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STEM Day returns to Wayne State campus on April 25

DETROIT – For the first time since the start of the global pandemic, STEM Day is returning to the campus of Wayne State University. Nearly 2,500 students, teachers and chaperones from more than 20 middle and high schools throughout southeastern Michigan will descend on the Midtown campus to experience 70 different STEM sessions on April 25.   High school students get a view of a petri dish in a lab during Wayne State’s STEM Day in 2019. STEM Day combines learning and experimentation in all areas of science, technology, engineering and math, which is essential to the pursuit of truth, knowledge and the development of solutions that improve the human condition. For Julie Hasse, associate director of marketing and communications, STEM Day also offers an exciting time for young teens to learn about and explore Wayne State. “We will have students doing a ton of stuff,” she said. “These kids will be working on physics experiments, and eating liquid nitrogen ice cream. They will be in the planetarium, in the nutrition and food science labs, and in the nursing lab working with the simulation experiences. They will literally be everywhere on campus. It’s really an amazing event.” While working in groups of 30 or fewer, students will have the chance to experience hands-on and interactive experiments. They will also have an opportunity to learn about different academic programs on campus as well as future career pathways. Among the presenters at this year’s STEM Day will be Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson, a renowned ophthalmologist, who will interact with a group of lucky students and discuss his career pathway and field of expertise during a presentation titled, “Wonders of the Human Eye.” Wilson’s presentation will be held at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights in the law school. Not only will students have the chance to attend the educational sessions with Wayne State staff, faculty and students, but they will also have the opportunity to tour campus and enjoy lunch in the dining halls and other campus locations. STEM Day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is free and open to teachers and their classes, as well as individual and home-schooled students. “A lot of these students will have never stepped foot on Wayne State’s campus before,” Hasse said, “so that will be really cool for them to do.” STEM Day is so popular that this year’s registration filled up in days. According to Hasse, the university has nearly 4,000 names on a waiting list. “The demand for STEM careers continues to grow, and it is vital to educate and inspire kids when they are young so they envision themselves with what they can be when they grow up,” Hasse said. “I hope, like previous years, the students will walk away having experienced ah-ha moments about the potential future they can have.”  

College of Engineering to host concrete canoe races

DETROIT – Considered the America’s Cup of civil engineering, the Eastern Great Lakes Concrete Canoe regional races will be hosted by Wayne State University at Lake St. Clair Metropark Friday, March 31. Engineering students have put in hours of work to prepare their vessel for this week's concrete canoe race on Lake St. Clair. This elite competition, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), combines engineering excellence, hydrodynamic design, racing technique and, yes, canoes made of concrete. “Who would’ve thought concrete could float?” joked senior Knicko Mojica, vice president of Wayne State’s ASCE student chapter and co-captain of the Warriors concrete canoe team. The concrete canoe races are a big deal for students in the College of Engineering. Students spend a year of planning, designing, testing and constructing a canoe out of concrete to race it against other schools. Since the early 1970s, ASCE student chapters have competed to be the best at designing, constructing and racing concrete canoes. During that time, canoe mixtures and designs have varied, but the longtime tradition of teamwork and spirited competition has been constant. “The competition takes what we learn in the classroom and challenges us to follow closely in the footsteps of a real-life construction project: It ties together engineering concepts like project management, research, design, developing deliverables and construction,” Mojica said. “It’s been quite the challenge hosting and competing, but the connections I’ve made with my team and throughout the community while putting this together have made this an unforgettable experience.” This marks the first year in more than a decade that Wayne State is hosting the regional races. WSU will compete against 12 other college teams in disciplines of concrete canoe, surveying and sustainable solutions. This year’s Eastern Great Lakes regional races include a 200-meter slalom and 200-meter sprint for men, women and coed teams from Michigan and Ohio, including Lawrence Tech University, Michigan Technological University, Ohio Northern University, Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Michigan, University of Toledo, Western Michigan University and Youngstown State University. Bill Shuster, Ph.D., chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State and faculty advisor for the school’s ASCE student chapter, said Friday’s event will be an intensive and fun competition among hundreds of students. This Friday, the Warriors engineering team will race against 12 other college teams from Michigan and Ohio. “Each team designs, composes and tests materials, and constructs an actual concrete canoe that is then tested for safety on Lake St. Clair,” Shuster said. “Finally, there are a series of races that are pretty exciting, too. “These students will literally build the future of our cities through the built infrastructure. The concrete canoe experience is the sort of thing that our students will be doing on a day-to-day basis as civil engineers. They’ll be confronting the challenges of designing, building, restoring our worn structures, transportation networks, and water infrastructure. Seeing the project through from raw material and design concept, to a finished canoe is a unique team forum for exercising all of the core aspects of the civil engineers’ experience.” Friday’s winning team will advance to the ASCE Student Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville June 10-12. Below is the schedule for Friday’s races at Lake St. Clair Metropark, which is located at 31300 Metro Parkway in Harrison Township: 9 a.m. Canoe displays: Kayak Launch 11 a.m. Lunch break: Activity Center 12 p.m. Swamp testing/flotation test: Kayak Launch 1-5 p.m. Canoe races: Kayak Launch

Transfer students have clear path to bachelor’s degree with new partnership between Wayne County Community College District and Wayne State University

DETROIT – A new agreement between two of Detroit’s leading higher education institutions provides transfer students with a clear path from an associate degree to a bachelor’s, limiting potential loss of credits and helping families save tuition dollars. The new Transfer Pathways Agreement between Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) and Wayne State University maximizes credits students earn while completing an associate degree at WCCCD and transferring to WSU to complete their bachelor’s. A special signing ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at the Wayne State University Integrative Biosciences Center, 6135 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 48202, will celebrate the program, which goes into effect in fall 2023. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and WCCCD Chancellor Curtis L. Ivery will officially sign the agreement and speak about the importance of the partnership, as will several students who began their academic careers at WCCCD and are now proud Wayne State Warriors. "We are proud to announce an agreement that continues our work with an institution that shares our commitment to helping people thrive through higher education,” Chancellor Ivery says. “This partnership will help more students forge career pathways to high-wage and in-demand job opportunities that will allow them to grow in place, support themselves and their families, and help their communities grow." The Pathways program provides a seamless transfer between schools, with the goal of students completing a bachelor’s within four years. Students will be eligible for WSU transfer merit scholarships valued at up to $6,000 a year and receive specialized academic advising and career counseling prior to transferring and once they enroll at Wayne State. “This new agreement strengthens the collaboration that already exists between our two institutions and elevates it to a new level,” President Wilson says. “But, more importantly, it benefits students in Detroit and Wayne County and contributes to the region and state’s competitiveness. “With our new agreement, we are offering students – including nontraditional and adult learners – high-quality education and seamless pathways to earn two degrees, which will set them on a trajectory of economic advancement and social mobility.”  WCCCD Pathways students who meet program requirements will receive guaranteed admission to Wayne State. Requirements include earning at least 60 credit hours with a 2.5 or higher GPA and completing their associate degree at WCCCD. About Wayne County Community College District WCCCD, one of the largest urban community colleges in Michigan, is a multi-campus district with six campus locations and educational centers, including the Mary Ellen Stempfle University Center, the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center, the Michigan Institute for Public Safety Education (MIPSE), the Curtis L. Ivery Health and Wellness Education Center and the Outdoor Careers Training Center. The District serves students across 32 cities and townships, and more than 500 square miles. WCCCD is committed to the continued development of innovative programs, workforce transformation, hosting community-based training sessions, and improving student facilities and services. About Wayne State University Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.    
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Wayne State University to open Detroit Center for Black Studies

Last month, Wayne State University announced its plan to create the Detroit Center for Black Studies as part of its efforts to prioritize faculty and research centered on the Black experience. The university will recruit and hire 30 new humanities faculty, made possible by a $6 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. Dr. M. Roy Wilson is the president of Wayne State University. He says one of the goals in opening the Detroit Center for Black Studies is to connect the breadth of scholars who work in African American and African diaspora from all the universities in southeast Michigan. “The goal is an inclusive center that brings together the breadth of scholars who work in African American, African and African Diaspora Studies, and the interconnections with us and global histories, culture, economic, legal and health systems,” says President Wilson. 

WSU’s chief fundraiser, foundation president to step down

Susan Burns, the chief fundraiser for Wayne State University and one of the most senior development professionals in Southeast Michigan, is stepping down. Burns, vice president for development and alumni affairs and president of the Wayne State University Foundation will retire at the end of March after a 38-year career of raising money to support nonprofit institutions in the arts, higher education and health care fields. David Ripple, vice president of philanthropy at Trinity Health will succeed her, the university said, pending approval of the WSU Board of Governors later this month. Set to join WSU on Feb. 1, Ripple will be charged with developing plans for WSU's next comprehensive campaign, which will look to raise in the area of $1 billion, Burns said. She spent the first 16 years of her career in the arts with subsequent fundraising roles at the Jacksonville Symphony and Interlochen Center for the Arts before coming back to her hometown to lead development at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1998. She returned to her alma mater as associate vice president for development at WSU in 2001. Seven years later, she shifted to health care, becoming president of the St. John Providence Health foundations. But another seven years later, she returned to WSU in 2016 to lead fundraising for the university. "I keep coming back to the same place — I'm just supposed to be here," she said of the square mile in Detroit where she was born, attended WSU and has led fundraising for the DSO and WSU. She's retiring, she said, to spend more time with family and friends and her husband, a visual artist. The couple, who live in a loft on Canfield between WSU and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, plan to remain in Detroit. "We're not leaving. We have a history of leaving places just before they become cool. We want to stay and enjoy it here," Burns said.

Christianne Malone named to dual role with TechTown Detroit and Wayne State

The Wayne State University Office of Economic Development in Detroit and TechTown Detroit have named social architect and urbanist Christianne Malone to the dual role of assistant vice president for economic development and chief program officer. In her role, Malone will be responsible for the design, implementation, management, and continuous improvement of entrepreneurship programs for both the OED and TechTown. She will assist in advancing the overall economic development strategy for WSU and establish relationships with funders, community partners and external stakeholders. “Wayne State and TechTown gained a tremendous leader with the hire of Christianne Malone,” says Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State University and president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “She’s not only an innovator in the economic development space, but she’s also a coalition builder, teacher, coach, and catalyzer who will bring her wide range of knowledge to benefit our entire community.’
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Driker posthumously presented with inaugural award in his honor

Eugene Driker was a pillar in the Jewish community, a prominent attorney, and a tireless supporter of the city of Detroit and Wayne State University. In recognition of his profound contributions, President M. Roy Wilson and the Wayne State Board of Governors have created the Eugene Driker Award for Distinguished Service. The award’s first recipient is Driker, who received the honor posthumously at the Dec. 2 Board of Governors meeting, with his friends and family in attendance. A two-time Wayne State alumnus, former member of the Board of Governors, chair of the Wayne State University Foundation Board, generous donor and tireless ambassador for the university, Driker passed away in September. But the enormous impact of his contributions to Detroit and Wayne State will be felt for years to come. His wife, Elaine, and his son Stephen Driker along with his wife, Jennifer, accepted the award. “My only wish is that he was here to accept this himself,” Elaine Driker said. “Everyone knows how much he loved this university. He called it the portal to the American dream. ... I believe that's why he worked so tirelessly on behalf of the university. Hearing everyone speak about all of his contributions to the university and to the city, I want everyone to know that he was also a remarkable husband, an incredible father and a devoted grandfather.” 
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Wayne State adopts tuition model that promotes graduation rates

By Sherri Welch The Wayne State University Board of Governors on Friday adopted a block tuition model for undergraduate students. With the change, which takes effect in fall 2023, undergraduate students will pay the same amount for enrolling in 12-18 credits per semester. The shift incentivizes students to take full course loads and enables them to graduate sooner, WSU said in a release, noting it is the 11th public university in the state to adopt the model. "To fulfill Wayne State's mission as a university of access and an engine of social mobility, we constantly strive to align our students' goals with academic pathways to success," said Mark Kornbluh, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
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Robot food delivery service launches at Wayne State University

Robot delivery is now available on the campus of Wayne State University. The service through Grubhub just launched this week, and the school says it’s the first university in Michigan to bring automated delivery to campus. The service launched Tuesday and delivers from a handful of university-affiliated restaurants. Students use their phone to place an order and when it arrives, they use their phone again to unlock the compartment and get their order. “We’re in the early stages, but I’ve seen a lot of excitement,” Alex Mackenzie with Wayne State Dining Services said. “People use it, ask a lot of questions.” Mackenzie says the robots have mapped out campus and can adjust to traffic patterns and construction, navigating their way around bumps in the road. “It’s smart enough to know when to stop at a stoplight, when a human is coming, a bike is coming, all of those things.”  
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Wayne State, Karmanos to build cancer research, medical towers in Detroit’s Midtown

The Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute announced plans Monday to build a pair of towers in Midtown Detroit for medical education and research. The project, estimated to cost between $350 million to $450 million, would replace aging Wayne State medical school facilities and be an expansion of research space for the cancer institute. A joint committee is working to determine a precise location for the two adjacent and connected towers. The decision could come in the next three to four months, said Dr. Mark Schweitzer, vice president of health affairs for Wayne State. “The goal is to provide state-of-the-art medical education facilities and state-of-the-art research facilities,” Schweitzer said.  
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2022 Michiganians of the Year: M. Roy Wilson improved graduation rates at Wayne State

By Kim Kozlowski   Wayne State University was getting national attention for having one of the worst graduation rates, especially among African American students, in 2013 when President M. Roy Wilson arrived. In the years before his tenure, WSU’s six-year graduation rate hovered in the 30% range and sunk as low as 26% in 2011. Graduation rates for Black students were markedly worse. Graduation rates were slowly improving when Wilson arrived. The year before, in 2012-13, the six-year graduation rate for all students overall was 27.6%, more than three times the 9.2% of African American students who were graduating in six years. Wayne State has since increased its overall six-year and African American graduation rate to 55.8% and 34.6%, respectively, in 2021. The APLU bestowed the 2018 Degree Completion Award on Wayne State for using innovative ways to help students complete degrees and having the most improved college graduation in the nation. The disparity among African American students leaving WSU without a degree was especially concerning, Wilson says, because beyond the impact on the student it also “has intergeneration effects if you can’t break the cycle.” “If you don’t have a diverse workforce and have one segment of society that is making it and getting the good jobs…you not only widen the income gap between minorities and non-minorities, you also widen other gaps,” Wilson said, pointing to quality of life, life expectancy and health. “It’s not just an issue of lifetime income, it’s an issue of what kind of life you are going to lead.” Before he arrived, WSU committed to investing $10 million over five years to retain students. Wilson said the university also had to change its culture. Wilson says the next step is to close the graduation gap between white students and students of color. “You bring in kids, schools are obligated to graduate them,” he said. “They incur debt and then they don’t graduate. You are doing a disservice to the students, and a disservice to society. It’s an issue of justice.”   
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UM, Wayne State name new business school deans

By Kurt Nagl Two business schools in Southeast Michigan have appointed new leadership. Wayne State University named Virginia Kleist as the new dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business, taking over for Robert Forsythe, who has held the position since 2014. Kleist, who comes to Detroit from West Virginia University, begins her new role July 11. Forsythe will take an administrative leave before returning to the faculty. In her previous job, Kleist was associate dean of Graduate Programs, Research and Academic Affairs and professor of Management Information Systems at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. “We had a number of outstanding candidates for this highly-coveted position, but Virginia’s extensive leadership experience and her preparedness stood out,” said Mark Kornbluh, Wayne State provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
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Wayne State President reveals deeply personal experiences in new memoir

By Jake Neher  Wayne State University President Dr. M. Roy Wilson is turning inward with a new memoir that is both reflective and at times deeply revealing. “The Plum Tree Blossoms Even in Winter” looks back on Wilson’s troubled childhood starting in Japan. It then journeys through his accomplishments, setbacks, and terrifying medical troubles as an adult. The book will be released on May 4. President Wilson will host a book signing and meet-and-greet that day at the Wayne State University Barnes and Noble from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The book is about challenges and not giving up and even in the darkest of times that you can persevere,” said President Wilson. 
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Wayne State University sets five-year plan to support student, institutional success

Wayne State University has launched its strategic plan for 2022-2027, called “Our Moment in Time,” which will serve as a guide for future initiatives. The plan, approved unanimously by the WSU Board of Governors, seeks to build on the school’s commitment to student success and its connection with Detroit and Michigan. “Wayne State has been an anchor in Detroit for more than 150 years, and we’re not going anywhere. Our commitment to the community has provided opportunities for our university to have a positive impact on many people and in many ways – most importantly in providing a world-class education to students from all walks of life,” said WSU president M. Roy Wilson. “We remain steadfast in this commitment to our students, our community, and our state.” 
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Wayne State students positive about booster mandate for winter semester

Wayne State University officials announced that boosters will be required for all students, faculty and staff beginning Jan. 3. In a letter to the campus community, school officials said the decision was prompted by the alarming spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Recently, both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University made similar decisions. The Campus Health Center is offering all vaccines and boosters, with several booster clinics scheduled in the near future.