Key administrator turnover during 2013-14 academic year, recapped

From retirement of a president to the appointment of a new Chief of Police, Oakland University has had many changes in its leaders in the past academic year.

As the 2013-14 school year comes to a close, students and faculty eagerly await some rest and relaxation that comes with summer. This year was nothing short of extraordinary and The Post would like to provide students and faculty a recap of some of the hiring, firing and leaving that occurred on the administrative level at Oakland University.

A coach is dismissed and a president leaves

On June 12, 2013 former Oakland University president, Dr. Gary Russi, announced his retirement, the same day his wife and former Oakland University women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis was fired, as reported by former Post News Editor Victoria Craw.

Former OU women’s basketball player Jenna Bachrouche went on the record saying Francis pushed her Christian beliefs on the team. Francis denied all claims in an exclusive interview with former Post Editor-in-Chief Scott Wolchek.

In November, Francis sued the school for not providing her the proper, un-redacted documentation as to why she was fired. She won the lawsuit.

Upon Gary Russi’s August 2013 retirement, he received $225,000 in deferred compensation, as reported by Victoria Craw. He is now the Chief of Staff of Celebrate Community Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as reported by Scott Wolchek.

Searching for a leader

After the leave of Gary Russi, Dr. Betty Youngblood was appointed Interim President in August 2013. Youngblood is a graduate of Oakland University and was the president of Lake Superior University in Wisconsin from 2002-2007, as reported by former Post Managing Editor Brian Johnston.

In December 2013, the Board of Trustees approved R. William Funk & Associates as the Presidential Search Firm. The firm has found presidents for well-known universities such as Ohio State University.

William Funk visited Oakland in February and spoke with the Oakland University Student Congress as to what students want to see in a president. The search is ongoing.

A musical provost and a new Chief take the reins

In July 2013, James Lentini was named Oakland University’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. He has been working actively in projects such as the Varner Hall expansion.

Did you know he’s also a renowned composer? Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have performed his works.

Another changed happened when former Oakland University Police Department Chief Samuel Lucido retired after serving as Chief of Police for 11 years. Mark Gordon was chosen as the next Chief and began his duties April 1. Gordon had served as various roles on the OUPD for 26 years, his latest being captain.

Gordon said the transition to Chief of Police is going well.

“I couldn’t ask for enough support,” Gordon said.

Gordon said that even with students going home in the summer, the campus “is still a very busy place.” Camps for students of younger ages will be happening all over campus.

“Focus changes from student age to that age (younger kids),” Gordon said.

Within OUPD itself there are a lot of things going on this summer, according to Gordon. This includes hiring a new dispatcher and training other officers.

Gordon said that now that he is Chief of Police, it “creates vacancies underneath me,” and therefore more opportunities.

He said that he has some new ideas for the police department that “will be beneficial and positive,” but will still need support and funds before they are passed.

Gordon described the transition as a work in progress but that it will be worth it in the end.

“It will be very positive for the university and the community as a whole,” he said.