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     This periodic e-newsletter is designed to provide information about important academic issues including academic initiatives, program updates, resource allocation, research and scholarship, individual and collective achievements, challenges and opportunities.

CETL offers vast array of support and learning opportunities

Dr David Lau, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, speaks during the center's recent ribbon cutting ceremony.
     For those in academy who were unable to attend the recent dedication of Oakland University's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, a quick recap of the programs and services it offers may be of value.

     Among resources it will offer to help enhance faculty members' teaching strategies will be workshops, seminars, speakers, panels, conferences, individual consultation, faculty mentor relationships, dissemination of teaching evaluation strategies and promotion of on-campus resources to help improve student learning. Plans for the center also include the creation of an online institute featuring a variety of learning resources.

     Thanks to the contributions of Senior Associate Provost Susan Awbrey, Center Director Dr. David Lau and the many others who've helped make this initiative a reality, the CETL will provide comprehensive development opportunities for all faculty at Oakland University.

     In general, the center will support faculty efforts to improve teaching by creating and academic environments that allow all OU students to achieve their full learning potential. Another goal will be to promote a culture that values and rewards effective teaching.

     Both full-time and part-time faculty will be able to take advantage of the CETL, and OU's master teachers will support its mission by being available to share their expertise.

     To learn more about the center and how it can further empower the many skilled and accomplished educators in the Oakland University academy, visit

Future Academic Leaders at Oakland University

     Editor's note: This is the first installment in a series of article that will feature accomplished, respected and ambitious individuals who are relatively new to the academy.

Associate Professor of Biology Susmit Suvas works in his lab.
     When Assistant Professor of Biology Susmit Suvas decided to come to Oakland University in 2007, he had opportunities to take positions at more widely known institutions of higher learning. In fact, some friends and colleagues advised him to pursue the latter.

     Despite this, Dr. Suvas elected to advance his academic career in a place where he saw the greatest potential for future opportunities.

     "I see OU as a growing university, and that was a very big factor in my decision to come here," he said.

     Though his father had hoped Dr. Suvas would become a medical doctor and he, himself, originally wanted to go into business, a college course that introduced him to the complexities of human immunological systems fascinated him.

     "There is a lot we don't know yet in immunology, and I became interested in the things that are still mysteries about the human body," he explained.

     Shortly after joining OU, Dr. Suvas began research examining the role of the herpes simplex virus I in causing chronic inflammation of the cornea, which can eventually lead to blindness. Based on encouraging experimental results suggesting that inflammation can be inhibited, Dr. Suvas obtained at $400,000 National Institutes of Health research grant last year.

     "I am very happy with what I am doing," he said. "I feel that what we are doing is as close as you can get to the miracles of science."

     Dr. Suvas' professional aspirations are greater than his own work, however. He wants to see the university continue to build on it strong reputation and profile within the academic community.

"For my part, my goal is to help make the biology department as strong as it can be. We want to be very strong in terms of the research, but also making sure that we don't neglect the teaching," he explained.

     "I love teaching immunology. Sometimes when you are working with students, it's amazing to see how they view things from different angles. That is good for them, and it is also is also very helpful to me in my research."

Student research awards offer diverse array of advantages

     Academically successful graduate and undergraduate students who'd like to tackle the challenges and feel the excitement of academic research have the chance to do just that through the Provost's Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Awards.

     Recently, a total of 28 students won up to $2,000 each to pursue independent research projects in a variety of disciplines. To be singled out for this unique opportunity, these aspiring individuals had to develop high-quality proposals with significant potential impacts in their field.

     Amanda Stahl, a junior majoring in biochemistry and minoring in Spanish, has had a "wonderful and incomparable" experience applying the concepts and techniques she's learned in the classroom. "Instead of just learning how an analytical procedure is performed, I had the chance to experience it first-hand," she explained.

     Of course, the Office of the Provost does not expect students to go it on their own with projects that can last up to a full academic year. A central object and advantage of the award program is to promote faculty-student interaction and, as a result, enhance students' learning opportunities. As such, each award applicant is required to have a full-time faculty sponsor and mentor.

     Chris Donnelly, a senior majoring in biology, has received two Provost's Undergraduate Student Research Awards for projects in separate labs. As a result, he has come to better understand scientific, grant and technical writing. "In addition, working on these grants has helped me establish closer bonds and better understand the projects that I have worked on, while taking a little bit of the economic burden of my projects off of my principal investigator."

     Where undergraduates can take advantage of this opportunity to engage in research long before most of their academic peers, graduates can secure much-needed support for their work toward the completion of a thesis or dissertation.

     Eric D'herde will be using his award to help complete a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics, which he feels will open a lot of doors both at universities and in the industry. He also feels the work will expand scientific understanding in the field and enhance OU's standing in both the scientific and broader communities.

     Program guidelines – which broadly describe research as "any creative, critical, scholarly or empirical activity that expands, develops or clarifies knowledge or artistic abilities" – allow virtually any successful and ambitious OU student to apply. And as several students have suggested, the potential rewards are nearly limitless.

     "Without this award, I would not be able to do nearly as much in the lab as I have been able to," Stahl said. "More importantly, it will allow me to present my research at the American Chemical Society conference in Indiana this upcoming June. Not many undergraduate students get the chance to present at a conference such as this!"

Winter 2011



OSO wraps us inaugural season with a memorable performance

   Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Cunningham, the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and the Oakland University Symphony Chorus performed Mahler's artistically demanding Symphony No. 2 in C minor at the Dearborn Civic Center this month.
   Winning high praise for the performance, these musical institutions have done wonders to enhance the fine reputation of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, and the university as a whole.
   The concert capped a tremendously successful inaugural season and foreshadowed its tremendous potential for artistic and institutional growth.
   Dr. Cunningham also represented the orchestra, MTD and Oakland University well on WDET's Craig Fahle show just prior to the concert. To hear the interview,
click here and advance the program progress bar to 1:23:00.

Kudos to faculty standouts
   Congratulations to OU's Model UN team under the supervision of Dr. Paul Kubicek stellar showing at the 2011 North American Model UN Conference in Toronto.
   Also deserving of high praise is
Dr. Haworth Hoeppner, who recently won the 2010 Ohio State University Press Award in Poetry.
   Kudos to
Dr. Laura Landolt, who shared her expertise on political unrest in the Middle East with local media.

New series features the many faces of OU's faculty and staff

   A new series of articles for the News at OU spotlights faculty and staff in short and engaging profiles.
   For a quick and interesting read about a colleague near you, visit the
Take 5 archive page frequently!

Looking to get your important and laudable stories told?

   Deans, department chairs and program directors are invited to learn more about how university news services can help spread word about notable achievements, coming events and more.
    To schedule a short, but productive meeting with a Communications and Marketing representative and to receive an information packet on available services, please contact Dave Groves at or ext. 2759.

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