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Wayne State plans 2022 celebration for grads who missed in-person commencement ceremony

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson knows now isn't the time to have an in-person graduation, but he hasn't stopped thinking about what it could look like when the Detroit university can once again offer one. Increasingly, his thoughts have gone back a couple of decades to a 1995 ceremony he visited in post-apartheid South Africa. "It's one of those graduations I'll never forget," Wilson recently told the Free Press. He's now tasked the Wayne State staff to come up with some sort of grand celebration for the graduates who, because of COVID-19, didn't get an in-person ceremony in the spring of 2020 and December 2020 and won't get one this spring either. While no official date has been set, the school is planning on something in April 2022. School officials hope to attract a big name speaker and are working to figure out other details. The school is still planning a virtual ceremony this spring for the class of 2021, just like it did for other classes affected by COVID-19. "I have no idea what the level of interest will be, but we wanted to offer something special," Wilson said. The university didn't want to tack the ceremony on to ceremonies for 2021-2022 school year graduates. "We want something separate from next May," Wilson said. "We don't want to take away from special days for anyone. They each deserve their own day." The 1995 University of Natal ceremony Wilson attended in South Africa was billed as a reconciliation ceremony for all the Black students who had graduated but hadn't had a ceremony, because of the apartheid of the time in South Africa. "All of these students from the past four or five decades were invited," Wilson said. Various dignitaries gave speeches, including some of the most powerful speeches Wilson has ever heard. Wayne State officials believe about 10,000 graduates will have missed an in-person commencement ceremony because of the pandemic.
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100 days without Trump on Twitter: A nation scrolls more calmly

Seth Norrholm, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and an expert on post-traumatic stress, said that Twitter had offered Mr. Trump a round-the-clock forum to express his contempt and anger, a direct channel from his id to the internet. Every time he used all-caps, Professor Norrholm said, it was as if “an abuser was shouting demeaning statements” at the American people. Although “out of sight, out of mind really works well for a lot of people in helping them to move forward,” he continued, Mr. Trump has refused to go away quietly. Indeed, he has set up a sort of presidential office in exile at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, emerging intermittently to issue statements on quasi-presidential letterhead and to heap derision on Republicans he deems insufficiently loyal. “It’s as if you’re in a new relationship with the current administration, but every now and then the ex-partner pops up to remind you that ‘I’m still here’ — that he hasn’t disappeared entirely and is living in the basement,” Professor Norrholm said. “What’s going to happen over the next couple of years is that you will hear rumbles from the basement. We don’t know whether he’ll emerge or not, or whether it’s just some guy in the basement making some noise.”

What other states can learn from Michigan about serving adult students

Free tuition isn't the only tool states and colleges can use to remove financial barriers for adult students. In Michigan, a patchwork of schools is hoping to bring back students who left without completing a credential by forgiving some of their debt. Wayne State University, where one in five students is age 25 or older, has been spearheading the effort. In 2018, it launched the Warrior Way Back program, which forgives students one-third of their balance to the institution of up to $1,500 total for each semester they successfully complete, for up to three semesters. Students are eligible for the program if they haven't attended Wayne State for at least two years and have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher. Because federal financial aid cannot be used for past-due balances, the program removed a major obstacle for students who accumulated debt, said Dawn Medley, Wayne State's associate vice president for enrollment management. "It wasn't that they were out of financial aid or didn't have means to pay, it's just they couldn't come up with a chunk out of pocket to clear that past balance," Medley said. "We know time is money, and especially for adult students."
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America goes back to school – 5 essential reads on parenting in the pandemic

Beyond safety and survival, a paramount question throughout the pandemic has been: When will things get “back to normal”? But as the nation gradually gets vaccinated against COVID-19 and various facets of society begin to reopen, it becomes evident that a return to normalcy poses a whole new set of questions, challenges and concerns. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to the education and parenting of America’s school-age children, whose childhoods have been uprooted in unparalleled ways since the pandemic struck in early 2020. COVID-19 isn’t the only threat children face as in-person instruction becomes more common. Michael Addonizio, an education policy scholar at Wayne State University, shines light on the deteriorating conditions at many of America’s schools and the threat those conditions pose to students. “Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks,” Addonizio writes. “But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements.”

Amid Pandemic, Wayne State University to hold virtual job fair

As unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains high, Wayne State University in Michigan has announced that it is holding a virtual job fair on May 5. To be hosted by the school’s College of Education, the fair aims to meet potential candidates for a variety of positions in teaching, counseling, librarianship, administration, social work, psychology, and special education. Approximately 30 recruiters from the Midwest are expected to attend and conduct interviews with people looking for jobs in education. “The college is excited about connecting our students and others to careers in education,” Assistant Dean of the Division of Academic Services Paul Johnson stated. “We are committed not only to supporting our students and alumni and members of the community in their job search but also to serving as partners to school districts and other educational organizations that are seeking qualified candidates for open positions,” he added. Aside from new job seekers, the event is open to current education professionals who are seeking new opportunities. The event is free of charge.
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Everybody needs a ghostwriter

Stephanie Tong, a communication professor at Wayne State University, has found in her research on online dating that it’s common for people to get their friends’ input when sending messages or swiping through potential matches. “A lot of times, people want to eventually introduce their significant other into their social networks, but with online dating, people are doing that at a really early phase,” Tong told me. “Friends are actually getting in on the selection [process], which is new in a way.” The future significant other just doesn’t know it yet.
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'Idealized male' Tom Cruise is the star of new book from Wayne State University Press

Wayne State University Press is having a virtual book launch Thursday to celebrate "Starring Tom Cruise," a scholarly look at why the 58-year-old actor was, is and likely will remain an object of our obsession. From tabloids with screaming headlines to slick magazines with literary pretensions, media outlets have been scrutinizing Cruise's life, work and multiple controversies for as long as he has been famous, a time frame tracing back to his breakout role in 1983's "Risky Business." A scholarly book on Cruise is a fresh approach to studying celebrity, according to Marie Sweetman, the acquisitions editor for the Detroit university's publishing arm. "Cruise is broadly and immediately recognizable as an actor and celebrity personality, but beyond that, his long career in the public eye lends itself to rigorous discussions of masculinity, ethnicity, sexuality and commodity," says Sweetman via email. "The energy and star power that Cruise brings to every one of his roles can be found in every chapter of this edited collection."
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EXPLAINED: Wayne State professor tells why you should care about this physics revelation

It’s not every day that physicists are completely baffled. But some recent tests show that the decades-old standard model, which is the playbook for physics, may not perfectly explain everything in the universe. “People for the last 70 years have tried to find measurements that are not explained by the standard model. Nothing,” said Alexy Petrov, a Wayne State University particle physicist. “Everything was perfectly explained by the standard model. This might be the first one that’s not explained.” Petrov wasn’t involved with this particular study, but he does very similar work. He said they sent a strange particle called a muon, that only lasts for two microseconds, around a track in order to get a better look at it. “It’s a very difficult measurement to do,” Petrov said. “They put them in something called the storage ring, they move them very fast and before they decay they have to measure how the magnetic field effects them.” The early results were 0.1 percent off what the standard model predicts, and that little difference could expand the physics universe as we know it. “If this holds up, the new physics, this thing that we don’t know, is just around the corner. It might tell us the nature of dark matter,” Petrov said.
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Why student athletes need a new playbook to stay safe in the COVID-19 era

Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science, wrote a piece for The Conversation. “Kids are eager to play ball, and parents are eager to be back on the sidelines supporting them. But COVID-19 cases have risen in places where kids have been playing sports, complicating the issue. Michigan, where I live, is now the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The resumption of youth sports activities has been widely implicated in Michigan’s latest COVID-19 surge, with 40% of new outbreaks occurring in K-12 schools or youth programs.  Experts also blame Michigan’s unprecedented rise to the top on an unfortunate mixture of reopening, virus variants and COVID-19 fatigue. As an exercise scientist and clinician, I believe that sports participation – and even watching sports – has health and social benefits which far exceed winning and losing. My physiologist brain, however, argues that at this very moment, people should be focusing their energy not against each other, but rather toward defeating the world’s deadliest team: SARS-CoV-2, or, if you will, Team Coronavirus. 
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143,518 US public library workers are keeping their communities informed, connected and engaged – but their jobs may be at risk

Christine D'Arpa, assistant professor of library and information sciences, Wayne State University; Rachel D. Williams, assistant professor of library and information science, Simmons University; and Noah Lenstra, assistant professor of library and information science, University of North Carolina – Greensboro, wrote an article for The Conversation. America’s public library workers have adjusted and expanded their services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to initiating curbside pickup options, they’re doing many things to support their local communities, such as extending free Wi-Fi outside library walls, becoming vaccination sites, hosting drive-through food pantries in library parking lots and establishing virtual programs for all ages, including everything from story times to Zoom sessions on grieving and funerals.
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COVID-19 vaccines appear to be working. But some recent headlines lack context and cause confusion

COVID-19 vaccines appear to be working well in Michigan to prevent people from getting sick or dying. But some news consumers might be getting the wrong impression about how safe the vaccines really are. And many recent headlines — including from established and reputable news sources — aren’t helping. MichMash hosts Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth discuss those headlines and why they might be misleading, and continue the conversation with Wayne State University Associate Professor of Journalism Fred Vultee, who wrote headlines for 25 years as a newspaper editor and now specializes in media framing and news practice. He noticed these headlines with concern. “I don’t want to say that this one headline is gonna make people say, ‘Bang. No vaccine.’ What this can do is maybe amplify or — ‘See, I told you so’ — or remind you that your initial idea, ‘I am scared of vaccines,’ might have been the right one to think about,” says Vultee. “We’re not going to say offhand that this media message makes people get up and walk across the room and turn off the TV. But we say that if it amplifies the wrong ideas, we’d rather have it steer in the direction of amplifying the right ideas.”    
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Spotlight on the News: Michigan's COVID-19 surge; what do top medical experts think?

Spotlight on the News examined Michigan's recent surge in COVID-19 cases through the eyes of two of the state's most experienced infectious disease medical experts. Guests included Professor Marcus Zervos, MD, Assistant Dean, Global Affairs, Wayne State Medical School & Division Head, Infectious Diseases, Henry Ford Health System; and Associate Professor Paul E. Kilgore, MPH, MD, FACP, Pharmacy, Family Medicine & Public Health, Wayne St. University & Senior Investigator, Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System. What do they think is behind Michigan being the nation's latest coronavirus hot spot?
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GM's move to EVs will mean some jobs lost, some new jobs created

About 35,000 hourly jobs could perish across the car industry as GM and other automakers move to EVs, said Marick Masters, a Wayne State University business professor who specializes in labor issues and has studied the potential impact of transitioning to EVs. GM has said all of its light-duty vehicles will be zero-emissions by 2035 and that GM will be a carbon neutral company by 2040. The typical internal combustion engine has about 2,000 parts in it, Masters said. Whereas EVs use far fewer parts, some parts might be bigger such as batteries, but fewer people are needed overall to make EVs. "There will be some job loss," Masters said. "The question is how much of that can be mitigated?" If the move to EVs is accelerated by politicians pushing to control climate change and improve infrastructure with more charging stations, that will only hasten the “dislocation of jobs," Masters said. “I think anybody has reason to be worried," Masters said. "You also have to factor in how popular are electric vehicles going to be to foreign competitors, what is the cost to make them, how profitable will they be versus internal combustion ... all of that impacts the performance of the company and that will impact jobs, too.”
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Wisconsin Supreme Court weighs balance of power in key environmental cases

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in two environmental protection cases with widespread ramifications for state government powers. The court has been asked to resolve disputes over the state’s authority to protect public waters from pollution and overuse, but the decision could influence nearly every aspect of state government and the balance of power between politicians who make laws and the state agencies tasked with carrying them out. One case involves regulation of water pollution; the other, large-scale withdrawals of water for irrigation. In both cases, environmental groups sued the DNR seeking stricter enforcement. On one side are conservation groups, which argue the Department of Natural Resources has the authority to protect public waters and enforce clean water standards. Industry groups and Republican lawmakers argue that power belongs to the Legislature. Marjorie Sarbaugh-Thompson, a professor of political science at Wayne State University and co-author of a study on state legislative oversight, said the process works best when it’s done in a bipartisan manner, as it is in 13 states. “The cover story I guess is accountability … but really it’s interest group pressure,” she said. “Unless you figure out some way to get the party politics and interest group money and all the pressure out of it it’s just one more way to have political games of gotcha.”
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How 5 colleges have reacted to spring COVID spikes

With semesters coming to a close, commencements on the horizon and the hope of vaccines being dispensed to students, colleges aren’t taking chances when a spike in numbers occurs. Institution leaders are being quite vocal in letting students know those trends are not OK. Wayne State University, located in Detroit, simply has been caught in a wave of local cases forced to cancel sporting events, halt in-person instruction and restrict access to certain facilities for 10 days, taking an abundance of caution to protect those in the city. At the same time, it is also asking its community to protect itself. “We continue to urge members of campus to get a vaccination if they haven’t yet done so,” President M. Roy Wilson told Wayne State’s faculty and students. “While we are all hopeful about the future with the rollout of vaccinations, we must continue to take the appropriate precautions to ensure the health and safety of our campus and the broader Detroit community.”
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Particle mystery deepens, as physicists confirm that the muon is more magnetic than predicted

A potential chink in physicists’ understanding of fundamental particles and forces now looks more real. New measurements confirm a fleeting subatomic particle called the muon may be ever so slightly more magnetic than theory predicts, a team of more than 200 physicists reported this week. That small anomaly—just 2.5 parts in 1 billion—is a welcome threat to particle physicists’ prevailing theory, the standard model, which has long explained pretty much everything they’ve seen at atom smashers and left them pining for something new to puzzle over. “Since the 1970s we’ve been looking for a crack in the standard model,” says Alexey Petrov, a theorist at Wayne State University. “This may be it.” 
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Invincible Black Women therapy group focuses on mental health

Brandi Pritchett-Johnson is a lot of things - mom to Joseph and Carter - a wife - a psychology professor at Wayne State University. She is also the lead researcher and clinician for a group therapy called Invincible Black Women. Invincible Black Women is a therapy group that focuses on mental health. "It's kind of this idea that you gotta be bigger than life, you've got to carry it all, hold it all, do it all," said Johnson. But nobody is invincible. Johnson says so many Black women are juggling so many responsibilities - and so many have experienced grief and loss in the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial inequity. The groups are facilitated by doctoral and master's therapists from Wayne State who are determined to make mental health a priority - and to assure women of color - their voices matter and are being heard.
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COVID vaccine and kids: What does the future hold for parents concerned about their children's health?

Dr. Eric McGrath didn’t need to think hard about getting the vaccine. "For me it was a no-brainer to get the vaccine as soon as it was available and the same for my wife who’s a nurse," said the Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Wayne State University School of Medicine. "But with kids," he continued. "I think there’s a lot of caution, concern." Since early April all Michiganders 16 and older have been able to sign up for a vaccination slot for a dose of Pfizer (Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are still limited to those 18+). But as the sprint to end the pandemic continues, the question of children and immunity has come to the forefront. It is seen as a critical, but also contentious, necessity in the return to "normal. I think I would like to give it to my children," McGrath continued, "it’s just a matter of sort of getting information when it finally gets released, and then you know sorting through it."
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WSU to reduce number of people on campus, citing increased COVID numbers

Wayne State University said Saturday it is planning to reimpose restrictions to reduce the number of people on campus, citing increased coronavirus cases across the state. Starting Wednesday, the following measures will be taken unless case numbers fall within an "acceptable range," according to an email from President M. Roy Wilson to the WSU community. Face-to-face instruction on campus will be canceled with the only exception being clinical rotations in licensed health professions. All athletics practices and competitions will be suspended. Teams may resume practice after 10 days if 80% or more of team personnel have received their full COVID-19 vaccination. Laboratory research units must take steps to reduce current time-on-site activity for authorized personnel by 25% effective Wednesday. They must also prepare a contingency plan for an additional reduction of time-on-site as the situation evolves. The reduced level does not apply to fully vaccinated individuals currently involved with authorized on-site research activities. Guest access to student housing will be restricted. Students currently living in campus housing are permitted to continue doing so and must continue to follow campus health and safety guidelines. Towers Cafe will move to takeout only. Campus libraries will remain open but may be subject to increased restrictions. The Student Center Building is closed except for individuals attending the vaccine clinic. The W Food Pantry will remain open and will facilitate technology loans to students in need. With the exception of critical infrastructure employees, those who can work from home should do so. Metrics on campus, in the region and across Michigan will be reevaluated in 10 days, according to Wilson. If the situation has improved, Wayne State will reinstate the suspended activities. If the numbers still remain high, the period of limited on-campus activities will be extended accordingly, he said. Students and faculty are asked to monitor their communications and check the Wayne State coronavirus website for follow-up information or to contact a supervisor with specific questions.