Thursday, August 22, 2013
Take 5 with Graeme HarperBy Katie Land, news editor
Composed of a diverse array of faculty, staff and administrators, the Oakland University community is unique, creative, and dedicated. As part of a continuing effort to explore the various roles and lives of our Golden Grizzlies, the News at OU website presents a special interview series. We invite you to share these stories and “Take 5” with OU.
Take 5 with Graeme Harper
Graeme Harper is the dean of The Honors College. Since joining the Oakland community in August 2011 as director of the college, Graeme has launched several new initiatives, including The Global Imaginarium, the Honors College Inspiration Awards, the Making Discoveries colloquium and helped establish the Center for Undergraduate Research Leadership (CURL). He holds doctorates from the University of East Anglia in the U.K. and Sydney, Australia’s the University of Technology. Before coming to OU, he served as research professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch and as director of research for the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at Bangor University in Wales. Graeme lives in Rochester Hills with his wife Louise and sons Myles and Tyler.
1) What drew you to Oakland and its The Honors College?
A few years ago I was living in Alabama and saw the position listing at Oakland. It was early in the morning, about 5:30 a.m. I looked at the university, thought “Wow!” and sent off an e-mail to compliment the program. About ten minutes later, before 6 a.m., Senior Associate Provost Susan Awbrey responded. I thought immediately this was really a great university to be part of.
Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that a lot of graduate students struggle with getting high-level exploratory research experiences early on. They need more and better research experiences at undergraduate level. I felt that OU’s Honors College had the building blocks for developing those opportunities.
2) Where did you grow up?
I was born in Britain but left when I was 2 years old and grew up in Sydney, Australia and on the beaches of the northern New South Wales coast. I lived in Europe for 18 years, mostly in the UK, and have lived all across the U.S. in California, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, and Maine. I have always liked how the U.S. education system works, and believe it can be, and often is, the best in the world. But I have never felt so strong about an institution as I do here. Oakland combines aspiration with clear traditions of excellence, both of which are very important from the start.
3) Tell us about the new HC headquarters, located in the student housing facility that will be complete in fall 2014. What can students look forward to?
Oakland is now a destination place. People will see a brand new, forward-looking residence here at OU that can compete with any university facility anywhere in the world. And I think the new hall is a perfect opportunity for more collaborative ventures. The HC academic space will allow us to collaborate with people outside of the HC in social spaces, in study spaces, and in meeting spaces, and to support all OU students and faculty that way. Some of our HC students will live there, and it will provide a truly great networking space. Also, the HC offices tend to stay open late and have lots going on, and the new facility will offer a cafe and store open 24/7, so that will be a great advantage to everyone here at OU.
4) Where do you like to vacation?
I don’t really take vacations, just because I get seriously bored. But I do like to drive. I can drive for days, and have travelled across the country visiting universities, which strangely perhaps is my version of fun. From Iowa City to Boston, I like to go anywhere you can drive. It doesn’t feel like work when you enjoy yourself.
5) What do you enjoy most about your job?
I always enjoy meeting students who have determination. Success in school is not as much about innate intelligence as it is about determination. It’s not about what you’re good at, but about what you do. It’s about having aspirations and chasing them, even if the route is not always as straightforward as you might like. Also, the best thing is that The Honors College is a college that can connect with everyone. It is a very real privilege to serve the academic community right across our university.