Office of the President

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Office of the President

Wilson Hall, Room 204
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester , MI 48309-4486
(location map)

Office of the President

Wilson Hall, Room 204
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester , MI 48309-4486
(location map)

Office of the President

Welcome to the Office of the President

April 24th President's Perspective

Friday, April 24, 2020

Actions taken to preserve OU’s long-term future

Cost-savings help prepare for anticipated revenue shortage

To the Oakland University community,

The past two months have been profoundly challenging for all of us.

We have learned to adapt to restrictions on our travel, social distancing, and significant changes in how we work and live. We are witness to how the coronavirus has exacerbated the social and economic inequities around us. And, whereas many of us are anxious and stressed from living apart from our friends and family, there are many examples of the resiliency of the human spirit and inspiring stories that reflect our capacity for compassion and kindness.

Throughout this time, our primary responsibility has been the protection, safety and health of the OU community. Thanks to our dedicated faculty and staff, the precautionary measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 on campus have proven successful.

I am so proud of our students, faculty and staff for stepping up and adapting to the “new normal.” Your willingness to acclimate to remote learning and adhere to social distancing requirements have been remarkable and are allowing us to successfully “flatten the curve.”

Further, your courage and willingness to volunteer to help others in need throughout metro Detroit engenders great pride in being part of the Oakland University tradition of demonstrating compassion for others.

Upcoming Semesters: Summer online learning; preparing scenarios for fall

For both summer sessions, we have concluded that it is necessary to continue to deliver instruction exclusively through online learning. Fortunately, enrollment for our summer sessions is encouraging.

At this point, indications are that COVID-19 will remain a threat into the fall. The OU Coronavirus Response Team continues to meet regularly to prepare for a combination of viral and serology testing, contact tracing, and social distancing to ensure a safe and healthy campus environment.

As we prepare for the fall semester, we are planning for a hybrid approach that includes both face-to-face and remote instruction.

As always, the health and safety of our campus remains our highest priority. Our efforts have been recognized. On Thursday, the annual rankings of safest college campuses in America ranked Oakland the safest college campus in Michigan and third safest in the country.

OU Principles

Higher education institutions across the country are facing serious financial uncertainty and profound challenges.

During these precarious times, our obligation is to act prudently and decisively to best position Oakland for the path ahead. Although we hope for the best, we must confront difficult financial realities, and plan for a significant budgetary shortfall this year.

In facing these challenges, our duty is to “cultivate the full potential of a diverse and inclusive community,” and passionately support the transformative power of education and research. Our highest priorities are to: 1.) Protect the health and safety of our people; and, 2.) Uphold our mission, vision and goals.

Actions: Salary reductions, hiring freeze, suspension of non-essential projects

Keeping the university’s long-term future and success in mind, we will enact immediately the following cost-saving measures:

  • Executive salary reductions (i.e. president, cabinet, deans) — Reductions for executives and Deans range from 3 to 5 percent with the President taking a 20 percent reduction.

  • Hiring freeze – Exceptions to the hiring freeze must be approved by the President. Searches for key open positions currently underway will continue.

  • Suspension of non-bond funded projects – The planning, design and construction of projects financed independent of bonds has been paused.

  • Deferral of all non-essential purchases – Vice Presidents will be monitoring expenditures in their divisions and evaluating their need and timing.

  • Restrictions on all university-sponsored and/or coordinated travel. Planning and funding support of faculty and staff travel will be suspended. Exceptions will be reviewed by vice presidents of units where special consideration for a waiver will be required.

In these trying times, our will and character have been tested. I am so proud that as a community we have responded resoundingly and compassionately. Let us recommit ourselves to working together, thinking innovatively and acting strategically in the best interest of the university we love.

We are a resilient community and we will recover from this difficult period. When we do, we will be stronger and better. We are OU.

In appreciation,

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D.


Ora Hirch Pescovitz

This is No Time for a Gap Year

If you’re debating college this fall, you must decide whether to put in your application or delay until the world is a safer place. In these uncertain times, it's no surprise that many schools pushed National College Decision Day back to June 1, and about 40 percent of prospective college students are considering a gap year instead.

Many fear what college will be like in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and few universities are able to provide detailed plans. Some students are worried about their health and safety; others are reluctant to pay full or out-of-state tuition for classes they may end up taking online from their parents’ homes.

I realize these are scary, uncertain times. Michigan and our communities near Detroit have been hit hard. It’s only natural to feel anxious, or want to delay your education. But how would you even fill a gap year now? You can’t travel widely, easily find a good job, or join the temporarily shuttered Peace Corps.

Rather than delay college, this is actually the perfect time to earn a degree. As the pandemic disrupts lives and finances, many students are looking for a safe harbor, a place where they can get an outstanding education at an affordable price while staying close to their families.

I’m fortunate enough to work at a place like that. At Oakland University, where I am president, about 80% of our nearly 20,000 students come from southeast Michigan. Our size and location are strengths: We tailor our classes, programs, mentoring, internships, and job placements to students’ specific needs.

Come fall, colleges like ours may take a hybrid approach to teaching that includes both face-to-face and remote instruction. We will carefully use social distancing, COVID-19 and serology testing and contact tracing as we prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. And we’ll help you afford college, with funds from the federal CARES Act, Pell grants, financial aid and scholarships. We also set up relief funds to help with rent, food, laptops, and even flat tires.

This is your generation’s moment

John F. Kennedy started the Peace Corp to encourage students to engage in the world. Your generation can go to college and contribute to addressing the pandemic relief efforts. Faculty, staff and students at dozens of regional and public universities are working around the clock to provide everything from face masks to grief counseling.

The State University of New York is raising $10 million to provide support and protective gear for frontline workers, while Ball State University donated the use of its powerful planetarium computers to help researchers better understand the virus.

At OU, we mobilized a full-scale, multi-level relief effort that includes converting a dormitory into sleeping rooms for exhausted health care workers and first responders. More than 65 heroes sleep there now. We’ve converted our campus student center into a major food distribution site, where we collect, pack and distribute food and essentials to nearly 1,000 households each week. So far, with help from masked-and-gloved volunteers from 40 community groups, we’ve delivered more than 50,000 nutritious meals.

 Led by Associate Professor Jennifer Lucarelli, Ph.D., an expert in public health and community engagement, students assist on every front – from medical students working shifts in local hospitals to IT students managing databases. Lucarelli says, “What I hear every day is, ‘How can I help?’ There hasn’t been a single ‘No.’”

In your own backyard

So, students, please don’t sit on the sidelines. We need your talents, ideas and energy.

We’ll also need every ounce of your knowledge and expertise as we fight the pandemic and navigate soaring job losses. When the crisis ends – and it will – history shows that the best jobs will go to those with college degrees and advanced skills.

Don’t throw this opportunity away. And consider that the best place to both learn and contribute could be in your own backyard. 

Published in the Detroit Free Press, May 12, 2020.