President’s Perspective

President’s Perspective

Winter 2016

Oakland University President
George W. Hynd.
Welcome to the first online edition of the Oakland University Magazine.

This issue of the magazine will focus on OU’s involvement in the research, treatment and academic and community programs dedicated to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Oakland University Center for Autism continues to provide leadership and support to the community and organizations such as Autism Speaks to increase autism awareness, understanding and education.

The study of ASD is closely linked to School of Education and Human Services’ (SEHS) history as one of MSU-Oakland’s first professional schools. In 1970, Dr. Sidney Graber founded the School’s area of Special Education and became its first area chair, a role he held until 1986.

OU is one of six Michigan universities participating in the Michigan Department of Community Health’s University Autism Initiative. With the health department’s $380,000 grant, OU will increase the number of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) master’s students and behavior analysts and technicians, expand behavior analysis patients within the Medicaid system and provide employment to adults with ASD.

OU is one of six Michigan universities participating in an Autism Initiative designed to increase the number of
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) master’s students and behavior analysts and technicians, among other goals.

Our research continues to establish OU as a center of expertise for adult quality of life for individuals with autism. Our community outreach through OUCARES, begun in 2004 with one soccer program, today includes summer camps, parent workshops, recreational programs and other special events.

The Autism Society has designated April as National Autism Awareness Month to celebrate the unique talents and skills of persons with autism. On April 2, the ninth annual World Autism Awareness Day, OU will light the Elliott Tower blue as part of the global community in “Light it Up Blue”. Please join us and wear blue on April 2.

OU will light the Elliott Tower blue on April 2, the ninth annual World Autism Awareness Day, as part of the global community in “Light it Up Blue.

Research attracts many graduate and undergraduate students to OU. Psychology Department Professor and Chair Todd Shackelford describes the environment as flexible, with very few hard and fast rules and a lot of freedom to choose individual research areas.

In 2012, Dr. Shackelford began the department’s first doctoral program. Of the 12 students enrolled, three are nearing graduation. In January, Michael Pham successfully defended his dissertation to become the first doctoral candidate. During February, Austin John Jeffrey successfully defended his M.S. thesis and Yael Sela defends her doctoral dissertation during the first week of March.

Collectively, the 12 students have published more than 90 research papers and presented nearly six dozen papers at national and international scholarly conferences since 2012. Dr. Shackelford said the students ultimately select OU because that is where our stellar faculty members call home.

Several hundred OU students call the Honors College home. Graeme Harper, dean of the Honors College, will launch the National Society for Minorities in Honors (NSFMIH) to focus on diversity, equity and inclusiveness in honors education and programs at a conference on campus March 9-11. I encourage University faculty, Academic advisers and Admissions officers and those who support diversity in honors education to attend.

Among the University’s Diversity Initiatives is our annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference, under the leadership of Patricia Dolly, senior advisor to the president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Faculty, staff, students and community members will focus on the important issues of diversity that span campus life, the workplace and beyond. I encourage you to attend this year’s conference on March 16.

On campus, the need for additional student housing continues to grow as we evolve from commuter to residential campus. A perfect example is the 100 percent occupancy of Oak View Hall within a month of its opening in 2014.

To positively impact enrollment, retention and graduation, the Board of Trustees approved funding for a newest residence hall ― currently named OU Student Housing #9. We will break ground this fall to construct 250,000 additional square feet with capacity for 750 beds on the south side of campus. OU Student Housing #9 is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

The recent appointment of Scott Kunselman as chief operating officer (COO) will provide me with greater opportunity to fulfill my resource development and University ambassador roles. It will also provide the Provost greater opportunity to advance the overall academic reputation of the University through an enhanced focus on teaching, scholarship and research.

As Scott coordinates and facilitates leadership of administrative operations across campus, he will look to empower the same creative energies that helped shape and refine our Strategic Plan. As he states in this Magazine: “The number one thing I view as critical in my management style is empowerment. My fundamental objective as a manager in my whole career was to ultimately make sure that the team in place is stronger than me and knows what to do on a daily basis and don't get in their way.”

I am confident that Scott will contribute to the valuable services and achievements that one can expect from a preeminent University.

As always, thank you for the valuable contributions you provide in making Oakland University the outstanding institution it is today. I look forward to seeing all that we can accomplish by working together as a University community.

George Hynd
OU President