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OU Winter College begins new tradition, provides Florida fun and relaxation

Monday, June 20, 2011
OU Winter College begins new tradition, provides Florida fun and relaxation

In February, Oakland University hosted its first ever Winter College in Naples, Florida. Alumni and friends attended a weekend of thought-provoking classes, stimulating discussion, relaxing amenities and warm weather.

Winter College kicked off with a reception and dinner, where participants were welcomed by President Gary Russi; Dr. Virinder Moudgil, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; and Susan Davies, vice president for University Relations. Guests dined at the Naples Grand Beach Resort and spent the evening reminiscing about college, re-connecting with OU, and listening to Dr. Russi discuss Oakland’s growth, expansion and vision for the future.

Participants attended lectures given by Robert Jarski, professor, School of Health Sciences and the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, who discussed, “Body, Mind, Spirit and Epigenetics,” where students learned how your genes are not necessarily your destiny. Professor Anandi Sahu, chair, department of economics, School of Business Administration, discussed, “The U.S. Economy & Military Power: In Competition or Under Threat?” Terri Orbuch, professor of Sociology, presented, “Myths and Realities of Relationships in the 21st Century,” and Tamara Machmut-Jhashi, professor, Art History, lectured on “St. Petersburg: A Revolution in the 18th Century.” 

A college experience is not complete without extracurricular activities. Those interested in arts and culture took a field trip to the Naples Museum of Art for a viewing of the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition, while others enjoyed walks on the beach, the resort spa and pool.

Gail Ellenbaum, CAS ’69, attended the weekend with her husband. She emphasized that alums can bring a friend or spouse even if they are not fellow OU graduates.

“You don’t have to be an alum to enjoy the weekend,” she says. “We really enjoyed the mix of classes; they were excellent for this purpose. The art museum was outstanding. We enjoyed the camaderie of the weekend and the opportunity to resume our class discussions with faculty during meals and to ask follow-up questions.”

Winter College concluded with a graduation ceremony and brunch. According to attendee feedback, participants shared that they enjoyed “the opportunity to do something educational with OU alumni and to have a weekend full of fun.” Winter College students found the experience to be “a wonderful life-long learning opportunity,” and “an excellent time in an intellectually stimulating and energizing environment.”

“With the right lesson plan in place to create a new Oakland University tradition, we have begun preparations for next year’s return to Naples and look forward to expanding our reach to more alumni and friends next year,” says Susan Davies, vice president for University Relations.