Board approves transformational construction initiatives

Board approves transformational construction initiatives
A rendering of the proposed new housing structure to be completed on the south side of campus by August 2018.

The Oakland University Board of Trustees has approved two major construction initiatives intended to help transition the nearly 60-year-old institution from a commuter to a residential campus. The projects also promise to attract higher-achieving students and boost student retention and graduation rates.


Fresh on the heels of opening the 504-bed Oak View Hall student housing facility on the north side of its 1,443-acre campus, Oakland has retained architects, engineers and construction managers to create a more than 220,0000-square-foot, 750-bed facility on the south side of campus.


The new housing structure – which will include an up-to 600-seat dining hall, classrooms, meeting spaces and more – is expected to be complete in August 2018. The housing project has an estimated cost of $77 million.


Demand for student housing on campus is soaring, as was evidenced in 2014 when Oak View Hall was filled to capacity less than 24 hours after the student housing application process opened.


The second project the Board approved to enhance campus life for OU students – and thereby raise enrollment, student retention and academic success – is contracting for architecture and engineering services for an approximately 60,000-square-foot expansion to the University’s 140,000-square-foot student union, Oakland Center.


Welcoming nearly 1.7 million visits each year, Oakland Center currently serves as the "living room" of OU’s campus, providing year-round opportunities for campus involvement and social engagement.


An estimated $44 million project to add dining space, banquet meeting rooms, offices, kitchen areas, retail space, and student support and service areas, will relieve currently overcrowded conditions that OU’s student body recently identified as a top concern impacting campus life.


Both construction projects have been planned in alignment with Oakland University’s newly adopted Strategic Plan, which includes a mission statement identifying the institution as “a preeminent metropolitan university that is recognized as a student-centered, doctoral research institution with global perspective.”


Abundant research points to enhancement of campus life supporting greater levels of institutional success, primarily because students who live or spend greater amounts of time on campus have a greater sense of community and become more fully engaged in academic, cultural and social engagement activities.


In order to finance the new housing and student union expansion, as well as manage a number of smaller campus renovation projects, the Board elected to issue bonds totaling approximately $124,000,000 this year. Bond advisers and campus administrators noted that the measure falls well within the University’s bonding capacity.


With more than $200 million invested in campus facilities over the last five years, Oakland continues to address substantial need for additional classroom and academic support space.


With this in mind, the Board has approved contracting for architecture and engineering services for the expansion of Elliott Hall – an important step in addressing plans to add new teaching and programmatic space for the School of Business Administration.


Last fall, Oakland submitted a capital outlay request to the State of Michigan seeking support for the expansion of Varner Hall, which is predominantly occupied by programs within the College of Arts and Sciences.