Thursday, April 9, 2009
OUTAS program marks 15th anniversary of serviceBy Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant
The Oakland University Trustee Academic Success (OUTAS) program is celebrating 15 years of academic excellence, innovation and service. Established in 1994 by the Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI), the program is nationally recognized for fostering cultural diversity and helping prepare students for lifelong success through professional counseling, peer mentoring and a strong commitment to leadership development.
“The OUTAS program is designed to provide a diverse student body with the support services and tools to be successful,” said CMI director Omar Brown-El, noting that the program typically awards 30-35 scholarships a year to incoming freshmen who have demonstrated leadership and academic promise. “We’re very pleased with the results we’ve seen and with what our students have given back to the community.”
Over the years, OUTAS students have earned a reputation for exceptional achievement, garnering numerous awards, including the Matilda R. Wilson Award, Alfred G. Wilson Award, OU Human Relations Award and 45 other internal and external honors.
The students routinely host diversity workshops, participate in community service projects and serve as ambassadors for diversity awareness. More than 40 have received the prestigious Keeper of the Dream Award in recognition of their efforts to promote diversity and cultural understanding.
In addition, OUTAS students are active members of the campus community, with 40 percent of them serving as officers in various student organizations. Their retention and graduation rates have consistently outpaced those of other OU students and more than half of them graduate within five years. Current OUTAS student Naved Ali credits the program with helping him thrive throughout his career at Oakland.
“The financial support has helped a lot,” said Ali, a senior double majoring in philosophy and economics. “Being involved in the peer mentoring program and becoming a peer mentor myself has made me more aware of events and opportunities on campus and helped me succeed as a student.”