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Monday, September 30, 2013 - SHS dean honors son’s legacy through memorial bridge
By Katie Land, news editor

Oakland University’s dean of the School of Health Sciences (SHS) Kenneth Hightower considers his place at Oakland University to be more than a job. To him, it is a home, an investment, and a part of his family.

Alongside his wife Diane and son Adam, Dr. Hightower made his connection to the university permanent through a very generous and very personal gift – the naming of the Benjamin K. Hightower Bridge to Better Health.

A symbol for the SHS and the research it fosters, the Bridge to Better Health also serves as a memorial to the Hightower’s son Benjamin, who lost his life at a young age.

“The School of Health Sciences and Oakland University help students surpass societal barriers of racial, economic, cultural, and health disparities to become excellent citizens,” Dr. Hightower said. “The Benjamin Hightower Bridge reflects Benjamin’s attitudes of achievement by overcoming obstacles.”

The Hightower family chose to name the bridge outside Oakland’s Human Health Building (HHB), so that Dr. Hightower can walk across it every day as he heads to his office.

Benjamin Hightower was only a junior in high school, looking ahead at colleges and degree programs when his life was tragically cut short. His family hopes to share his legacy and memory through the bridge.

The Benjamin K. Hightower Bridge to Better Health is one of the first named gifts for the HHB, which was completed in 2012.

The donation was made as a planned gift through the All-University Fund Drive (AUFD). The Hightower family also made donations to fund an initiative called “Bridge the Gap,” a physical therapy program that benefits doctoral students and stroke patients in the community.

The HHB is a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly academic facility that houses the SHS and the School of Nursing. The 172,000-square-foot building features a large auditorium, nine classrooms, a clinic, substantial teaching lab space, and faculty and administrative offices.

More opportunities exist to support Oakland projects through named giving or community initiatives. For more information about planned giving at Oakland, visit or contact Planned Giving at (248) 364-6129 or

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with more than 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.