Oakland University is half a century old and we’re all looking back on how it has grown — and grown up — in these five decades. But more than just milestones and accomplishments, going back over OU’s history is an endeavor that has proven to be, above all, uplifting.
In this issue, we talk with so many who tell stories of inspiration, discovery and purpose in their experience with OU. So many early alums speak of Oakland as a marvelous experiment in education and enlightenment — a labor of love that made many careers and life paths possible. We heard stories of Matilda Dodge Wilson, who expected excellence in everything and set that standard for OU from its inception. And stories also of people like Lowell Eklund and Hollie Lepley, who set so many young men and women on promising educational courses, as well as fond tales of OU educators. The likes of George Matthews, William Hammerle and Helen Kovach-Tarakanov (to name a few) who never thought to expect anything but the very best from their students, who were not above throwing faculty and student parties in their basements and who, despite degrees from the nation’s top institutions, never wanted to be called “Dr.” In short, these memories tell the tale of an extraordinary educational experiment, a close-knit family and a mission that has led OU into the 21st century.
Those early underpinnings set the stage for an institution that never shies away from a challenge and has never understood the notion of limitations. (This is an institution, after all, that had the nerve to hold ivy-league level classroom debates in renovated chicken coops.) We prepare for Oakland’s next 50 years with a current student body of nearly 18,000, ambitious plans for preparing the upcoming generation of leaders and a respectful and thoughtful nod to our unique and “fear no challenge” past.
Lillian Lorenzi, editor