Billie DeMont pioneers evening and summer classes for working students

Billie DeMont pioneers evening and summer classes for working students

1970s photo of BillieDeMont handing a book to a student
Billie DeMont, right, recognized that not all students learn the same. Knowing that many Oakland students also worked and some even owned their own businesses, she pioneered what is now the Bachelor of Integrative Studies program, as well as night classes and the spring/summer terms. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

Up until the early 1970s, evening classes were not offered at Oakland University. This made it difficult for part-time students who worked full-time jobs to pursue college degrees. Then Associate Provost Billie DeMont noticed this issue and worked hard to come up with a long-lasting solution.

In 1976, DeMont was named Director for the Center of General and Career Studies which offered a Bachelor of General Studies. Today, this program is called a Bachelor of Integrative Studies.

She proposed this program with working students in mind. With this proposal, evening classes, Saturday classes, off-campus classes, certificates, and continuing education were all available to students.

Not to compete with the existing academic departments, DeMont said this program would be for a “new breed” of student.

“Not everyone wants to learn the same things. This program is terrifically flexible. The student has maximum decision making power over their degree,” said DeMont.

The program began with 24 students in the mid 1970s, but has grown immensely since then.

Also as Associate Provost, DeMont spearheaded the spring/summer sessions and the evening programs in her time at OU. She seemed to notice the students who were “interested in learning as a lifestyle” so she created multiple programs to accommodate those individuals.

Some faculty at the time believed that a Bachelor of General Studies was a watered-down version of a degree, but DeMont pushed further.

She explained that these students may already be employed or even own businesses. They were not looking for a “big break,” but a chance to improve their communication, reading and writing abilities.

An advocate for the working student, DeMont spent her time at OU influencing and changing courses and degrees to better suit a wider range of educational pursuits.

To this day, OU offers a Bachelor of Integrative Studies for students who know the type of classes they want to take and the type of degree they want to build. This degree as well as evening classes, Saturday classes, off-campus classes, certificates, and continuing education, has all greatly benefitted OU students in their educational endeavors.

Billie DeMont, along with other influential women, made lasting impressions at OU which still positively impact the day to day quest for higher education as a golden grizzly.

Women's History Month at OU:

Oakland University's Women's History Month series will feature the women who have made an impact at OU. The features are written by students in a feature writing class in the Journalism Program in collaboration with OU's Social Media Team and the Women's Leadership Institute. Follow the series on OU social media channels — #ThisIsOU.

See a list of Women's History Month events