Oakland University

Oakland University is a public research university[6] in Rochester Hills, Michigan.[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.[9] It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity."[10]

Oakland University
MottoSeguir virtute e canoscenza (Italian)[1]
Motto in English
Seek virtue and knowledge
Endowment$86 million[2]
PresidentOra Hirsch Pescovitz
Students20,012 (Fall 2016) [3]
Undergraduates16,568 (Fall 2016)[4]
Postgraduates3,444 (Fall 2016) [4]
Location, ,
United States
CampusSuburban; 1,443 acres (584 ha)
ColorsBlack & Gold[5]
NicknameGolden Grizzlies

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

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.

Oakland University

The university has been officially independent since 1970.[14] 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[7]), 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.[15]

In September 2009, tenured faculty members represented by the Oakland University chapter of the American Association of University Professors went on strike.[16] Issues of contention included the University claiming ownership of professors' copyrights and patents,[17] refusing to allow faculty input into matters of class size and curricula,[18] reduction of health benefits and a three-year salary freeze. The salary freeze was in contrast to university president Gary Russi, who had just received a $800,000 raise.[16] The University Board of Trustees maintained that the strike was illegal and filed a lawsuit against the Oakland AAUP.[18] After a week's strike, the faculty and administration came to an agreement on a three-year contract, which was implemented.[19]

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.[20][21] Eight candidates participated: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.

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.[22] 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.

The board appointed George W. Hynd president of the university in July 2014.[23] He replaced Dr. Gary Russi, who retired in August 2013.

During the fall of 2016 a national search was launched to identify candidates to replace the 6th President George Hynd. Campus visits by the two finalists accord in April 2017.

On May 4, 2017, the board announced Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., as Oakland University's seventh president. Her tenure began on July 1, 2017, under a 5-year contract.

For the fall 2013 semester, Oakland University had an enrollment of 20,169 students.[4] Oakland University is the 12th largest college or university in Michigan, 8th largest of 4-year universities. (Based on 2012 enrollment of 19,740)[24]


University rankings
Forbes[25] 529
U.S. News & World Report[26] 231-300
Washington Monthly[27] 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, Oakland University supports an Honors College and various study abroad programs.

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.[28][29] In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked the program tied for 17th in the nation.[30]

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.[31] In 2009, the SBA celebrated its 40th anniversary.

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.[32]

In 2007, plans were established to start a medical school on the Oakland University 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.[33] The founding dean of the medical school is Robert Folberg, M.D.[34]

As part of its research mission, Oakland University also supports a number of major research centers and institutes, including the Center for Biomedical Research,[35] the Center for Robotics and Advanced Automation, the Fastening and Joining Research Institute, the Human Systems Initiative, and the renowned Eye Research Institute.[36] Furthermore, Oakland University's Smart Zone Business Incubator[37] provides entrepreneurial resources and expertise to support and foster new technology-based and life science businesses.

Research institutes and centers

Oakland University 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
  • Center for Robotics and Advanced Automation
  • Eye Research Institute[38]
  • Fastening and Joining Research Institute
  • Lowry Center for Early Childhood Education
  • Nanotech Research & Development Institute
  • Oakland University Center for Autism Research, Education and Support (OUCARES)
  • Pawley Learning Institute
  • Product Development and Manufacturing Center
  • Public Affairs Research Laboratory


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.[9] University and city officials signed a partnership agreement in 2003 to officially recognize the relationship between Rochester and Oakland University.[39] 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 Oakland University'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.[40]

Oakland University's campus, which encompasses 1,443 acres (5.84 km2), includes trails and biking paths and two nationally ranked golf courses.[41]

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.[42]

Main Campus

Meadow Brook Theatre, which was founded in 1967, is the largest non-profit professional theater in Michigan, and presents a wide variety of award-winning productions throughout the year.[43] 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.[44]

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,[45] and a tech center.[46] The library is named after Stanley and Sebastian Kresge who were both present for the library's opening in 1962.[47]

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.[41]

Oakland University'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). Oakland University also has its own television station (OU TV) which is broadcast on-campus and to the local community.[48]

The campus has recreational facilities for intramural sports and for Oakland University'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 Oakland University's natatorium, and the Athletics Center O'rena, a 4,000-seat field house, is the home court for Oakland University basketball and volleyball.

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.

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 Oakland University 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 houses 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 as a site for select university functions, including the Meadow Brook Ball, a popular student event.[49] 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.[50]

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.[51]

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).[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

Oakland University is also among the 12 colleges and universities offering programs at Macomb Community College's University Center.[55]


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

Oakland University was used as a training camp for the Detroit Lions in 1989.[56]

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.[57]

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.[58] 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 Oakland University'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.

Campus life is enhanced by more than 200 registered student organizations, ranging from cultural and religious groups to Greek organizations. Fraternities at Oakland University include Theta Chi, Sigma Pi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Sigma Phi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and Iota Phi Theta. Sororities include Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Sigma Tau, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Sigma Sigma, Sigma Sigma Sigma, 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 faculty members currently live.


Oakland University's motto is Seguir virtute e canoscenza ("Seek virtue and knowledge").[59] 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 in English is:

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.


Arts and entertainment


Government and politics



Sports and media


  1. The campus is located in the cities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills but its mailing address is in the nearby, but not adjacent, City of Rochester.[7][8]


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