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COVID-19 Stories: The Michigan Ross Community Steps Up to Make a Positive Impact and Help Others Through the Pandemic


From the frontlines of healthcare to their home offices around the world, students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Ross School of Business have stepped up to lead and support those in need since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michigan Ross is a community committed to making a positive difference in the world, and this deep sense of purpose is evident in the tremendous response by our community to make an impact and support others through this crisis,” said Scott DeRue, Edward J. Frey Dean of Michigan Ross. “The actions and contributions by our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are inspiring, and I’m incredibly proud of what we continue to achieve together during this challenging time.”

Below are some of the many impactful stories illustrating how the Michigan Ross community is making a difference at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, and beyond. This list will be updated as new stories are published on the Ross News Blog.

Alumni organize significant donations for U-M hospitals

After living through the worst of the crisis in their country, around 100 members of the Michigan Ross Chinese Alumni Association helped bring the U-M Health System closer to COVID-19 preparedness with the donation of $42,000 and much-needed personal protective equipment. The donation supplied critical medical equipment to the U-M Health System and was part of a larger campuswide fundraiser organized by Chinese alumni, which secured $120,000 in monetary gifts as well as thousands of N95 masks, face shields, googles, protective coveralls, and more. 

Alum leads Henry Ford Health System’s response

When cases first emerged in China, HFHS’s incident response commander Betty Chu, MBA `13/MD `95, and her team started a planning process and daily huddles with specialists to discuss how they would handle the virus if it came to the U.S. Chu has been at the center of the emergency response plan the health system has used to effectively manage the crisis as cases spiked in Metro Detroit. 

Faculty launches new website to support Michigan’s small businesses 

Recognizing the shutdown’s immense financial impact on the state's small businesses, Josh Botkin, a Michigan Ross faculty member and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Zell Lurie Institute, created an easy way for patrons to support their favorite local establishments. His non-for-profit website, Save MI Faves, allows users to easily find and purchase gift cards to nearly 400 restaurants, bookstores, salons, and other shops across Michigan. 

Business fraternity fundraises for the Ann Arbor community

To ensure that, when they return to campus, students can still visit many of their favorite places and organizations, Ross undergraduate students organized virtually to launch fundraising efforts for Ann Arbor’s small businesses and nonprofits. The BBAs created a GoFundMe page and started a fun “Instagram Dare” fundraiser to raise money for longstanding Ann Arbor organizations, including Avalon Housing, Moon Cafe, BTB, and the Michigan and State theaters, among others.

CPO and U-M develop new teach-out for thriving during this challenging time

Now through May 25, learners can take advantage of a free online "Thrive in Trying Times Teach-Out," which is presented by the Center for Positive Organizations at Michigan Ross and the U-M Center for Academic Innovation. This six-week learning event, which includes approximately four hours of content, is accessible via Michigan Online on learning platforms Cousera and FutureLearn.

Alums’ Argus Farm Stop leverages local farmers’ connections to fill grocery gap

While the supply network is still adapting for larger grocery players, Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor, founded by Kathy Sample, MBA ’89, and Bill Brinkerhoff, MBA ’89, did not have to change their supply chain from local farmers. By making a quick pivot to online ordering, these two Ross alumni are now serving over 1,400 online customers.

Professor’s new website provides businesses guidance on how to reopen safely

Scott Page, John Seely Brown Distinguished University Professor of Complexity, Social Science, and Management and Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration at Michigan Ross, has developed a website featuring 20 strategies that leaders of organizations can use to resume operations while preventing further spread of the virus. The strategies Page proposes are based on his expertise in theories of networks and complex systems.

Alum’s app is strengthening the fight against hunger

As the number of people facing food insecurity continues to rise during the coronavirus pandemic, the usage of a mobile/web app, created by Jack Griffin, BBA ’19, that connects individuals to free meal sites has soared. During the first four months of this year, FoodFinder, has connected 115,000 people to food — compared to 14,000 people in the same period last year. At its peak in March and April, the volume of users surged to 3,000 a day, up from an average of 700 daily before the crisis.

BBA's new podcast is keeping students excited about business 

Michael Sikand, BBA ’22, found himself with more free time in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He decided to put that time to good use by launching Our Future: Looking Beyond with Michael Sikand, a podcast for young leaders that explores the key questions driving the future of business, technology, and policy. In each episode, Sikand interviews executives and entrepreneurs, including many Michigan Ross alumni.

Alum’s innovative program is targeting food and financial insecurity across the U.S.

Get Shift Done, co-founded by Anurag Jain, MBA ’95, employs affected hourly workers in the hospitality industry to perform shifts for nonprofit organizations and institutions in need during the COVID-19 crisis. In the two months since its launch in North Texas, Get Shift Done has provided more than ten million meals at more than 60 locations across ten U.S. cities, registered more than 8,500 workers, and raised nearly $7 million to pay those workers.