June 13 BOT meeting: $9 million O’Dowd renovations, student liaisons leaving, Nursing dean speaks


The Oakland University Board of Trustees (BOT) met for the first time since the end of the winter semester to bid farewell to the School of Nursing Dean Judy Didion and student liaisons Amanda Wewer and Ethan Bradley. They also approved renovations to O’Dowd Hall in light of the space concerns and recapped the year in athletics. 

President Ora Pescovitz kicked off the meeting highlighting recent accomplishments and events involving the OU community. She congratulated the 4,008 graduates this year, along with thanking the School of Business Administration Dean Michael Mazzeo for his work as OU celebrates the 50-year anniversary of the school.

She then congratulated coach Greg Kampe for being named to the 2022 Class of Michiganians of the Year. Pescovitz ended her portion by welcoming Dean Didion to discuss the past year and her work as dean.

“Dean Didion’s tenure as dean of our School of Nursing has been distinguished by promoting diversity, holistic admissions and building partnerships with regional health care systems and community colleges,” Pescovitz said. “ She’s really been a tremendous dean in having numerous innovative initiatives to address the nursing shortage, quality of care and integrating technology into nursing education.”

Didion highlighted the high retention rate for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program — which sits at 95%. What is more impressive is 90% of BSN graduates are employed upon graduation with 98% of those staying employed in Michigan.

In the spring two accrediting bodies — the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Council on Accreditation — reviewed the school and spoke highly of the school.

“The best compliment I heard from one of the reviewers was it is obvious your faculty have a passion for your programs,” Didion said. “I think that just tells you how they demonstrated their love for students’ success and quality education.”

Didion ended by discussing the future and how there will be challenges but it will also be bright. 

“The best part of my job though, is knowing that making a difference here makes a difference with the health of individuals in all of our communities,” she said.

Dean Didion has put the School of Nursing into a great position to succeed and made a big impact on the school.

Following Didion, Director of Athletics Steve Waterfield acknowledged both academic and athletic accomplishments of the Golden Grizzlies along with community engagement. He commended the Recreation and Well-Being staff for usage exceeding 1,000 per day, as well as the O’Rena hosting about 137,000 visitors in the 2022 fiscal year.

He highlighted the overall student athlete GPA being 3.34 with 162 student athletes being named to the Fall Horizon League Honor Roll.

“This past academic year 44 All-Academic and honorable mention Horizon League winners, representing those sports and just really proud of what we’ve done academically and I think the academic success lays a foundation that I think leads to athletic success,” Waterfield said.

OU students had athletic success as well, with 84 Horizon League Athlete of the Week awards. Thomas Giroux was the first ever men’s golf student athlete to qualify for the NCAA championships, and Susan Lagrand was a NCAA Qualifier for the second time.

“I was at Horizon League meetings and was awarded the James J. McCaffrey trophy which is the all sports trophy that recognizes that Horizon League institution that performs best collectively in men’s and women’s sports combined” he said. “What I’m most proud of is we were the number one on the women’s side and number one on the men’s side.”

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Glenn McIntosh presented resolutions honoring student liaisons Wewer and Bradley.

“Amanda, thank you so much for being the bright, shining star everyday that you’ve been at Oakland University,” McIntosh said. “Ethan, it goes without saying that whenever you’re on campus, you make a difference and your imprint will forever be felt.”

Wewer will be attending Western Michigan’s medical school the next four years and is the mom of a new puppy. Bradley will be starting a two-year fellowship in bioethics at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and hopes to get his Ph.D. in Philosophy.

Vice Dean for Business and Administration at OUWB Stephen Collard introduced the renovation plans for the first floor of O’Dowd. OUWB, along with Fishbeck, plans to add 250 instructional seats and 62 to 87 informal learning seats.

“We’ve included 10 new classrooms, these 10 new classrooms allow for problem based learning that would meet the LCME accreditation,” lead architect Vincent Mattina said. “Eight of those rooms open up, there’s an operable partition that makes the rooms larger that allows for increased flexibility, growth for the university.”

Along with classroom space, plans to upgrade the main entry on the first floor which has more signage as well as a new staircase providing access to the second floor. The overall projected total of the project was $9.7 million, which was approved by the BOT.

The meeting ended with no closing remarks from the public.