Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

October 2020: COVID-19 and U-M

An unforgettable autumn in Ann Arbor

September was a turbulent month in Ann Arbor as the University re-opened amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This page is in no way comprehensive, but it offers a number of campus-wide links to news and feature stories, helpful tips, free courses, and Q&As related to COVID-19.

We suggest you visit Michigan Medicine and the School of Public Health for even more information. The Michigan Health and Michigan Lab blogs have published an extensive directory of stories related to the coronavirus. The Campus Maize and Blueprint website should answer many of your questions about the way U-M is managing coronavirus on campus.

Campus life

A message from President Mark Schlissel

Now that we are a month into the semester, University of Michigan Chief Health Officer (and Michigan parent) Preeti Malani reports that cases have been increasing the last two weeks. In the video below, she shares updates on our campus and how we can prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In response to suggestions from the community, our COVID-19 dashboard now includes positive U-M cases reported by off-campus sources. Though we’ve always tracked total cases in conjunction with the Washtenaw County Health Department, we want our dashboard to reflect campus community conditions as accurately as possible. (Keep reading.)

Outdoors and (mostly) unplugged: Students are ready to be students in Arb outdoor classrooms

Students learn in the Arb

Matthaei-Nichols Field Services Manager Jeff Plakke talks with restoration ecology students about restoration projects at Nichols Arboretum. (Photo: Katie Stannard.)

It’s a simple and timeless concept: go outside.

During this pandemic, going outside offers restoration, recreation, respite. For U-M faculty using outdoor space at Nichols Arboretum, going outside this fall highlights those same benefits while providing in-person learning-lab opportunities during a largely virtual semester.

When asked about his freshman year experience thus far, Josh Khang, of Canton, Mich., admitted that he had considered other options: taking a gap year, or living at home and taking all classes virtually. Sitting in a widespread, distanced circle of classmates, eating lunch and conversing in German, he declared happily that “coming here and meeting new people was pretty worth it!”

For those faculty and students who come together at the Arb in whatever format, the time together is prized, and a little glimmer of normalcy during extremely abnormal times. Professor Tim James summed it up: “Students are ready to be students.” (Keep reading.)

GEO votes to accept University’s offer, ends strike

Members of the Graduate Employee’s Organization voted Sept. 16 to accept the University of Michigan’s offer regarding issues of mutual concern and end their strike, which started Sept. 8. The vote was 1,074-239, with 66 abstentions, and took place during a general membership meeting of the union.

The union represents about 2,000 graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants at U-M’s three campuses. Prior to settling, on Sept. 14 President Mark Schlissel and the University authorized seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the union strike. With GEO’s vote to end the strike, the University withdrew its unfair labor practice charge and agreed to dismiss its request for an injunction. (Keep reading.)

Research news

Questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

As researchers around the globe work to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, they are depending on volunteers of all backgrounds to sign up for clinical trials. Anna Lok, M.D., assistant dean for clinical research and Njira Lugogo, M.D., medical director of the Michigan Clinical Research Unit, answered several common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials during a recent livestream. (Keep reading for highlights, edited for length and clarity.)


Where are the patient advocates? The negative effect of social isolation on older patient care during COVID

A new study by researchers at the U-M School of Nursing found that social isolation of older adult patients from their families and providers during the pandemic compromises the quality of patient care in all settings: hospital, outpatient, and assisted living. Clinical faculty members Karen Harden, Deborah Price, Heidi Mason, and April Bigelow, clinical associate professor, discuss their findings and offer ideas to offset the negative effects of the ongoing COVID-related social isolation. Their study, COVID-19 Shines a Spotlight on the Age-Old Problem of Social Isolation, appears in the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. (Keep reading.)

Response to pandemic speeds, shifts latest industrial revolution

So what is COVID-19 doing to the Fourth Industrial Revolution — aka “Industry 4.0,” the one spurred by the rise and proliferation of a many-tentacled internet? Well, accelerating and reordering it, according to Venkat Ramaswamy, a marketing professor at the Michigan Ross School of Business. Ramaswamy spoke during U-M’s 20th annual Celebrate Invention conference. His talk on “Becoming a Living Enterprise in a Post-COVID world of Industry 4.0 Value Creation” stemmed from his research, authorship of books, and presentations on “experience innovation and lived value co-creation,” or the rise of individual, interactive relations between consumers and companies based on lived experiences. Ramaswamy discusses what’s changing now and what he sees in the decade ahead. (Keep reading.)

Podcasts and Web Series

Population Healthy

Population Health graphicPopulation Healthy is a weekly podcast that digs into important public health topics that impact our everyday lives. Produced by the U-M School of Public Health, the show brings together experts to discuss population health issues from a variety of perspectives — from the microscopic to the macroeconomic, the social to the environmental — and to explore the factors that affect the health of all of us at a population level.

Thrive with Your Family

Join this nationally recognized panel of experts for candid conversations about parenting, child behavior, mental health, and relationships during the ever-changing environment of our current global pandemic. They tackle the stressors, concerns, and difficulties families are facing. The goal is to foster a sense of hope and understanding and provide tips for maintaining a problem-solving mindset even amidst circumstances that can feel out of our control.

The Michigan Medicine News Break

This daily briefing gives an insider’s perspective on cutting-edge research news, practical health information, and inspiring stories of survival and overcoming incredible odds. All News Break content, including health news, best practices, and research insights, are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, personalized medical guidance.

Free courses, activities, exhibits offered by U-M

At home during the Coronavirus pandemic? Visit this wide-ranging resource from Michigan News, which features online learning opportunities you can enjoy right now.

In addition, U-M’s art and performance organizations and its libraries have many exhibits, performances, speakers, and other enriching resources online. Museums, galleries, and units across campus are currently working to create online content to assist K-12 and college learners. Stay up to date at

Through Michigan Online, U-M has several online learning opportunities for those who want to try something new, sharpen an existing skill, or just be enriched. U-M has a portfolio of more than 180 online learning opportunities.

Use to start streaming on-demand video lectures today from top instructors in subjects like business, computer science, data science, language learning, and more.

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