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Friday, May 6, 2011

Kresge seeing indications of rising student initiative

Students participate in a study session at Kresge Library.
After a slow but steady decline in student visits even as the university's overall student population was growing, Kresge Library has more recently seen that trend reverse itself in dramatic fashion.

From a low of nearly 295,000 visits during 2006-07, head counts skyrocketed to roughly 387,000 last year. Meanwhile, circulation totals have risen from of a low of 58,777 in 2007-08 to nearly 84,000 this year.

The library's interim dean, Dr. Frank Lepkowski, said current-year statistics are on pace to surpass even these totals, which he sees as a very encouraging sign.

"The more students we have coming into Kresge, the more they can take advantage of the many resources we make available to support their studies," he said. "The quality of our collection has vastly improved over the last four or five years, and I think students are surprised with the extent and quality of the technology we have."

An important addition likely drawing more students to the library is the Information Commons, which offers a variety of learning support technology. Visits reached more than 130,000 last fall, which was nearly double the number seen the year before.

Dr. Lepkowski said it has become commonplace to see students immersed in their studies, either individually or working in groups. On one occasion he saw eight students using four white boards and numerous laptops to sort their way through a set of seemingly challenging equations.

"That was inspiring. I mean, that's why we come to work everyday," the interim dean said. "We librarians love to see students applying themselves. We love to see them working hard and learning."

Face-to-face instruction, record-numbers of research consultations, growing online resources and even the new café located on the second floor also are helping to draw students.

"We have an attractive facility here and we're doing our best to keep updated with resources, technology and amenities," Dr. Lepkowski said. "Given that, I certainly hope we'll continue to see this kind of growth."

OU has strong foundation for growth in partnerships 

As the university moves forward with the Creating the Future II initiative, it is abundantly clear that faculty, staff and students have done tremendous work to build a strong foundation of collaboration with the broader community.

Faculty in the School of Education and Human Services, for example, are involved in the Learning Achievement Coalition – Oakland, which has both students and educational leaders in all 28 Oakland County school districts exploring social factors the enable some students to succeed while inhibiting others to do the same.

Meanwhile, the OU Task Force for University Initiatives is working to, as Dr. Ilene Ingram notes, "connect passion with praxis" by making available information about partnerships that focus on community improvement and professional development initiatives.

Other partnerships have faculty and students advancing the study of lean processes through work with more than a dozen external organizations; pursuing internship, professional employment research opportunities with several Pontiac community organizations; and promoting the teaching profession through an ambitious articulation agreement with Utica Community Schools.

In the SBA, faculty have taken a lead role in connecting with business professionals and organizations, social institutions and other entities through regional and global partnerships, participation in local, regional and national events, research initiatives and student exchange programs.

Graduate students, for example, recently worked with peers in India to research means by which Oakland County can market itself in the renewable energy sector. Similarly, the Experiential Learning and Innovation, CIBRE Consulting, CIBRE Summer Internship and Applied Technology in Business programs have paired students with businesses both large and small to brainstorm strategies that will lead to success in the 21st century economy.

In the School of Health Sciences, the Exercise Science program presently has 71 connections with local, regional and national organizations that provide internships and practicums to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as research and scholarship opportunities to faculty.

"The research efforts with William Beaumont and Henry Ford Hospitals are mutually beneficial as we can help advance knowledge in our fields and inform our teaching with current, relevant understanding of emerging concepts," said Program Director Dr. Brian R. Goslin.

Similarly, the Physical Therapy Program is currently affiliated with more than 130 hospitals, clinical sites and health care facilities that offer clinical internship, teaching and research collaborations.

Dr. Patricia A. Wren, director of the Health Sciences and Applied Health Sciences programs, says active relationships with external organizations help strengthen the curriculum, enhance the generalizability of research and make the school and the university more credible in the broader community.

As result of partnerships that faculty in the Occupational Safety and Health program have established with numerous external organizations, the school and the university has benefitted from new research opportunities, and professional development and mentoring activities, not to mention scholarship opportunities and substantial donations of research and lab equipment.

These are, of course, are just a small sample of the hundreds of beneficial partnerships that university faculty and staff in the college and all six schools have created and continue to maintain. As CTF II looks to expand this work even further for the benefit of all involved, there is little doubt that OU's collective knowledge and experience will lead the way to still greater accomplishments.

Getting to know yOU!
Editor's note: As the Oakland University community continues to grow, Points of Interest provides an excellent venue to learn about the people in it. In this edition, we'll learn more about Michael Kramer, vice chair of the Oakland University Board of Trustees.

Michael Kramer
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Detroit and went to public schools. It was great because I grew up in one of those neighborhoods where all of your favorite 20 buddies live within a few blocks. Then I went to Country Day for high school, Miami of Ohio for my undergrad, and then to Wayne State for law school.

Tell us about your family. I have a wonderful wife of 42 years, Zina, a 38-year-old son, David, who works in insurance in Chicago, and is the father of my two grandkids. I also have a daughter, Lisa, who's 36 and has probably the best job in the world, because she works for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.

Share a fond memory or favorite aspect of OU. I was appointed to the board just two and a half years ago, but I've liked everything about OU since I've gotten involved. I've enjoyed the intellectual challenge of dealing with a lot of issues in these tough economic times. I've also enjoyed the various activities and athletic events. The truth is just that I enjoy being around young people and I get a thrill every time I'm on campus.

What's on your reading list these days? "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand, which is the story of a WWII juvenile delinquent who became an Olympic runner and Army hero. Also "Game Change" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, which is an inside look at the 2008 presidential election campaign.

What do you do in your spare time? I like to travel, golf, read and stay active in the community. I'm currently a vice chair of the Oakland Family Services board. I've traveled a great deal both for work and pleasure, and I'd say my favorite places have been Italy and Florida.

The POINT | Office of the President | Board of Trustees | The News @ OU

News worth noting

University honors
its newest distinguished professor 

For those who may have missed the exciting recent news, Dr. Eddie Cheng, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been named OU's 2011 Distinguished Professor – an honor recognizing his tremendous contributions to student teaching and research. To learn more about this distinguished honor, view the News at OU article.

Congrats to our campus standouts 

OU faculty and staff continue to distinguish themselves as leaders and scholars. The following links are to articles highlighting the exemplary work of just a few: 

University continues to expand student enrollment and outreach efforts 

The success of OU's concurrent enrollment programs at Macomb Community College, Saint Clair Community College and Oakland Community College has fueled expansion of this important university initiative. The most recent addition to our growing family of such programs is a partnership with Mott Community College in Flint. To learn more about it, view the recently posted news article.

University policy updated

Important changes have been made to university policy in several areas. Those interested can review policy in detail at

   Updated Policy:
   •  Policy #1340, Mail  Services

    Deleted Policies:
   • Policy #703, Career Development (For Staff Only)
   • Policy #715, Employee Injury and Compensation Claims

Campus updates posted at The POINT

Open Budget Forum follow-up links and university strategic planning information are among recent updates made to the president's information and news site, The POINT. Those seeking information on any campus administrative issue are encouraged to contact the president's office.