By Sheila Waterhouse, BEC Communications Director

I have a spreadsheet that makes me happy. I scroll through cells and columns and it warms my heart. It is a list of hope for me. We all need that these days, and oddly one of the places I find it is in this spreadsheet.

In this work from home, social distancing, surreal landscape of spiraling economies and shifting academic experiences, my spreadsheet shows me that our humanity is the central theme in decision making right now.

It is a list of our partner organizations – mostly recognizable F500 companies – something for many people wouldn’t necessarily be a warm fuzzy space. 

But my list contains responses from organizations and how they are contributing during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

A big part of my job is identifying strategic messages to highlight industry partnerships at U-M. 

We serve as the front door for industry at the University of Michigan, connecting corporate partners to faculty and programs across campus for research partnerships and strategic giving opportunities. 

We did, at least, and we will again. It’s a whole new world for industry now in light of the novel coronavirus public health crisis. That’s led to some serious pivoting as we adjust to what partnerships can and can’t do in the short term, and think about what the ramifications might be for medium and long term connections. And in this process, our partners have been amazing.

I know, because they’re in my spreadsheet.

My spreadsheet lists all of the heartwarming ways companies of all sizes are banding together to support all of us in this time of need.

In the news, commercials and social media, we hear about companies pivoting their manufacturing to build much needed PPE for health care workers. We hear about big gifts to support hospitals and public health programs and small businesses. 

Then there are the companies who have done so much at U-M in this crisis. Organizations are helping support students by providing virtual internships and virtual programs on campus. 

They are sponsoring events that were big campus programs but are now virtual meetings. 

They are giving generously to Michigan Medicine. They have dug deep into supplies and found PPE in their facilities and sent it to our hospitals. They are funding research initiatives to battle COVID-19.

The heroes in this crisis no doubt are health care and essential workers who allow the rest of us to stay home and stay safe. The heroes are also leaders of companies that are committed alongside the rest of us to find solutions and to help others. 

As we partner with industry at the University of Michigan, we are thankful to have so many of these companies joining in the fight and supporting neighbors far and wide.

So thank you to the corporations, financial institutions, organizations of all kinds who have responded overwhelmingly with support to systems and programs big and small, national and local, and particularly here at the University of Michigan.

You are on my spreadsheet, and I’m so grateful for you.