$3 million Dodge Hall renovation among approvals at Board of Trustees meeting

Trevor Tyle, Editor-in-Chief

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Campus updates, Title IX, athletics and a $3 million renovation for Dodge Hall were addressed on Aug. 12 by The Oakland University Board of Trustees (BOT).

President’s Report

President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz began the meeting with a presentation highlighting summer activities for OU students, including study abroad opportunities in Israel, Greece and England, the new campus fitness court and the recently completed renovations to the Anne V. Nicholson apartments.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director and Title IX Coordinator Chad Martinez also outlined the significance of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs. In response to the rising sexual harassment accusations across the nation in recent years, Martinez reported the number of faculty and staff participating in OU’s online awareness training had increased. 

Athletic Director Steve Waterfield was also present during the BOT meeting to discuss his first year at the university and his goals for athletics moving forward.

“One of the things that became quite evident to me this first year was the pride and passion people have for Oakland University,” he said. “It gives me so much hope and optimism for the direction the athletics department will go.”

According to Waterfield, athletics has shown significant progress in community engagement and academic success. This past year, 176 of OU’s student athletes were named to the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll, the highest number of all schools in the league. He said the department has also shown considerable growth in areas relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Based on the most recently available NCAA grad rates report, our gender representation on the men’s and women’s sports mirror closely the overall OU student population,” he said. “Our African American representation [also] exceeds the university level.”

Dodge Hall renovations

The BOT unanimously approved a renovation project in Dodge Hall, which is expected to be funded by a $3 million bond approved at the June 10 BOT meeting.

“That space was originally vacated as part of the move of the engineering school into their new building, and since then, it’s proven to be an area in need of some updates,” said Chief Operating Officer Scott Kunselman. “The new layout … ultimately improves the space in terms of its efficiency.”

The project is expected to create new laboratory and office spaces for the College of Arts and Sciences. No time estimate for the project’s potential start date was given. Dodge Hall joins the likes of Varner, South Foundation and Wilson Hall as one of several renovation projects to be approved by the Board of Trustees in the past year. 

Purchasing property

The BOT also unanimously approved the purchase of property at 3300 University Drive, which will be funded by a $78 million bond approved at the June 10 BOT meeting.

 Kunselman noted the property’s proximity to OU’s main campus was within walking distance and would be “assignable to faculty research and other needs.” According to Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost James Lentini, the property purchase will resolve issues regarding a lack of research labs for applied research in engineering and other areas of study.

Kunselman estimated that more urgent renovations to the property could be completed in a matter of months, while he hopes to have it completed in its entirety within two to three years.

Additional agenda items

Shortly before the BOT approved several proposed university personnel actions, Lentini recognized four professors who were being considered for promotion to associate professor with tenure — Randal Westrick (biological sciences), Elizabeth Kattner (dance), Tomoko Wakabayashi (human development and child studies) and Virginia Uhley (foundational medicinal studies). He also introduced Amy Tully as the new director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. 

The meeting concluded with students from Universal Academy, one of OU’s Public School Academies, addressing the BOT with regard to alleged administrative and curriculum-based issues in their school. This is outlined in a companion piece published on The Oakland Post’s website. 

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be Monday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. in Banquet Room A.