Office of the President

Wilson Hall, Suite 4000
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)

Gary Russi

Oakland University President, 1995 to 2013

three photo collage of Gary Russi: speaking into a microphone, seated at a table and speaking to people in white lab coats

After joining Oakland University in 1993 as Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gary Russi served as interim president from 1995 to 1996, and then as president until 2013.

Under his leadership, Oakland completed its first strategic plan, 1995-2005. The 10-year plan paved the way for Oakland's unprecedented growth — both in stature and size — and helped the university realize its institutional priorities.

In April 2005, Russi announced the university's first-ever comprehensive campaign, "Innovation and Opportunity - The Campaign for Oakland University," with a goal of raising $110 million by 2010. The campaign, which exceeded its goal and was successfully completed a year early, was designed to propel the university to the next level in providing a comprehensive liberal education by way of raising funds for professorships, scholarships, research endowments, academic programs and improved facilities.

Under Russi’s leadership, OU forged numerous partnerships and alliances in Michigan and throughout the world, introduced more than 65 new academic degree programs and expanded faculty positions to more than 500. Throughout his administration, the average high school GPAs and ACT scores of incoming freshmen continued to rise.

Meanwhile, the University more than $190 million to enrich environments for teaching, researching, learning, and living. Capital improvements included a $43-million Science and Engineering Building, a $37-million Recreation and Athletics Center, the $17.5-million R. Hugh and Nancy Elliott Hall of Business and Information Technology, the $32-million Carlotta and Dennis Pawley Hall, $21-million new student apartments, the $65-million Human Health Building and numerous building and facilities upgrades.

In 1998, Oakland University moved to NCAA Division I competition and adopted a new mascot identity, the Golden Grizzlies. Recognized as a conference leader in student-athlete graduation rates, Oakland has earned 18 regular season Summit League titles (formerly Mid-Continent Conference) and 38 league titles in its first 11 years of Division I competition.