New center to coordinate and foster Oakland University’s sustainability efforts

OU Credit Union’s $1M gift provides seed funds for sustainability center, campus initiatives

climate summit, sustainability, CASE-OU, environment, OUCU, philanthropy, gift, advancement

icon of a calendarJune 2, 2023

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New center to coordinate and foster Oakland University’s sustainability efforts
The $1M OUCU gift will support campus sustainability initiatives, and explore innovative ways OU can be at the cutting edge of sustainability.

With the goals of deepening its impact as a steward of the region’s resources and elevating its role as an advocate for sustainability, Oakland University will establish the OU Center for Environmental Sustainability and Ethics.

A $1M gift from the Oakland University Credit Union provides seed money in what university leaders expect will be the launch of OU-based sustainability initiatives that attract the support of private and publicly traded businesses, government agencies and foundations throughout the region.

“We are committed as a financial institution to the principles of sustainability and a staunch supporter of the bedrock university in our region,” said OU Credit Union President and CEO April Clobes. “OU is well-positioned to be a catalyst in developing education programs, research and policy recommendations as communities learn how we can work together to create a sustainable society and planet.”

check presentation

The OUCU gift was announced by April M. Clobes, left,
OUCU President & Chief Executive Officer and the
check was presented by Steven J. Kurncz, secretary of
the OUCU Board of Directors at the June 2 Michigan
Climate Summit held at Oakland University. Oakland
University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, right, applauds in recognition of this important gift.

The gift was announced June 2 at the annual climate summit coordinated by the Michigan Climate Action Network, and sponsored by OU Credit Union. The summit was held at the Oakland Center on the OU campus.

“We are greatly appreciative of the OU Credit Union for their ongoing funding support, and to their visionary gift that provides vital funds for the expansion of  sustainability initiatives,” said OU President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz. “We are stewards of our resources, and responsible for making sure we continue to develop our communities so all people can enjoy economic opportunities and the highest possible quality of life.”

The $1M gift will support campus sustainability initiatives, and explore innovative ways OU can be at the cutting edge of sustainability. In addition to establishing the center, a director of sustainability position will be supported from the gift funds. Collaboration and ongoing input from faculty, staff, students and the university’s facilities management team are keys to the success of the initiative, said President Pescovitz.

In January of 2021, a preliminary assessment tracked the university’s sustainability practices in the areas of academics, research, facilities, utilities, energy, waste management, biodiversity, food and dining, institutional investments, transportation, and well being and work. Last spring, Oakland University and Oakland County formalized a partnership that called for utilizing faculty experts in the development of a countywide sustainability plan. The county is in the process of hiring a consultant to oversee the plan.

Until now, sustainability efforts on campus have been promoted by the Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment (CASE-OU), the facilities department and Student Congress. The OU Credit Union investment allows for enhanced coordination of  campus efforts within a strategic framework whereby the university’s progress in a range of sustainability areas can be measured and eventually earn accreditation from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability for a comprehensive campus sustainability rating system.

For the past six months, the sustainability strategy team has developed a framework that calls for input from faculty, students and staff throughout the process.

Members of the OU sustainability strategy team include Mozhgon Rajaee, associate professor, School of Health Sciences; Chris Reed, director, Oakland Center; Scott Tiegs, professor, biological sciences, College of Arts and Sciences; Lily Mendoza, professor, communication and journalism, College of Arts and Sciences; Jeff Insko, professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences; Steven Stanton, associate professor, management and marketing, School of Business Administration; Amy Banes-Berceli, associate provost; Steve Mackey, VP, Finance and Administration; Mike Westfall, VP, Advancement; and, Frank Provenzano, Office of the President.

Updates and details of the university’s sustainability initiatives can be viewed at



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