Around Campus

Around Campus

Winter 2017

New Board Members

Setting sights high. Oakland University trustee Tonya Allen’s bright outlook for OU’s future


What inspired you to become an Oakland University trustee?

I’m a big believer that higher education is transformational for our state and our people. If we want to be prosperous on both counts, our universities have to be in tune with the incoming student body — locally, nationally and internationally. Oakland University is better positioned to do this than any other institution in Michigan.

How do you envision OU driving prosperity regionally?

I think of the university as an engine for economic growth and prosperity for us all. People who will never even set foot on this campus benefit from the things happening here. We have a responsibility to be bolder, more innovative, and more inclusive of the talent in our region.

As an OU trustee, I’m interested in making sure we have a strong advocacy voice in Lansing to support our campus so that we can decrease student tuition.

Do you foresee a natural synergy between your role as an OU trustee and your role as president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation in Detroit?

I am passionate about improving the K-12 system so that all students have access to college and higher education. Our faculty and students actively work with local school districts and produce the second largest numbers of educators. Additionally, the University’s charter authorizing office is providing quality choices to families. These efforts are all aligned with the Skillman Foundation’s efforts to improve quality schools.

My hope is that both institutions are equipping students to be prospective OU students, who contribute to our state’s growth and leadership.

What is your vision to create a better OU?

We are a premiere university in the state and the region; I want everyone to know this. I want our name to be synonymous with excellence and aspiration, attracting students and faculty by being a place of ideation, creation and innovation.

Looking back, moving forward. Oakland University alumna, trustee Marianne Fey fondly remembers her alma mater and plans for its future

What encouraged you to become an Oakland University trustee?

I spent my very important formative years here at OU as an undergrad and I loved it. Over the years since I earned my bachelor’s degree, I’ve been engaged in a variety of University activities from contributing on advisory boards to chairing the alumni board. I’m thrilled to take the next step as a trustee! It’s really a matter of finding the places and things that inspire you and making those a priority in your life. I’d call this a labor of love.

How do you hope to propel OU forward as a trustee?

I would like to see this University get more of the credit that it deserves. It is a gem in the center of Oakland County, with easy access throughout the region. There are really fantastic things happening here and you don’t need to be a student to enjoy so many of the programs and events on campus. But of course, the students have all of the best opportunities to explore themselves here.

What is the most important quality you bring to your role as an OU trustee?

I’m not coming in with a specific agenda. I am here out of my pure passion for the University and have an open mind. I want to first understand how I can best serve the University community as a trustee.

As an OU alumna, tell us one of your fondest OU memories.

One of my jobs as a student was as a gallery associate at Meadow Brook Art Gallery- now called Oakland University Art Gallery. One summer, the gallery curator Kiichi Usui, asked me and a friend to inventory every piece of art on campus. He gave us a camera and a letter that allowed us entry to anywhere on campus searching for art. We heard lots of stories and met great people. Definitely the best college job ever!

That sounds like a great way to get to know campus.

I have such a love for the campus. I had four fantastic years living at Oakland University and really got to know every square inch of the campus at the time. Of course, it looks very different now.