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MSU, U-M, Wayne State presidents: In-person classes likely won't resume until fall 2021

The presidents of Michigan's top three research universities said it’s likely it will be another year before their students return to classrooms full-time. Most students at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University are taking their courses remotely this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each university's president expects online classes to continue through the academic year, with students returning in person in the fall of 2021. "The truth of the matter is that this is going to be with us for a while," said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, who spoke with the MSU President Samuel Stanley and U-M President Mark Schlissel during a Lansing Economic Club panel on Thursday. "I anticipate that the winter semester will be basically the same as it is this semester."
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Wayne State opening of STEM Innovation Learning Center Oct. 1

Wayne State University will open its new STEM Innovation Learning Center on Thursday, Oct. 1, and host virtual pop-up mini events throughout the day from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students, faculty, staff, and the community are invited to join the celebration. The virtual event will include remarks from university and state leadership, a tour of the building, a drone flyover, and more. Construction on the project, which was made possible by a $14.75 million commitment from the state of Michigan as well as bond proceeds to WSU, began in March 2019. “Now more than ever is a time for innovation and optimism, and this facility will help further a culture of collaboration and creativity across disciplines,” says Tonya Matthews, associate provost for inclusive workforce development and director of the STEM Innovation Learning Center. “Students, faculty and the city of Detroit will benefit from the ideas and opportunities generated within this cutting-edge, state-of-the-art learning space for years to come.” This fall, the building will soft open with limited access while equipment is moved in and final systems are tested. The STEM Innovation Learning Center, however, has already begun to play a role in achieving Wayne State’s vision for STEM education and research for current and future Warriors through various community partnerships that could build upon the spirit of inclusive, collaborative STEM.
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Off-campus students remain a challenge in Detroit’s census response

According to the city census data map, Midtown and the Wayne State University area — neighborhoods that have plenty of traditional and campus housing— still have some of the lowest census responses in the city, about 28 percent, while the city itself has pushed past the halfway mark with a response rate of 50.1, as of Wednesday. Wayne State officials said that they had been working with Victoria Kovari, who is leading Detroit’s Census initiative, for the past 1.5 years to encourage residents and students to respond to the 2020 Census. Wayne State ran volunteer events and education campaigns to help students understand that they could participate in the census for their campus address. “We just wanted to let students know that the Census was coming up and talked about the areas in which it effected funding, roads, Pell education, healthcare and trying to find things that would matter to students,” said Carolyn Berry, WSU associate vice president of marketing and communications. 
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Leading Black educators at top universities

In the upcoming issue of US Black Engineer magazine the exclusive list of educators includes M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University. Wilson became the 12th president of Wayne State University on Aug. 1, 2013. During his inauguration in April 2014, Wilson, a leading physician focused on the themes of academic excellence, biomedical knowledge and research, innovation, creativity, diversity, and what public universities must do to respond to market forces. He said he felt “truly fortunate to have experienced the challenges of the urban core culture, to have been immersed in diversity at both the local and global level, to have experienced the thrill of discovery of new knowledge and educational excellence where the highest of achievements for the public good was an expectation.” In the fall of 2018, Wayne State announced that it admitted its largest incoming class ever, a 15 percent increase over the prior year. The university’s six-year graduation rate earned the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ 2018 Degree Completion Award, which recognizes innovative and successful approaches to improve degree completion and ensure educational quality. Wayne State’s graduation rate gains were especially pronounced among first-generation, low-income, and minority students, according to the university.
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Wayne State posts guidelines for action if COVID-19 spreads

As the majority of public universities begin fall semester classes this week amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wayne State University has developed a plan with specific benchmarks about when to take action to contain any potential spread of the virus. The university would take its most drastic step and depopulate the campus if testing shows positive cases within the university community to exceed 15%, or three or more clusters appear in seven days or if fewer than 15% of hospital beds and fewer than 15% of intensive care unit beds are available. The "tipping point metrics," posted online Monday, include thresholds that will trigger and guide Wayne State officials in their decision-making in the event of numerous COVID-19 cases. While many universities have a plan of when to take action, the Detroit university is among a small number of universities nationwide that are publishing specific numerical thresholds to trigger actions if coronavirus infections escalate. Wayne State made the move after watching other universities that have returned to campus and grappled with numerous coronavirus cases. It also wanted to be transparent and clear about what will happen if necessary, President M. Roy Wilson said. "I don't think the time to make a decision is ... when everything is getting worse," said Wilson, who is an epidemiologist. "You have to have some things already worked out so you are not wasting time. We know the science, and we know when things reach a certain level, it’s bad." 
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Amazon adding 100 new tech jobs, 25,000 square feet of space in Detroit

Detroit is one of six cities chosen for Amazon’s Tech Hub expansion and Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown, an incubator on the Wayne State University Campus, says he isn’t surprised. “Our manufacturing industry is heavily tech dependent, as a result, there is a tremendous amount of tech talent here. I think that’s why you’ve seen Amazon today, the Twitters, the Googles, the other tech companies coming to Detroit." TechTown is located on the Wayne State University campus where the number of students at the College of Engineering and innovation majors has skyrocketed. Staebler says continued investments from a company like Amazon helps to ensure Michigan talent stays in Michigan. More than just proof of how far the city has come and a reminder that Detroit is the place to be, Staebler says today’s announcement helps to inspire and encourage Detroit youth who may have an interest in STEM careers. “If no one you know is working at Amazon or Google or Microsoft, it becomes harder for you to envision yourself doing that. Here’s another visual cue and reminder that these are very real possibilities for Detroiters,” says Staebler. From automotive and manufacturing technology to start ups to tech giants like Amazon, could Detroit be the next Silicon Valley? Staebler says no; Detroit will be better. “We’re going to be Detroit and leapfrog them and move into where technology is going to be in the next 20 or 30 years. Then 50 years from now, people will be saying ‘we’re going to be the next Detroit.’”
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How 2 campuses share advanced software with students

College and university tech leaders are providing new ways for remote students to do hands-on work as online learning remains the predominant platform for instruction on most campuses. When Wayne State University went online this spring, students went home to a wide range of devices—from powerful Macs to Chromebooks. Not all of those computers could handle the advanced software that fine arts, drama, communications and music students need to work on hands-on projects, says Chris Gilbert, an applications technical analyst at the Detroit institution. The university expanded its use of the Splashtop platform to allow students to access advanced design applications by logging into campus computers remotely, Gilbert says. Students can access the software during scheduled class time. And, the university created a remote computer lab that students can log into any time of day. Students can create designs for instructors to begin fabricating during class, Gilbert adds. “The students who really want to learn a program can use it as much as they want,” he says.
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Can a building truly be COVID-proof? A look at the latest virus-busting technology

Some of the new COVID-19-blocking technology is techy and futuristic – like ultraviolet light wands that look like lightsabers. Some pieces are unflashy, like HVAC filters and ventilation tweaks. There’s no way to fully COVID-proof a building – at least not as long as humans are allowed inside. But there are pieces of technology, old and new, that are likely to chop down on the risk. A new trend is the fogger, which disperses disinfectant across a given area. They can stand on their own or be sprayed manually and be worn like a backpack, said Rob Davenport, associate vice president of facilities, planning and management at Wayne State University. Wayne State bought eight electrostatic fogging devices in preparation for the school year. They’ll be used twice per day in any of the weight rooms and fitness centers on campus that might be allowed to open for students or athletes. It will also be used in any potential exposure areas if the school has a positive COVID-19 case, Davenport said. Another suggested method is circulating air in buildings. “The worst thing you can do is not move air,” said Davenport. “We have a better chance at controlling the pandemic in a building when we are moving air.” With the tap of a touchscreen, building managers can adjust how much fresh air is coming inside. It's a concept many large commercial buildings like universities and hospitals already utilize, Davenport said. Hospital operating rooms, for example, often require as many as 20 full air exchanges per hour and have close to 100% outdoor air, Davenport said. At Wayne State, they’re upping the percentage this fall from 10-15% new air to at least 20%. As MLive interviewed experts about emerging technology to kill COVID-19 particles, there was a common, unprompted theme. “Wear a mask. That's the best thing you can do," said Davenport.

It takes a village: How coalition work is transforming lives in detroit

“Life happened.” That’s the short version of why Shawnte Cain left Wayne State University with only one class left to take before completing her degree. The longer version: she was working multiple jobs and taking care of her grandmother, who was ill. “I just didn’t end up going back,” Cain says now. Even with only one class remaining, a lot had to happen for Cain to complete her degree. When she inquired about going back, in 2017, she learned another class had been added to the requirements for her program. She also owed Wayne State money. “I didn’t even know what my outstanding balance was, I just knew that I had one,” she says. That debt would have to be settled before she could re-enroll. In 2018, the Lumina Foundation designated Detroit as a Talent Hub, in recognition of ongoing coalition work led by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Wayne State University, and Macomb Community College. Together, they had set a goal of re-engaging the region’s 690,000 adults who had completed some college but hadn’t gotten a degree. The Talent Hub designation recognizes communities that are doing innovative work to increase post-high school learning and training, with a focus on eliminating educational disparities for communities of color. Talent Hubs receive grants to support their work. “The Talent Hub [designation] brought us to this point,” says Dawn S. Medley, the associate vice president for enrollment management at Wayne State University. Medley says the city had applied to the program and been rejected, which made the coalition realize, “We had to bring our A-game.” Medley created one of the programs that enabled Cain to re-enroll and complete her degree: Wayne State’s Warrior Way Back program. She realized that outstanding educational debt often created compounding problems for students: “We just locked people out of higher education and locked them out of the opportunity to ever pay off that debt.” “I’m an English major,” Medley says, but she found the math simple: forgiving some former students’ outstanding debt would allow them to re-enroll and start paying tuition again. That insight became the Warrior Way Back program, in which students with less than $1,500 in outstanding debt can re-enroll and “learn” off their debt at a rate of $500 for each semester completed. Medley says the program has generated roughly $750,000 for the university. “The opportunity to do what is right for the student has become an opportunity to do what is right for the institution,” she says. When Cain did re-enroll at Wayne State in 2018, she took advantage of both Warrior Way Back and a tuition reimbursement program provided by her employer, the MGM Grand Detroit. Warrior Way Back representatives “were kind of like my concierge team to make sure I had the best experience going back to school,” she says. With all this support at her back, Cain actually went on to take another two classes after completing her degree in public relations, allowing her to update her social media skills—and keep her son in WSU’s preschool, which is free for students. 
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Pistons purchase G-League team in Arizona, will play games at Wayne State in 2021-22

The Pistons are getting a new G League affiliate for the 2021-22 season. The team and the Gatorade league jointly announced Wednesday that the Pistons purchased the Phoenix Suns’ affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. That new team will be renamed and begin play in the new arena being built on the campus of Wayne State University after next season. The Grand Rapids Drive, who had been the Pistons’ affiliate in the G-League, will play its last season before the transition to the new team and new arena. The Drive have a separate ownership group — that includes former Pistons icon Ben Wallace — and the move gives Pistons team owner Tom Gores control over the new Detroit-based franchise. Wayne State and the Pistons last year announced the construction of a $25 million arena that will house the new G League franchise as well as Wayne State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. The new facility will be 70,000 square feet and will be located near the corner of Warren and Trumbull on the school’s athletic campus. In addition to playing games on the school’s campus, a move that will generate revenue and usage of the new facility, the organization will work with Wayne State administrators to create programs and internship opportunities for students in fields like sports marketing, community relations, physical therapy, rehabilitation and sports and entertainment business operations.
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Wayne State announces mixed plan for fall return of classes

Wayne State University announced Wednesday that classes for fall will look very different amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter emailed to students, WSU President M. Roy Wilson detailed the plans saying 20 percent of courses will take place traditionally on campus and about 46 percent will be remote or online. About 2 percent will be a hybrid combination of online and in-person. As many as 32 percent of classes may be individually arranged. Wilson said the university is preparing to adjust if necessary. Campus housing has remained open during the pandemic and will be open for the fall semester. "Campus life and learning will look different than they did in February, and we have new guidelines and procedures in place … to accommodate physical distancing and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus," said Wilson. "Although things have changed, we remain firmly committed to our academic mission." Wilson said he will hold a town hall meeting 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday where students may pose questions and comments to the restart committee and him. He also highlighted that the WSU Board of Governors approved a 0% tuition increase "to allow our students to focus on their studies without added financial stress." "The university will also continue to develop new and innovative ways to make an education affordable for everyone," Wilson said.
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Wayne State University to announce plans for fall semester amid pandemic

Wayne State University is set to announce Wednesday exact plans for the fall semester. The university is one of the last such schools to announce return plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. “I said from the very beginning that we weren’t going to make any definitive decisions until as late as possible, based on the science and based on the public health at the time,” said President M. Roy Wilson. We do know a couple of the university’s plans already. For one, masks will be nonnegotiable. “That’s going to be mandatory for us,” said Wilson. “If you’re in a closed environment, in any of our buildings, you’re going to have to a wear a mask, period.” Here’s what else we know: There will be in-person, online and remote classes. Students will have to take a mandatory campus health and safety online course. There will be daily screenings and barcodes giving access to campus. Students living on campus will receive a COVID-19 test. The full plan will be sent via email to students and community members.
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Model D, 7/14 Amid calls to defund police, Detroit leaders weigh in on solutions and alternatives

For the Wayne State University Police Department, which report more incidents off-campus than on-campus, everyone must be on board with safety changes in the department, says Police Chief Anthony Holt. The university reported in May that the department was establishing a headquarters for a national de-escalation training center. According to the university, a nonprofit corporation status was filed with the state of Michigan. The training, Holt says, involves understanding someone’s mental health and deciding how to address that person. De-escalation, Holt says, is useful when conducting a traffic stop. While the person is not comfortable with a police officer stopping them, and may express their discomfort, Holt says one of the best practices is for the officer to calmly explain the stop. Holt says the plan for the center has been in motion for the last few years. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the department halted face-to-face training. Holt says a few of the officers began training shortly before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s shelter-in-place order. Virtual training began the week of June 20 with plans of face-to-face training by the end of 2020. Holt says de-escalation training is not a “one size fits all” tactic, as each person police come in contact with is different. But the goal of the training center, he says, is to further prepare officers on how to handle situations individually without immediate excessive use of force. In wake of recent police-involved incidents, Holt says the department receives numerous calls from residents explaining police encounters as far as 10 years ago. Holt doesn’t dismiss the complaints, and instead says he uses those complaints to remind officers how to handle future calls in the city. “I think you have to understand why people are protesting,” he says. “They want change. They want to be part of the change. So when you say you have to show [change], thus is the perfect example when to show it.”
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Wayne State University responds to new ICE policy

Wayne State University is responding to new guidelines put in place by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for international students. The new policy, according to the university, would "impose restrictions that put undue burdens on students and institutions as we continue to deal with uncertainties caused by the pandemic." This would require international students to be enrolled in at least one in-person class (which can be a hybrid) to maintain their visa status during the fall semester. The decision was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. WSU has about 1,500 international students. "We have joined higher education institutions and associations from across the country who are calling for changes to these unfair and impractical policies and are mobilizing to advocate on behalf of our international students," associate vice president of educational outreach and international programs Ahmad M. Ezzeddine,  said in a press release. "As these efforts continue, we are also reviewing the specifics of these guidelines to identify areas that will require changes in our fall plans to ensure compliance with the new rules. The planned hybrid model (a combination of on-campus and remote/online classes) we were already considering for the fall term should provide some flexibility in that regard."
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Michigan universities trying to prevent deportation of international students

Wayne State University and Oakland University will join the likes of Harvard, MIT and the University of Michigan in a fight to keep international students from being deported. The White House said if colleges don’t reopen, international students will have to finish their studies online from their home countries. The universities are now creating in-person courses to keep talent in the U.S. Rather than letting their international students be deported if schools go to a 100 percent online learning model -- they are figuring out how to make courses with the minimum bar of accommodation to keep those students’ visas safe.
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Wayne State doubles graduation rate, but more work to be done

Wayne State University’s six-year graduation rate just a few years ago was 26%. The six-year rate is the value to focus on as it is the common metric used throughout higher education. After the implementation of intentional programming, six-year graduation numbers have since doubled to just over 50%, a vast improvement but with work still need to be done on the comparatively low four-year graduation rates. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson says the school set a goal of achieving a 50% graduation rate by 2021, something Wayne State is on track to achieve by the end of summer. Wilson says Wayne State enacted a number of programs, including expanding advising capabilities, to address the low graduation rates. “I think that the only way to improve numbers like this is everybody gets involved,” says Wilson.   
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WSU Press hires new director

Stephanie Williams will take the helm of Wayne State University Press in early August, according to a university news release Tuesday. Williams comes from Ohio University Press, where she served most recently as director since June 2019. She replaces Kathryn Wildfong, who returned from retirement to take up the interim director post after Tara Reeser stepped down. “I am delighted that Stephanie will be joining the University Press as our new director," WSU spokesman Michael Wright said in a written statement. "Her leadership will make a difference for the Press, the university, and the community. I also wish to thank Kathryn Wildfong for stepping in as interim director while we conducted a new search. She did a great job getting the team refocused and re-energized, and we all wish her well on her second try at retirement.”