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Eastern Michigan University professor's loss fuels passion to create compassionate classrooms with grant

Eastern Michigan University professor's loss fuels passion to create compassionate classrooms with grant

Eastern Michigan University professor's loss fuels passion to create compassionate classrooms with grant

PR Newswire

YPSILANTI, Mich., Feb. 28, 2024

YPSILANTI, Mich., Feb. 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of a personal tragedy, Eastern Michigan University Professor Ron Flowers is channeling his grief into a powerful initiative to foster compassion within the campus community. Backed by a $50,000 grant from the Flinn Foundation, Flowers is leading the charge to create an environment where students feel secure, supported, and understood.

Eastern Michigan University (PRNewsfoto/Eastern Michigan University)

"A year ago, we began to look at the growing need for mental health support services on campus and found students are experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, depression and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts," said Flowers. Viewing this as a crisis, Flowers has taken a public health approach, establishing a campus-wide task force called "Building a Community of Caring."

The task force is charged with developing and implementing a strategic mental health action plan to improve students' mental and behavioral health at EMU. The task force will partner with groups like the JED Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation's teens and young adults, to develop and implement mental health educational opportunities across campus.

"Through a series of speaker events, we want to make the topic of wellness and mental health an ongoing conversation on campus," said Flowers. "It's okay to need support and help; we do that by discussing it."

According to Flowers, implementing compassion into the classroom is as simple as letting students know you care and are there to talk to them. He also believes providing resources for students to access and repeating these messages can help.

Emerson Storlie, an EMU graduate student who advocates for creating compassionate classrooms, said it's important students are also seen as individuals. "Education is not the only part of the college experience," said Storlie. "We also need the space to develop emotionally and mentally. Giving us that space outside and considering that while we may seem okay in the classroom, we may have some stuff happening outside that may affect us academically." 

The compassionate classrooms initiative is highlighted in a recent episode of the University's podcast series, "Enlighten U."

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University's rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

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SOURCE Eastern Michigan University

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