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Audience at Empowering All Workers Event

Center for Civic Engagement

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) was founded in 2018 with the enthusiastic support of Oakland University’s leadership to be a key force in OU’s community engagement efforts. The Center's work focuses on two main areas: public discourse and civic literacy.

In today’s polarized and rancorous political environment, public discourse is lacking. Many Americans find it difficult to converse about important issues; some have even lost relationships with family and friends over the inability to talk to each other.

To address this, the Center serves the OU campus and surrounding community as a “convener of conversations” about issues of public importance. OU is becoming the place where important discussions about civic life happen. But it is not enough to just convene; we strive to conduct conversations that are civil, respectful, deliberative and productive.

The Center is also committed to diversity of thought. We include multiple and varied perspectives when we gather to discuss important issues. Sometimes these diverse perspectives fall along partisan lines, but not always; other times they are simply different ways of confronting an issue.

To help improve civic literacy, in addition to providing opportunities to engage on important issues, the Center often provides fundamental and unbiased information about taking part in American democracy.

For more information on the Center for Civic Engagement, please contact Dave Dulio at [email protected].


My name is Dave Dulio and I am a professor in the Political Science Department at Oakland University. I’m also really pleased to say that I am the director of a new and exciting initiative here at OU – the Center for Civic Engagement.

Generally, “civic” refers to those aspects of our lives that involve being an active participant in our democratic society. Activities for the Center will focus on things like political participation, enhancing civic literacy, and hosting civil, respectful, and deliberative conversations about issues of public concern.

Civic engagement on our campus is not new; it has been happening here for years. In fact, that’s why we are here at historic Meadow Brook Hall. Civic engagement at OU can be traced back to Matilda Dodge Wilson, OU’s founder, who was the first female lieutenant governor or Michigan (or any state) and who served on the state board of education. One could say that civic engagement is in our blood. In more recent years, we’ve hosted a presidential primary debate and had numerous dignitaries visit campus to address our students and members of the community. We’ve also created special collections in Kresge Library featuring former members of Congress and hosted countless of discussions about issues ranging from election results to foreign policy.

The Center will work to broaden these efforts and make them more accessible, conduct them more intentionally, and support the efforts of others who engage in civic engagement efforts across campus.

One of the main goals of the Center is to establish for Oakland University as a “convener of conversations” related to issues of public importance. This could be in the form of town hall meeting focused on issues or with elected officials, panel discussions about relevant public policy issues, candidate debates, or other formats.

The opportunities to expand civic engagement work on campus are nearly boundless and extend to all corners of campus. Issues of public (and campus) concern stretch across our institution.

In the weeks, months, and years to come look for the Oakland University Center for Civic Engagement to be the pre-eminent platform for civic engagement work in Southeast Michigan.

As a “convener of conversations” for issues of public importance, the Oakland University (OU) Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has established The Dennis Muchmore Public Policy Series.

Bobby and Nancy Schostak recognized the importance of constructive conversation in an ever-changing world. Their generous philanthropy in honor of Dennis created The Dennis Muchmore Policy Series, ensuring that OU leads as a convener of conversations at the forefront of civic engagement.

This annual event features a speaker or panel discussion focused on a critical issue facing the region, state or nation. Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to hear various experts share their perspectives on the day’s most important topics.

The first event in The Dennis Muchmore Public Policy Series, “Breaking the Barrier: The Importance of Civility and Improving Political Discourse,” was held on September 18, 2023, in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms. CCE welcomed Gov. James Blanchard and Gov. Rick Snyder to further our discourse about civil responsibility, moderated by Chuck Stokes from WXYZ Channel 7. Click for a video of the inaugural event in the Muchmore Public Policy Series: Breaking the Barrier.


Congratulations, Dennis. We’re so proud to be able to support this endeavor with you at the center of a really positive discussion series here at Oakland University. Congratulations.

We look forward to much success coming from this program. Congratulations, Dennis.

On behalf of our Oakland University community, I’m just so grateful to Bobby and Nancy Schostak for their impactful gift to establish The Muchmore Public Policy Series. What a truly thoughtful and meaningful way to honor our friend, Dennis Muchmore. And to celebrate his years of civic service and his contributions to the state of Michigan and his years as a member of the Oakland University Board of Trustees. This exciting new speaker series within the successful Center for Civic Engagement will help to build and further develop active citizens and will lead to a more informed citizenry within our community. Bobby and Nancy, thank you for everything that you do for Oakland University and for making this transformative speaker series possible. And Dennis, this is such a fitting tribute. Like so many others, I am so very happy to count you as a mentor and as a dear friend. Congratulations.

Dennis Muchmore, I am so excited you are going to have a public policy series named after you. Thank you so much to Nancy and to Bob Schostak and to Oakland University for making this opportunity available. The only problem with the idea is that I didn’t think of it. I wish I had because you certainly deserve this my friend. You know, your integrity, your service to our state, to our community, throughout the country, has just been invaluable. And on a personal note, Dennis, I don’t think I would have sat in so many of the positions that I’ve sat in throughout my life had it not been for your wise counsel and advice, you’re just level-headed, logical thinking. I appreciate you so much. You are such a gem to all of us here throughout the state of Michigan and throughout the country. And you’ll always have a very, very personal place right here in my heart. I adore you, my friend, and I look forward to being able to sit in on some of the Dennis Muchmore Public Policy Series and learning even more. As the months and years go by your impact is always, always felt wherever you are. And your integrity walks into a room before you ever even get in there. You are truly, truly an example for everybody when it comes to integrity, professionalism, public policy and just a real good friend. I appreciate you, wish I could be there with you. Take care and again, congratulations.

Dennis, congratulations to you on your dedication to the great state of Michigan and to Oakland University and congratulations on The Muchmore Public Policy Series. You know how difficult it is to impact policy. The dedication, the effort, the engagement it takes; you’ve demonstrated all of those qualities over your long career. I know that you’ll be able to show the next generation how it’s done as you’ve shown me and so many others. And I just want to tell you, congratulations, and it’s a great honor for you. And I want to join your family and friends in wishing you all the best as you continue to educate and help those coming along to make sure that the engagement in Michigan is the correct engagement and that we have the right people affecting policy in the state.

Hey Dennis Muchmore, it’s a blast from your past and your favorite Senate Majority Leader here, Mike Bishop. And I wanted to let you know that back in 1989, when I was dabbling with the idea of running for elected government and leaving my practice, I thought, hmm, who do I trust? And I said, “Dad, what do you think?” And my dad said, “If you want to run for public office, you’ve got to go sit down and talk with the oracle himself,” and that was Dennis Muchmore. Now, I took my dad’s advice, of course and I did, I went and sat down with you and your team and I can’t tell you how important that was for me to begin my career that way and with you and your trusted team.

I really am, I really do feel blessed to have had that opportunity to get to know you and to have your counsel over the years. Now later, I had another meeting with a guy named George W. Bush and we were standing in line, a greeting line or something like that, and it was an awkward moment where he and I were just standing there and I said, you know, just trying to make conversation, I said, “Hey Mr. President, we’re a lot alike. My dad went into government before me as well.” And he said, “Son, if you follow your dad into elected government, expect that you will inherit when 100% of his enemies and 50% of his friends.” And while, that last number is probably closer to 20%, the words still ring true. And I just want you to know, Dennis, you are a friend, you are a trusted friend. And I, in my opinion, after serving in both state and federal government, that few have done as much as you have to respect the integrity of the institution and the legislative process and really champion good public policy. After all this time, I can really confidently say that, I don’t know how else to put it, you’re one of the good guys. And your integrity and honesty are qualities that everyone admires. I certainly do. And when you’re elected to serve, it sure is reassuring to know that there are people out there that you can trust because we all know, we all know, there are a lot of people out there you can’t. Thank you, Dennis Muchmore. And thanks to the OU Center for Civic Engagement for The Muchmore Public Policy Series, what a great idea. Now the question I have for you is, where do I sign up?

Just want to offer my thanks and congratulations to Dennis Muchmore for an exemplary public service career. Always with integrity, always offered sage advice, even to people who disagreed with him. And I know that, I was on both sides of those equations sometimes. He always offered the steady hand that we so desperately needed in a time of turmoil and troubled waters. He always, always, always understood that public service is something bigger than yourself and it showed. It showed in his results and it showed in his leadership. Dennis, I just want to say thanks for all that you have done and are continuing to do and will do in the future. I know I was a better public servant for watching you work. Thanks, Dennis. Congratulations.

Dennis, Fred Upton here. You have been a voice of reason and stability all your days. Whether it be in Lansing or seeing me back in D.C., you’ve been a guy that we all respect and it’s you know, even though you’ve somewhat retired, it’s always good to hear you almost on a weekly basis with Michael Patrick. But the recognition tonight that you’re getting this public policy series named in your honor is an inspiration to all of us to do the right thing. That’s what you’re all about. And I’m just delighted that you’ve been recognized in such a way so that we can all say, here’s to you. God bless.

It’s Debbie Dingell from the 6th Congressional District of Michigan, and I’m grateful to have a minute to salute my friend, Dennis. Dennis, there’s nothing we can do to thank you for all of your decades of service to this state and for your years as a member of the Oakland University Board of Trustees. Yes, you went to Michigan State - Go Blue, your work in the governor’s office, now to Oakland University. Every community you’re a part of is better for having had you. And most importantly, we are so thankful for your friendship. And I, very so.

Over a long and very distinguished career in both government and the private sector, Dennis Muchmore has made numerous contributions to the state of Michigan. And his deep commitment to the state and his incredible public service are appropriately recognized by Oakland University through the announcement of The Muchmore Public Policy Series. I think it’s only fitting that the Oakland University Center for Civic Engagement launch this program in Dennis’ name and I’m sure it will be a great success. Our family has a great commitment to Oakland University in that my wife, Jane, attended OU and is not only a graduate, but a graduate that has stayed closely involved with and aware of things going on there. And, I have done the same. And so, we’re delighted to hear about this new program and are especially excited that it’s being named after our good friend, Dennis. We wish Oakland and Dennis all the best and know that this program will, again, make an important difference to the student population at Oakland University. Janet and I want to congratulate Oakland University and you, Dennis Muchmore, more for the launch of this Muchmore Public Policy Series. As you know, Dennis, we met in 1974. I’ve worked with you all these years. You’ve been in and out of government, you’ve been a major advocate for Michigan, for better public service. Most recently, of course, I’ve worked with you on the Gordie Howe International Bridge with Governor Snyder. But you’ve been there all, you are the consummate advocate and public servant. I think it’s wonderful that Oakland University, a university that you’ve been devoted to is going to launch this public policy series. I look forward to being part of it, I might add. I want to congratulate you again and thank Oakland University.  And I know Janet wants to say something as well.

I do. Thank you, Dennis and Deb, for all your work over the years, for all your help with whatever we were working on and we wish you much success with your program and your great Michigan citizens. Thank you, again, and congratulations.

Jennifer Granholm here. I had the privilege of working with Dennis Muchmore for 12 years as both governor and as attorney general. And now that I’m in Washington, D.C., it is so abundantly clear, as I’m sure all of you know, that we really need more people like Dennis Muchmore to be able to serve the greater good. For public policy purposes, for the ability to get things done, to do it in a bipartisan fashion and to do it not with acrimony, not with spite, like so much of politics is these days. But to do it with intelligence and kindness and just goodness. Dennis Muchmore, congratulations on this series being a tribute to you. Congratulations to Oakland University. May it inspire so many more of the next generation of young people who want to serve our state and our country. Because we need so much more of Dennis Muchmore. Congratulations.

Dennis, congratulations on The Muchmore Public Policy Series at Oakland University. Not only have you been a great trustee but you provided great service for decades. Working with you was a special time for me. Not only did I get to see the incredible outcomes you could get by being Merlin the magician, but I got to see how big your heart was and how much you cared for every citizen of the state of Michigan. Regardless of their background, you wanted to make their lives better. This is just one way to recognize your incredible service. Thank you.

Hi, everybody. I just want to take a moment to recognize Dennis Muchmore. For decades, he’s made a real difference in the lives of so many Michiganders. And he’s helped Oakland University continue to grow and thrive and he’s served the entire state of Michigan admirably. So, I’m grateful to have had a chance to work with, negotiate with and heck even argue with Dennis on occasion. He’s always had the best interests of the state at heart, and he has had a passion for uplifting young people, and that’s why I’m so excited about The Muchmore Public Policy Series at OU. It’ll carry on his legacy of public service for the next generation. Thank you, Dennis.

As “a convener of conversations,” the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) provides the Oakland University (OU) campus and surrounding community with an opportunity to engage on any number of important issues. Past events have included candidate debates during campaign season; a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade; the formation of the Abraham Accords; and myriad other topics. Many of these programs, as well as videos of political analysis for media outlets, are available on the CCE YouTube channel.

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) serves the Oakland University (OU) campus and surrounding community as a “convener of conversations” about issues of public importance. OU is becoming the place where important discussions about civic life happen. But it is not enough to just convene; we strive to conduct conversations that are civil, respectful, deliberative and productive.

Indeed, civility is a central component of our work. The Center’s first Advisory Board crafted guidelines for discussion and engagement titled the “Tenets of Civic Engagement and Productive Dialogue” to:

  • Engage in respectful dialogue
  • Employ honest listening
  • Model civil behavior and tone
  • Support free and open discourse
  • Consider viewpoints other than your own
  • Find opportunities to agree, not just disagree

At nearly every Center event or program, the audience is reminded of these parameters as a way to set the desired tone.

The Center often partners with The Great Lakes Civility Project, led by renowned Michigan journalists Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson. They have visited campus to speak to faculty groups and students as well as a broader audience that includes the larger off-campus community.

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) also works to highlight Oakland University (OU) faculty who have expertise in a wide range of fields and topics. In our “Office Hours” series, we sit down with faculty experts to discuss timely topics in an engaging format to provide information on these important issues. The CCE YouTube channel provides recordings of each Office Hours session.

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) at Oakland University (OU) is the proud recipient of various awards that are a testament to the quality work being done surrounding engagement activities on campus and in the community. Such recognition would not be possible, however, without the extensive support of those who pave the way for the CCE’s work to be successful, including students, staff, faculty and OU leadership such as President Ora Pescovitz and the Board of Trustees.

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) at Oakland University (OU) is grateful for the students who dedicate their time and talents to advancing civic and democratic engagement efforts, bringing much-needed awareness to issues impacting community engagement in the OU community and beyond.

The 2022-23 academic year was arguably the most important and successful year that the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has had since its founding in fall 2018. The video below contains highlights of all of our activities.


The 2022-2023 academic year was arguably the most important and successful year the Center for Civic Engagement has had since its founding in the fall of 2018.

Highlights include: OU hosted three candidate debates for statewide and federal offices on campus during the 2022 election cycle, with the gubernatorial general election debate garnering OU over $1 million in advertising exposure value.

We also continued to build our reputation as a “convener of conversations” hosting multiple programs and events that brought over 5000 participants to our events in-person and virtually.

We continued our work in student election engagement and received national recognition for this work.

The Center partnered with organizations on and off campus that brought greater community awareness to OU and expanded our reach into the community including the ALL IN Democracy Challenge, the Campus Election Engagement Project, the Campus Vote Project and others focused on student election engagement. The Office of the Mayor in Rochester Hills, the Rochester Regional Chamber and the Great Lakes Civility Project were all great partners in the 2022-2023 academic year. And of course, we worked with a number of OU schools, departments and offices.

The debate work began in May when we hosted Haley Stevens and Andy Levin for a debate in the 11th congressional district primary. It was moderated by Emily Lawler from the Detroit Free Press and Chad Livengood from the Detroit News. This drew an in-person audience of more than 200 and was viewed online via the OU YouTube site by more than 3000 people.

Not originally planned for OU as the venue, WXYZ called OU at the last minute to help in a crisis when weather was going to disrupt their GOP gubernatorial primary debate. They came to us knowing that OU has a reputation for doing this work. A great team effort accomplished this in roughly two days.

In October, just before the general election, we again worked with Channel 7 and the other Scripps TV stations in Michigan. Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon visited campus for a debate that was aired in every media market in the state. OU was the only campus in Michigan to host a debate for the governor’s office or any statewide office.

This debate garnered OU more than $1 million in exposure value as the OU logo was on screen for the entire hour throughout the state.

The importance of bringing civility to public discourse has been a focus of the Center’s work from the beginning. To this end, we continued our strong relationship with the Great Lakes Civility Project, partnering again for multiple programs.

The first was specifically for the Athletics Department’s “Crucial Conversations” series.

It brought 40+ second-year student athletes together to hear from Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson about how to have critical conversations and how these can and should go beyond political discussions.

The first Civility Day saw over 150 attendees gather to engage on issues of civility with Nolan Finley, Stephen Henderson, US Representatives Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, OU Senior Vice President for Student Affairs & Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh as well as local faith leaders.

In May, the CCE began a fruitful partnership with OU’s Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership. We held multiple meetings with representatives from school districts (e.g., superintendents, principals, board members) as part of a series of workshops titled “Engaging Your Stakeholders and Restoring Civility During Uncertain Times.”

A major focus was helping school leaders create an atmosphere where civil discussion can take place around even divisive issues. This was accomplished by the CCE and Galileo coming together to offer expertise to these stakeholder groups.

The culmination of this series was Civility Day at OU in October.

Turning the workshops into action, the Center Director began working with Farmington Schools on a series of “community conversations” that the district’s Community Engagement Committee wanted to host with stakeholders in their district.

The Director worked with Farmington Schools to plan their sessions and facilitated each of the sessions (January, March and May of 2023).

Our students are getting into the act as well. Two OU students, after conversations with the Director, penned an op-ed in the Detroit News on civility, respectful dialogue and maintaining a friendship despite political differences. They are models to be proud of and we hope others copy.

We are also being recognized for this focus on civility. With civility as a stated priority, OU stands out as an example of others to follow.

One of the main elements of the Center’s work is to make OU known as a “convener of conversations” about issues of public importance.

We continued working toward that goal this year with several events that tackled important issues through stand-alone events and our Civic Engagement Office Hours series.

In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, we welcomed two nationally-renown speakers on the topic of abortion rights. After Roe: The Constitution, Rights, Policy and Politics was a Lincoln-Douglas Debate – a format specifically chosen for its civil nature – that 150 attendees and more than 300 additional views on YouTube after the event.

We also worked with the School of Nursing to bring legislators and nearly 100 nurses together for a conversation about “the future of nursing.” This also featured an advocacy training session for all attendees. Of course, a focus was tone and being civil as advocates.

We continued our partnership with the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Office of Professional and Continuing Education to bring campus and community our Civic Engagement Office Hours series.

Started during COVID-19 as a virtual event, we brought back in-person options this year by utilizing the Oakland Center’s Winter Garden area where attendees gather and we also capture passersby at lunch time. We also utilized technology to offer these in a hybrid format.

We continued to take on important and timely topics by highlighting OU faculty experts from the School of Business Administration, the School of Health Sciences, the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the Departments of Political Science and History.

We held six separate discussions about issues like the state and national economy, sustainability, the 2022 elections, the war in Ukraine and the surge of antisemitism on campuses. These brought together nearly 400 participants live and another 150 total views on YouTube after the sessions.

Taking our expertise into the community is also important. To this end, the Director gave 14 public lectures for organizations in the region including the Birmingham Chapter of the American Association of University Women, the Consular Corps of Michigan, Jewish Family Services, and the Senior Men’s Club of Grosse Pointe.

The Director also regularly provided political commentary and analysis for local and national media organizations. According to OU Media Relations this led to stories in hundreds of newspaper articles. The Director did nearly 90 TV and radio interviews during the academic year. Media Relations also provided dollar value estimates for a portion of the radio and TV interviews which totaled over $500,000 in value to the university.

In addition to the political analysis, the CCE is now looked to as a trusted source for facilitation and moderation. Examples include:

  • Farmington Schools "community conversations"
  • 2022 Rochester Regional Chamber Candidate Forum
  • Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett's Mayor's Business Council
  • Rochester Regional Chamber Community Outlook Breakfast

Since its inception, the CCE has always kept an eye on the importance of providing high-quality, non-biased, fundamental information that students can use to be active members of their democratic society.

Often this is centered on voter registration and voter turnout. The Center continued to act as the main point of contact for external, non-profit partner organizations who work in this space including the ALL IN Democracy Challenge, the Campus Election Engagement Project and the Campus Vote Project.

The CCE wrote and executed OU’s 2022 Democratic Engagement Action Plan, required for participation in the ALL IN Democracy Challenge

Based on this work, in 2022, OU received a number of awards for our planning for and implementation of election engagement activities.

OU was named to Washington Monthly’s list of Best Colleges for Student Voting based on our work in 2022, a designation only 230 schools received out of 850 that were considered.

OU was also recognized as a Most Engaged Campus by ALL IN based on our planning for 2022.

In addition, OU was named a Voter Friendly Campus by the Campus Vote Project based on our planning and work in 2022. This is a designation we have earned for three election cycles in a row.

Moreover, OU continued our tradition of having CVP Fellows on campus; these are students who assist the CCE with voter engagement work and are paid by the Campus Vote Project for their work throughout the year.

All in all the 2022-2023 academic year was exceptional for the Center for Civic Engagement. Plans are already being made to grow and build on this success in the coming years.

Political Science

Varner Hall, Room 418
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
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(248) 370-2352