August 12 BOT meeting: vaccination plan, new board chair and vice chair


Ayman Ishimwe

Chair of the Board of Trustees Tonya Allen at her last meeting sitting beside President Ora Pescovitz. With less than three weeks before students return to campus, the BOT hosted a meeting and discussed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, faculty contract negotiations and a new chair and vice chair.

The Board of Trustees (BOT) met on Thursday, Aug. 12 in Ballroom A to discuss the university’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, board chair and vice chair elections and faculty negotiations. 

President’s Report 

President Ora Pescovitz began the meeting with a presentation of the “Working Together for a Healthy Campus” campaign to encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The goal is an 85 to 90% vaccination rate of the OU community to reach herd immunity. 

On Aug. 5, indoor face masks were mandated per CDC guidelines to combat the Delta variant. 

While vaccines are only mandated for students living in resident halls, the university’s education plan takes “a respectful and non-coercive approach” to encouraging vaccinations through empathy, education and incentives. 

One of these incentives is anyone who uploads their vaccine information to the Graham Health Center Patient Portal will receive $100. 

Prior to Pescovitz’s Aug. 5 announcement of the plan, nearly 2,000 individuals had uploaded their data to the portal. As of Aug. 11, over 4,000 people have added their information — a 235% increase. 

“If we had a 235% increase every week between now and the middle of September, I think we would hit our goal,” Pescovitz said. 

New Board Chair and Vice Chair 

It was Chair Tonya Allen’s final board meeting before her move to Minnesota. Allen served on the board since September of 2016 when she was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder.

“I have a lot of love for this university, not because I attended the university,” Allen said. “Actually, the University of Michigan has love for loyalty. Oakland University has love because it earned it.” 

With a unanimous vote the BOT elected Robert Schostak for chair and Joe Jones for vice chair. 

Faculty Negotiations 

Karen Miller, Ph.D, associate professor of history and OU president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) appealed to the BOT. 

Last week, OU’s AAUP surveyed its nearly 880 members about the plan to return to campus in September. The majority, according to Miller, are unhappy, with 528 members supporting the idea of mandated vaccines for those returning. 

The members acknowledge the possibility of immunocompromisation and other restrictions that may prevent some from getting vaccinated, and for those, they suggest online instruction. 

“We appreciate everyone’s desire to resume normal interaction — the faculty wants this in the same way that our students and administrators do,” Miller said, addressing the board. “However, we believe it is your responsibility to maximize the safety on campus, to guarantee that our community members and their families remain safe and healthy throughout the academic year.” 

Other Highlights

Pescovitz welcomed Elaine K. Carey, Ph.D who began tenure as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on June 30. She also recognized Michelle Piskulich, who is departing after her 32-year career as Senior Associate Provost of OU. 

Additionally, two Grizzlies are 2020 Olympic medalists: current student Kate Nye and alumnus Erika Polidori.

Lastly, OU received the 2021 College and University Professional Association “HR Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award.” 

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be Monday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. in Banquet Room A.