doctors have been stepping up for duties normally done by nurses and medical assistants, such as turning and bathing patients. At UAMS Medical Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, administrators have been recruiting new nurses with signing bonuses of up to $25,000. And at UAB Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, nursing school faculty have been leading teams of students in turning critically ill COVID-19 patients from their backs onto their stomachs (knowns as proning) so they can breathe better. “I’ve never seen such teamwork. It’s been a mind-blowing experience,” says Summer Powers, DNP, CRNP, an assistant professor at UAB School of Nursing who helped to organize the faculty/student teams. Also never seen before are the staffing shortages that are plaguing hospitals in the latest COVID-19 hot spots, forcing them to offer eye-popping employment bonuses and draft everyone — from students to administrators to physicians — to fill in the gaps as best they can. While shortages abound across front-line jobs, nowhere is the need greater than in nursing, as hospitals hit by the current surge report unprecedented vacancies in nursing slots: 470 out of 3,800 positions at Parkland; 240 out of 1,400 at UAMS; and 760 out of 4,000 at UAB. COVID-19 has intensified some of those conditions. The first surges last year compelled many nurses and other health care workers to leave their jobs, but the vast majority battled through the exhaustion, despair, and fear out of a sense of duty and with faith that medical researchers would find ways to combat the disease. They just had to hang on until then. “When we were able to jump in with vaccinations in January [2021], there was a sense of great hope,” recalls Tricia Thomas, PhD, RN, associate dean for faculty affairs at Wayne State University College of Nursing in Detroit.  https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/hospitals-innovate-amid-dire-nursing-shortages 
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And a giant corporation will lead them: Why rely on business to help end the pandemic?

By Nancy Derringer  When the Detroit Regional Chamber convenes its Covid-delayed Mackinac Policy Conference later this month, it will require attendees to produce proof of vaccination to register. The usual suspects are balking, but the Chamber is standing firm. Its CEO, Sandy Baruah, had a kidney transplant in 2019, and is no doubt on anti-rejection drugs, i.e. immunosuppressants. He probably has a dim view of the trust-me-I-have-natural-immunity sermon preached by Covid survivors. Corporations like these – large, multinational, customer-facing – have advocated for a variety of social causes that some conservatives have dug in their heels on. Same-sex marriage and civil rights for LGBT individuals are only one example. Climate change and environmental impact are driving the auto industry in the direction of electric vehicles and renewable energy. Expect worker safety and security to be a higher priority, not only in company policy, but in their lobbying, too; tax-supported universal preschool isn’t just good for children, but for working parents. And good talent is hard enough to come by as it is. But Matthew Roling, an instructor at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, warns the rest of us not to get too complacent with these apparent good deeds. “Businesses never do things for altruistic reasons,” Roling said. “It just so happens that the intersection of customers and talent align themselves (with business’ bottom line). Because the moment those issues diverge, they won’t be there to save us.” 
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We don’t know how many kids are in the juvenile justice system

By Garlin Gilchrist, Sheryl Kubiak and Melanca Clark  Missing data is missing people. Absent complete and accurate data, policies to improve the lives of Michiganders may not reach those who are not counted. The issues with data access, consistency, integrity, and transparency span across issue areas, but of particular concern is the prevalence of these data problems in Michigan’s adult and youth criminal justice systems. A new report released Friday by Wayne State University, Overview of the Criminal Legal System in Michigan: Adults and Youth, illuminates the data challenges Michigan faces to improve public safety and community well-being. As noted in the report, Michigan’s data problems impact thousands of young people, adults, and families that touch the justice system. For example, the total number of young people in the youth justice system is unknown because of data limitations at the county and state levels.