Pioneer Profiles

Pioneer Profiles honor the achievements of Oakland University's retired faculty and staff. Discover more about the following pioneers by clicking their photos below.

Special thanks to Joan Rosen for writing our Pioneer Profiles. Joan is a professor emerita of the Oakland University department of English and an active member of the Pioneer Club.

Joan directly impacted the educational experience of countless students during her 37 years of teaching. She continues to make an important difference in advancing writing in all disciplines at OU and, with husband, Robert, provided a founding grant to establish the Oakland University Writing Center. The Rosens also contributed to the Joan Rosen Writing Studio and the Rosen Fellowship for Undergraduate Writers and Their Supervising Faculty.

William Schwab

Professor Emeritus

This year as Professor Emeritus William Schwab gets ready to mark his 100th year, he took time to reflect on his extraordinary three-decades long OU career and his continuing commitment to the university and the students it serves.

Now living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Bill says his mind is occupied in many pleasant ways and the sunshine, warm weather and blue skies make for an ideal living situation. With a 32-foot wide floor to ceiling window in his fifth floor apartment, he enjoys gorgeous views of the city, along with a few inches of the Atlantic Ocean. He stays attuned to current events and happenings with daily reads of The New York Times, his local paper and several magazines. Bill is also a frequent user of the Broward County library.

Read Schwab's full story.

Miron Stano

Professor Emeritus

Although Professor Emeritus Miron Stano retired from Oakland University in August of 2019 after 42 years and moved to Florida, his connection to the university – where he was a highly regarded economics and management professor in the School of Business Administration (SBA)–remains strong.

He continues to collaborate on research with a current faculty member and has given Zoom presentations for the school of nursing’s doctoral week program on topics related to health economics and nursing. He has also virtually attended economics department recruiting seminars and evaluated candidates.

Read Stano's full story.

Linda K. Pletz

Executive Secretary in the Office of Academic Affairs

Linda K. Pletz served for 13 years as Executive Secretary in the Office of Academic Affairs until her retirement in February, 2019. During those years she made many friends in both the administrative and academic spheres. She also was interested in the students at Oakland. This interest led her to join the OU Host Family Program sponsored by ISSO (International Students and Scholars). She was matched with a Chinese student whom she mentored and who became her lifelong friend. In 2015, Linda traveled to China to attend “her student’s” wedding. The two are still in touch and hope to see each other sometime in the not too distant future.

Read Pletz's full story.

Gail Ryckman

Manager in University Human Resources

Gail Ryckman joined Oakland University in 1974 and liked it so much that she stayed for 42 years. She claims with a laugh that she outdates most of the buildings on campus, but her career is one that demonstrates perseverance worthy of note.

Gail was hired as a clerk in the accounting office. While initially she did not plan to stay at OU long-term, she excelled in her role as an accounting clerk, which led to increased responsibility and promotions. In the early 1980s, she transitioned to working in personnel records with University Human Resources (UHR). Gail found her new role rewarding and enjoyed the contributions she was making to the university. For this reason, she decided to make her career at OU.

Read Ryckman's full story.

Jackie and Bob Wiggins

School of Music, Theatre and Dance and School of Education and Human Services

Jackie and Bob Wiggins retired from Oakland University in 2018, after almost 25 years of teaching and service to the university and the surrounding community. Bob said that they knew little about OU when they came in 1994 to look for a house for Jackie and their daughter. He had applied to the School of Education earlier, but did not think what was offered was the right fit for him so he was ready to take a position elsewhere. Then he received a call to come in for an interview as a new faculty slot had been approved. When he was asked about making a plane reservation he said, “Not necessary; I am already here. I can come tomorrow.” It is ironic that the School of Education had no idea that Jackie had already been hired in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Read the Wiggins' full story.

Mel Gilroy

Judd Advisory Board of the College of Arts and Sciences

Mel Gilroy has been and always will be representative of the Oakland spirit. His life is a story of total commitment to this institution.

Mel came to OU in 1968 when he was just 17-years-old, as a member of Charter College. He reminisces about the camaraderie in that class, all of whom lived together and studied together in the dormitory. He still maintains friendships made at that time. Some of those friendships included the students who were active in the Barn Theater, OU's first theatrical enterprise. He performed in "Indians" with students Patricia Roan and Randy Judd, who became life-long friends.

Read Gilroy's full story.

Rhonda Saunders

Board of Trustees coordinator

“When you love the job you do, you never spend a day at work.” This paraphrased quote from Barry Alvarez, longtime coach and athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, sums up the career of Rhonda Saunders at Oakland University.

For 33 years, from 1986 until 2019, Rhonda served as paralegal, office manager, Board of Trustees coordinator, Freedom of Information Act officer, presidential search assistant, and immigration liaison. She performed many of these tasks at different times, as well as some of them simultaneously. While many of us do not fully understand the intricate work that takes place in the Office of Legal Affairs, General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, one has only to talk to Rhonda to discover how challenging all of these aforementioned tasks can be.

Read Saunders' full story.

Jo Hairston

Executive Associate to the President

After a remarkable 32-year career at Oakland University, it was not easy for Jo Hairston to step into retirement in January 2021. “There are many wonderful things about retirement, but it has been a life changing experience,” says Jo. She considers the friendships she made at OU a key ingredient to a fulfilling and happy life.

Jo began her career with OU in 1989 as a secretary in the School of Business Administration. She later worked with the benefits team in the Department of Human Resources and in the Provost’s Office, before taking on the role of Executive Associate to the President.

Read Hairston's full story.

Glenn A. Jackson

Chair of the School of Engineering and Computer Science

Oakland University was only a few years old when Glenn A. Jackson, Ph.D., began his tenure in the School of Engineering in 1967. Later named the School of Engineering and Computer Science, Jackson was the seventh faculty-member hired in the school and the first to retire in 1996.

Jackson served in the Air Force during the Korean War and worked in industry before enrolling at the University of Michigan. Fresh from his graduate studies, Jackson was impressed by the dedication, determination and resiliency of the students he met at OU.

Read Jackson's full story.

Geoff Upward

Executive Director of Meadow Brook Estate

Geoff Upward, executive director of Meadow Brook Estate, retired earlier this year following nearly four decades of service and dedication to Oakland University. He joined the university in 1984 as director of publications and subsequently rose through positions of increasing responsibility, including founder and director of university communications and marketing, and assistant vice president. He twice served as interim vice president of university advancement.

Read Upward's full story.

Joan Rosen

Professor Emerita of English

Joan Rosen standing outside home

The Pioneer Club is grateful to Joan Rosen, professor emerita of English, for her help in revitalizing the widely popular Pioneer Profiles. Over the past year, Joan has shared informative stories about members and their life’s journeys following retirement from Oakland University. After spending 37 years as an integral member of the English department, Joan has made it a priority to continue to stay connected to former faculty and staff, and her many students who are scattered around the world.

Read Rosen's full story.

Alice Horning

Writing and Rhetoric

Photo of Alice Horning

Alice Horning joined Oakland University in 1982 after teaching English, linguistics, and ESL at Wayne State University for five years. She reports that her interviews for a position at OU were the best she experienced. The interviewers were thorough, kind and certainly made the possibility of an offer look very promising. Once the offer was made for a joint appointment with Linguistics, Alice said that she was eager to accept an assistant professorship in the Department of Rhetoric, Communication, and Journalism (currently the Department of Writing and Rhetoric) in 1982. She taught both Linguistics and Writing until her retirement in 2016.

Read Horning's full story.

William W. Connellan

Assistant Vice Provost

Lifelong dedication to higher education

William (Bill) W. Connellan spent many years at Oakland University as a student, a professor of Journalism, and as an administrator. He has seen and been involved in many aspects of the university. Connellan graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, double major in history and political science. You may wonder how he became a professor of journalism. Here is the answer: an internship at The Detroit News between his sophomore and junior years. There, he learned the profession from the best writers, editors and reporters in the field. They saw his potential and taught him well – his editor indicated that the double major was particularly beneficial for a career in the field. He wrote for the paper, he flourished and he proved himself.

Read Connellan's full story.

Eleanor Reynolds

Administrative Vice President for Admissions

Longstanding Leader and Friend of OU

Eleanor Reynolds spent most of her student and professional life at Oakland University. She enrolled as a student in 1970 and graduated in 1974 with a degree in elementary education. After graduation, Eleanor headed for Iowa to pursue a master's degree in higher education. In 1982, after other pursuits, she returned to Oakland University where she would serve as Director of Housing and Food Services and, later, as Administrative Vice President for Admissions, until her retirement in 2014. In both of these positions, she served as an advocate for students, as a scheduling advisor, and a personal advisor. She dedicated untold hours to the well-being of the students she counseled on and off campus.

Read Reynold's full story.

Ron Kevern

Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs

A Calling to Service that Endures

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.”

Read Kevern's full story.

Ann Dunlop

Campus Maintenance

A career of care across campus

From 1987 until 2014, Ann Dunlop was a very important member of the Oakland University community. For 27 years, she took care of us — faculty, staff and students. Ann has contributed to the welfare of her fellow workers through the Campus Maintenance and Trades Organization as well as to the greater OU community as 2020 retiree co-chair of the All University Fund Drive (AUFD). She also currently serves on the Pioneer Club Planning Committee.

Read Dunlop's full story.

Jerry Compton

Chemistry Department Adjunct Professor

Profile of Jerry Compton

Jerry Compton came to Oakland as a first-generation college student in 1960. His history with the University spans 45 years. That, in itself, is quite an accomplishment that demonstrates his commitment to the institution and his love of teaching. He graduated with a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate in chemistry in 1964 and continued to a master's degree which he received in 1966. He was one of four to receive the degree, the first master's degree awarded by Oakland. Actually, he was the first because, as he tells it, his name was the first of the four in the alphabet. He takes great pride in this accomplishment.

Read Compton's full story.

Engagements & Marriages

Births & Adoptions