Pioneer Profile

A Calling to Service that Endures

After a distinguished career at Oakland University, Ron Kevern continues his work of service to others throughout retirement.

A man smiling.

Pictured in his Arizona home, Kevern continues to find ways to impact and improve the lives of those around him.

Pioneer Club

icon of a calendarJuly 10, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Catherine Ticer

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Step into Ron Kevern’s Scottsdale home and one of the first things you will notice is his Oakland University Honorary Alumni Award. Although he moved to Arizona in 1993 —
the day after retiring from OU as assistant vice president for student affairs — he’s proud of his association with the university and it remains a big part of his life.

“Not a week goes by when I don’t talk to an alum,” says Ron who first came to OU in 1968 as assistant director of placement and alumni relations. “OU was an unbelievable place for me. I learned as much as I gave.”

Favorite and Significant Memories

Ron’s favorite memories of OU are numerous, and new ones continue to be made through the many friendships he has nurtured throughout the years. With a Christmas card list that includes more than 300 OU alumni, faculty and staff, he begins writing his annual cards in October in order to be ready for the December mailing.

He’s been on the guest list for weddings of countless former students and even officiated a student’s wedding on top of Clint Eastwood’s mountain in California. A frequent campus visitor, Ron and his wife Marilyn marked their 80th birthdays seven years ago at Meadow Brook Hall. All three of their children and 11 grandchildren were on hand for the celebration.

Retirement brought a special surprise when former OU student and professional singer Adam “Aejaye” Jackson (SEHS ’86) delighted guests with a performance during the party. Jackson, who considers Ron a mentor, would honor him again by traveling from Los Angeles to sing at the funeral of Ron’s beloved wife five years ago.

Some memories remain bittersweet, such as the time a student dying of AIDS called Ron to his bedside for a final visit. His bonds with students are unbreakable and reach far beyond campus.

Humbling Honor

The significance of Ron’s impact on the university community continues to build and will be felt for generations. In appreciation for the wonderful contributions he has made and the lives he has touched over the years, a scholarship endowment was established in his name. The Ron B. Kevern Scholarship is awarded to an OU student who graduated from Rochester Community Schools. “I am very proud and humbled to be honored in such a way. It’s something that I contribute to and when birthdays and Christmases come, I tell my children I would like them to donate to the scholarship,” says Ron.

Enjoying Retirement

An active retirement has allowed Ron time for enjoyment and the ability to continue to serve others. “Every day I wake up and think, what am I going to do today to make a difference?” says Ron. And he has a new calling — mentoring prisoners to help them prepare for life beyond confinement.

He cultivates his love of music daily by playing one of his two baby grand pianos and stays fit by walking four miles a day and swimming. He says the hardest part of his life is staying home due to the COVID crisis, and he misses his frequent visits to the neighborhood coffee shop where the kids call him their “favorite grandfather.” He is looking forward to a less restrictive future with travel on the horizon, including a trip back to OU.

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