Oakland University

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Oakland University
Oakland University seal.svg
Motto Seguir virtute e canoscenza (Italian)[1]
Motto in English
Seek virtue and knowledge
Type Public
Established 1957
Endowment $86 million[2]
President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz
Students 20,012 (Fall 2016) [3]
Undergraduates 16,568 (Fall 2016)[4]
Postgraduates 3,444 (Fall 2016) [4]
Location Rochester, Michigan, U.S.
Campus Suburban; 1,443 acres (584 ha)
Colors Black & Gold[5]
Nickname Golden Grizzlies
Website www.oakland.edu
Oakland University wordmark.svg

Oakland University (OU) is a public university located in the cities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, Michigan, United States.[fn 1] Situated on a 1,400-acre (570 ha) campus, it was co-founded by Matilda Dodge Wilson and Alfred Wilson after meeting with John A. Hannah. It is the only major research university in Oakland County, from which the school derives its name, and it serves much of the Metro Detroit region.[8] The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has classified OU as a Doctoral Research University.[9]

Oakland University was initially operated as a branch of Michigan State University as Michigan State University–Oakland (MSU-O). It opened in 1959 with 570 students and three buildings. In 1963, it became known as Oakland University.[10]

The university's athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Golden Grizzlies. They are members of the Horizon League.



In 1908, John Francis Dodge and his wife Matilda purchased a farmhouse and 320 acres (130 ha) of land known as Meadow Brook Farms, located in central Oakland County.[11]

In 1920, Matilda inherited John's fortune upon his death, soon remarrying to a lumber baron, Alfred G. Wilson. Between 1926 and 1929, the couple built Meadow Brook Hall on the land.[12]

Michigan State University–Oakland

Oakland University was created in 1957 when Matilda Dodge Wilson and her second husband, Alfred Wilson, donated their 1,443-acre (5.84 km2) estate to Michigan State University, including Meadow Brook Hall, Sunset Terrace and all the estate's other buildings and collections, along with $2 million. Main campus buildings were completed on Squirrel Road in Pontiac Township (now the city of Auburn Hills). Originally known as Michigan State University–Oakland, the university enrolled its first students in 1959 and was renamed Oakland University in 1963.[citation needed]

Oakland University

The university has been officially independent since 1970.[13] Wilson asked U.S. Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield to let the university use a Rochester, Michigan mailing address (201 Meadow Brook Rd., Rochester, Michigan 48309[6]), even though the main part of the campus was in Pontiac Township (now the city of Auburn Hills). After Wilson reminded him that she had contributed to his administration, Summerfield granted her request.[14]

In September 2009, tenured faculty members represented by the OU chapter of the AAUP went on strike.[15] Issues of contention included the University claiming ownership of professors' copyrights and patents,[16] refusing to allow faculty input into matters of class size and curricula,[17] reduction of health benefits and a three-year salary freeze. The salary freeze was in contrast to OU president Gary Russi, who had just received a $100,000 raise.[15] The University Board of Trustees maintained that the strike was illegal and filed a lawsuit against the Oakland AAUP.[17] After a week's strike, the faculty and administration came to an agreement on a three-year contract, which was implemented.[18]

During the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, Oakland University hosted a debate between Republican presidential candidates on November 9, 2011. CNBC televised the debate nationally, and the Michigan Republican Party co-sponsored the debate with CNBC.[19][20] Eight candidates participated: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.[citation needed]

On February 12, 2013, the Oakland University Board of Trustees approved a $65 million investment in campus expansion and improvement projects. Completed in the fall of 2014, projects included: construction of a nearly $30 million student housing complex; dramatic enhancement of outdoor recreation and athletic fields; construction of a 1,240-space parking structure, and; construction of new headquarters for facility and grounds maintenance operations.[21] Longtime supporters of the university, Hugh and Nancy Elliott, made a donation to construct the Elliott Tower on the campus. The 151-foot carillon tower was completed in fall 2014 and houses the last bells to be cast by the Royal Bellfoundry Petit & Fritsen of the Netherlands.[citation needed]

The Board appointed George W. Hynd president of the university in July 2014.[22] He replaced Dr. Gary Russi, who retired in August 2013.[23] Russi had replaced Dr. Sandra Packard on an interim basis in 1995 and was appointed president by the board of trustees in 1996. Russi's retirement was announced in June 2013, on the same day his wife, Oakland head woman's basketball coach Beckie Francis, was fired.[24]

On May 4, 2017, the Board announced Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., as OU's seventh president. Her tenure would begin on July 1, 2017 under a 5-year contract.[citation needed]

For the Fall 2013 semester, OU had an enrollment of 20,169 students.[4] OU is the 12th largest college or university in Michigan, 8th largest of 4-year universities. (Based on 2012 enrollement of 19,740)[25]


University rankings
Forbes[26] 529
U.S. News & World Report[27] 231-300
Washington Monthly[28] 271

Oakland University offers 132 bachelor's degree programs and 138 graduate programs (professional certificates, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees). The main academic units of the university are the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business Administration, the School of Education and Human Services, the School of Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, and the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Additionally, OU supports an Honors College and various study abroad programs.[citation needed]

The Oakland University – Beaumont Nurse Anesthesia Graduate Program began in 1991 as a collaborative initiative to address the nurse anesthesia shortage and provide an exceptional educational environment for training Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Authority for the program is shared between Oakland University and Beaumont Health System.[29][30] In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked the program tied for 17th in the nation.[31]

Oakland University's School of Business Administration (SBA) is one of only 170 business schools – out of 8,000 worldwide – to hold the elite AACSB-International accreditation in both business and accounting, and also offers Michigan's only Executive MBA program with concentrations in Health Care and IS Leadership.[32] In 2009, the SBA celebrated its 40th anniversary.[citation needed]

In 2008, Oakland University officials announced that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School-Auburn Hills campus has become the exclusive educational law school of Oakland University, and that Oakland University is now the exclusive education partner university of Cooley Law School's Auburn Hills campus.[33]

In 2007, plans were established to start a medical school on the OU campus in partnership with William Beaumont Hospital called the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB or OUWBSM) came to fruition. The medical school was founded in 2008 with classes starting in fall of 2011. OUWB is the fourth medical school in the state of Michigan to offer the M.D. degree, received over 3,200 applications for the inaugural class of 50 students. OUWBSM has 225 students as of Fall 2013 and 500 are planned by 2017.[34] The founding dean of the Medical School is Robert Folberg, M.D.[35]

As part of its research mission, OU also supports a number of major research centers and institutes, including the Center for Biomedical Research,[36] the Center for Robotics and Advanced Automation, the Fastening and Joining Research Institute, the Human Systems Initiative, and the renowned Eye Research Institute.[37] Furthermore, OU's Smart Zone Business Incubator[38] provides entrepreneurial resources and expertise to support and foster new technology-based and life science businesses.[citation needed]

Research institutes and centers

OU is home to major research institutes and centers addressing a broad range of interests and industries, including biomedical, public affairs, technology, engineering, education, international studies, and more.

  • Center for Applied Research in Musical Understanding
  • Center for Biomedical Research
  • Center for Creative and Collaborative Computing
  • Center for Integrated Business Research and Education (CIBRE)
  • Center for Robotics and Advanced Automation
  • Eye Research Institute[39]
  • Fastening and Joining Research Institute
  • Lowry Center for Early Childhood Education
  • Nanotech Research & Development Institute
  • OU Center for Autism Research, Education and Support (OUCARES)
  • Pawley Learning Institute
  • Product Development and Manufacturing Center
  • Public Affairs Research Laboratory


Elliott Tower, completed in 2014

In addition to its location in the cities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, Oakland University maintains an official "hometown" relationship with the nearby but not adjacent city of Rochester, Michigan.[8] University and city officials signed a partnership agreement in 2003 to officially recognize the relationship between Rochester and OU.[40] In 1959, Rochester Village (now city) officials renamed the one-mile-long (1.6 km) Fifth Street in downtown Rochester "University Drive" to showcase Rochester as a "college town". The road is called Walton Boulevard adjacent to the University in Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills. This is often confused with University Drive in Auburn Hills, which originates at OU's main entrance in Auburn Hills, and continues west into downtown Pontiac. In 2005, the Rochester area was ranked 39th in the CNN/Money Magazine list of the Top 100 American cities in which to live.[41]

OU's campus, which encompasses 1,443 acres (5.84 km2), includes trails and biking paths and two nationally ranked golf courses.[42]

Oakland County

The university's land in Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills is divided into the Main Campus, Meadow Brook Estate, and two golf courses.[43]

Main Campus

Meadow Brook Theatre, which was founded at OU in 1967, is the largest non-profit professional theater in Michigan, and presents a wide variety of award-winning productions throughout the year.[44] Additionally, the Oakland University Art Gallery, which was formerly known as the Meadow Brook Art Gallery, presents at least six different exhibitions each academic year, in addition to hosting a variety of lectures, performances and symposia.[45]

Kresge Library is the main library of Oakland University. It consists of four floors of study rooms and open-area tables. It also contains the Oakland University Archives, the Historical Abraham Lincoln Collection, the Jane M. Bingham Historical Children's Collection,[46] and a tech center.[47] The library is named after Stanley and Sebastian Kresge who were both present for the library's opening in 1962.[48]

In 2009, an 18-hole disc golf course opened. Grizzly Oaks was co-designed by student Jarrett Schlaff and licensed by the Professional Disc Golf Association.[42]

OU's student union, the Oakland Center, was renovated and expanded in 2018. The Oakland Center houses the offices of student organizations, a large food court with multiple restaurants, the student bookstore, a cafe, a pool hall and gaming center, a Student Technology Center, the campus newspaper The Oakland Post, computer labs, conference rooms, as well as the offices of the university radio station, WXOU (88.3 FM). OU also has its own television station (OU TV) which is broadcast on-campus and to the local community.[49]

The campus has recreational facilities for intramural sports and for OU's 16 NCAA Division I athletic teams, including the lighted Upper Athletic Fields, the indoor Sports Dome, fields for varsity baseball, softball, and soccer, and facilities for basketball, handball, track, and weight training. The campus Recreation Center houses OU's state-of-the-art natatorium, and the Athletics Center O'rena, a 4,000-seat field house, is the home court for OU basketball and volleyball.[citation needed]

Near the center of campus is the Elliot Tower (above). This clock tower was finished in 2014 after many delays to its construction that began toward the end of 1945 just after the end of WWII, making it both the oldest and one of the newest structures simultaneously at Oakland University.[citation needed]

Meadow Brook Estate

This portion of Oakland University consists of the historic Meadow Brook Hall and the land and buildings surrounding it. The hall, which is a 110-room Tudor revival–style mansion completed in 1929 as OU founder Matilda Dodge Wilson's Oakland County estate, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Meadow Brook Hall is the fourth-largest historic house museum in the United States, and housed a vast collection of historically significant art and furniture, including paintings by Rembrandt, Anthony van Dyck, Rosa Bonheur, Gilbert Stuart, Joshua Reynolds, John Constable, and Thomas Gainsborough, as well as sculptures by Antoine-Louis Barye, Frederic Remington, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, and Herbert Haseltine. Meadow Brook Hall is frequently utilized by the OU community as a site for select university functions, including the popular student event the Meadow Brook Ball.[50] Until 2010, Meadow Brook Hall and its grounds were the site of the annual Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, one of the largest collector car shows in the world.[51]

The Meadow Brook Music Festival is an outdoor entertainment venue with an on-site pavilion which accommodates close to 8,000 people. In addition to being the site of spring-time graduation ceremonies, Meadow Brook Music Festival also hosts comedians and musical acts. Meadow Brook Music Festival is managed by Palace Sports and Entertainment.[52]

Golf courses

Oakland University has two nationally ranked golf courses that make up most of the southern portion of its land. Katke-Cousins sits on 320 acres (130 ha).[53] Some of the course's 18 holes remain from the 9-hole course John Dodge built when he lived at the estate. The other course, opened in 2000, is the R & S Sharf course.[54]

Macomb County

An office plaza in downtown Mount Clemens, in Macomb County, was donated to the university in 2010 by Gebran Anton and Stuart Frankel. It was repurposed and opened for the fall 2011 semester as the Anton/Frankel Center. It offers several undergraduate and graduate programs.[55]

Oakland University is also among the 12 colleges and universities offering programs at Macomb Community College's University Center.[56]


The O'rena

OU Fight is the Oakland University fight song. Previously known as the Pioneers, the school's teams were renamed the Golden Grizzlies.[citation needed]

Oakland University was used as a training camp for the Detroit Lions in 1989.[57]

Oakland University's men's soccer team became the first Oakland team to move past the first round of their sport's respective NCAA tournament in 2007.[58]

Student life

Although many of Oakland's students commute from surrounding areas, there are more than 3,000 who live on campus in a variety of residence halls and student apartments.[59] The residence halls include Hillcrest Hall, Oak View Hall, Hamlin Hall, Vandenberg Hall, Hill House, Van Wagoner House, and Fitzgerald House. Residential learning communities on OU's campus include Scholars Tower and the Residential Honors College community. Eight additional buildings make up the George T. Matthews student apartments, and six major Tudor-style buildings house the Ann V. Nicholson student apartments, which were completed in 2002.[citation needed]

Campus life is enhanced by more than 200 registered student organizations, ranging from cultural and religious groups to Greek organizations. Fraternities represented at OU include Theta Chi, Sigma Pi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Sigma Phi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia(in Fall of 2015), and Iota Phi Theta. Sororities include Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Sigma Tau, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Sigma Sigma, Sigma Sigma Sigma (in Fall of 2015), Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho. The so-called Cottage District of campus, which consists of homes originally built for workers employed at the old Meadow Brook Estate, now contain fraternity and sorority houses. Additionally, the university owns an adjoining tract of land to the east of the main university campus, which was developed into a neighborhood in which many OU faculty members currently live.[citation needed]


Oakland University's motto is Seguir virtute e canoscenza ("Seek virtue and knowledge").[60] It is a quotation from Dante's Inferno, Canto XXVI, 1. 120. These are the final words of Ulysses' speech to his men urging them to sail on in pursuit of knowledge and experience of the world – even beyond the pillars of Hercules, traditionally the frontier and limit of legitimate exploration. The three-line stanza in Italian, and English:[citation needed]

Considerate la vostra semenza
Fatti non foste a viver come bruti
Ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.

Consider your birth
You were not made to live like brutes
But to follow virtue and wisdom.



  1. ^ The campus is physically located in the cities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills but OU's mailing address is in the nearby, but not adjacent, City of Rochester.[6][7]


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  14. ^ "OU Timeline – OU History". 1958: Matilda Wilson demands that the university's address match Meadow Brook Hall's Rochester address, even though the main campus lies in Pontiac Township (now the City of Auburn Hills). She prevailed by reminding U.S. Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield that she had been a generous contributor to his Republican administration.
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  16. ^ Williams, Audrey J. (10 September 2009). "Strike Settled, Oakland U. Professors Return to the Classroom". chronicle.com. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
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  18. ^ Jeff Greer, "Oakland University in Michigan's Strike Ends." US News and World Report: September 10, 2009
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  36. ^ http://www.oakland.edu/cbr/
  37. ^ http://www.oakland.edu/eri
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  • Schultz, Marisa. "Growing Oakland University pushes to become top-tier research hub." The Detroit News. October 30, 2007.

External links

  • Official website
  • Oakland Athletics website

Coordinates: 42°40′22″N 83°12′57″W / 42.672659°N 83.215776°W / 42.672659; -83.215776

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