Faculty voices opinions about OU presidential candidates in survey

The Oakland University American Association of University Professors recently conducted two separate surveys on Ora Hirsch Pescovitz and Carl Camden, the two finalists in the search for OU’s next president. The surveys were distributed among the OU faculty and staff. 

Results on Carl Camden

The reaction to Camden at the first presidential forum was not taken well, the survey shows. The main concerns respondents had were that Camden seemed to know very little about the university, focused more on the business aspect of Oakland and not the academics, would lower the what they feel is the already damaged faculty morale and would put more emphasis on integrating students into the job force instead of focusing on their education.

“I found him unprepared and disrespectful,” said one Oakland faculty member. “I don’t believe he did anything to prepare himself for the forum … He spoke about Japan’s success steering students into the job market. The first thing that came to mind when I read that is that Japan has the second highest suicide rate in the world. He is a businessman and not an academic despite the fact that he taught years ago. I think he is not interested in this position, just the prestige. I think his ego would not mix with the colleagues I truly admire campus-wide here at Oakland.”

More than 70 percent of the participants gave Camden the lowest score in five out of 10 categories, including creating a better learning environment for students and having the experience and leadership to be the campus’ leader. The only category Camden did not receive the lowest score on was his ability to fund-raise for the university, faculty remained neutral on that issue.

“Camden has some interesting ideas about partnering with business to raise venue, this is a good idea on principle but he had no understanding and made no mention of any other type of fundraising or issues we face with Lansing,” said a faculty member. “He made no attempt to learn about Oakland, who we are and what we do. His vision for the future of higher – education is better suited for community colleges and vocational training schools.”

Based on a scale of one to five — one being not good for OU’s needs and five being an excellent fit for OU — 71.1 percent of faculty and staff gave Camden an overall rating of one.

Results on Ora Hirsch Pescovitz

Opinions on Pescovitz were more positive. Survey participants liked that she seemed to know a lot about OU, had a longer background in academia than Camden and seemed interested in the university.

“Ora Pescovitz’s presentation was inspiring because her enthusiasm and passion were infectious and she demonstrated knowledge of OU and much thought about ways to move the university and its educational mission forward,” an Oakland faculty member said.

Based on the survey results, the faculty gave Pescovitz high ratings in all of the categories. Many of the results were closely split between the second highest and highest rating. She received the highest rating in four of the ten categories, including improving the morale of the campus community and the ability to fund-raise effectively for OU.

Although the faculty may be leaning more toward Pescovitz as the next university president, many are worried that she does not have any recent academic experience.

“Pescovitz is much more qualified than Camden for president of Oakland University (of the two finalists),” said one survey participant. “However, neither candidate has the kind of recent faculty academic experience that would be expected in this kind of important position.”

According to the survey, 40.5 percent of faculty gave Pescovitz an overall score of four and 33.5 percent gave her a five, which means they believe she is a good fit for the school’s needs.

To see the complete survey and results on both presidential candidates visit www.oaklandaaup.org. The next president is expected to be announced on May 4.