South Foundation Hall renovation, enrollment covered at BOT meeting


Courtesy of Oakland University

South Foundation Hall renovations are expected to be completed by Fall 2021.

Katie Valley and Trevor Tyle

The Oakland University Board of Trustees (BOT) met Monday, Oct. 14 to discuss changes in enrollment, campus safety updates and details surrounding the forthcoming renovation to South Foundation Hall.

President’s report

President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said this academic year, OU saw its second largest number of incoming freshmen (2,667) with its most diverse and academically talented class. With 19,013 total students, OU defies the nationwide trend of fewer students choosing to attend college — OU’s enrollment number being off by just 1.5% from last year.

“Here at Oakland, we are delighted that we are holding our own, and we are bucking the trend,” Pescovitz said. “Having said that, I do have to say that I’m concerned about the fact that students are not going to college in huge numbers, so that is something I hope that all of us will continue to address.”

Of this year’s enrollment, 15,543 are undergraduate students (82%) and 3.470 are graduate students (18%).

There was also a 10.1% increase in transfer students this year, with 1,581 students transferring to OU this fall — the second largest transfer class in the state. Pescovitz attributes this to the more than 20 new transfer articulation agreements signed with Michigan community colleges.

Pescovitz expanded OU’s foundation to include values.

“I think it’s time for us to not just live our values, but for us to articulate them as well,” she said. “And, I think that we need to communicate those through a shared values statement.”

Campus safety

OU Police Department (OUPD) Chief Mark Gordon stated the campus’ efforts to remain one of the safest universities in the country. With 23 sworn officers, five 911 dispatchers, three support services and an Office of Emergency Management, OUPD works to keep the community safe.

Gordon stressed the importance of community partnerships, where community members are meant to feel comfortable with their campus police department. OUPD offers nontraditional support to foster those relationships, such as the Safe-Walk Program, vehicle jump starts and lockouts, along with public education presentations. 

This year’s campus safety initiatives include the Grizzlies CARE Team, a source for community members can report threats or concerning behavior on campus.

The future vision for OUPD is to expand the department as the demands for police services grows, adding a K-9 unit to support larger-scale events, increasing emergency preparedness and overall adapting police services as campus needs change.

South Foundation Hall renovations

Chief Operating Officer Scott Kunselman and representatives from Stantec, the architecture and engineering company handling the $40 million South Foundation Hall renovation, provided the BoT with updates to the project during the meeting. 

According to Stantec Principal Mike Baker, they are looking to have the new design for the building complete by December, while construction documents are expected to be finalized in March 2020. The team hopes to begin construction in May or June 2020, with an anticipated completion by the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. 

Among the changes being implemented are new bathrooms, a new collaborative area to replace the current “fishbowl” space and larger rooms. Currently, there are 37 classrooms in South Foundation, but the new expansion will increase that number to a total of 50, with many of the original rooms increasing in size.

During the period in which South Foundation is renovated, the building will not be occupied. University officials are working with faculty and staff to relocate classes to alternative spaces on campus. 

South Foundation is one of the first academic buildings on campus, and as such, Stantec officials expressed hopes of preserving pieces of the building to “celebrate OU’s story,” according to architect and planner Sami Szeszulski. The exterior of the building will be composed of both brick and metal elements to symbolize the joining of the university’s past and future.

A complete outline of the schematics for the renovation are available on OU’s website

Other matters

  • Flexible Work Arrangements: The University of Choice Initiative was announced, aimed at making OU more desirable to work at with new flexible work arrangements.
  • 2019 has been a great year for equities with much volatility in the economic market, though there are some concerns with economic growth being the slowest it’s been in a decade, according to Rebecca Sorenson, UBS Wealth Management’s senior vice president.
  • Trustee Melissa Stolicker said OU received a clean Management Discussion and Analysis audit.

The next BOT meeting will be Monday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. in Banquet Room A.