Meet the president: Ora Hirsch Pescovitz


Elyse Gregory

President Pescovitz talks about herself and her goals for Oakland.

It has been just over four months since Ora Hirsch Pescovitz was made the seventh president of Oakland University. She has spent these last few months learning about Oakland and transitioning with former president George Hynd.

But the transition period is over and Pescovitz is settling in. Most of her time is spent in meetings and working on improving campus, but she says her favorite part so far has been learning about Oakland and appreciating the school. For instance, when she is not in a meeting, she enjoys looking at Bear Lake from her office in Wilson Hall.

“The students are better than I thought,” she said. “The faculty are more accomplished than I thought. The staff is more wonderful than I thought and the campus is far more beautiful than I would have imagined. All of the things that made me interested in the job are better than I had imagined.”

Experiencing Oakland close-up during her first months has led her to do a few things differently than past presidents. At her first Board of Trustees meeting last month, she showed up with the Oakland University Chorale in tow so they could sing for the board and all who attended. She has also started publishing weekly Points of Pride, in which she highlights students, faculty and staff, who are doing noteworthy things.

“Here’s one of the things I noticed when I came here: We aren’t bragging enough,” Pescovitz said. “When I was applying for the job, I did a little of my own research online. But, I was blown away when I got here. I was surprised that I hadn’t found all of these amazing things during all of my research. We shouldn’t be so modest, it’s good to tell each other and our supporters what we’re doing well.”

She said that her Points of Pride will hopefully boost campus spirit and earn Oakland some of the recognition she feels it deserves. As for bringing the members of the chorale to the BOT meeting — she says she wanted to start off strong.

“[The BOT] are my bosses, and I want them to see how good of a job the university is doing,” Pescovitz said. “I want them to be proud and I want people to come to these meetings and see what we’re up to.”

She joked that she’s not sure she can top that first performance, but she plans to always bring noteworthy happenings from around campus to every meeting.

Aside from working on morale, Pescovitz has also worked on creating the position of Chief Diversity Officer for the university. Vice President of Student Affairs, Glenn McIntosh, was chosen for the role and will work closely with organizations like the Center for Multicultural Initiatives on campus to promote equality, equity and inclusion.

“My hope is that this office will permeate the university and have great impact,” she said. “I think it really speaks to our values.”

Pescovitz also hopes to boost recycling efforts and is focusing on listening to student input. She said she met with the Oakland University Student Congress last month to discuss potential initiatives and will soon start doing fireside talks with students so that she can meet as many as she can.

But, of course, meeting over 20,000 students is next to impossible. So, she has something to say to those that she will not get to meet:

“The number one goal for me and our leadership is student success,” Pescovitz said. “I want students to love this institution. I want them to be able to look back at their time here and say that they were at the best possible university they could have been at. I want you all to be able to say that Oakland prepared you for work and life. I want our students to be able to leave lasting footprints wherever they go. The success of our students takes priority over everything else.”

Some fun facts about the president

Her favorite spot on campus is Bear Lake (she wishes she could go chill out in one of the hammocks)

Her dream is to drive a race car

She loves spending time with her children, grandchildren and significant other

Working out is a priority for her. The day The Post interviewed her, she had worked out for an hour and a half

Live theatre is one of her favorite things (we suggested she catch Meadow Brook Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol”)

She’s got her eye on an electric bicycle to ride around campus