President Pescovitz’s first year in office

The Oakland University Board of Trustees unanimously voted for Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., to be the next president of the university on May 4, 2017.

Succeeding President George Hynd and officially beginning her term on July 1, 2017, Pescovitz has now occupied her position for a little over a year and has begun tackling, and accomplishing, some of her major goals for OU.

“I always think there’s more to do,” she said. “I think if you get satisfied, that leads to complacency, complacency leads to mediocrity, and I don’t want anybody here at Oakland to ever be satisfied with being mediocre.”

After refining the university’s mission statement and creating a new vision statement, she is now focused on the four institutional goals: student success, research and scholarly activity, engagement in the community, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

According to Pescovitz, student success is the most important goal, and the university has been making significant headway. Improving graduation and retention rates, specifically with respect to underrepresented minorities, and making OU a leader in the nation by reaching 80 percent of students with four year graduation rates, are at the forefront.

Research and scholarly activity is working toward OU becoming a stronger research base, both locally and nationally, and contributing to Michigan’s economy, while engagement in the community revolves around OU students working to solve real-world problems.

Diversity, equity and inclusion was a new goal added under Pescovitz and focuses on embracing diversity and breaking down cultural barriers.  

Personnel changes under Pescovitz have included Glenn McIntosh filling the new position of chief diversity officer, Michael Westfall becoming the new vice president for advancement and the recruitment of Steve Waterfield as new athletic director.

While Pescovitz did not complete all of her goals for her first year in office, she stated that she never intended to as that gives her something do for the next year.

“My motto is that you should reach for the stars… you’re never going to get all of [your goals] done, and when you miss some of them, you’re going to land on the moon, and a moon landing is pretty good,” she said.

Pescovitz reported that working as the president of OU has been far better than she ever expected.

“The students are more amazing, the faculty are more remarkable, the campus is more gorgeous and everything about Oakland is way better than I ever in my wildest dreams thought it would be,” she said. “I pinch myself every day and I think, ‘How did I get so lucky to get to come here?'”

The high investment that faculty put into students’ success has also impressed Pescovitz, who stated that, while she loves most everything about her position, the best part is interacting with the students and the OU community.

“I don’t even mind the occasional complaints that I get because I like to be a problem solver,” she said.

Looking toward the fall semester, Pescovitz encourages students to take advantage of all that OU has to offer, be prepared to come and work hard, and have a lot of fun.

She also stressed that it’s not uncommon to face challenges, and students should not be afraid to speak up and seek help.

“There is no reason that any student should suffer alone, and I want them to know, both as president and as a physician, that we have help available for every single student,” Pescovitz said.

Overall, she hopes that all of the administration’s goals and work will lead to Oakland being the university of choice.

“It’s hard to imagine being in a better place,” Pescovitz said.