In the news

News outlet logo for favicons/downtownpublications.com.png

Schools caught in a ‘no win’ reopening situation

“School 2020 is going to be radically different than school 2019. No educator, administrator or parent has a model, and there is no one model that will work for all schools,” said Roland Coloma, professor and assistant dean, Division of Teacher Education, at Wayne State University. “The lack of universal internet access, for us to implement a fully online teaching and learning format, is one issue, as is full speed broadband. If they're using Zoom or Google classroom with 20 to 25 students – that's a lot of internet and broadband. We will also need to insure that every family will have enough computers, tablets, devices, as well as for parents or caregivers. We are also assuming that these homes will have an adult present who can supervise these children, and are not working outside the home.” Lauren Mangus, PhD, assistant professor for educational psychology at Wayne State University, offers a sobering consideration faced by all educators this year: “We're trying to cram education into a crisis. This is an ongoing tornado. This virus is not detectable to the naked eye. When students are stressed, it can manifest in different ways and can impede learning. School is important, but it is very difficult when students are stressed.”
News outlet logo for favicons/nytimes.com.png

Has the Detroit Institute of Arts lost touch with its home town?

The Detroit Institute of Arts had just avoided selling off parts of its collection to help pay the debts of the city that owned it. It had a new, independent ownership structure, new revenue streams and a new standing as a museum that tried to replace the foreboding demeanor of many art institutions with a more welcoming, visitor-centered experience. And it had a new director, Salvador Salort-Pons, who had come from its ranks, a charismatic curator and Spanish-born scholar of Velázquez, who seemed to understand its struggles and its future and who took office to a rousing ovation at a board meeting in 2015. But five years later, at a time when museum leaders across the country are being challenged on whether their institutions are systemically racist, few are confronting as many thorny issues as Salort-Pons. “There has been discontent,” said Jeffrey Abt, professor emeritus at Wayne State University who has written about the history of the institute. “I can see how it is potentially perilous. On one side are the unhappy staff members who are objecting to Salvador’s administration,” he added. “On the other side are the friends outside the museum he has made over the years who think that, here, they have someone who is championing their cause.” Bill Harris, a writer and emeritus professor of English at Wayne State University, said he visited the institute as a young boy even though he didn’t feel welcome. “It has evolved from that, but it’s still a white institution,” he said. Melba Joyce Boyd, a professor in American Studies at Wayne State University, said that she respects much of what Mr. Salort-Pons has done but because of its location and audience, she said the institute has special responsibilities. “The D.I.A. should be the number one place for African-Americans in the whole country,” she said. “Detroit should be taking a lead on a lot of these issues.”
News outlet logo for favicons/psychologytoday.com.png

What COVID-19 can teach us about community resilience

COVID-19 has left many feeling isolated and alone. However, disasters like this impact whole communities, which means that effective solutions to disaster-related stress can be found in community connections and community-based partnerships. Erika London Bocknek, PhD is a licensed family therapist and associate professor of Educational Psychology at Wayne State University. She directs the Family Resilience Laboratory at Wayne State, is associate editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Infancy and Adversity and Resilience Science. Bocknek participated in a Q&A about the issues of isolation and loneliness amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

WDET to Broadcast the 2020 Detroit Jazz Festival in its Entirety Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is always one of the biggest weekends for music in and around Detroit, in large part because that’s when the Detroit Jazz Festival takes over Hart Plaza each year. But because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, audience members won’t be heading downtown to watch the festival in person this year. But there’s good news — the show will go on. WDET is returning as a live broadcast partner of the Detroit Jazz Festival for the first time since 1999. WDET will provide a wall-to-wall, uninterrupted broadcast of more than 40 hours of festival performances over Labor Day weekend Sept. 4-7. Chris Collins is the president of the Detroit Jazz Festival. He told Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today that the festival has been working on contingencies for months. “The ‘Pandemic Pivot’ — it’s a new dance, we’re all working on it,” jokes Collins. “When we talk about WDET returning as a broadcast partner, I mean, what a perfect fit,” he continues. “This is why public radio is so important and is worth everybody’s support…We wanted to make sure this was truly free and available to everybody and the answer to that was WDET, our public radio partners… If people don’t have online access or whatever, they can listen on the radio and they can listen with everybody else. It was a very important part of our design.”
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

Swabs, sewage and campus bubbles: Can COVID testing keep colleges open?

In West Michigan, Hope College will look for COVID-19 in wastewater. In the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Technological University will randomly test 600 students per week. Central Michigan University students are expected to self-report symptoms on an app. And in Detroit, Wayne State University is coupling random diagnostic testing with a search for virus antibodies. As students head back to campus, Michigan’s colleges and universities are employing a dizzying variety of tools to catch and curb the spread of the new coronavirus. But the frequency of testing — and the tests themselves — vary by campus. “What complicates the issue is that not only is the science about the disease developing, the modalities of testing are changing too,” said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, dean of the college of nursing at Wayne State University. Wayne State is scheduled to start weeklong testing of incoming students Monday as they arrive on campus. Sections of campus housing are reserved for students who test positive for COVID-19, where they will quarantine for two weeks if they can’t do so from home, she said. The university also will randomly test staff and students every three weeks. If the rate of positive test results climbs above 1 percent, the university will make testing more frequent, Lauzon Clabo said. Additionally, the university is complementing the nasal swab diagnostic tests designed to catch current infections with blood draws to determine how many of those on campus carry antibodies to COVID-19, indicating they’ve had a past infection and possibly (but not certainly) have a resistance to the virus. If a new saliva test, authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Aug. 15, becomes available — the university might turn to it later this year, Lauzon Clabo said. “We're going to respond to the science as it emerges and to local data,” she said.
News outlet logo for favicons/wxyz.com.png

Latest U.S. jobless numbers show small improvement for Michigan

Thursday's jobless report from the U.S. Department of Labor is grim, showing around 1.1 million Americans filing for unemployment insurance last week. Executive Director of Wayne State's Office of Business Innovation Matthew Roling said the increase from last week indicates Americans are still struggling to get back on their feet during this pandemic. “It’s not a good sign," he said. "The economists that had been polled had a consensus estimate that the jobless claims would come in at around 900,000. And ultimately we came in at around 200,000 higher than that. And that might not seem like a lot, but that's a city the size of Grand Rapids," he said. “The recovery isn’t happening as fast as everyone would like it to.” In Michigan, the slow re-opening of some businesses offers a glimmer, albeit small - of optimism. Around 2,000 fewer workers applied for unemployment help compared to the previous week. “That’s really upsetting to those families but I think we can look into it and find some positives for Michigan’s economy," he said. However, with Michigan's unemployment insurance just more than $362 per week, Roling said getting that federal assistant is going to be vital for the hundreds of thousands in Michigan still grappling with unemployment.
News outlet logo for favicons/yahoo.com.png

Wayne State University enrollment up; Black graduation rate soars

Officials at Wayne State University announced that as of Aug. 19, Fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment is up 2.3 percent compared to Fall 2019, and despite uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic it is trending toward being the largest freshmen class in the school's 152-year history. In addition, Black undergraduate enrollment for first-time college students at Wayne State is up an astonishing 58.7 percent. Overall Black enrollment is up 3.6 percent over last year. "These numbers speak to the commitment we have made to making a Wayne State education accessible and affordable to all students, regardless of racial or socio-economic background," said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. "We're focused on increasing enrollment and the diversity of our student body, through targeted strategic efforts to recruit students of all backgrounds. And it's working." Wayne State also exceeded its strategic plan goal of a six-year graduation rate of 50 percent one year early, and is anticipating it will hit 52 percent by September. The six-year graduation rate for Black students has tripled to 25 percent, from 8 percent in 2011. Wayne State's progress on boosting degree attainment and improving graduation rates has become a national model. "I'm especially gratified that these positive enrollment numbers are coming at a time when so much is up in the air because of the pandemic," Wilson said. "I think our cautious but forward-looking approach to our return to campus has inspired confidence in our students, faculty and staff. Moreover, students and parents continue to recognize the value of a Wayne State education and are determined to see it through to degree completion, even in these uncertain times."
News outlet logo for favicons/fox17online.com.png

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.’”
News outlet logo for favicons/nbcnewyork.com.png

‘For the future benefit of my whole race': How Black women fought for the vote before and after 19th Amendment

After the passage of the 19th Amendment, some Black women tried to register to vote and were successful and “those successes, even though few in number, inspired fresh efforts to suppress Black voters,” according to Liette Gidlow, associate professor of history at Wayne State University in Detroit, who is working on a new book, “The 19th Amendment and the Politics of Race, 1920 —1970.” When "disfranchised Black women asked the League of Women Voters and the National Woman's Party (NWP) to help, the main organizations of former suffragists turned them down," Gidlow wrote in an article. "NWP head Alice Paul insisted in 1921 that Black women's disfranchisement was a ‘race issue,’ not a ‘woman's issue,’ and thus no business of the NWP. The failure of white suffragists at that moment to address the disfranchisement of southern Black women reverberated for decades to come and undercut the efforts of women of both races to make progress on issues of shared concern. Black women continued to develop political power in the face of disenfranchisement, racism and sexism. Mary McCleod Bethune founded a school for Black children in Daytona, Florida, in 1904 and became one of the most important Black educators, women’s rights leaders and government officials. In 1922, she organized hundreds of women to vote in a mayoral election in Daytona. The night before that election, the Ku Klux Klan marched through the school grounds and she “stood them down," Gidlow said.
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

5 reasons to let students keep their cameras off during Zoom classes

Tabitha Moses, MD/PhD candidate at Wayne State University, wrote an article for The Conversation about the challenges that online instruction can pose for students if they are required to keep their cameras on during class. “As the 2020-21 school year gets underway – both at the K-12 and college level – many students find themselves attending online classes via Zoom or similar teleconferencing platforms. Although sticking with remote instruction may be the correct decision from the standpoint of public health, it is not without problems. As a researcher who studies behavior and the brain, I have found the evidence suggests that online instruction can pose a range of challenges for students if they are required to keep their cameras on during class. Here are five reasons why I believe students should be allowed to keep their cameras off instead: Increased anxiety and stress; ‘Zoom fatigue;’ Competing obligations; Right to privacy; and, Financial means and other kinds of access
News outlet logo for favicons/universitybusiness.com.png

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.
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

Michigan declares racism a health crisis. Without funding, it’s symbolic

With two pen strokes last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared racism in health a priority within the state’s government offices. But health leaders say it will be the follow-up — funding, policy change and enforcement — that determines whether the move is symbolic or transformative. “I'm glad they're getting people to the table … The thing is we've been discussing this and discussing this and discussing this,” Dr. Lynn Smitherman, a Detroit pediatrician, associate chair of medical education at Wayne State University, and a diversity and inclusion champion for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “You still have to do something. Discussion without action is just another academic exercise,” she said. At a panel discussion last week organized by Wayne State University and others, Dr. Michelle Williams said Black Americans also face institutional racism when they are sick — with access at times only to lower-quality care and even clinicians that turn them away or don’t listen to their concerns. Lyke Thompson, director of the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University, has studied lead poisoning extensively and said Black children in Detroit often live in older homes that have high levels of lead paint, which can impair learning and hinder lifetime earning potential. Thompson said he has called for strengthening laws that hold accountable the landlords who don’t address those issues, but a lack of political will has stopped short of making that happen. An official declaration that racism plays a role in policies — and a commitment to address it — may finally make a difference, he said. “This takes serious, clear, ongoing focus,” he said.
News outlet logo for favicons/hourdetroit.com.png

Wayne State University’s Police Chief on the Case for De-escalation

No one likes the police right now,” Wayne State University police Chief Anthony Holt concedes. “It’s a natural reaction. Black or white, they just don’t like us now.” For a man who has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement at WSU, the last 12 as chief, that reality has got to bite, especially since under Holt’s leadership, Wayne State has been ranked as one of the safest campuses in America by online researchers at bestcolleges.com. And 85 percent of the duties his officers perform take place just off campus in the surrounding Midtown district. His style is both involved and innovative. He originated CompStat, a bimonthly meeting at Wayne State of law enforcement representatives from across southeast Michigan to compare statistics and best practices. And in May, the department established the headquarters of the National De-escalation Training Center on the Wayne State campus. The intensive program is designed to use personality assessment to take police training to the next level.
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Metro Detroit seniors are dying at twice the rate of older adults in Michigan, study shows

In parts of Wayne County, including Detroit and eight surrounding suburbs, older adults are dying at twice the rate of those who live elsewhere in Michigan, according to a report, “Dying Before their Time,” a 19-year analysis between the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and Wayne State University Medical School. The agency attributed much of the cause to be a "result of deep-rooted negative social and economic policies and significant inequities in resource distribution." Chronic illnesses, living conditions, accessibility to health care and lack of health insurance, food and transportation are specifically cited as reasons for the shortened lifespans, the study found. Study co-author Dr. Herbert Smitherman Jr. of Wayne State University School of Medicine and Detroit Medical Center said it was shocking to discover how many people aren’t making it to 60 years old. “I’m a physician but also a scientist, so when they approached me, my first recommendation was that an analysis needed to be done since there was never data collected by the state,” Smitherman said. “To see we lost not 1 or 2%, but 23% of the entire population, it seemed unrealistic. The Detroit region had 1.3 million people and lost more than 150,000 people, that’s just what the (nation) lost with coronavirus. “That’s when we realized something was happening to seniors that wasn’t happening with any other population, and it got my full attention. Next, we realized if they’re dying before age 60, what’s happening before?" Smitherman worries the trend will continue without a coordinated push to reverse it. "What we’ve seen over 19 years is that it’s the same," Smitherman said. "Unless we have some sustained effort where they allocate funding and collaboratively work to improve health and reverse centuries of racial poverty, this trend will persist over many decades to come. "If we do nothing, nothing’s going to change."
News outlet logo for favicons/candgnews.com.png

Wayne State establishes center for de-escalation training in law enforcement

Several law enforcement departments are in talks with the Wayne State University Police Department following its establishment as the regional headquarters for the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC). Located on the university’s campus, the NDTC is a nonprofit entity aimed at teaching law enforcement professionals new techniques for addressing and resolving situations in a nonconfrontational and nonviolent manner. “The goal is to reduce the number of instances where force comes into play. We had our first officers run through the program in March and April,” said Wayne State University Police Chief Anthony Holt. “We were ahead of the game since everyone started calling for more programs like this after the George Floyd incident in Minnesota, but it did encourage us to reach out to other departments to let them know this program is being offered. It’s a two-day training program. We do classroom work the first day and run through scenarios the second day. We can run shoot/don’t shoot training, hypothetical scenarios and face-to-face tests,” said Holt. “You start with de-escalation, you don’t walk up loud and in their face and then de-escalate, you need to start low and make sure the person you’re confronting knows you’re not out to get them — that you’re doing a job, you’re not looking to arrest them no matter what.”
News outlet logo for favicons/mlive.com.png

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.
News outlet logo for favicons/newsweek.com.png

Obama is trashing Trump, reigniting an old feud

In recent months, Obama has waded back into the fray more so than before. He openly criticized the administration's response to coronavirus publicly. In remarks to donors that leaked to the NYT, Obama said Trump played on "nativist, racist, sexist" fears. Moreover, comments Obama made in his eulogy to John Lewis, the former civil rights activist and congressman, were also indirectly critical of Trump, taking aim at the use of federal agents against protesters and attempts to undermine mail-in voting. "As he delivered the eulogy, Obama felt the moral urgency of the moment: To honor Lewis, Obama had to speak up in that moment. And he did," Liette Gidlow, an associate professor of history at Wayne State University who edited the book Obama, Clinton, Palin: Making History in Election 2008, told Newsweek. Suggesting Obama had been "extremely restrained" about Trump previously, she said the "urgency of the moment" perhaps pushed the former president to be more expansive. "The republic is in trouble because a number of powerful officials, up to and including Trump himself, have taken actions that show their willingness to undermine basic democratic norms," Gidlow said.

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.