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Bear Lake and buildings on Oakland University's campus with a purple and orange sky.

Reimagining OU


“Reimagining Oakland University” (ROU) was introduced by President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz during the State of the University address in October 22, 2019. This bold undertaking that draws on critical feedback and timely proposals from faculty and staff is the initial stages of a continuous quality improvement process of the university.

While the ROU initiative begins with the work of dedicated and talented committee members, the ultimate success of any and all of the proposals herein depends on an ongoing and engaging conversation with OU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others who contribute to making the university such an exceptional community.

The democratic nature of reimagining and reinventing a university requires continual feedback, deep thought, a willingness to look objectively at the effectiveness of current programs and initiatives, openness to discovery, and a commitment to change when necessary– from slight procedural modifications to a broad and in-depth rethinking of our goals and strategies.

The Oakland University of the future must be responsive, relevant, engaged and committed to continual evaluation and innovation. The university must reflect a clear vision and sense of purpose. Furthermore, OU must be a place where students are inspired to succeed academically, research conducted befits communities, industries and the regional economy, and, a place where a persistent and continual pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusivity is ever present.

Values Statement

The following statement represents the foundational values and principles that inspire our decisions, actions and policies:

As a community of higher learning, inquiry and discovery, Oakland University values freedom of thought and expression that leads to responsible citizenship, fair-mindedness and a commitment to the ethical treatment of all people and the environment.

Our core values include:

  • Integrity & Respect
  • Compassion
  • Inclusivity
  • Collaboration
  • Curiosity
  • Creativity
  • Stewardship

At a time of fundamental change occurring throughout higher education, Oakland University along with public, private universities and colleges around the country must innovate and adapt to meet the challenges caused by increasing financial pressure, projected enrollment declines, steadily decreasing public funding support, and an alarming skepticism about the value of higher education degrees. Our response to these challenges: “Reimagining OU: Learning. Leading. Empowering.”

The concept for reimagining and reinventing Oakland is based on the premise that our greatest resource is our capacity to imagine the possibilities and our promise as a learning organization that supports students, encourages and inspires faculty and demonstrates a transformational connection with communities throughout the region. Granted, change often requires a financial or other type of investment. Yet it can be argued that true and lasting change is built on empowering members of the OU community to take the initiative in shaping their future, and thereby the future of Oakland University.

Reimagining OU: Rationale

Over the course of ten months, the Reimagining OU team conducted surveys, interviews, research, and thought deeply about the objective at hand. The result of the inquiry and discourse forms the framework and content of this report.

The rigorous assessment of the current state of OU is necessary to improve continually as a learning organization, and to become the “University of Choice,” a reference to the collective effort to transform Oakland into a dynamic, inspiring university that attracts students, faculty and staff while empowering current members of the community. Furthermore, the commitment to continuous improvement must draw on the informed opinions of faculty, staff, alumni and students with the explicit goal of benefiting all members of the OU community.

As a community of higher learning, inquiry and discovery, Oakland University values freedom of thought and expression that leads to responsible citizenship, fair-mindedness and a commitment to the ethical treatment of all people and the environment. The foundational values of a vibrant learning organization, include integrity, respect, compassion, inclusivity, collaboration, curiosity, creativity and stewardship. These values were firmly in mind as the committees undertook their review.

Reimagining OU: Organization

The Reimagining OU report is based on the work of three committees and their respective objectives. Each committee met twice a month for in-depth discussions and conducted a range of research and interviews. In addition, the committee chairs meet twice monthly with ROU leaders Dean Corcoran and Dean Harper. The three committees and their respective objectives are:

  1. Culture and Identity – Evaluate current condition of OU culture and identity and recommend proposals to improve university culture, identity, build tradition and elevate the university’s reputation.
  2. Structures and Processes – Evaluate current administrative organizational structures and processes and recommend specific ways to improve efficiency, effectiveness and empower employees.
  3. The Path Ahead – Determine and identify key challenges and considered strategic responses that will position Oakland as the “university of choice.”

Twelve Proposals: Catalysts for a Culture of Empowerment

Overall, the ROU team’s twelve proposals represent a blueprint for elevating the reputation, administrative efficiency and strategic direction of OU.

Each proposal purposefully aligns with Oakland’s strategic goals, vision and mission. Collectively, the proposals complement each other, while being intentionally integrated into the proposals of the other two committees, wherever relevant.

When considered in its entirety, the proposals are catalysts in the initial phase of fundamental cultural change with the goal of empowering students, faculty and staff. An empowering culture is distinguished by a clear sense of purpose, responsiveness to the ongoing and future needs of community members, and a commitment reflected in policies and collective actions based on OU’s values.

Culture and Identity

The purpose of the Culture and Identity committees is to evaluate the qualities of OU culture and identity, and recommend improvements that build tradition and further elevate the university’s reputation. The recommendations from these committees are ongoing.

The three focus areas include:

  1. Common Purpose – Determine the university’s top priorities as they relate to furthering OU’s strategic goals. ​Translate priorities into timely and strategic decision-making and cultivating innovative approaches/solutions, thereby moving OU away from a risk-adverse culture, and toward a fluid learning organization.

  2.  Community Conversations – Clarify and elevate a distinct OU identity that is shared by key members of the OU community and recognized by those outside the community.

  3. OU Traditions – Promote and encourage participation in Oakland University traditions to build pride and create broader base of engaged students, engaged alumni and donors. The purpose is to identify current traditions that impact culture, and create new traditions that resonate with OU community and further enhance the OU brand.
Structure and Processes

Structure and Processes committee evaluates current administrative organizational structures and processes and recommend specific ways to improve efficiency, effectiveness and empower employees.

Focus areas include: 

  1. Addressing UTS – Develop and maintain a responsive, leading-edge UTS that is responsive and provides the necessary technology services to support Oakland University’ administration and faculty in providing instruction and research. Status: Conducting national search for Chief Information Officer.

  2. Software purchasing – Create a more efficient and cost-effective software purchasing process, including reducing/eliminating cumbersome and/or limited value-added procedures. Status: Currently under review.

  3. U Signing Authority – A review of the university signing authority policy has led to a revised, more responsive and autonomous process.

  4. Campus Safety – Formalize a standard for electronic access control systems for new construction and renovation projects, and retrofit applications. Status: Currently under review.

  5. University Continuous Quality Improvement Process – Status: Currently under review.

  6. Purchasing Department Efficiency Status: Purchasing Department has been repositioned in the Controller’s Office.

  7. University Organization Chart Status: Plan to review org chart regularly to ensure positions, roles and responsibilities are well-defined.

  8. Campus Survey Status: Currently considering the timing of a campus-wide survey to determine how to make workplace improvements.
The Path Ahead

The Path Ahead committee has determined and identified key challenges and considered strategic responses that will further position Oakland as a sustainable institution of higher learning and the “university of choice.”

  1. Campus-wide Sustainability Plan Status: Defining the various parts of the plan, and implementation phases.

Grizzlies Healthy Planet Initiative Team
COMMITTEE/Committee Chair(s):

ACADEMICS: Michelle Piskulich
ENVIRONMENTAL: Patricia Engle, Kris Kobus, Scott Tiegs
FOOD & DINING: Christopher Reed
LEADERSHIP: Louay Chamra, Steve Waterfield, John Young, Frank Provenzano
RESEARCH: David Stone
TRANSPORTATION: Nicole Stallworth, Mozhgon Rajee
WELL-BEING & WORK: Becky Lewis

Reimagining OU Team

Oakland University President Pescovirtz appointed Dr. Kevin Corcoran, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Dr. Graeme Harper, Dean of The Honors College to lead a committee of thirty faculty and staff. Members include:

Steering Committee
Kevin Corcoran -- Chair
Graeme Harper -- Chair
Steve Waterfield
Claudia Petrescu
Jessie Hurse
Mandy Summers
Tom LeMarbe
Song Yan

Culture and Identity Committee
Jessie Hurse
Mandy Summers
Peggy Cooke
Willie Tuggle
Emily Spunaugle
Kevin Grimm
Erin Sudrovec

Structures & Processes Committee
Tom LeMarbe
Song Yan
Shane Lewis
Cynthia Miree-Coppin
Joi Cunningham
Steve Zmich
Lori Marsh
Mike Crum

Path Ahead Committee
Steve Waterfield
Claudia Petrescu
Fabia Battistuzzi
Chris Kobus
Patrick Cassady
Joan Carleton
Sean Dillon
Pat Engle
Holly Gilbert
Jeffrey Insko
S. Lily Mendoza
Christina Papadimitriou
Mozhgon Rajaee
Christopher Reed
Scott Tiegs

Values Drafting Committee
Glenn McIntosh
John Young
Kevin Corcoran
Kevin Grimm
Cynthia Miree-Coppin
Josephine Hairston
Amanda Summers
Frank Provenzano