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Dear Colleagues,

      In hopes of providing you more information about the academic issues you consider important, I am pleased to share the first edition of this periodic e-newsletter from my office.
      In each edition we plan to include concise but informative articles about academic initiatives, program updates, resource allocation, research and scholarship, individual and collective achievements, challenges we face, opportunities we can embrace and many other topics that impact the work all of us do on behalf of our students and the community.
      I'm sure you'll agree there is a great deal to talk about. At the same time, I know we all have many demands on our time attention. As such, I hope the Academic Update will serve as a quick and convenient springboard for broader conversations, as well as a source of news and information you may find interesting.
      I hope you'll take a moment to read and enjoy these communications. I look forward to hearing about any insights and ideas they inspire you to share.

Thank you,

Start-up funds help advance OU's research mission

Dr. Xiangqun Zeng – front row, third from left, stands with her fall 2010 research team.
     The collaborative commitment between the university and its academic units to advance institutional research goals has continued to grow in recent years, and there are numerous examples of considerable success it has generated.

     Over the past five years, more than $2.5 million has been allocated in research start-up funding, and this is helping to attract top-notch researchers, win external grant support for new research initiatives and build on an already strong foundation of investigative endeavor in a wide array of academic disciplines.

     This year alone, OU faculty have pursued $105 million in external grant funding, which is more than double the amount pursued just two years ago. To date, our researchers have won roughly $19 million, or nearly one-fifth, of the funding they've sought this year.

     Clearly our efforts are leading to positive outcomes, which makes our commitment to allocating research seed money all the more rewarding. Just one example of this success is the work of Dr. Xiangqun Zeng, associate professor of analytical chemistry.

     Over the last nine years, Dr. Zeng has secured more than $5 million in external funding for her work. Her current investigations seek to develop and optimize low-cost, highly sensitive chemical sensors for use in detecting the presence of explosive gases, as well biosensors used to detect harmful bacteria and monitor the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments.

     "All of this work is progressing toward real-world applications and we are just so excited that we're moving in that direction," Dr. Zeng said. "I also feel very rewarded because my students and post-docs are doing so well. They're growing as scientists and becoming very competitive researchers."

     Given the benefits to the institution, its students and society in general, Dr. Zeng feels the commitment to providing research start-up funds represents an excellent investment.

Despite budgetary challenges, board's eye is on academics

     For those who did not have the chance to attend the July Board of Trustees meeting or to follow up on board action, several agenda items may be of interest.

     Trustees approved our FY2011 budget with some level of concern about the state's continuing economic struggles and the prospect of a 3.1 percent cut to university revenue. The current budget anticipates state support at roughly $2.4 million less than the allocation the university received 10 years ago.

     Despite this, academic program and service improvements remain a priority. This year's focuses include a boost in library collections, support for the Writing Center, general education program support and a number of faculty appointments and promotions.

     Congratulations and gratitude go out to Dr. Robert Stewart, who has been appointed associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and professor of psychology with tenure, as well as Dr. David Dulio, chair of Political Science; Dr. Samuel Rosenthall, chair of Linguistics; Dr. James F. Cipielewski, associate professor of education and chair for the Department of Reading and Language Arts; Dr. Diane Norris, assistant professor and acting dean for the School of Nursing; and Dr. Gopalan Srinivasan, distinguished professor of physics and acting chair of the Department of Physics. Additionally, Dr. David Spencer has been appointed interim executive director of Smartzone Development (OU INC).

     Personnel actions also included 19 tenure promotions, 43 assistant professor reappointments and 11 special instructor reappointments. For a detailed list of personnel actions, download the board report. For more information on the university's current fiscal year budget, download the board presentation.

Honorees made outstanding contributions to American culture

     The world lost two legendary performers this year, both of whom Oakland University had the privilege of presenting honorary degrees.

Hank Jones
     Pianist and jazz legend Hank Jones died on May 16 at 91 years old. He received an honorary Doctorate in the Humanities in May 2007.

     The Pontiac native was among the most sought after musicians in jazz, having worked with countless fellow legends including Billy Eckstine, Colman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Artie Shaw, Johnny Hodges and Benny Goodman. He also accompanied Marilyn Monroe's historic performance of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy.

     With a career spanning more than 70 years and performances on more than 500 albums, Jones is recognized among the most influential artists in the development of jazz as a musical genre.

     Doris Eaton Travis – a dancer, actress, author and supporter of the performing arts and higher education – died on May 11 at the age of 106. She accepted an honorary Doctorate in the Humanities from Oakland in May 2004.

Doris Eaton Travis
     The youngest performer ever in the Ziegfeld Follies, Travis performed with stars including Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, W.C. Fields and Fannie Brice. She also was among the last surviving non-child actors who appeared in silent films.

     During the Depression, Travis began teaching at the Arthur Murray Studios of Social Dance in Detroit. She later became the owner of 18 Arthur Murray dance studios – a business enterprise she managed for three decades.

     Before bestowing the honorary degree, OU presented Travis with a Distinguished Community Service Award in recognition of her having established the Doris and Paul Travis Professor Program. Her generous contribution was single largest gift in the College of Arts and Sciences' history.

     It was with a great sense of wonder and appreciation that the Oakland University community honored both of these artists, and it is with a great sense of regret that it acknowledges their passing.

Fall 2010



Grant supports purchase of highly advanced microscope
   Dr. Frank Giblin of the Eye Research Institute recently won a roughly $120,000 grant to purchase a state-of-the-art fluorescence microscope.
   Loaded with features that will allow researchers to examine their work in completely new ways, the machine is likely to be in high demand.
   To learn more about it, view the article recently posted on the News @ OU website.

New website tracks faculty achievements

   While the university has long looked to chronicle the laudable work of the academy, the Sails of Success website now offers news of achievements all in one place. 
   The Our Faculty page of this new site features both Registry of Distinction updates and feature articles on research, scholarship, student and civic engagement, internal and external acknowledgements, and more.

Office of the Provost

Sails of Success

The News @ OU



     Office of the Provost
205 Wilson Hall
2200 North Squirrel Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
(248) 370-2190 | (248) 370-4475 fax