OU hires chief operating officer to handle leadership roles on campus

By Kevin Teller

Oakland University’s administration grew by one on Tuesday, Oct. 27, when Fiat Chrysler executive and former Board of Trustees member and Scott Kunselman was announced via email as Oakland University’s chief operating officer (COO).

According to university officials, the contract for the role of COO includes a three-year term and a starting salary of $325,000 annually.

This is the first time that OU has had the position of COO.

Its creation is indicative of a completely new model of structure and hierarchy of duties for those in the administration, according to Kenneth Mitton. Mitton is the president of OU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

The role of COO, as mentioned by President Hynd in his email announcement, is to be concerned with handling leadership roles on campus.

This includes a group of duties and tasks previously allotted to the president, and Hynd credits Kunselman as being an asset to OU as he moves into this new role.

“The establishment of this position represents a further step forward toward empowering the creative energies that helped form our strategic plan and achieving what we expect from a preeminent university,” Hynd said in the email.

However, the fact that this is a brand new position for OU may leave some uneasy about how quickly the progress is moving with it.

The announcement of the position’s creation occurred simultaneously with the announcement that Kunselman would be taking it on.

With such a progressive and strategic role being added to OU’s administration, the AAUP has raised the question as to why this was not previously discussed with certain administration associations.

According to Mitton, the AAUP is confused about why there was no search committee put together for this hire. Committees were utilized for the recent hiring of deans and even President Hynd himself.

Therefore, it seems to many in the AAUP that such a drastic and progressive shift in administration structure may not have had the care and thoughtfulness that others have.

Concerns about outside criticism that may fall upon OU for this move as well as the potential violation of the Board of Trustees’ own conflict of interest policy are also among those voiced by AAUP members.

Kunselman is beginning his duties as COO on Dec. 1, meaning that his roles at OU and Fiat Chrysler will not overlap in terms of their timeline.

Kunselman intends to continue at Fiat Chrysler until November 30. He has served in various roles there since 1985.

Additionally, Kunselman ended his term on the Board of Trustees last month–a role which he had served since his appointment by Governor Rick Snyder in 2012.

The information surrounding this hire is still developing, but The Oakland Post will continue with updates as they happen.

President Hynd will further address Kunselman’s hire and the creation of the COO position at his status report on Nov. 11.