Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Alumnus bequest benefits students, faculty
Since his arrival on Oakland University’s campus nearly 40 years ago, alumnus Barry Klein has made Oakland a priority in his life. A 1968 graduate in sociology, Klein recently made a significant gift bequest that will benefit both students and faculty for years to come.
The Barry M. Klein Endowed Chair in Culture and Globalization and the Barry M. Klein Endowed Scholarship benefiting Honors College students will advance both research and quality of education. That potential impact is a large part of what motivated Klein to give in the first place.
“I hope the endowed chair (in sociology) will help faculty and students study how different cultures can understand each other,” he said. “I hope they’ll be able to do the kind of research that will improve world peace and call attention to OU for its contribution to this type of work.”
The endowed chair is the first of its kind in the College of Arts and Sciences. The gift will allow the college not only to hire another professor but also recruit an exceptionally high-caliber scholar who can contribute to national and international dialogues on issues such as religion and world tensions as well as economic systems and democracy.
Klein hopes The Honors College scholarship will support the recruitment of more top-tier students who, without financial assistance, might choose to attend college elsewhere. The gift also will help The Honors College achieve two of its long-term goals to increase enrollment and exert an even greater influence on the intellectual life of the university’s undergraduate program.
The scholarship will be given annually to students in good standing at The Honors College who do not qualify for other financial aid and for whom a scholarship will enable them to pursue their academic goals.
President Gary Russi expressed the gratitude that future students and faculty will no doubt have for Klein and his gift to OU. “We are deeply grateful to Barry for his leadership at Oakland over the years and for his visionary gift that will bring distinction to the university and the College of Arts and Sciences and provide unique learning opportunities for students.”
Klein’s memories of his own undergraduate experience remain strong. He came to Oakland in 1964 when the school only had about 1,000 students “and our freshmen class made up half that number,” he said. A self-described member of the counter-culture, Klein was an active student who savored the intellectualism that pervaded the campus even in its earliest days.
“I had a wonderful experience at OU,” he said. “We had PhD graduates from Yale, Cornell and Harvard teaching our classes. There was a wide diversity of students and faculty, and the atmosphere around campus was one that was open to discussion about anything. There’s still that atmosphere of freedom of thought and exchange of ideas today.”
Within a few years of graduation, Klein rejoined the Oakland community as part of the OU Alumni Association. He served as president of the organization from 1983-84 and received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, OU’s highest alumni honor, for outstanding alumni leadership and service to the Alumni Association and university. He has been an OU Foundation director since 1991 and is a member of its Community and Government Relations Committee.
In 1997, Klein contributed another significant gift to the university when he endowed the George R. Klein Memorial Scholarship in the School of Education and Human Services for post-master’s specializations in counseling. Today, Klein serves as chairman of Barry M. Klein Realty Enterprises LLC in Farmington Hills, Mich. The company celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.
Klein also is a member of Oakland University’s Golden Oaks Society, which recognizes donors who contribute between $1 million and $5 million or make estate gifts between $2 million and $10 million.
“Giving through an estate plan is relatively simple and does so much,” said Dennis Sheridan, OU’s director of planned giving. “By designating a portion of their assets by making a bequest through a will or trust, individuals can designate gifts for a specific purpose such as scholarships, programs or capital needs, create named funds to honor or memorialize family members or make unrestricted gifts.”