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Year in Review 2022

Throughout Oakland University history, there have been pivotal and watershed moments that determine the trajectory of the institution. We stand at the threshold of one of those moments. The decisions we make, the strategies we adopt and the direction we choose to travel will determine the course of Oakland University for the remainder of the decade and beyond.

This crucial transition is distinguished by several compelling features, including:

Doctor Giving A Shot

  1. A challenge to response effectively to public health threats (now and in the future).

  2. An opportunity to increase state funding while being mindful of a long-term funding uncertainty.

  3. A pressing need to attract and retain students while delivering a range of teaching modalities.

  4. Creation of timely initiatives that integrate educational programs and degrees with “talent needs” and job opportunities while serving as a catalyst for the region’s economic growth.

  5. Building strategic alliances with corporate, philanthropic and industry partners.

Woman Looking At Data Resized

A key component of managing the uncertainties (and anxieties) of the pandemic has been to reassure the faculty and staff that we value their contributions. In addition to formal gatherings where we have addressed the “difficult transitions during the pandemic” and recognize the efforts of faculty and staff, the OU leadership team approved a 2-percent merit pay increase as of July 1, 2022 to demonstrate our appreciation for their hard work and contributions.

Accomplishments: Encouraging Signs

Like other universities, Oakland is coming to terms with the consequences of an unexpected public health crisis, and the profound changes recasting the higher education landscape around the nation. A summary of the accomplishments of the past year, offers an encouraging sign that the OU Leadership Team is up to the task.

Noteworthy achievements include:

Nurse Caring For Baby

  • Establishing a key partnership with Beaumont Health Spectrum Health (later renamed Corewell Health) that translates into an educational-economic-and-health alliance with nearly a $21M gift. The partnership illustrates how OU is a catalyst for economic growth and an advocate for improving the standard of nursing care and public-health outreach.

    Further, the partnership is a strategic alliance that addresses the nursing shortage in southeastern Michigan.
  • Ongoing lobbying of Michigan legislators by appealing to the principles of the “Strive for 45” campaign led to the highest percentage increase in funding of any of the state’s 15 public universities (12.59% vs. 3.39%). This was one-third of our goal of $4,500/FYES and was a very significant achievement for OU, and we also helped other universities in the process. 

Varner Hall Exterior

  • Campus improvements: Construction of South Foundation, Varner expansion/renovation, Student Welcome Center/Wilson Hall expansion, SECS research building, and purchase of 1500 University Avenue, Auburn Hills/Pontiac.
  • Last five-year total of $78M-$88M in fundraising represents best five-year total in Oakland history.

  • Congressional funding for the Master of Physician Assistant Science Program, which demonstrates Oakland’s responsiveness to the healthcare needs of the region.

  • Verification as the “university of choice” as reflected in OU had the highest number of transfer students (tied for first with Wayne State).

  • Highest level of extramural research support in OU history. Recruitment of outstanding research investigators and excellent student researchers. 

  • Primary partner in Oakland80, the Oakland County degree attainment initiative that aims to increase postsecondary degree and certificate completion in the county to at least 80%.

Addressing Challenges & Positioning for Growth

The OU Leadership team continues to develop strategies that address immediate (or short-term) concerns while planning for long-term projections related to enrollment.

Full Lecture Hall

  • The Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) plan is invaluable in developing a strategy that addresses enrollment decline and the needs of today’s college students. SEM is a dynamic and highly integrative approach that assesses current market factors that provide critical insights that help establish Oakland’s competitive position in attracting and retaining students. 

  • We are building on our success from “Strive for 45,” and continually assessing how to push for more equitable state funding. In addition, working closely with our state lobbying advisors, we are identifying additional funding opportunities related to specific and emerging projects/initiatives.

  • In budgetary matters, the OU Leadership Team is moving through a rigorous process to “right-size” the university budget.  From 2017 to 2022, enrollment has declined 25 percent without a corresponding decline in expenditures.

    Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, we have faced an ongoing budgetary challenge. The infusion of HERFF funds from the federal government and an increase in state funding were instrumental in balancing the last two budgets. For FY23, we must reduce the budget by a total of $24M. To accomplish that goal, the OU Cabinet were given the mandate to reduce the budgets for their respective units by approximately 10.4 percent. (NOTE: In March, the Cabinet targeted an initial $9M, and in August we requested another $15M in cuts.)

    Furthermore, as we “right size” the budget, the university leadership team continues to pursue timely revenue generating initiatives to position the university for growth. Indeed, the recent purchase of 1500 University Avenue is an example of a strategic investment. (NOTE: Oakland University has the lowest square foot ratio per student of any public university in the state.)

    The 1500 University Avenue building, which is financed by extramural funds, provides much-needed classroom space for health and human services-related courses and training initiatives. Expanding these programs is a strategic response to the pressing need for health care and human services providers, particularly as the region rebounds from an enduring pandemic.

In moving ahead, the OU Leadership Team has identified of goals that, when achieved, will transform Oakland and well-position the university to respond effectively to student, faculty and staff needs. The most salient goals include:

Posing w/ Oakland Flag

  • The further development of campus and enhanced sense of identity with the OU brand

  • A strong collaborative relationship with faculty

  • A data-driven method to inform and track progress toward key performance indicators

  • Measures (e.g. improved advising structure) to elevate student success

  • Strategic approach to increase grants from NIH, NSF and congressional-directed spending initiatives.

  • Foster workplace initiatives that elevate OU as a regional economic catalyst.

OU Campus Feat. Elliot Tower


Office of the President

Wilson Hall, Suite 4000
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
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