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3 Wayne State students to receive posthumous degrees at virtual graduation event

Wayne State University will hold its virtual graduation celebration Wednesday to honor spring 2020 graduates — including three students who died before completing their degree. The WSU Board of Governors took special action to unanimously approve the conferral of posthumous degrees for the students who died before graduating. The action was taken ahead of a meeting planned for Friday, to allow the families and loved ones of the students to celebrate during the virtual event on Wednesday. The three students — Darrin Adams, Bri’Jon Moore and Dwayne Carrero-Berry — will all receive their degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. WSU's virtual graduation celebration will take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday. An in-person event is still planned to be scheduled for a later date once conditions allow, according to the university.
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2 Michigan COVID-19 victims to get posthumous degrees

Darrin Adams donned a green cap and gown and a big smile three years ago when he participated in commencement exercises at Oakland Community College. Adams, who was on OCC's dean's list when he earned his associate's degree, then began studying at Wayne State University, with a goal of earning a bachelor's degree for a career in sociology. But Adams' dreams were cut short when he succumbed earlier this month to COVID-19. He was only a few classes away from earning his bachelor's degree so he and another coronavirus victim, Western Michigan University student Bassey Offiong, are getting their diplomas in spite of their untimely deaths. Wayne State is planning to bestow Adams' degree during its virtual commencement ceremony on Wednesday, in addition to two other students who died of other causes before graduation. The WSU board approved the three posthumous degrees prior to its regularly scheduled board meeting, officials said Monday. During a recent interview, Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said Adams, who worked as a custodian on campus to make ends meet, had good grades and was close to finishing his degree. "It’s the right thing to do, he was so close and if this didn’t happen, he would have within months gotten his degree," Wilson said. Besides Adams, WSU will award posthumous degrees to Dwayne Carrero-Berry, who will receive a bachelor of arts degree in psychology with minors in Latino/a and Latin American studies and peace and conflict studies. He was diagnosed with a heart disease at the age of 19 and died in December 2017. Former Wayne State student Bri’Jon Moore will receive a bachelor of science degree in psychology. A psychology major, Moore dreamed of applying to nursing programs after she graduated. She died Feb. 4 at the age of 22.
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Commentary: Michigan's research universities involved in COVID-19 fight

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson co-wrote an opinion piece with University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel and Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. The article highlights the three research universities’ efforts to fight COVID-19. “Michigan needs its great public research universities more now than ever. And we are bringing all of our resources to this fight. Our medical and nursing schools, our engineers and economists, our public health and environment researchers, our psychologists and social workers — we are in this together. It is imperative that the three major state universities that make up Michigan's University Research Corridor — Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — are at the front lines and in the laboratories battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Michigan State, Wayne State planning for online fall classes

It’s only spring, but the presidents of Michigan’s three largest universities are already planning for how their campuses may look in fall 2020, once the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down. For Michigan State University and Wayne State University, that likely means online classes, their presidents said Thursday, April 23 during a tele-town hall meeting. But University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel remains hopeful of having in-person classes, while taking advice from public health officials. At Wayne State University, President M. Roy Wilson said online classes are being developed now assuming it won’t be possible to conduct face-to-face teaching. “(We) would love it if we could open our campus up and have in-person classes. The reality is that that’s unlikely,” Wilson said. “We’re going to plan for having to do it online, and if for some reason something happens and we’re really surprised and we can do it in person, we’ll pivot.” It takes a lot of preparation to put together a strong online course, Wilson said, adding that what was done in the second half of this past semester was not online classes but “remote teaching.” Compared to MSU and UM, Wilson believes WSU will do a little bit better in terms of its risk exposure because it doesn’t have a large hospital like UM or large Division I athletic programs, both of which are major economic sources for UM and MSU. However, that doesn’t mean Wayne State won’t be affected. “There’s no university in this country that is not going to be affected, and many affected severely by the pandemic,” Wilson said.
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Michigan med school residents feel excitement, anxiety as they head to front lines in coronavirus fight

The 2020 graduating class of medical students has been anticipating this season for years. Instead, a spring that traditionally brings recognition and celebration has become a time of stark uncertainty. For students that matched with residency programs in-state, they have watched Michigan rise to be among the top 10 in the nation for known coronavirus cases — a pandemic hot spot, particularly in southeast Michigan. Incoming residents are grappling with an eagerness to join the front lines of COVID-19 care while experiencing some relief that they have a moment to prepare themselves before doing so. “We sit in this limbo,” explains fourth-year Wayne State School of Medicine student Andrew El-Alam, “we’re overqualified students, but underqualified physicians.” El-Alam, who matched in emergency medicine at Henry Ford Hospital, hopes that by his July start the incoming coronavirus cases are at a more manageable level. “I’ve come to terms that this is likely going to be here for a long, long time. But hopefully not at this level,” he said. The vice dean of Medical Education at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Dr. Richard Baker, has confidence in the class of 2020.“This is a heroic time. They will be heroes, whether they want to or not. It’s scary,” Baker said, adding, “This experience for this cohort of students going to residency will probably change them forever. But they’re up to the task.”
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Lethargic global response to COVID-19: How the human brain’s failure to assess abstract threats cost us dearly

Wayne State Associate Professor of Psychiatry Arash Javanbakht and University of Michigan Doctoral Candidate Cristian Capotescu co-wrote a piece regarding the response to COVID-19. “More U.S. citizens have confirmed COVID-19 infections than the next five most affected countries combined. Yet as recently as mid-March, President Trump downplayed the gravity of the crisis by falsely claiming the coronavirus was nothing more than seasonal flu, or a Chinese hoax, or a deep state plot designed to damage his reelection bid. The current U.S. administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus threat is part of a larger problem in pandemic management. Many government officials, medical experts, scholars and journalists continued to underestimate the dangers of COVID-19, even as the disease upended life in China as early as mid-January. The results of this collective inertia are catastrophic indeed. The U.S., along with Italy, Spain, Iran and the French Alsace, is now the site of humanitarian tragedies, the kind we see erupting in the aftermath of natural disasters or military conflicts.
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WSU leaders take pay cuts, donate to fund for students amid COVID-19

Wayne State University leaders will take pay cuts and put them into a student emergency fund to help enrolled students in need of assistance during COVID-19. President M. Roy Wilson made the announcement this week in a letter to the campus, saying that he would take a 10 percent pay cut immediately through the end of the year. Executives, along with the deans of the 13 colleges, would voluntarily reduce their pay 5 percent. The pay cuts will go into Wayne State's Student Emergency Fund, which current students may access to cover emergencies such as transportation, food, utilities, medications or personal tragedy. All students are eligible, Wilson said, but focus will be on providing assistance to students who can't tap into federal CARES funds, awarded earlier this month to colleges and universities amid the coronavirus outbreak to help students with cash grants. Wayne State University was awarded $9.6 million for student aid. "The program ensures that temporary hardships do not prevent students from continuing forward and achieving their dreams of a college degree," Wilson wrote Thursday. "All of our current students are considered part of the Warrior family, and we want to make sure all of our students are eligible for this support."
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UM hopes for students on campus in fall; Wayne State, Michigan State lean online

Wayne State University is "unlikely" to have in-person classes in fall, Michigan State University is planning online classes, but University of Michigan is hoping to bring students back on campus with measures that will lower students' risk with COVID-19. The fall semester projections for Michigan's three largest public universities came Thursday during a Detroit Regional Chamber tele-town hall with WSU President M. Roy Wilson, MSU President Samuel Stanley and UM President Mark Schlissel. Wayne State is looking at opening laboratories for research soon, Wilson said, but having in-person classes is looking doubtful. "All of us, and I am pretty sure I speak for the three of us, would love it if we could open our campus up and have in-person classes," Wilson said. "The reality is that that is unlikely ... so we are going to plan for having to do it online."
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Universities team up to fight COVID-19

Three Michigan universities are coming together to fight COVID-19 together. The presidents from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University came together Thursday afternoon for a town hall meeting online. These institutions make up Michigan’s University Research Corridor which is working to find a coronavirus vaccine, treatment, and recommendations to flatten the curve. Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said he’s proud of setting up mobile COVID-19 testing sites in Detroit. “Where we have a number of cars that are equipped to be able to go to hot spots sites around the city and actually test in those areas,” Wilson said. All presidents are also now looking at what the fall semester will look like for students. there is a possibility of having only online classes.
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6 tips for parents who home-school

Erin Baker, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, wrote a piece for The Conversation offering six tips for parents who home-school. “With most U.S. schools closed for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 outbreak – and uncertainty surrounding the decision to reopen them in the fall – parents may be tempted to try out home-schooling. As a sociologist who has interviewed dozens of home-schooling parents to learn which practices work best, I know that first-timers can quickly find themselves feeling unprepared and overwhelmed.”
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How to listen to your loved ones with empathy when you yourself are feeling the strain of social distancing

Annmarie Caño, professor of psychology and associate provost for faculty development and faculty success, wrote an article for The Conversation addressing the strain of social distancing. COVID-19 has revealed a great many things about our world, including the vulnerabilities inherent in our economic, health care and educational institutions. The pandemic and the resulting orders to shelter in place have also uncovered vulnerabilities in our relationships with others. Many of us are not just dealing with our own feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness; we are dealing with the anxiety, anger and sadness expressed by the people with whom we live and other loved ones with whom we’ve maintained virtual connections. How do we respond with empathy when we are feeling a host of emotions ourselves? Is it even possible?
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Racial health disparities exist, COVID-19 just makes it clearer

Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson talked about racial health disparities, the university’s budget status and prospects for person-to-person instruction in the fall. Wilson says underlying health disparities have been going on in this country for a long time, well before the current crisis. Social determinants are a major factor in these lopsided health outcomes says Wilson. In the current COVID-19 health crisis Wilson says implicit bias has played a role in the health disparities we are seeing. “There is some evidence that African Americans with symptoms have not been tested as frequently, I think that there is some implicit bias,” says Wilson. Financially, Wilson says the institution is considering various measures to shore up the school’s budget. Wilson says he stopped short of announcing layoffs because the university doesn’t yet know the full financial cost imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Enrollment, says Wilson, will be a major determinant in Wayne State’s financial decision making. The school is also preparing for the possibility of remote learning continuing into the fall. “We’re going to prepare as if we’re not going to be able to meet person-to-person [in the fall]. If we are able to, that would certainly be our preference,” says Wilson. 
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COVID-19 update: U.S. grants state $2.3M in mental health funding, Michigan reveals long-term care facility strategy, digital assistance for black-owned businesses, and More

The Wayne State University Board of Governors has approved a proposal to temporarily suspend the standardized test score requirement for new fall 2020 freshmen applicants. The temporary suspension would be for students who are unable to take their SAT or ACT due to COVID-19. “We understand what a challenging time this is for high school seniors,” says Ericka M. Jackson, senior director of undergraduate admissions at WSU. “We want to provide a path to Wayne State for those students who have not yet taken the SAT or ACT. Now is the time to be helpful, supportive, and allow latitude for students to apply without submitting a test score.”
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Beaumont CEO says he's taking a 70% pay cut as layoffs sweep through administrative staff

With Michigan's largest hospital system "financially hemorrhaging" and under a cloud of uncertainty for at least the next two years, the CEO of Beaumont Health says he's taking a 70% cut to his base pay and is forgoing any bonuses. Fox's cut in pay is the steepest percentage cut among the hospital systems in the region that have disclosed CEO pay reductions. The CEO of the Detroit Medical Center is taking a 10% cut, while the chief at Michigan Medicine is taking a 5% cut. On the west side of the state, Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health, will take a 40% reduction in pay. Her direct leadership team will take a 30% reduction, according to a news release. Shooshan Danagoulian, an assistant professor at Wayne State University who studies health economics, said she’s hearing that hospital administrators are taking pay cuts of 10%-20% during the pandemic. She said these administrators realize they have to sacrifice, too. They can’t ask their physicians, nurses and other providers to risk their own health to treat COVID-19 patients or take furloughs and layoffs while they continue to take a full salary. “This is a way for them to show solidarity” with physicians and other professionals who “are doing their own part,” Danagoulian said. 
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Law school continues its rise in rankings

Wayne State University Law School has jumped 17 spots in U.S. News & World Report's Best Law School rankings over the last three years - to No. 83 in the country, a historic best this year, and the second-highest ranked law school in Michigan. Wayne Law also ranks highly in several specific categories, including No. 23 in the category of part-time law programs, the best in the state. Wayne Law is Detroit's only public law school. It ranks No. 22 nationally for law schools with the lowest debt-to-starting-income ratio according to Spivey Consulting's analysis of data compiled by Law School Transparency. The National Jurist and preLaw magazines ranked Wayne Law a Best Value Law School for the last six years.
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As business restrictions ease, Georgians on their own to fight virus

Georgians will increasingly be on their own to fight the coronavirus in the coming weeks as Gov. Brian Kemp scales back statewide social distancing mandates to benefit the state’s struggling economy. Kemp’s decision this week to begin reopening the state for business made Georgia an outlier among the states by focusing on the pandemic’s most serious collateral damage. Georgia still ranks in the lowest tier of states in coronavirus testing rates, and the statewide death toll now exceeds 800. Under Kemp’s orders, businesses such as gyms, barber shops and tattoo parlors may reopen on Friday. Restaurants may resume dine-in service next Monday. And Kemp appeared ready to let a statewide shelter-at-home order expire on April 30. Kemp is sending mixed messages about containing the virus, public health experts said, telling Georgians it’s safe to eat in a restaurant or get a haircut while still ordering them to stay home. “This creates significant confusion, undermines credibility and does not provide clear direction to the public,” said Matthew Seeger, a professor and dean at Wayne State University who specializes in public health communication. “The result is a reduced trust in government and reduced ability to persuade the public to take appropriate action.”
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Michigan coronavirus task force on racial disparities dedicates work to Detroit girl, 5, who died

The governor signed an executive order Monday creating a task force to address and respond to the stark racial disparities present in the COVID-19 pandemic. "Rather than just studying the problem and making a report later, we're assembling a team of experts that can take action in real time," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who is heading up the task force. According to state leaders, African Americans represent 13.6% of Michigan’s population, yet they represent 40% of the state's COVID-19 deaths. In addition to Gilchrist, the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities will include Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, along with 24 other members appointed by the governor. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson is included among the members of the task force.
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COVID-19 Tele-Town Hall Series

As key decisions are being made about business operations in preparation for any effects of the COVID-19, it’s important to hear from state leaders at the front lines and subject matter experts who can help navigate the risks. The Chamber will be hosting a COVID-19 Tele-Town Hall Series, with regular guest speakers, to help businesses prepare for the impact of the virus. On Thursday, April 23, at 2:15 p.m., Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson will join University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel and Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., for a discussion. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the three universities that comprise Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) have launched themselves into finding a vaccine, a treatment for the virus, and recommendations for “flattening the curve.” They’re also moving new health care professionals into the field, setting up hotlines to help health care workers, perfecting a process to sanitize used masks, and providing advice for managing mental health, food safety and the economy. Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, will moderate the conversation with the three university leaders.