Piskulich steps up to serve as interim provost


Senior Associate Provost Michelle Piskulich will step into the role of interim provost effective June 15 as the national search to find a successor for Provost James Lentini continues.

The search for a new provost started in January 2020 and it was temporarily suspended due to the travel restrictions brought on by COVID-19. With Lentini leaving to accept his position as president of Malloy College in New York, an interim provost was needed.

Piskulich’s experience as an Oakland University faculty member for 32 years prepared her for her new role. She has served the university in different ways, beginning as a professor in the political science department and moving to positions in the dean of the College of Arts and Science’s office and the provost’s office.

“I’ve been here quite a while,” Piskulich said. “I have a broad range of experiences in terms of who I’ve worked with, and every time I move to a different office, I’ve gotten to see the university from a slightly different point of view. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to take that one step further by being a part of the president’s cabinet.”

As interim provost, Piskulich will have the opportunity to work closely with President Ora Pescovitz, whom she admires. Piskulich is “really humbled to have been asked to join [her leadership team].”

Since COVID-19 first became a concern of the university, Piskulich has been working to prepare and assist students, faculty and staff through the transition to online learning.

“In the last two months, Dr. Piskulich’s tireless work and leadership have been instrumental to our successful transition to remote and online learning,” Pescovitz said in an announcement. “She has worked closely with Provost Lentini for seven years, and I have great confidence in her competence, judgment and work ethic.”

Currently, Piskulich is working to get students back on campus as safely and quickly as possible. 

“We want to be as open as we can be in the fall,” Piskulich said. “The president has already said that we will be offering hybrid courses, and we are certainly everything we can to understand what our classroom capacities will be — so we can work with our units to try to plan for those capacities.” 

The changes and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 have been on the forefront of most minds, but Piskulich made it a priority to continue the efforts the university worked on before the pandemic affected the campus community. 

“We also have a number of initiatives that had already been underway that we would want to make certain we are moving forward on,” Piskulich said. “We just don’t really want to lose momentum. OU is, I think, in a great region to really contribute in big ways to our state and also to the surrounding states. We need to make certain that we are doing everything we can to keep our eye on the things we know will help us help our students as they go into the workforce and help our faculty achieve their goals in research and really try to change the world.”