Advancing Oakland

Eight new endowments established by OU faculty, staff and retirees

A woman standing in a room with exercise equipment behind her

Deborah J. Doherty, PT, Ph.D.


icon of a calendarMay 8, 2023

icon of a pencilBy Catherine Ticer

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Lighting the path for future scholars, Oakland University current and former faculty and staff shared their generosity by providing eight new endowments – gifted during the 2022 Oakland University Fund Drive ending December 2, 2022.“We are most grateful for the love and support our OU family has provided to our students as they embark on their educational journey,” says Michael Westfall, OU vice president for university advancement. “These endowments leave a lasting legacy for generations to come and support our students with the financial gifts necessary to reach their academic goals.”

Those gifting recent endowments include: Michele and Karl Plattenberger; Ledong Li; Deborah Doherty; Christine H. Stiller; De Witt S. Dykes, Jr., and Silverena Kanoyton; Karl D. Gregory; Margaret J. Afheldt and Kevin A. Ball; and Darrin M. Hannah.

Michele and Karl Plattenberger Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Scholarship Endowment

This award supports the mission and vision of the university’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) – a free membership organization open to all students and faculty. Michele is a special lecturer in Japanese at OU and continues her work in the automotive industry, bringing real-life experiences into the classroom. She earned a BSE, systems engineering, SECS; a BSE, electrical engineering, SECS; and a BA, East Asian studies, all from OU. She holds a master of engineering management degree in engineering/industrial management from the University of Detroit Mercy. A highly valued educator, she is a 2017 recipient of the excellence in teaching award. Karl also works in the automotive industry and has been involved in global international efforts for over 20 years and values the importance of diversity. Their vision for this endowment is that it will empower SWE members to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion in a world with gender parity and equality in engineering and technology. The couple previously funded a Japan study abroad scholarship through the OUFD.

Oakland University Endowment for the Ledong Li Global Education Legacy Endowment Fund

Ledong Li, Ph.D., retired associate professor in the department of reading and language arts, bestowed this gift in celebration and support of the 36-year long (1986-2020) international educational partnership between Guizhou, China and the OU’s School of Education and Human Services (SEHS). The endowment will make one or more annual awards to benefit undergraduate and graduate students in education, who are studying abroad in Asia or conducting international and cross-cultural research projects and/or academic activities that enhance global understanding and education cooperation.

Li was the coordinator of China programs at OU’s School of Education and Human Services, during which time he supervised numerous international projects and programs for teacher training in the areas of English as a second language. He also supervised the university’s joint master’s degree of arts in teaching, reading and language arts, and K-12 school teacher and students international cultural exchange. Li also served as an OU admissions ambassador and president of OU’s Chinese Friendship Association.

Doherty Oncology Rehabilitation Scholarship Fund

A dedicated educator, Deborah J. Doherty, PT, Ph.D., taught physical therapy students in the DPT program for 12 years before retiring in 2022. Through this endowment, she leaves a lasting legacy for future DPT students – assisting them with much needed scholarship support. Doherty’s passion and research focused on oncology prehabilitation with an emphasis on survivorship programs and rehabilitation. She has a special interest in supporting students majoring in physical therapy with a focus on oncology rehabilitation.

Chris Stiller Endowed Scholarship for Physical Therapy

A retired physical therapy faculty member from the School of Health Sciences, Christine H. Stiller, PT, Ph.D., is the owner of Pediatric Health Consultants, Inc. She was honored as the 2022 recipient of the Hall Award in recognition of her exceptional 39-year career as a physical therapy faculty member. Stiller established this scholarship to support future DPT students who demonstrate an interest in pediatric physical therapy. Her scholarship will assist deserving students, passionate about assisting children and improving their functional abilities in all settings.

De Witt Dykes, Jr. and Silverenia Kanoyton Endowed Scholarship

Educators De Witt S. Dykes, Jr. and Silverenia Kanoyton, Ed.D., both spent a significant part of their careers in higher education. Dykes taught African American History, American history, history of African American women, history of the civil rights movement, African American urbanization, history of American families and history of American cities at Oakland University for more than a half century. In 2019, he was honored with the Michigan Chronicle’s “Men of Excellence” award. Kanoyton spent many years at Wayne State University teaching the history and philosophy of education and administering student support programs. She received the “Women of Excellence” award from the Michigan Chronicle in 2017. Honoring the significance that history plays in shaping perspective, attitude and cultural norms, the donors established this scholarship to support students studying history or social sciences.

Margaret J. Afheldt and Kevin A. Ball Physical Therapy Scholarship

Passionate about helping students successfully prepare for their careers in health, Margaret J. Afheldt and her husband Kevin A. Ball, Ph.D., developed this scholarship for students in OU’s doctor of physical therapy program. Afheldt, a physical therapist at Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital, knows first-hand the importance physical therapy plays in health and recovery and sees the OU program as an essential training ground for future physical therapy professionals. Her husband Kevin, who as a faculty member taught in physical therapy for 11 years, is the dean for OU’s School of Health Sciences. Through this scholarship, the couple will assist physical therapy students, offsetting their tuition expenses as they prepare to help future patients enjoy an enhanced quality of life.

Dr. Karl D. Gregory Endowed Scholarship

An accomplished professor, leading economic advisor and lifelong activist for racial equality, civil and human rights, Karl D. Gregory, Ph.D., established this endowed scholarship to help students achieve success in their education. Retiring as a distinguished professor of economics of OU’s school of business, where he served from 1968 to 1996, Gregory was also an assistant chancellor for urban affairs under Chancellor W.D. Varner, the founding chief executive of MSU Oakland, now named Oakland University. His professional statements and appearances before audiences locally, nationally and internationally were frequently focused upon in public media which helped to strengthen the community service mission of the university. And his passion for helping students achieve success was instrumental in the development of diversity and equality opportunity initiatives at OU. His scholarship will open the door of opportunity to students needing financial support, giving special consideration to first generation college students.

Darrin M. Hanna Research & Development Award

A professor of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering at Oakland University and founder and chief architect of NextStep Solutions, Darrin M. Hanna, Ph.D., created this endowment to provide students funding toward their scholarly research-related activities.

A caring educator and OU advocate, Hanna has given his time and shared his expertise in a multitude of ways. He has served the university as a volunteer admissions ambassador and strengthened the university with his service as an advisor to several student groups and the Theta Chi fraternity. Dr. Hanna also serves as Director of the Engineering Institute which has engaged OU faculty with hundreds of working professionals in advanced lifelong learning. He is the recipient of the 1999 Wilson Award, SECS Exceptional Achievement Award, and Bragg Award for High Mathematical Achievement.

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