Welcome to OU Magazine’s Letters section. In this issue, we took a little different track with this feature, sharing some memories of Oakland’s 50-year history that students, alumni, staff and others have shared with us. We hope you enjoy them. If you’d like to add your own memories of Oakland, log on to the 50th website and choose “Personal Memories.”
I have so many wonderful memories of Oakland (painting the infamous rock, late night studying sessions, student org meetings, appealing to the board to bring cable on campus, planning for a new rec center, and of course the non-OU sponsored social events)! But what is even more profound is what OU has given me ... Oakland is where I charted my career path with outstanding faculty, met most of my closest friends, and began a friendship that led to marriage. Thank you Oakland!
Judy Hegelund (Wiegand), SBA ‘95
I have so many memories from my years spent at Oakland; good, bad, sad, hilarious, and on and on. I went there for an education, and it became my home. I remember being part of the “dream team” at the rec center the first year it opened! I loved working in the res halls as an RA and Hall Director. I’ll never forget when we played U of M at the O’rena in 1998. Of course leading up to the game, we spent the night on the cold cement in front of the ticket window to line up for tickets ... as great as the game was, that night in line comes pretty close to topping it! Unfortunately, the second memory that comes to mind is September 11, 2001. … we all know the country united that day, but I'll never forget the students at OU being there for each other and all of us moving forward from that tragedy together. I am extremely proud to call Oakland University my alma mater.
Amy Pecha, CAS ‘01
I am the first member of my family to attend college and obtain a degree and I am proud that my degree is from OU, the value of which increases continually as OU becomes more and more recognized. I recall working on a student project analyzing the contraction of the beer industry in a class taught by Professor Cardimen. Stroh’s Brewery executives attended our presentation and provided refreshments. I also recall the fine instruction I received from Dr. Karl Gregory and Dr. Sid Mittra. My career started in health care finance at St. Joe’s in Pontiac with the counseling of Professor Ron Horwitz and it has continued in the financial service arena even now as I am employed, and proudly so, by Oakland University.
Robert Saunders, SBA ‘83
People often say that Oakland University is not about the place — but about the people. Although I met some of the greatest people in my life through Oakland, I honestly believe that you can find great people anywhere. But you can’t find this place ... this history ... this special OU identity. Oakland University — THE PLACE — helped to shape me. When I arrived on the campus in the fall of 1978, I didn't comprehend how relatively small and young our school was in comparison to others. I learned this fact through my participation with the Forensics (competitive speaking) Team, as we traveled to LARGE universities throughout the country. … We began to sense our underdog status, and the invisible position thrust upon us made us fight that much harder and dream that much bigger. “Other schools WILL know Oakland University!” we vowed with pride. And eventually, they did. In 1983 the Oakland University Forensic Team placed in the National Top Ten — and continued to do so for the next several years. … Oakland University — THE PLACE — made me believe that if you worked hard enough, it didn’t matter how young you were or how small your beginnings ... great success could be realized.
Kathryn (Kent) Rhadigan, CAS ‘83
Great memories from OU were the Culture Internationale event held in the 1960’s. Also climbing the barb wire fence to Mrs. Wilson’s Meadow Brook patio. Also tours of her home and finally the grandiose ‘63 graduation ball.
Gail Avery-Short, CAS ‘65
I was horrified to see the look of delight on my parents’ faces when they read aloud the January 14, 1957 headline in The Detroit News, MSU WILL START CLASSES IN ’59 ON WILSON ESTATE. “Just up the road,” they said. “Now you can go to college right in your own backyard. And live at home!” In that moment, my dreams of glory as a student at the University of Michigan — and my hopes for a decent education were dashed. My “own backyard” was a pasture with nothing resembling a university and the thought of being educated in one of several chicken coops while living at home was almost too much to bear. Fast-forward 50 years: What I thought was surely the end of my life became the beginning of a glorious one. In collaboration with the most extraordinary and innovative teachers I could ever imagine, the lucky charter class of 1963 was able to help shape a university while we laid out the roadmaps of our lives. With my OU education I have had — and am having — a wonderful life. My life and career in New York has been fulfilling because I have been able to jump into new projects and “start from scratch” without fear or hesitation. I have been on the ground floor of building new museums, professions, and foundations. I saw those chicken coops become libraries, and I saw the pasture become a university campus. Without doubt, this inspired my life.
Mary Stewart Lanier, CAS ‘63
Matilda Dodge Wilson died on the first day of classes in my freshman year. She would be so proud of OU today. For me in the late 1960s, Oakland University was the delicious exploration of the question mark — the zenith of academics coupled with the grounding of practical learning. The faculty had impressive credentials. The classes were demanding. Chemistry, math and French language studies meshed seamlessly (not effortlessly, however) and I felt very much a part of the OU charter that sought to make students with rough, abrasive edges who questioned everything. My OU education was perfect for me at the time and I continue to draw on that learning in the corporate world. A special thanks to Professor Don R. Iodice for his impeccable dedication to his students and their mastery of the French language, culture and linguistics. He taught his students excellence through example and that all learning is or will be useful at some point. Fifty golden years for OU. Here’s to hundreds more.
Pamela Richards, CAS ‘71
My favorite OU memory was when a group of us from Oakland University Student Congress, along with other students at large, went to Lansing, lobbying on behalf of the university. We were speaking out to our representatives against an unfair proposal to give three universities special consideration above the others for funding; our trip was complete with a tirade of about a dozen of us picketing on the capitol steps. We ended up randomly running into Governor Granholm as she was coming to the capitol — it was a great opportunity for us and for Oakland to be seen and heard by our leaders — getting a free lunch wasn’t too bad either!
Jordan Twardy, Junior, CAS
Letters to the Editor for publication should be mailed to our editorial offices, 433 Varner Hall, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309-4401. Or e-mail your letter to OUMag@oakland.edu. Please label as Letter to the Editor and include your name, address, a phone number or e-mail address. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.