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Jackson College and Wayne State University set to partner in new equity initiative

Jackson College is partnering with Wayne State University to place effort into Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI). This Equity Transfer Initiative is led by the American Association of Community Colleges to improve transfer success. This is to help students who may face barriers when it comes to transferring from community colleges to universities. The two-year Equity Transfer Initiative awards up to $27,500 to partnerships to increase transfer and completion for underrepresented student populations, including African American, Hispanic, adult, and first-generation students. “I’m delighted that Jackson College is one of 16 higher education partnerships chosen nationally to participate in this project. This forward-looking project is designed to enhance the academic completion of under-represented students and ensure their successful transfer to a baccalaureate-granting institution – in our case, Wayne State University,” said Dr. Daniel J. Phelan, president. “We are deeply grateful to Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine from Wayne State for his leadership and partnership in this important work.”
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Wayne State University: DTE Energy Foundation awards $330,000 to fund scholarships for Wayne State University Latino/a and Latin-American Studies students

The Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) at Wayne State University today announced the DTE Energy Foundation awarded a $330,000 grant that will fund scholarships to open doors for students from underrepresented communities through the DTE Energy Foundation/MiHC Scholarship. This grant is the DTE Foundation's latest commitment to CLLAS, which provides equitable access to quality university education for students interested in U.S. Latino/a and Latin-American cultural studies while enhancing diversity on campus. 'We are so grateful to the DTE Energy Foundation for this historic gift to our Center to support deserving students driven to succeed,' said Dr. Victor Figueroa, acting director, CLLAS. 'With these funds, our students can prioritize their path toward a college degree.'
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What it’s like to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Mustapha Al-shorbaji is a nursing student at Wayne State University. He sits in the lobby of the Campus Health Center with a black mask on, waiting to get a COVID-19 vaccine. “As soon as I was presented the opportunity, I took the first appointment I could get to come here,” says Al-shorbaji. Wayne State University began offering the vaccine to medical students and faculty with clinical rotations on January 7. That’s how Al-shorbaji found himself among the first people in the country to be given the chance to be inoculated against the coronavirus. In addition to frontline health care workers, vaccinations throughout Michigan have been given to some people in long-term care facilities, police officers, bus drivers, K-12 teachers, postal workers, people over the age of 65 and others. Eligibility varies depending on where people live, work, or go to the doctor. As of January 19, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, about 75,800 people in Michigan have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. In a state that’s estimated to have roughly 8 million people age 16 and up (according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey), that means less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated.
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Wayne State produces Its first virtual dance production

Theatre and Dance at Wayne, the producing arm of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University is sharing its first virtual dance production, "Dynamic Perspectives" through its website 5 p.m., Saturday, Jan 23. "Dynamic Perspectives" is a virtual storytelling presentation that combines the work of Dance students from the Fall semester. The presentation is a commemorative reflection on the Wayne State dance community's efforts to navigate the present moment as the world grapples with the impacts of COVID-19. The project is devised, organized, and executed by students in the Virtual Dance Collaboratory (VDC) - a new company created to give students creative space to process, dialogue, and create work about the present moment and future possibilities. VDC is a student-driven collective whose structure has been built from the ground up.
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Vaccinations begin at Wayne State University

Wayne State University has begun issuing COVID-19 vaccines to medical students and faculty who work on the frontlines. The plan is to inoculate 120 people per day with Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which are being supplied by the Detroit Health Department. “Right now we have people who have been categorized as essential. Those are individuals who are actually touching patients in the hospital,” says Dr. Toni Grant, the Chief Nursing Officer at the Wayne State University Campus Health Center, where the vaccinations are taking place. Grant says these essential workers were emailed a survey to see if they were interested in receiving the vaccination. Those who said they wanted the shot and are eligible for it are being emailed specific instructions on how to schedule an appointment. These emails are coming out in batches, so some may not be able to make their appointment for a couple of weeks. Bill Fulson is a clinical nursing instructor with Wayne State who came into the Health Center to get the vaccine. He says he doesn’t feel any anxiety about receiving the vaccine. “I have no reason to feel not confident,” says Fulson. “I’ve been nursing for 40-something years. So you know when to do things and when not to do things. And this is a must-do for a medical professional.” Grant says the vaccinations are a great opportunity for the Wayne State community. “We’re in the midst of a pandemic but this is also something that none of us have ever gone through before,” she says. ”And to actually see what research and science can do in order to get us through to this particular point, it’s exciting because it’s students, faculty and staff together and able to experience it firsthand.”
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Wayne State STEM Innovation Learning Center opens

The STEM Innovation Learning Center (SILC) is a signature component of Wayne State University’s vision for STEM education through multi-disciplinary learning and community engagement that will build upon WSU’s vision for inclusive innovation across campus. Built with emphasis on technology-rich, collaboration, and “science-on-display” spaces, SILC brings a centralized STEM-focused academic facility to the heart of WSU’s campus – within steps of chemistry, biology, engineering, and physics buildings, as well as the iconic learning spaces of Science Hall and Old Main. The building — which includes 100,000 square feet of flexible classrooms, instructional labs, a maker space, and a 3D printing lab, as well as space that serves as a hub for WK12 outreach programming — is helping to transform WSU’s vision for STEM education and research for current and future Warriors.
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Wayne State hospital students, faculty get COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccine distribution continues to slowly trickle down the ranks as Wayne State University's students and faculty in front-line health professions got their turn Thursday to begin getting inoculating against COVID-19. Wayne State began administering the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to faculty and students who are in active clinical practice and rotations with patients. "We were able to invite individuals to let us know if they were interested in receiving the vaccine. Those that were interested in receiving the vaccine received an invitation to continue to the process," said Toni Grant, chief nursing officer at Wayne State's Campus Health Center. Approximately 2,000 people were identified by Wayne State as having first priority to the vaccine due to constant exposure working in hospitals. Wayne State is able to administer the vaccine in phases under a memorandum of understanding with the Detroit Health Department. "Wayne State is not mandating that anyone received the vaccine, but it is being highly encouraged that they receive it," said Grant. "One of the things that we wanted to make sure is that everyone was well-informed before they even scheduled their appointment, so all the information was actually made available electronically."
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Detroit’s Cultural Center Set to Install Free, Outdoor Public Wi-Fi in 2021

In a partnership with Wayne State University’s [WSU] Computing and Information Technology Department [WSU C&IT] and rootoftwo, free outdoor wireless will be offered in Detroit’s Cultural Center—an area that includes CCPI stakeholder institutions: The Carr Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library, Hellenic Museum of Michigan, International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan Science Center, The Scarab Club, University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the press release added.
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Beginning the ‘long climb’ toward economic and social stability

Nonprofits were among the most visible organizations to shift strategies and processes to both endure the pandemic and support those suffering through job and other losses. By April, many colleges and universities began seeing decreases in fall enrollment—16 percent around the country—and drops in residence hall renewals. Consequently, they initiated layoffs and other budget cuts to help stave off hundreds of millions of dollars in predicted losses while also trying to mitigate the financial pain many students were experiencing. Yet, Wayne State University is bucking the trend and has seen increases in some enrollment figures. “We actually had a 5 percent increase in our first-year students,” said university President M. Roy Wilson, M.D., a trained epidemiologist. The university also hasn’t taken the financial losses most universities have so far experienced this year because of shifting strategies a few years ago that included turning to a public-private partnership for housing and food services, Wilson said. Still, with decreased consumer spending in 2020, property taxes left unpaid or deferred, high rates of unemployment and other hits to state budgets, college and university administrators expect state and federal budget cuts to affect their bottom lines in the near term. “We’ve been fortunate, but we are going to be impacted financially,” Wilson said. Wilson added that there’s also the issue of children missing out on the social and educational development they get from in-person learning. “As an epidemiologist, I’m worried about the pandemic and think we have to be very cautious,” he said. “So, I just urge everyone to think in terms of being as aggressive as we can be in driving the numbers down so that we can open up schools earlier.”
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Wayne State to launch diversity and inclusion fellowship for local companies

Wayne State University plans to begin a new fellowship program this February designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion among tech companies in Southeast Michigan. The program is being rolled out by the university's STEM Innovation Learning Center and OurOffice, a California-based business services firm focused on workplace culture. The program will place or train participants in local companies to "create transformative diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in their respective workplaces," according to a university news release. The university is looking to include eight to 15 fellows from various companies for the first iteration of the program, according to Tonya Matthews, associate provost for inclusive workforce development and director of the STEM learning center at Wayne State. "Students and professionals trained in traditional STEM fields are rarely exposed to rigorous DEI practice, and often those trained as DEI experts are not immersed in the cultures peculiar to tech and heavily tech-enabled companies," Matthews said in the release. "This fellowship aims to close those gaps."
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Ford donates 50,000 face masks to Wayne State University

A donation of 50,000 medical-grade, disposable face masks from the Ford Motor Co. Fund provides a critical stockpile at Wayne State University that will help protect students and the campus community throughout the pandemic. “We are immensely grateful for this generous gift of face masks from the Ford Motor Co. Fund,” says David Strauss, dean of students at WSU. “Having medical-grade PPE on hand for students will help keep us all Warrior Safe and Warrior Strong.” The disposable masks are a welcome addition to the cloth masks Wayne State distributes to all students and will be available throughout the year for health science programs and at units across campus that primarily serve students, such as the Student Center and the libraries. All students can use them as needed.
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Tackling hunger and homelessness on campus

Many months into the pandemic, we have witnessed extraordinary economic disruption and devastation. The effects have been far-reaching and prolonged, including across higher education. On four-year college campuses, recent survey data suggests that 15 percent of students are facing homelessness due to the pandemic and 38 percent of students are experiencing food insecurity. Imagine trying to focus on school when you’re not sure where you’ll find your next meal or even if you’ll have a safe place to sleep at night. Sadly, these aren’t academic questions for millions of students. They’re an everyday reality. Yet as we take stock of the pandemic’s extraordinary toll, we’re also reminded that hunger and homelessness are challenges not just in this moment but every moment. That’s why this week we recognize National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week: to spotlight the scale of the need, identify possible solutions, and marshal public support to solve these long-standing societal challenges. Public universities also see a crucial role to play in addressing student hunger and food insecurity. To help address homelessness, Wayne State University has helped precariously housed students find housing during the pandemic through a long-running program. The university’s Helping Individuals Go Higher Program started in 2013 with the aim of helping homeless and precariously housed students persist in their studies by providing financial support and other resources.
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Michigan colleges sending students home early, beef up remote learning as COVID-19 spreads

Some Michigan college students will be home early for Thanksgiving, but not just for some rest and relaxation. At least two private colleges — Albion and Alma — are allowing students to leave for home this weekend, earlier than scheduled. Oakland University is switching to remote instruction for all but a small subset of classes. The University of Michigan has canceled all housing contracts for next semester and is beefing up the percentage of classes offered remotely and Grand Valley State University students are being told to practice "enhanced safety measures. All the moves come as colleges and universities struggle with how to provide instruction and the college experience to their students in the ever-changing pandemic world of 2020. Wayne State University was nearly 100% remote already, but has students living in residence halls.  The school will keep living facilities  and related services running over the Thanksgiving break and is inviting students to stay on campus  to finish out the semester. President M. Roy Wilson, a medical doctor, said he's worried about the rise in cases across the state and nation. "My concern is things are going in the wrong direction," he said. Wilson, who had taken some time off from delivering weekly video updates to the campus community, returned earlier this week with a message trying to drive home safety practices. "We don't want to get to the point where we trigger" various metrics requiring changes, he said. Wilson was part of a call at the beginning of the week with various higher education leaders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The call was an opportunity to talk about approaches and for Whitmer to get the various leaders' support for directives coming out of the state Capitol. "Absent any aggressive measures to stem the growth ... we're going to be up to some ungodly numbers," Wilson said. Instead of an annual Thanksgiving dinner Wilson and his wife normally host for 40 or 50 students on campus, Wilson's going to help hand out Thanksgiving boxed dinners. When those students who choose to leave campus return, they will undergo testing. Then, all students will be tested again in a rolling 10-day period. "We've been doing very well with the number of cases on campus," Wilson said, adding the testing is in hopes of catching anything coming back.
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Wayne State tells campus community: Take Oct. 30 as a mental health day

The disrupted college lifestyle is weighing on Wayne State University students, its leaders have found. So, on Oct. 30, they want a pause in activities, including classes, for a mental health day. "We've been checking in on students and they're feeling pretty stressed," Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Clabo told the Free Press. "We know they're tired. We're seeing students who are feeling isolated. We're just worried about them." So the university will drastically slow down on that day. "We want them to take a day to just take a pause and recharge so they are ready to finish out," Clabo said. M. Roy Wilson, the university's president, said in a pair of emails sent Thursday morning to the campus community. "The purpose of this day is to allow you time to focus on your health and emotional well-being during these challenging times, connect with fellow students, learn more about the resources available to help you cope and thrive, or close the laptop and dedicate the day to self-care. Faculty are being encouraged to give students some leeway on assignments, and even cancel classes for the day, if feasible."  Wilson encouraged faculty and staff to give themselves a break as well. "Many faculty and staff have not been on campus since March, and continue to face additional stresses, from Zoom/Teams fatigue' and balancing work and child care, to the loss of working alongside our colleagues and the benefits that come with in-person engagement and collaboration. Many are working harder — and longer — and are not taking earned vacation time. While the changes in how we work were made with safety in mind, they bring new challenges, some of which can be unhealthy if not addressed." If Oct. 30 isn't feasible as a mental health day, leaders should consider allowing people to use another day, Wilson said.

WSU Theater and Dance offers digital portal to creative performance and learning

While its theaters may be dark, Wayne State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance has reinvented its offerings to reach its audiences digitally, despite the pandemic precautions which keep live performance venues silent. Thomas Karr, director of marketing and audience engagement for the Magee Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, said the 2020-21 season is three-fold, offering digital content to audiences worldwide, and includes a Productions Series, a Dialogue Series and Studio Hours. The Productions Series offers streaming and recorded theater performances. “Our Productions Series is where you’ll find the digital experience of viewing fully-realized theatrical productions, similar to what you might experience when attending in-person at the theatre,” Karr said. “Anyone can attend these digital performances for free, but we suggest a $10 ticket to help us maintain the high quality you’ve come to expect from us.”
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WSU Police Dept. spearheads national de-escalation training initiative

A National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) has been established to teach law-enforcement personnel innovative and nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts with the public, and the Wayne State University Police Department has been selected as the center's regional headquarters. Was Wayne State chosen because of Detroit's enduring reputation for crime and violence? Because the city is nearly 80 percent African American? Because of our history of fierce run-ins between civilians and police? None of the above, according to Dr. Patrick Guarnieri, the Florida-based chairman, CEO, and creator of the NDTC program. It was selected because of Wayne State's national reputation as a major urban research university. And because of WSU Police Chief Anthony Holt. "It was originally going to start elsewhere," says Guarnieri, former director of training for the National Intelligence Program at the University of South Florida. "But as we were forming it and weighing our options, Wayne State provided the most amenable campus for what we wanted to do, to set up regional centers across the United States and have the headquarters co-located with a university. "Chief Holt gets the credit for this," says Guarnieri. "Oh, God, what a great human being. It's because of his perspective on progressive and innovative policing and [WSU President M.] Roy Wilson's perspective on community police relations. "This is not a 'one-size-fits-all' training," says Holt, a stalwart on WSU's force for more than four decades. "The goal is to reduce the number of incidents where force comes into play. That horrible incident in Minneapolis could possibly change the whole scope of the culture of law enforcement. You've got to look deep within your organization. When you talk about community policing, now you've got to take a deep dive into it."
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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.