OU Credit Union donates $1 million toward campus sustainability efforts


Photo courtesy of Oakland University

When Oakland University announced the suspension of its considerations for an East Campus development (ECD) project, environmental activists on campus rejoiced.

While this major development in the ECD project was a major success for protecting campus biodiversity, environmental justice efforts are not limited to defensive measures. On June 2, the OU Credit Union announced a $1 million gift to Oakland University for proactive campus sustainability initiatives.

The generous award came as a surprise to the attendees of the 2023 Michigan Climate Summit, which was hosted at Oakland University on June 2. During the opening remarks of the morning, OU President Ora Pescovitz invited April Clobes, CEO of the Oakland University Credit Union, onto the stage. 

President Pescovitz spoke first, reminding the crowd that sustainability has always been one of her main priorities as President of OU. She suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic presented a strong challenge to her sustainability initiatives.

“In regards to environmental injustice, we need to raise awareness and increase a sense of urgency,” President Pescovitz said. “This is not an easy task, but that is no excuse for us to turn away from the challenge.”

The last time President Pescovitz spoke publicly about her sustainability efforts, her address drew a handful of student advocates who stood behind Pescovitz in a peaceful protest against ECD plans. When Pescovitz spoke about campus sustainability at the 2023 Michigan Climate Summit she faced environmental advocates; this time, there were hundreds of them.

To prove her aims of advancing campus sustainability were not simply empty promises, President Pescovitz invited Clobes to take over the podium.

CEO Clobes began her speech by speaking about her personal experiences with sustainability. Born into a farming family, Clobes continues to hold a passion for animals and the outdoors in her adult life.

“We are committed as a financial institution to the principles of sustainability and a staunch supporter of the bedrock university in our region,” Clobes said. “OU is well-positioned to be a catalyst in developing education programs, research and policy recommendations as communities learn how we can work together to create a sustainable society and planet.”

The $1 million gift awarded to Oakland University by the OU Credit Union will provide seed funds for the establishment of the OU Center for Environmental Sustainability and Ethics. The funds will also support a director of sustainability position and additional sustainability initiatives.

“We are stewards of our resources, and responsible for making sure we continue to develop our communities so all people can enjoy economic opportunities and the highest possible quality of life,” President Pescovitz said.

The Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment (CASE-OU) has been a strong champion of sustainability efforts on campus for years, with a flourishing membership of over 100 faculty, staff, students, and community members. The OU Credit Union’s $1 million gift will provide beneficial financial support to further sustainability on campus. 

To learn more and receive updates about campus sustainability efforts, please visit Oakland University’s sustainability webpage.