Celebrating SMTD Students

One female student sitting on floor, looking up, while another female student sits on stool looking down

O’Dowd Scholarship recipients Claire Little (left) is a dance major in OU’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, while Kristin Rebera (right) is a musical theatre major. Photo by Robert Hall

icon of a calendarAugust 5, 2019

icon of a pencilBy Jennifer Hogan

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Donald and Jan O’Dowd are iconic figures in the history of Oakland University.

President Emeritus O’Dowd and his wife came to OU in 1960. A founding faculty member of the psychology department, President Emeritus O’Dowd served in many administrative positions until he was named the first president of the newly independent Oakland University in 1970.

“Being involved in OU from its earliest days was the most important thing we ever did,” says O’Dowd. “My original goal was to provide a high quality liberal arts education to young people in Southeast Michigan.”

Donald and Jan O'Dowd smile at the camera
Donald and Jan O'Dowd

President Emeritus O’Dowd played a leading role in many initiatives, including the development of Meadow Brook Theatre. The O’Dowds love the performing arts, and that passion led to the creation of the Jan and Don O’Dowd Performing Arts Scholarship Endowment to benefit students in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD).

OU students Claire Little and Kristin Rebera are the first O’Dowd Scholars. Little is studying dance at OU, while Rebera is pursuing musical theatre. 

“When I found out I was a recipient of the O’Dowd Scholarship, I just burst into

tears,” says Little. “It was so humbling. There are not many scholarships for students in the performing arts. Having this support will help me pursue a professional career in dance.”

Rebera adds, “We need artists to tell stories, to reflect and be a part of the culture. After vocal surgery this year, I wasn’t sure if I could continue. Receiving this honor was the sign I needed to continue to study musical theatre.”

The O’Dowds are proud to help SMTD students. As President Emeritus O’Dowd says, “The performing arts are vital to the world.”

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