In the news

News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

Benton Harbor crisis a tipping point for Gretchen Whitmer, school takeovers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to close the struggling high school in majority black Benton Harbor provoked a furious backlash from the city’s 10,000 residents. Her next move has implications for districts across the state. As Whitmer and the board continue negotiating, observers say the outcome could reshape how Michigan approaches struggling school districts far beyond Benton Harbor that are struggling with rising debts, low test scores, and declining enrollment. Even if Whitmer doesn’t manage to change the state’s emergency management law, Mike Addonizio, a professor of education at Wayne State University, said her next move in Benton Harbor has major implications for the future of state interventions. “It is kind of an inflection point,” he said. “What is the state going to do with school districts like this?” Still, solving Benton Harbor’s issues won’t solve the structural problems that have produced similar situations in districts across the state. “It could be Kalamazoo. Could be Battle Creek. Could be Muskegon,” said Tom Pedroni, an activist and education professor at Wayne State University. Pedroni says the struggles of urban districts have been worsened by state policies that allow students to leave for other districts, by a relentless focus on test scores, and by a funding system that doesn’t adequately account for the challenges of educating poor students. “The way that we label schools as failing creates an almost mathematical formula that yields the decimation of school districts of color across the state,” he said. “How do we, as a state, take seriously the mechanisms that cause things like this.”
News outlet logo for favicons/shorelinemedia.net.png

Wayne State University president Road Warrior bike tour stops in Ludington

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson will be visiting Ludington during his third annual Road Warrior bicycle tour that includes stops at four different cities in five days. Seven riders will be participating in the entire tour, including Wilson. Others will do segments, like one day, Wilson said. “This year we wanted to focus on and visit with alumni, donors and friends of the university,” said Wilson. Rob MacGregor, senior director of philanthropy at Wayne State Law School, said his daughter is riding a 100-mile segment. (Full access to article requires subscription)
News outlet logo for favicons/ourmidland.com.png

Wayne State president to ride through Midland, host reception

If there are any Wayne State University alumni or supporters in the area, July 24 will be your chance to reconnect and celebrate during a reception at Midland Center for the Arts, as part of the third annual Road Warrior bike tour. The tour begins Monday, July 22, and will end when the group of about seven cyclists makes their way back to the WSU campus during the afternoon of Friday, July 26. By the end of the tour, the cyclists will have biked 450 miles and visited four communities other than Detroit – Traverse City, Ludington, Midland and Rochester. Among the group will be WSU President M. Roy Wilson who is making the trip for the third year. Wilson, an avid cyclist, said the point of the trip is to get out into the community, gain new insights and network with the university’s supporters. “This idea came to me after the 2016 election because it’s apparent we’re becoming more polarized and I thought that there were segments of the community that we just weren’t reaching,” he said. “And since we’re a state institution we serve the state, we should be serving all communities, including rural communities and other communities that we don’t typically reach out to on a routine basis.” He said biking the state allows him to gain new perspectives and a better understanding of the people and their concerns. Regarding WSU, he said the main concerns he hears is surprisingly not tuition, but the value of attending a university. “With all the talk about tuition and the emphasis on trying to keep tuition down, I thought that would be a more important topic, and it’s not to say it’s unimportant, but really people were concerned about value,” he said. “And they don’t mind paying the tuition if they think they’re going to get good value for their money and they think it’s going to make a difference in their lives or in the lives of their sons and daughters.” And while the previous two years of the bike tour have focused on community outreach, this year’s theme is centered around celebrations with donors, alumni and friends of the university, Wilson said. “We want to make more of a focus on our alumni and donors and hear what they’re thinking and what their priorities are, and what their ambitions are for how the university can best serve them,” he said. Having a significant population of alumni and supporters in the area, Midland made the list of this year’s cities to visit, Wilson said. He added that he hopes once it’s over that the people who participated feel a greater connection to WSU. “I want them to know that we care about them and I hope that by making an effort to reach out and see them that they realize that,” he said. “… To be able to share time and gain some perspective from people who we don’t typically connect with, I think is going to be really important.”
News outlet logo for favicons/dbusiness.com.png

Detroit, U-M, MSU, and Wayne State Form Economic Analysis Partnership

The University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University will partner to give economic data -- which will be used to evaluate local economic conditions and plan for an improvement in economic opportunities -- to Detroit through the City of Detroit University Economic Partnership. The project aims to accomplish three tasks: provide an economic forecast for Detroit each year; build an econometric forecasting model for Detroit's economy and the city's major tax revenues; and to develop local economic indicators, indices and reports. University of Michigan's Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics will lead the partnership, while Michigan State University will give revenue modeling and forecasting through its Center for Local Government Finance and Policy. Wayne State University's contribution will focus on providing data on housing and property tax modeling. Michigan State and Wayne State have previous experience creating economic analyses using local governments' internal data. Available data will also come from government agencies and initiatives including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Internal Revenue Service and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. "We'll combine the city's internal data with publicly available data to construct Detroit-specific estimates of building activity, measures of activity in residential and commercial real estate, total commerce and tourism activity," Allen Goodman, director of the master's program in economics at Wayne State, said in a press release.
News outlet logo for favicons/fox2detroit.com.png

Road Warrior Bike Tour begins July 22

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson is about to set out on another bike tour of Michigan, and this year he's casting a wider net. Wilson will take the third annual Road Warrior bike tour farther north this summer, biking to four cities in five days. Beginning Monday, July 22 cyclists will bike 450 miles by the time they're done Friday, July 26. By the end of the tour, the cyclists will have biked 450 miles and visited four communities. This year's Road Warrior bike tour will differ from the previous two in terms of theme and focus. Whereas the theme of the first two tours was community outreach and telling the Wayne State story, this year's tour will focus more on celebrations with donors, alumni and friends of the university. Wilson dropped by the Fox2 News studios Saturday morning to talk about his trip and mission. The schedule for the Road Warrior tour stops: July 22 at Chateau Chantal Winery in Traverse City; July 23 at Ludington Bay Brewing Co. in Ludington, 6-8 p.m.; July 24 at the Midland Center for the Arts and Dow Garden in Midland, 6-8 p.m.; July 25 at Rochester Mills Beer Co. in Rochester, 6-8 p.m.; July 26 at Tony V's Tavern in Detroit, 2 p.m.
News outlet logo for favicons/forbes.com.png

Could dropouts be the solution to the education crisis?

The vice president for applied research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), Julie Ajinkya explained many of the underlying causes students dropout or face difficulty coming back to school have to do with the lack of affordable education. “The reasons students drop out are almost always financially related,” Ajinkya says. “Even the personal reasons people cite are financially related, like not being able to find affordable childcare, or transportation to actually be able to take your classes.” In addition to overseeing Degrees When Due, a free program designed to help institutions build their own capacity to help bring dropouts back, Ajinkya and IHEP have also analyzed another program for dropouts, Warrior Way Back, an initiative out of Wayne State University, that uses incremental debt forgiveness as incentive for dropouts. 
News outlet logo for favicons/candgnews.com.png

New arena approved for WSU basketball and Pistons’ G League affiliate

In May of this year, Wayne State’s board of governors approved plans for the construction of an arena that will host Wayne State men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as contests for the Pistons’ G League affiliate. Rob Fournier, Wayne State director of athletics, expects the arena — which he said will have a seating capacity of about 3,000 — to be completed in July of 2021 on the campus of Wayne State, near the intersection of Warren and Trumbull avenues in Detroit. “Anytime your athletic program can be associated directly with a professional team, there’s no downside to it,” Fournier said. “Can you imagine showing a recruit around the facility and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a partnership with the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.’ How does that hurt your recruiting? Those are the kind of intangibles that separate you from other institutions.” The projected cost for the arena is $25 million. “The basic formula is we’re putting the money upfront, and then they’re paying us back money over a number of years to cover that cost,” Fournier said of the lease agreement with the Pistons.
News outlet logo for favicons/windsorstar.com.png

St. Clair College, Wayne State University expand cross-border partnership

Wayne State University and St. Clair College signed five articulation agreements Wednesday at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts, offering students the opportunity to develop their education between both institutions in two countries. Students in the accounting, business administration, computer technology, interior design, and marketing programs will now have the option to apply credits from their two- or three-year diploma toward a university degree in their field at Wayne State and receive both a diploma and degree in four years. Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson said the partnership will save students time and money while building a résumé “that will make them attractive to employers on both sides of the border.” He echoed the value for business students to gain international experience through education. “I think right now, because of the way the world is and the way education is, you pretty much have to have some sort of international exposure,” Wilson said. “That’s the way business is.” With the enhanced partnership, St. Clair College students will receive Wayne State’s Great Lakes Tuition Award, a tuition break for Ontario students. Through the award, Ontario students will pay 10 per cent more than students in Michigan — around 50 per cent less than other international students. Wayne State is planning to hold an open house in November at St. Clair College to answer any questions from interested students.
News outlet logo for favicons/insidephilanthropy.com.png

Amid an urgent public health crisis, a bid to find better ways to curb opioid abuse

Against a backdrop of steadily-soaring opioid-related death rates in the U.S., state agencies and private funders are pairing up to tackle the complex problem of opioid use disorder. A new program, recently announced by the Michigan Opoid Partnership and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, aims to serve as a model of best practices for other states, especially those with large rural populations, in addressing opioid addiction. The $5 million series of grants will go towards the removal of barriers to effective treatment for opioid use disorder at all levels, from training and prevention to coordination, implementation and data collection. Another $1.5 million of the funds will go to select county jails and Wayne State University's Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, which will coodinate MAT programs and therapeutic behavioral treatments for incarcerated individuals over a 16-month period.
News outlet logo for favicons/theoaklandpress.com.png

Wayne State University president to visit Rochester as part of bike tour

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson will bike to Rochester as part of the third annual Road Warrior bike tour later this month. The tour begins Monday, July 22 and will end when Wilson and his fellow cyclists arrive back on campus on Friday, July 26. As part of the tour, Wilson will bike to four cities in five days for a total of 450 miles. The year’s tour focuses on celebrations with donors, alumni and friends of the university.“ We will travel to communities that are home to many donors and alumni,” said Wilson in a news release. “It will be good to hear their thoughts about the university they love, and to interact with them in fun summertime activities.”
News outlet logo for favicons/dailydetroit.com.png

How to make the bus sexy

Can the bus be the “in” thing as far as getting around town? Tastes are changing around the country and here in Detroit. Many younger adults don’t feel the same attachment to the car as previous generations. Today our conversation on the podcast is with Sarosh Irani. He was recently featured in the national publication Streetsblog for his research at Wayne State University to improve Detroit’s bus system. For instance, just by moving the shelters to where people actually need them — not building new ones — 8x more people could have access to bus shelters. And shelters matter as weather in Detroit? As you know, it can be a real thing to deal with.
News outlet logo for favicons/candgnews.com.png

Immigrants recount their personal “independence days”

In the middle of the night Aug. 2, 1990, May Mulla and her parents were asleep in their homeland of Kuwait when “we woke up surrounded by tanks.” Iraqi forces had invaded the small Middle Eastern country. “Chaos ensued. It wasn’t safe. It was a mess,” Mulla said of the days that followed. “There were Iraqi soldiers everywhere. There were tanks everywhere. Nobody was picking up the trash. There was no security.” Everything for the family and the life they had known suddenly changed. When her parents went to the grocery store, her mom always reminded Mulla, age 20 at the time, where her Iraqi passport was “in case we never come back.” Mulla’s parents — Iraqi citizens — were university professors in Kuwait. They had at one time lived in the U.S., where Mulla’s older sister and two older brothers had been born, making them U.S. citizens. Mulla was not born in the U.S. and lived in Kuwait as an Iraqi citizen. During the invasion, Iraqi soldiers told Mulla’s father, “You’re going to help us create a university under Iraqi rule.” Her father wanted no part of that, so Mulla and her parents quickly packed two suitcases each and left in the middle of the night, eventually boarding a Pan Am jet en route to America in September 1990. At the time, her oldest brother and older sister were in America. Her other brother stayed in the Middle East until later. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to anybody,” Mulla, now 49, recalled. “I left all my friends and the only place I ever lived. We left through Jordan and made it to Michigan in October 1990. It was very hard. I lost the place where I had been born.” Once in the U.S., Mulla — who knew “quite a bit of English” — earned a journalism degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. She became a citizen in 1996. The Warren resident decided to get her citizenship “to have a new identity, be able to vote and to just feel like I have a secure status in the country.”
News outlet logo for favicons/heraldpalladium.com.png

Can failing schools be rapidly turned around? Two education professors say no

The idea that failing schools can be rapidly turned around is a myth, say two Michigan professors. “School turn-around means that you have someone come in and they change some things and test scores dramatically improve,” said Tom Pedroni, an associate professor at Wayne State University, who specializes in researching urban school districts where the students are mostly poor and of color. One example of a debunked quick fix is the “Texas Miracle” in the Houston Independent School District in the 1990s under Rod Paige, who later was secretary of education from 2001 to 2005 under President George W. Bush. Pedroni said Paige’s turn-around model was used to write the No Child Left Behind Act, which became law in 2002. The central piece of that law was that school districts administer statewide standardized tests to all students in order to receive federal funding. 
News outlet logo for favicons/crainsdetroit.com.png

40 train cars derail inside Port Huron-to-Sarnia tunnel

A Canadian National Railway train derailed early Friday morning inside the Port Huron-to-Sarnia rail tunnel under the St. Clair River, clogging up international train traffic at the border, according to Port Huron's city manager. Approximately 40 rail cars derailed inside the tunnel while the train was passing through the one-lane St. Clair River Tunnel, Port Huron City Manager James Freed said. CN Rail owns it, according to Freed, who said he was told CN is rerouting trains "as far back as Chicago." Due to height differences, not all lines can be rerouted through Detroit. The 24-year-old St. Clair Tunnel can accommodate double-stacked containers of up to 9 feet 6 inches high each, while Detroit's 109-year-old Michigan Central Railway Tunnel under the Detroit River can only accommodate up to 8 feet 6 inches each, according to John Taylor, chair of the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business's department of marketing and supply chain management. Taylor said the Detroit tunnel was enlarged in the mid-1990s by removing concrete from the inside to get extra clearance for taller rail cars. The Port Huron crossing pass primarily takes cargo between Halifax or Montreal and Chicago, while the Detroit crossing primarily carries traffic between Montreal and Chicago, according to Taylor. Port Huron moves a large amount of manufactured goods and automotive components, and a lesser amount of consumer goods, he said. Taylor doesn't expect the Port Huron tunnel to be closed for long, barring unforeseen circumstances. He expects any significant impacts would subside in three to four days or so. "Keep in mind all the railroads contract with quick-response companies," Taylor said. "Whether it's a tunnel or not, they have these quick-response crews with all sorts of specialized equipment (to replace broken tracks) ... If you've got a fixed track and it's closed, trains start backing up, right?"

Nineteen years after coming out, Ecorse city councilman says fight for equality continues

Robert Hellar decided to make a difference in Ecorse before he even knew if the city would accept him for who he is. For 23 years, he’s served as an Ecorse city councilman, helping revive a previously divested recreation department and working to eliminate blight in the small Downriver town. Hellar, who is gay, said he first ran for office before coming out to his family. “Running for council, I never really ran as an openly gay candidate,” he said. “When I first ran back when I was 20, I didn’t feel comfortable because my family didn’t even know yet. “Coming out was not easy in Ecorse back in the day. But I felt an obligation to serve the community and try to make it a better place. That’s what I’ve tried to do for all these years.” Hellar, who works full-time as an academic services officer at Wayne State University, recently won an award from the Detroit institution for the work he’s done “to create an inclusive, respectful and safe climate for members of the LGBTQ community on campus.”
News outlet logo for favicons/downtownpublications.com.png

The new battlefront in food insecurity fight

Food insecurity, defined as being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, is currently a situation that 12.3 percent of U.S. households experience. It's defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. However, David Strauss, Wayne State University dean of students, says, “It's not just food – it's all basic needs. With the increasing costs of tuition for college, it's food, shelter, clothing.” Strauss said on the Wayne State campus he has seen an increase in student food insecurity in the last decade. “We weren't talking about this 10 years ago. We weren't talking about food insecurity, homelessness, basic needs challenges. Everyone was always having food drives for Gleaners (Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan,) but that was for other people. Now we're having department food drives for our students.” Strauss and other administrators at area schools of higher education emphasize the reason food insecurity and hunger is such a major issue – and pressing talking point – is because it can be a direct impediment to student success. “If we look at student success, and we focus on student success and graduation, our number one goal is to get them across the finish line – and if we cannot get them nourishment, we can't help them succeed and cross the finish line,” Strauss explained. “If students aren't eating, they're going to class, working part or full-time jobs, they're operating on fumes,” noted Raneisha Williams Fox, coordinator of student wellness at Wayne State University and the W Pantry, Wayne State's food pantry, which during the 2018-2019 school year gave out more than 8,000 pounds of food. It opened in April 2017. “In a week we'll see 25 to 28 students, and between 80 and 100 students monthly. Since we've opened we've serviced 1,500 students, and we've given out more than 20,000 pounds of food.”
News outlet logo for favicons/insiderlouisville.com.png

Wages for 12,000 local employees on line when Ford, UAW workers begin contract talks

The wages and benefits of more than 12,000 Louisville workers will be on the line when national contract negotiations between Ford Motor Co. and 55,000 members of the United Auto Workers union begin next month. The current contract ends in September, and a labor expert told Insider that turbulence in the auto industry and the economy as a whole will make the coming tug-of-war the toughest since before the financial crisis. “These negotiations, I think, are going to be tense and challenging on a number of different fronts,” said Marick Masters, professor of management and director of the Douglas A. Fraser Center in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. Masters said that the automakers are entering the negotiations as they’re seeing stagnating sales — but at the same time are facing enormous investments into new technologies. The union, meanwhile, will want raises and commitments for investments in American manufacturing plants to increase job security. While automakers always have to spend money on developing new products, Masters said rapid technological changes in the industry are requiring additional investments in electrification and autonomous vehicles. Ford and other U.S. automakers have to invest in new technologies or fear losing sales to foreign competitors. Ford also still is feeling the drag from investments in China that haven’t paid off, and from staying in the small car market longer than competitors, Masters said.
News outlet logo for favicons/medtruth.com.png

In the lab: Ovarian cancer cells show mutation from talc exposure

Dr. Ghassan Saed, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wayne State University, wanted to see the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer for himself. His lab focuses on studying how ovarian cancer cells evolve and become cancerous, and why they eventually become resistant to chemotherapy. “I heard the talcum powder ads about increased risk of ovarian cancer and thought, ‘is there a link?’” Saed said. In February 2019, Saed and his team conducted and published a study to Reproductive Sciences confirming the link between the powder and ovarian cancer. WSU’s findings are the first to confirm the cellular effect of talc and provide a molecular mechanism to previous reports linking genital use to increased ovarian cancer risk. Women who have used talcum powder are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer and should receive special medical attention, said Saed.
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

In Benton Harbor schools, a lesson for – and about – Gretchen Whitmer

Angry residents pummeled Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with questions earlier this month. She answered and kept answering, staying in the church for almost four hours trying to explain why she believed it was in the best interest of Benton Harbor children to close the impoverished community’s lone high school and send those students elsewhere. The meeting between the Democratic governor and residents of this Democratic stronghold didn’t change many minds. But it did crystalize a governing style that at times risks alienating the governor’s supporters in an effort to resolve the state’s long-standing problems. Her approach ‒ announcing bold plans and then asking critics to come up with something better. How that style pans out in Benton Harbor is yet to be determined. Tom Pedroni, associate professor of education at Wayne State University, questions whether Whitmer’s actions – taking a bold stance on closure and then agreeing to negotiations – was an intended strategy. “I think she was shocked” by the negative reaction to close the high school, said Pedroni, who has been active in protesting Whitmer’s plan. “Gov. Whitmer … was trying to execute through threat a deeply disruptive plan … (and) she’s only softening her approach now because she failed to anticipate the tremendous political blowback, and potential loss of political capital that she encountered across the state,” Pedroni said. “This could be an important teachable moment for her. She needs to move beyond just trying to contain the political damage, to truly understanding and addressing the state policy mechanisms that will continue to grind away and throw into crisis predominantly black, low-income districts like Benton Harbor.”
News outlet logo for favicons/thejewishnews.com.png

Kids Kicking Cancer inspires children to feel empowered

Twenty years ago, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg turned a personal tragedy of losing his 2-year-old daughter Sara to leukemia into something that has brought power, peace and purpose to children who have been diagnosed with cancer and other diseases. Today, his organization Kids Kicking Cancer (KKC) has reached approximately 15,000 children around the world, from those who visit the dojo in Southfield to as far away as Israel and Italy. “Our goal is to reach every child in the world,” said Goldberg, who is founder and international director of KKC, as well as clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “Giving children the tools to breathe in the light and blow out the darkness gives them a sense of power.” Kids Kicking Cancer is now in 72 institutions globally. In addition to the program continuing its work in Michigan hospitals, it is in nine hospitals in Israel and 12 in South Africa. Goldberg and his staff are now looking to bring the program to children in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique as well as Egypt and Jordan.