BOT suspends formal considerations for East Campus development


Photo courtesy of

The corner of campus bordering Walton and Adams.

Joe Zerilli, Campus Editor

The Board of Trustees (BOT) came to a decision to cease formal considerations of potential development options for the corner of Walton Boulevard and Adams Road. This decision became public on Jan. 9 in an email sent to the Oakland University community.

The email read as follows:

Having explored potential opportunities to develop land at the corner of Walton Boulevard and Adams Road and thereby generate additional revenue to support the university, OU Board of Trustees Chair Bobby Schostak has announced that effective Friday, January 6, 2023, the university has suspended formal consideration of development options.

“The Board and university leaders engaged students, faculty, staff and many other campus stakeholders in a thoughtful, collaborative and deliberative consideration process over the last year.

“‘Proceeding with a project at this time is not in the university’s best interests due to the current economic environment and the need for more direct mission alignment,’ Schostak said.

“‘The Board deeply appreciates the considerable time and effort undertaken to explore this potential revenue generating opportunity, as well as the insightful campus community feedback provided throughout the process.'”

The process of finding potential development of East Campus was led by Mike Westfall, vice president of university advancement. He said the process overall was a “very positive experience” and his biggest takeaway was engaging with more people and building relationships.

“What I was given responsibility for was to manage the process and do it to the best of my ability and folks were fantastic throughout; passionate, spirited and very committed, which I respect,” Westfall said.

A market study was completed in early 2021, which garnered some ideas for the potential land development. Some of the markets found in the study were for multi-family housing, hotel/hospitality and an indoor performing arts center.

Over the past year, there have been plenty of opinions shared regarding the development. The Oakland Post received numerous letters from community members in opposition to the development, as well as a petition against the development and a protest during a sustainability rally.

The latest on the development prior to this announcement was during the Dec. 5 BOT meeting where two community members commented on East Campus, as well as Schostak.

It is unknown if there will be future considerations later down the road, but based on the statement, the board did not feel it was the right time.

Westfall said a goal of his was to find out why past attempts at this project did not happen. He also said one of his, the board’s and the president’s main focuses was to be transparent and inclusive.

“If there’s one legacy to this for me personally, it’s that future processes — whether it’s this or other things that impact the campus — hopefully, they will follow closely the process that we did in order to get to this decision,” Westfall said, “because, no matter the decision, I think that folks have felt engaged and involved and I’ve gotten that feedback from many, many people throughout, which I appreciate.”

OU is still tasked with finding solutions to the long-term financial stability of the university, which is currently facing a $24 million budget shortfall, while tying in with its sustainable values.