In the news

News outlet logo for favicons/marketplace.org.png

Age of fraud: are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams?

Scientists looking into age-related financial vulnerability are very interested in physical changes to the aging brain, the way eyesight and hearing can get less keen. In some cases, a new pattern of making mistakes with money may be a harbinger of cognitive bad things to come, the “first thing to go,” as it were. McGill University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng was able to track down 13 elderly scam victims and 13 others equivalent in age, gender and education who had successfully fended off a scam. Spreng’s research found the brains of the two groups were physically different. He noticed this thinning of the part of the brain called the “insula,” which, along with a lot of other things, may help us trigger our “spidey sense,” the hunch that can warn us away from dicey financial situations. Some experts are skeptical about practical applications of research like Spreng’s. Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, is not a neuroscientist but a psychologist who studies financial decision-making capacity. While he sees the brain scanning as promising, his experience tells him financial acumen and scam-spotting are really complex matters. “There is no one aging pattern,” Lichtenberg said. “You know, some older adults are as good as they were in their fifties and sixties. Others are showing a more significant decline.” Lichtenberg says he has data showing 20 percent of older people admit when they do talk about money with others, it’s out of loneliness. That is, people might engage with a scammer because they want to talk to someone, anyone.
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

Opinion: Schools and researchers must collaborate to help Detroit students

Wayne State University College of Education professors Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Ben Pogodzinski and Erica Edwards wrote an opinion piece exploring approaches to improving lives of Detroit students, focusing on issues of student enrollment and attendance. “Researching the challenges most cited by school leaders and community advocates, we found that roughly a quarter of students who lived in Detroit in the 2017-18 school year attended a school in the suburbs, taking their talents and state school funding out of the city’s schools. We also found that nearly one-fifth of Detroit students switched schools between school years, which can negatively impact achievement and destabilize the schools they left. Additionally, over half of the students who attended school in Detroit missed 10 percent or more of the year, contributing to lower academic achievement and greatly increasing their risk of high school dropout. Findings like these can play a pivotal role in educational policy decision-making, but the policymakers and advocates who could benefit from such information rarely have access to the journals where academics like us typically publish our research…Our research joins a growing body of scholarship that suggests that a collaborative approach to school improvement, with community, school, city, and university partners, could help overcome challenges facing Detroit schools.
News outlet logo for favicons/michiganradio.org.png

Wayne State University is improving its graduation rates

Last year, the six-year completion rate for all students was 47 percent. For first generation students, it’s up to 37 percent. And now, 22 percent of African-Americans get their degree from Wayne State. Monica Brockmeyer, senior associate provost for student success, says the school has made progress, but not enough. “We at Wayne State still have large educational disparities around race and ethnicity, around income status, around first generation.” Brockmeyer says they set a goal of getting 50 percent of their students to graduate from Wayne State six years. “We set that goal because at the time it seemed like a really even unimaginably attainable goal,” she said. But now that they’re close to 50 percent, Brockmeyer thinks the school will hit its goal early this year.
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Civil rights and the black power movement in Detroit

What do you know about Detroit’s civil rights history? What have you always wondered about that time period? There’s a new effort to tell and preserve the stories of Detroit’s civil rights pioneers, and it’s taking the form of an online resource called Rise Up Detroit, that’s launching today. Peter Blackmer, a lead researcher for Rise Up North and a research fellow at Wayne State’s Detroit Equity Action Lab, partnered on the project with civil rights activist and founder of Rise Up North Junius Williams. The website incorporates research and materials from Wayne State’s Reuther Library and other local sources to recount narratives of resistance through written, oral and visual materials from the civil rights and black power movements in Detroit. Blackmer and Williams joined Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about the project.
News outlet logo for favicons/wxyz.com.png

'A giant in law, in civil rights, and in life,' Judge Damon Keith

The late federal Judge Damon J. Keith was laid to rest Monday in Detroit. The Motor City native, civil rights icon, and distinguished jurist passed away at age 96 on April 28. His life and legacy were celebrated during a funeral service at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church on Detroit's west side. “Damon Keith was a giant in law, in civil rights, and in life," said Dr. M. Roy Wilson, President of Wayne State University, one of Keith's alma maters. A grandson of slaves., Keith died as a celebrated federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was nominated for that position in 1977. Many of his milestone decisions were mentioned during his funeral service Monday, including those that put him at odds with people in power at the time. Keith fought racial discrimination in public housing, schools and police departments.
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Mourners remember Judge Damon Keith as giant in law, life

The parade of fellow judges in their black robes took five full minutes Monday at the funeral of Judge Damon J. Keith at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. Both of Michigan's senators were there — Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters — as were former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, former Govs. Jennifer Granholm and Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, and former mayors Dennis Archer and Dave Bing. Keith had been celebrated in his own time. He received dozens of honorary degrees, and his name is on the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at the Wayne State University Law School. "Damon Keith was a giant in law, in civil rights, and in life," said Wayne State President Roy Wilson, standing at the altar behind a black casket. As mourners filled the church and watched a simulcast in the Wayne State Community Arts Auditorium, flags flew at half-staff at the State Capitol complex and on all state buildings.
News outlet logo for favicons/dbusiness.com.png

Researchers at Detroit’s Wayne State Find Link Between Zika Virus, Glaucoma

Researchers in Wayne State University’s department of ophthalmology, visual, and anatomical sciences have discovered in experimental models that the Zika virus can cause glaucoma. The study was published in mSphere, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Microbiology. Zika virus, or ZIKV poses challenges in reproductive health and has been shown to cause neurological disorders, primarily microcephaly, or the abnormal shrinking of the head circumference. Several clinical studies have also linked ZIKV to ocular deformities. “The eye is protected from systemic infection due the presence of a protective barrier called the blood retinal barrier,” says Ashok Kumar, associate professor and lead author of the study. “Previous studies from our laboratory have shown that ZIKV has the ability to infect and replicate in cells making the blood retinal barrier, hence potentially allowing the entry of ZIKV into the eye."
News outlet logo for favicons/forbes.com.png

They're worth billions; pursuit of their money is a consumer fraud issue today

He calls it the Crime of the 21st Century. “It’s open season and there are no signs of abatement,” said Peter Lichtenberg. And though he’s not a financial planner, the Wayne State University psychology professor has made it his mission to help older people hold on to their money in spite of possible cognitive decline and the deceitful manipulations of those who would cheat them. Gerontologists have been studying cognition for 70 years,” Lichtenberg said. “But our work is understanding financial decision-making—what it is and how it relates to financial exploitation.” A leading expert in the prevention of financial exploitation in older adults, Lichtenberg has written seven books and more than 200 peer-reviewed articles on mental health in long-term care, geriatric depression and the detection and management of Alzheimer's. In 2013, he became one of the nation's first Diplomats in Clinical Geropsychology with the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). As director of Wayne State University's Institute of Gerontology and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, he has won record levels of funding and created programs to benefit more than 10,000 older adults and professionals each year. While the risk to their money is great, Lichtenberg said many older adults do a tremendous job of maintaining their finances well into the last decades of their lives. In fact, he said, some 95 percent of cognitively healthy older adults and those with some cognitive decline manage debt, pay bills and maintain good credit just as well as 50-year-olds.
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Parenting in black and white: Talking to our children about race

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer and Wayne State University Board of Governors Chair Kim Trent, a regular contributor to the paper, are friends and colleagues raising children in Detroit. The following is excerpted from their conversation about the challenges of parenthood in a racially-charged city. “It’s been said that the personal is political, and that’s true even in motherhood and friendship,” Trent said. “With the way social media and other artificial boundaries section us off from each other, I think it’s important that mothers like us are intentional about talking about the things that we have in common. There’s hope of racial reconciliation if we model that behavior for our kids.”
News outlet logo for favicons/legalnews.com.png

Power play: Hockey player takes aim on a legal career

A former University of Michigan hockey player, Wayne State University law student Max Shuart likens preparing for a test to preparations to a hockey game—“Down to having a pre-game meal and listening to music before an exam to get pumped up,” he explains. “Along with that, I’ve found that being competitive, prepared to work hard, and managing time properly have been extremely helpful in the first year of law school, which is often very demanding and time intensive.” Approaching the end of his 1L year at Wayne Law, Shuart will spend this summer as a Levin Center legal intern working on the House of Representatives Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight in the nation’s capital. “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to continue developing my legal skills and represent Wayne State, Detroit and Michigan while working alongside people who day after day want to make the world a better place,” he says. In his upcoming 2L year, Shuart will serve as vice president of the school’s Federalist Society, which brings in speakers for dialogue on various topics; he also is a member of the Entrepreneurship & Business Law Society, which recently brought in a panel of Michigan lawyers to discuss their practices and career paths. “All of the people at Wayne Law make it a great place, from professors to students,” he says. “I’m pleasantly surprised to not have any 1L horror stories about any professors, they all conducted class each day in a way that was never too daunting while maintaining high expectations.”   
News outlet logo for favicons/theoaklandpress.com.png

Pontiac becomes test site for microplastics study by Wayne State researchers

A group of researchers from Wayne State University and environmental nonprofit Reroot Pontiac have been awarded a $929,000 grant to develop a microplastic detecting sensor. Every year 10,000 metric tons of plastic finds its way to the Great Lakes, where instead of decomposing, it will inevitably break down into microplastics — One water bottle can become 10,000 pieces of plastic smaller than five millimeters. Those microplastics eventually make their way into the water supply, from sources like textile fibers in laundry wastewater to microbeads in toothpaste or soap. The three-year-grant, awarded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, will be used to develop a microplastic sensor and software to detect and analyze microplastics and their sources in the water supply. It will take about a year-and-a-half of development before the sensor is ready for testing, according to Yongli Zhang, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State University. Zhang has been studying microplastics since 2017 and was the lead writer for the grant. “We need something that can be left on a site or be carried to different locations for testing. Right now, there’s not much of that technology out there in the market,” Zhang said. The five other Wayne State University staff and faculty involved in the project are: Mark Cheng, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Weisong Shi, professor of computer science; Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering; Donna Kashian, associate professor of biological sciences and Rahul Mitra, assistant professor of organizational communication.
News outlet logo for favicons/chronicle.com.png

How colleges use 6-word stories about race as a teaching tool

When librarians at Wayne State University learned about the Race Card Project, Kristen Chinery, a reference archivist at its Walter P. Reuther Library, was excited. As chair of the Wayne State libraries’ diversity and inclusion council, Chinery thought that participating in the project, which collects people’s six-word submissions about their experience or observations of race, would spark good discussions at the public university in Detroit. “Why don’t we have a wall in every library on campus?” she thought. Cards posted at the university’s five libraries and its archives included “Black Lives Matter! Act Like It!,” “DNA is what connects us all,” and “Deporting my mom is not ok!” Reading candid messages from students, professors, staff members, and people from the community about their experience with race, Chinery said, can be uncomfortable. But “from that discomfort and that questioning, it can help us move to a place of tolerance and accepting others’ viewpoints.” A number of professors gave students the option to submit cards for extra credit, she added.
News outlet logo for favicons/thejewishnews.com.png

Professor Robert Sedler: A champion of justice

After teaching constitutional law for more than a half-century, Wayne State University’s nationally renowned law professor Robert Sedler has had a giant impact not only in the classroom but also on society. A veteran of integration struggles in the South, Sedler, 83, has championed civil rights and civil liberties in Michigan and across America. On May 11 he will be honored with the “Champion of Justice” award at the annual dinner of the Michigan Association for Justice, a statewide organization of trial attorneys.
News outlet logo for favicons/hechingerreport.org.png

Colleges must stop holding students hostage and release their debt

On April 30, the Detroit Regional Chamber and three postsecondary institutions in Michigan — Henry Ford College, Oakland University, and Wayne State University — announced a new program that will forgive unpaid institutional debt among students who’ve previously attended those colleges but never earned a degree. This new debt forgiveness program in metro Detroit, which will give a significant boost to low-income students of color, represents a higher education reform that attempts to resolve one of the core reasons behind racial disparities in postsecondary attainment: the wealth gap. We should applaud the Detroit Regional Chamber, Henry Ford College, Oakland University and Wayne State University for eliminating barriers that keep low-income students in purgatory.
News outlet logo for favicons/cnbc.com.png

Federal criminal probe launched in connection with ‘microcap fraud’ case may include former Riot Blockchain CEO

Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into a group that appears to include the former chief executive of Riot Blockchain, the cryptocurrency company that was the subject of a CNBC investigation last year, according to court documents. The investigation is parallel to a Securities and Exchange Commission case that brought claims against John O’Rourke, the former chief executive of Riot Blockchain, and others in alleged pump and dumps unrelated to Riot. In September, the SEC said it charged a group of 10 individuals and 10 associated entities that included John O’Rourke, as well as Barry Honig, who was once the largest shareholder of Riot, in a scheme the agency said generated more than $27 million from alleged unlawful stock sales. If criminal charges are filed, the SEC case will likely be stayed, according to Peter Henning, a professor of law at Wayne State University, and a former senior attorney in the division of enforcement at the SEC. The SEC can give the information it has gathered to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he said.
News outlet logo for favicons/rollingstone.com.png

See Jack White receive honorary doctorate from WSU

Jack White received an honorary doctorate from Wayne State University during the Detroit college’s commencement event Friday. White, donning a cap and gown for the ceremony, was honored for his “dedication to the city of Detroit and significant contribution to the arts,” Wayne State president Roy Wilson said in his introduction. Wilson also detailed some of White’s philanthropic efforts in the city: His effort to restore Clark Park, how he saved the Masonic Temple from tax foreclosure and how his Third Man record plant helped revitalize midtown Detroit.
News outlet logo for favicons/fox2detroit.com.png

Jack White awarded honorary doctorate from WSU

Musician and Detroit native Jack White received an honorary doctoral degree Friday from Wayne State University. He was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters during the morning commencement ceremony at the Fox Theatre. Wayne State bestowed the degree "for his dedication to Detroit and significant contributions to the arts as one of the most prolific and renowned artists of the past two decades." Jack White III was born and raised in southwest Detroit and was the youngest of 10 children. He graduated from Cass Tech High School. 
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Jack White receives his honorary doctorate from Wayne State: 'absolutely incredible'

Wearing a cap and gown for the first time in his life, donned in the green-and-gold of Wayne State University, Jack White, the Detroit-bred rock musician was awarded an honorary degree during a Friday commencement at the Fox Theatre. "As a teenager, I was a busboy in this building, so it's nice to be back here for a different reason," White said during a brief speech after being conferred his doctor of humane letters by Kim Trent, a governor on the WSU board.