Community Engagement

Making a Global Connection

Barry M. Klein Center for Culture and Globalization

A woman writing on a whiteboard

Chiaoning Su, Ph.D. (Photo Credit: Robert Hall)

Advancing Oakland

icon of a calendarSeptember 10, 2021

icon of a pencilBy David Klinger

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“Cultural differences are an asset, not a limitation.”

This important statement serves as a founding principle of the Oakland University Barry M. Klein Center for Culture and Globalization. Currently, champions of cultural understanding are joining forces from across OU’s campus to create a faculty steering committee for this new center.

The Klein Center was made possible by a transformative estate gift from Barry M. Klein, a devoted alumnus, supporter and advocate for the university, who passed away on January 18, 2020. Klein’s wife, Linda Walsh-Klein, has played an instrumental role in defining the vision for this gift which, in part, established the center and set a course for several innovative new programs in culture and globalization.


A photo of Barry Klein
Alumnus Barry Klein (Photo Credit: Rick Smith)

The Barry M. Klein Center for Culture and Globalization is a robust, multi-faceted program that will attract renowned scholars to enrich the educational experience and social impact of OU. Klein’s legacy will elevate OU’s standing in the international academic community and contribute to a more complete understanding of the social and cultural forces that impact contemporary
global issues.

The center will be housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, but will partner with programs across campus to create enriching and transformative experiences for faculty, students and the community.

Within the center, funding from the Klein Estate will establish the following initiatives:

  • Barry M. Klein Visiting Chair
  • Barry M. Klein Distinguished Faculty Awards
  • ​​Barry M. Klein Student Research Program
  • Barry M. Klein Culture and Globalization Program Support Fund


The steering committee for the Klein Center has been tasked with bringing Klein’s vision to life at Oakland University. Chiaoning Su, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations, is a member of this new committee and says she looks forward to exploring the center’s goals with both students and the community.

Culture and globalization are not only her personal research interests, but also her lived experience. Su was born and raised in Taiwan, moved to the United States in 2007 and started teaching at OU in 2016. Since joining OU, she has acted as a cultural ambassador to help introduce Taiwanese culture to the community.

“Globalization is my life journey,” she says. “I am honored to serve the Klein Center in developing serious conversations around this topic and introducing students to the importance of global connection and shared humanity.”

Su believes the center will build on existing efforts developed by OU’s International Education Department, including study abroad, by facilitating important dialogue around issues like global governance and cultural differences.

She believes the time is now for students to examine culture and globalization, stating that recent trends have shown a rise in populism and increasing “us vs. them” rhetoric in society. It is important to teach students the value of being part of a global community.

“It is my hope that the Klein Center will help cultivate student interest in global culture and international affairs,” says Su. “In addition, the center will serve an important role in increasing OU’s visibility internationally and will encourage cultural exchange and international partnerships for the benefit of all scholars.”


Klein graduated from Oakland University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. As a self-described member of the 1960s counterculture, he said he appreciated the intellectual freedom and diversity he found on OU’s campus.

Klein joined the Oakland University Alumni Association (OUAA) shortly after his graduation in 1968 and established a regular presence on campus thereafter. He served on the OUAA Board and is a former director of the OU Foundation. He received the OUAA Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984 and the OUAA Spirit Award in 2003.

In an interview with OU Magazine, Klein explained his decision to give back to his alma mater:

“I really believe that Oakland University is the most important higher education institution in the metro Detroit area … Our graduates have an enormous impact on the future of the state’s economy. Because of this, I think it’s incumbent on anyone with any philanthropic tendencies to consider giving to Oakland,” he said.

In addition to the Klein Center, Klein’s estate gift also funded the George R. and Helen Klein Memorial Scholarship and the Barry M. Klein Scholarship Endowed Fund.

A planned gift, or estate gift, is a great way to leave a lasting legacy for a cause that is meaningful to you. Learn more about the benefits of planned giving.

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