Read President Smith's May 22 COVID-19 update to the EMU community

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

I hope your Memorial Day weekend brings you some respite from the challenges that surround us. While a slow “reopening” of our businesses and economy is underway, it is still vitally important that we remain vigilant in following health and safety guidance for the prevention of COVID-19 -- continue physical distancing, wear masks in public settings, and wash your hands frequently.

Keep in your thoughts the people of mid-Michigan whose lives became a nightmare this week due to the severe flood damage caused by two burst dams. And, most importantly, take some time to reflect on the reason for Memorial Day as we celebrate our freedom and remember the cost at which it came and the sacrifices of our veterans.  

I have several important updates to share with you as we wrap up the week.

Summer grant available for international students

Last week, we informed our international students about a new summer grant, the You Are Welcome Here Summer Tuition Grant. Under this program, current international Eastern Michigan University undergraduate and graduate students may apply for a one-time, university-funded grant toward summer tuition and fees for Summer 2020. To be considered for the grant, students must enroll for a minimum of three summer credit hours and must complete the application form. The deadline for submission of the application is the end of the business day (5 p.m.), Friday, May 29.

Application: You Are Welcome Here Summer Grant

A committee will review the applications and announce decisions on or before June 8, 2020. Awards will range in value up to a maximum of $500. Please note that our internal funding source for this grant is limited and not all applicants may be selected to receive an award.

Planning process

Yesterday, I provided an update to campus on the comprehensive planning to ensure the University is well prepared to support students and employees in the coming months and into the fall semester. As I stated, I have tremendous confidence that we can conduct an inclusive planning process that involves our campus stakeholders, as we face the challenges of how best to educate and serve our students in a time of great change and challenge.

Yesterday’s message can be found here: Update: Fall Semester Planning Process – May 21, 2020.

As previously announced, our primary mode of delivering instruction will continue to be online/remote through the remainder of the summer semester.  The Provost's Office will consider a highly limited number of exceptions for late start (Summer B) in-person instructional experiences on campus in areas where remote operation makes effective instructional delivery and outcomes difficult to achieve successfully.  Decisions to allow in-person instruction on campus will be made on a case-by-case basis, be vetted in Departments, approved by Deans and delivery restrictions will be subject to any and all government and University health regulations.  

Details about summer registration, the EMU Summer CARES Grant, and program/class options can be found on the summer enrollment website.

Budget update

We continue to develop and implement plans to address the serious budget constrictions facing the University, which are not unlike those facing universities across the country due to COVID-19. In my May 15 budget message, I noted several budget actions, which include:

  • A reduced work schedule for most of our 200+ non-bargained-for employees in all areas of the University, and participation in the State of Michigan’s Work Share Program. The University’s intent in this process is to minimize the financial impact on our employees. Depending on individual base salaries, participation in Work Share could more than compensate employees for the decrease in their base salary. Please visit the Work Share FAQ on the University Human Resources Policies and Procedures webpage for additional information.
  • Non-bargained for staff will not receive a salary increase in FY21.
  • A salary reduction of 7 percent for members of the executive leadership team and me, all of whom will continue working full-time. This also applies to the head coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball.
  • The University continues to work with the leaders of our collective bargaining units to implement the Work Share program for our non-instructional bargained-for staff. We appreciate the dialogue we have had with those leaders and the insight they have provided us. We will have further information to share in the days ahead.
  • University travel is frozen until further notice.
  • Capital projects are being suspended or delayed, other than those prioritized.

 

This week’s meeting with the administrative leaders’ group detailed several of these actions, as well as provided an update and overview on the University’s budget situation and a number of other items. The slides from the meeting can be viewed on the Office of the President Communications page

To the extent that it is helpful to see COVID-19’s impact on other universities in our state and region, below is a partial list of links to media coverage of those institutions. A full list can be found on our budget impact website.

Ohio University cuts 200 more employees, announces furloughs and salary cuts

'Substantial' layoffs still coming at Western Michigan University as budgets cut by 20%

UM, MSU pad admissions for fall, brace for decline of out-of-state, international students

WMU could lose $85 million in next fiscal year due to COVID-19, plans to cut staff

University of Akron to eliminate six of 11 colleges as part of cost-saving measures due to coronavirus pandemic

Work on the budget for the balance of this fiscal year and the 2021 fiscal year remains ongoing. I have stated several times our commitment to open dialogue, transparency and we will share that information as it is updated. Toward that end, Provost Longworth and I met with the University Budget Council to discuss budgetary considerations as recently as 10:00 this morning.

Swoop’s Food Pantry update

The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room served 66 shoppers this week and will be open again next week on Tuesday (5/26) and Thursday (5/28), from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

If you wish to donate items – those most needed are pasta sauce, baking items such as sugar and flour, butter, packages of rice and pasta side dishes, hand soap, dish soap and garbage bags.

Items can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to swoops_pantry@emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

Highlighting the positives

Often, at times like these, the positives that surround us are overlooked due to the challenges at hand. I don’t want that to be the case, because we certainly have many positives to celebrate. I will share four recent highlights with you:

1)    Eastern Michigan University and the $2 million gift to graduating students and incoming first-year students from GameAbove was highlighted in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal;

2)    Eastern’s new partnership to expand awareness and involvement in esports among high school and current students received significant local, national and international coverage. Here is a link to the story in the Detroit Free Press;

3)    Lecturer Tony Kurek was honored as an outstanding instructor by the state’s top accounting organization, the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants; and,

4)    The activities undertaken by Eastern Michigan University faculty and staff to support the greater community in the wake of COVID-19 are highlighted in this story in EMU Today.

As I noted, we have so much of which to be proud. Thank you for your patience, understanding, ideas and support as we confront the challenges ahead. 

James Smith, Ph.D.

May 22, 2020

Written by:
James Smith

Contact:
Geoff Larcom
glarcom@emich.edu
734-417-9658