December 16, 2021

2021: Wayne State University in the news

Wayne State University faculty share information with the media about COVID-19 vaccines.
Drs. Paul Kilgore and Marcus Zervos spoke with the media about the COVID-19 vaccine's efficacy and development.

The 2021 news cycle was largely dominated by stories about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as scientists learned more about the virus and vaccines became widely available. Ongoing civil unrest was marked by demonstrations and protests across the nation as many Americans sought social justice and change. While many businesses reopened following pandemic closures, the global economy experienced spikes in inflation, continuing supply chain disruptions and widespread worker shortages. In Michigan, record-breaking rain resulted in devastating flooding during the summer, and tragedy struck close to home with the Oxford High School shooting in November.

The Detroit Free Press shared news of Wayne State's continuing graduation rate gains.

Although the news cycle was crowded and often solemn, Wayne State University experts were frequently called upon for their perspectives and to help people access critical information and resources — and to make sense of the world around them. Marketing and Communications’ public relations team not only facilitated media requests but also developed media tip sheets and recruited experts to proactively heed the call from local and national outlets.

The public relations team also made sure to share the great news coming out of Wayne State this year, crafting other stories and pitching to news outlets on a regular basis on a range of topics, including groundbreaking research, environmental impact, community outreach, student success stories, and numerous programs and events at the university.

President M. Roy Wilson appeared on Spotlight on the News with Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz to discuss public health on college campuses.

“We take pride in the fact that although we were primarily working remotely, the public relations team was still able to line up a wide variety of  WSU faculty experts to provide context and information on important news topics,” said Matt Lockwood, associate vice president of university communications.

Nearly 2,000 stories featuring or mentioning Wayne State were captured in 2021 by media outlets around the globe. Included in the overall number were more than 800 stories focusing primarily or exclusively on the university, known as Tier I media placements.

Professors R. Khari Brown and Ronald Brown shared their expertise on the intersection of religion, race and social justice.

Marketing and Communications annually reviews media activity to determine the content of news coverage and geographical reach. Data is captured through several monitoring tools and identified by a tier structure: Tiers I, II and III. Tiers II and III, though not focused entirely or exclusively on Wayne State, feature faculty experts commenting on trending topics — commonly referred to as pull quotes and sound bites — or topics shared with other institutions.

Tier I stories are often pitched or facilitated by Wayne State communications professionals. Another component of the annual media review is advertising value of the stories, which refers to the actual cost of purchasing comparable advertising space for each story. The estimated advertising value of 2021’s stories is nearly $4 million.

The opening of the new Wayne State Fieldhouse gained local and national media attention.

This year’s stories extended from Detroit-area dailies, television and radio to national media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Fox News, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The Chronicle of Higher Education and numerous international outlets.

A sampling of major stories’ headlines included:

COVID-19 and vaccines

  • What to know about COVID-19 and pregnancy
  • COVID-19 vaccines and children: What parents need to know
  • What we know — and don’t know — about the omicron variant
  • Wayne State receives NSF award to study how airborne viruses navigate through mucus
  • Wayne State researchers find statins might help COVID-19 patients live
  • Hear from WSU professors who had critical roles in development of Moderna and J&J vaccines
  • Mobile Wayne Health vaccination clinic to take shots to the neighborhoods


  • Researchers study how algal bloom toxins may harm Great Lakes air
  • Understanding why Detroit floods and why it keeps happening

Diversity, equity and inclusion

  • What Americans hear about social justice in church — and what they do about it
  • Examining racism and race relations in wake of Chauvin conviction
  • 3 ways schools can improve STEM learning for Black students
  • COVID-19 shined a light on racial health disparities. What comes next?
  • Understanding bias, police training and de-escalation

Business and economy

  • Reasons Americans are still seeing empty shelves — the supply chain crisis explained
  • The Great Resignation: Michigan continues to grapple with ongoing worker shortage
  • 10 things — from beef to dresses — seeing the biggest price hikes


  • Researchers receive $18 million grant to address cardiovascular health in underserved communities
  • Wayne State receives $3.1 million grant to seek alternative sources of rare earth elements
  • New guidelines help doctors diagnose chest pain — but only if you act
  • Health experts explain why drinking a gallon of water a day is too much
  • Gene discoveries give new hope to people who stutter
  • Wayne State awarded millions in order to battle hypertension in Detroit
  • Michigan’s marijuana tax revenue funds $20M studies on medical cannabis for veterans with PTSD
  • NIH award to tackle early infant morbidity due to increasing incidences of food allergies
  • The exercise pill: How exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety
  • Wayne State secures more than $5M in NIH funding for cerebral palsy research


  • Jail vending machine provides naloxone to discharged inmates through project from Wayne State University
  • Wayne State’s Fresh Rx program delivers produce to Detroiters in need
  • Detroit’s Cultural Center to install free, outdoor public Wi-Fi in partnership with Wayne State’s Computing and Information Technology
  • What adults need to know, and how they can help after shootings like Oxford High School
  • Great Grocer Project aims to help independently owned grocery stores in Detroit
  • Wayne State to offer mental health program for first responders, families
  • Detroit’s infant mortality rate made a historic drop: Here’s why

Student success and campus news

  • Graduation rate gains continue after a decade of transformation at Wayne State University
  • Wayne State University offering free public transportation to students, staff
  • Wayne State University unveils new basketball facility
  • Wayne State University receives $1.2M to help veterans complete college

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