April BOT meeting: New master’s program, student awards, advancement update

The April 20 Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting recognized four student award recipients, introduced a new master’s degree in finance and featured a report from board student liaisons Mallory Kean and Red Douglas.

There was a student protest before and during the meeting regarding the wages on campus and the calls for a raise to $15 for all student workers. Students were members of Oakland University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter, and they passed out fliers to attendees with more information about their mission.

President’s Report

President Ora Pescovitz acknowledged the issue and surrounding concerns of campus safety, encouraging students to engage in talks about improving the state of campus safety, asking to schedule a meeting with Chief Mark Gordon and the Emergency Planning Group to listen to any concerns.

“Although we focus so much on student success as being the number one goal for the institution, we know that we can’t really pay attention to student success if we don’t have a campus that is safe and healthy,” Pescovitz said.

Pescovitz went on to recognize 36 faculty members who received awards, as well as three distinguished professors. Dr. Anna Spagnuolo, professor of mathematics and the chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was one of three recipients of the Distinguished Professor of the Year award, presented by the Michigan Association of State Universities.

Pescovitz discussed new partnerships — those between Easterseals MORC and OU’s Social Work and Counseling, as well as between the university and the OU Credit Union.

The O’Rena deal is a $5 million, 10-year deal with naming rights to change the name to the OU Credit Union O’Rena, effective July 1.

Vice President of Advancement Mike Westfall gave an advancement update for OU, with the campaign raising $142.5 million of the $150 million goal as of April 14. Fundraising as a whole has improved, reaching a new record of $30 million raised in the fiscal year 2023.

“As a final word, I’d like to just reiterate my appreciation for my team and university colleagues,” Westfall said. “It’s been a rewarding five years for me personally due to the work we do together.”

He highlighted groups who had high participation and who hosted the most funding, including Meadow Brook Hall, the Golden Grizzlies Pantry and the Organic Farm Fund. Some philanthropy impacts include the scholarship support, the OUWB Holocaust education trip and the restoration of the Gate Lodge.

The President’s Report ended with the dean of the School of Engineering & Computer Science, Louay Chamra, providing a profile of the school. The school offers post-graduation success as 89% of the 2021-22 class are employed or pursuing further education, with 100% of those employed being in Michigan.

Student awards

The four awards presented were Alfred G. and Matilda R. Wilson Awards, the Human Relations Award and the Don and Jan O’Dowd Graduate Award. Glenn McIntosh, the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, presented the first three awards to seniors and the latter to a graduate student.

Mustafa Akbar Ali Baig was awarded the Alfred G. Wilson Award and Isabella Mahuad received the Matilda R. Wilson Award.

“I’m honored to present the Alfred G. and Matilda Wilson Awards along with the Human Relations Award,” McIntosh said. “Typically I don’t read in front of audiences, I speak, but today, so you’ll get a complete picture of the magnitude, the impact of these students, I’m going to read.”

Baig maintained a 3.68 GPA, was on the Dean’s List for each semester and offered leadership by helping students with Career Services.

Mahuad maintained a 3.87 GPA, was awarded the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and was involved with community service at the nonprofit organization Centro Multicultural La Familia.

McIntosh awarded Carly Rose Hammond with the Human Relations Award. Hammond developed and founded her own nonprofit, the Saginaw Community Alliance for the People, organized Great Lakes Coffee workers to strike and led an effort to obtain bottles of water for Flint.

McIntosh lastly presented Chloe Megan Jones with the O’Dowd Graduate Award for her academic achievements, including her maintenance of a 4.0 GPA and her involvement in over 15 research projects. Jones has also published two peer-reviewed works and provided behavioral services to students in the Hazel Park School District.

New master’s degree

The Master of Science in Finance will be part of the School of Business Administration, and is a three-concentration program aimed to fill gaps in the curriculum. The concentrations include corporate finance, financial analytics and investment analysis.

The program will be interdisciplinary among the finance, accounting and decision and information sciences programs. It will include 10 total classes — five being required, four coming with a concentration and one being a final capstone class.

The program aims to be on the forefront of advancing technology like FinTech, the Metaverse and generative AI. The need comes from a student survey where 133 students were found likely to enroll in the program and the growing job market according to the Bureau and Labor Statistics.

Liaison report

Douglas and Kean highlighted the collaborations they have both been involved with during their tenure as student liaisons. They have worked with the Greek cottages in regards to safety concerns for a crosswalk across Adams Road as well as a student bereavement policy to feature more inclusive language.

They have also collaborated with Student Congress (OUSC) on multiple occasions — once in regards to campus safety through a story featured in The Oakland Post earlier this semester. The other instance saw a student engagement task force featured on the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning YouTube page.

After this semester, Kean will be attending law school at Michigan State University. Meanwhile, Douglas is going to Purdue University with the Writing Center and will be returning to Oakland in June.

Karen Miller, president of the OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), ended the meeting with the results of a recent workplace satisfaction survey. The issues pointed out in the survey include faculty recruitment, morale and retention.

“We have seen an increase in the number of faculty leaving for other institutions and other jobs outside of academia,” Miller said. “Making Oakland work as an institution of higher education will require a partnership with faculty through shared governance. This will require mutual respect and a higher level of trust.”