In the news

Mich. steps up efforts to curb baby deaths

National infant mortality studies conducted by Wayne State University and the University of Michigan show improvements in the number of black babies who die in their first year of life. A promising national program that pairs nurses with low-income moms has expanded to Michigan cities such as Pontiac and Detroit, where black infant deaths far exceed white infant deaths. Wayne State secured a 10-year, $125 million contract with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 2002 to support maternal and infant health activities at the Perinatology Research Branch on the Detroit Medical Center campus.

Area college student hopes to jump-start his career

Wayne State sophomore Clarence Dass will get a taste of life as a global leader when he participants in the annual International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, in January. He will be one of 149 participants from around the world and he'll be among the students representing the United States in mock United Nations sessions. When he returns home, the pre-law student plans to co-found the Wayne State Model United Nations program, where he and others will teach Detroit High School students how to hold mock UN Sessions. Dass' visit to the leadership conference is sponsored by the WSU Honors Program. Program director Jerry Herron describes Dass as "thoughtful, an excellent planner."

Women's worries never end

An article about conflicting medical study results and controversy over the health pros and cons of birth control pills, as well as Vioxx, Celebrex and other drugs, leads with information on the Wayne State University study that made national news with its conclusion that oral contraceptives cut the risk of heart disease in women and did not increase the risk of breast cancer. The article goes on to point out that "federal officials debunked the Wayne State study."

Education's Smart Rewards

Two editorials focus on the Cherry Commission's report on higher education. In the first, the Free Press lauds the commission's "workable solutions" toward increasing the number of Michigan residents with a college degree. "The most encouraging of the 19 recommendations is a renewed focus on the resources of technical and two-year colleges," the newspaper says, adding that the state should not be slashing education dollars. The second editorial praises a report from the National Innovation Initiative, a report from a group of university presidents and business leaders that stresses "how crucial it is for the entire country to educate more students, do more research and beef up the structures that support both." The editors call the report "a compelling case that the United States will languish until it pushes more students further in school."

Free college won't pay dividends for Michigan

In an op-ed piece, Thomas Bray contends that the suggestion by Gov. Granholm's Cherry Commission that college be free "sounds nice, but a few questions intrude." He wonders where the state will get the money to fund such a plan, short of a tax increase. He also questions whether universal access to college would do much to pull the state toward full employment. He contends that high-tech jobs of the future will pay well, "which means that workers will have plenty of incentives to get all the education they need - without hornswoggling taxpayers into bailing out the not-very-overworked folks in higher education."

New WSU Web site a first of its kind for a university

This article highlights the university's new Web site ( that targets junior and high schools students. The site features six animated characters with WSU-related names. Site visitors can play computer games and enter drawings for a free T-shirt. It has all the traditional information applicants need to know about the university. "Based on where you are in your academic career, you'll be able to access information that is relevant to you as an incoming freshman, a working adult, a counselor or a parent," explained Barb Donia of the Marketing and Publications Office. Susan Zweig, director of undergraduate admissions, said the site "will keep students involved and entertained as they find the information they need."

Ford agrees to pay state fine

Ralph Kummler, dean of the College of Engineering, commented about Ford Motor Company's agreement to pay the state $55,000 following allegations by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that Ford's Wixom assembly plant exceeded acceptable air-emission levels several times since 1998. Kummler said the volatile organic chemicals (VOC) typically released through air emissions do not pose health or environmental hazards. "An emissions limit is something that the DEQ does to try to mitigate things, but if you violate the emissions limit, you don't necessarily create a health problem," Kummler said. "Most of the time, the reason for having limits is because (emissions) contribute to the ozone problem, and I'm pretty sure that there is no significant ozone problem in Wixom."