Bridging the gap between OU and Auburn Hills

By John Doe

Oakland University’s students sometimes forget about their tie to the city of Auburn Hills because the university holds a Rochester mailing address, but the city is working to bridge that gap through various projects and student input.

Reanna Douglas, a junior at OU majoring in public administration, serves as the youngest member of the Board of Directors of the Tax Increment Finance Authority.

“The city is moving towards being more student-friendly,” Douglas said.

James McDonald, the mayor of Auburn Hills, wanted a broad spectrum of diverse opinions in order to get a better idea of how to serve the public,  according to Douglas.

“Mayor McDonald (appointed) me in hopes that I would serve as a liaison between Oakland student opinion and what is happening on campus, and see if that is concurrent and cohesive with what we want to do here at the city,” Douglas said.

In early October, a team of seven city council members recently approved the building of a student housing project. Backed by OU and Cooley Law School, the building is meant to serve as a preferred primary residence for graduate and law students.

“This is the largest and most ‘active’ project that we are currently working on,” said city countil member Kevin McDaniel, a 2002 graduate of OU’s school of business with a degree in management information systems. “This development is a great example of collaboration and engagement with residents, developers, private investors, students and OU.”

McDaniel was recently re-elected to serve his second four-year term on city council.

“My job is to represent the best interests and concerns of city residents as it pertains to city policy,” McDaniel said.

OU’s disconnect from the city of Auburn Hills is not because of a physical barrier, but rather a lack of understanding.

“Our biggest challenge is getting OU to recognize that they are in the City of Auburn Hills,” McDaniel said. “We think the school could grow faster by utilizing our worldwide recognition.”

McDaniel’s position has allowed him to work on various projects to connect more to his alma mater.

“One of our goals is to bring more awareness of how much Auburn Hills is a ‘college town,’” McDaniels said. “On any given day, we have more than 20,000 students within the City of Auburn Hills.”

The city’s motto is “Honoring The Past. Building The Future.”

“They are being very innovative and really pushing towards building the future,” Douglas said. “What I really like about Auburn Hills is that they say it, they do it and you see it,” Douglas said.

OU and the City of Auburn Hills are neighbors building a connection between students and residents.

“The city loves having a university in the city and wants to look for other opportunities for partnerships and ventures that help the University, the city, our residents, businesses and students,” McDaniel said.