President Russi presents slideshow at OUSC meeting

By Jake Thielen

Monday’s OUSC meeting featured a special guest speaker. University president Dr. Gary Russi was on hand to give a slideshow presentation on Oakland University’s progress and to answer questions from students.

Russi said Oakland has been receiving accolades from groups outside the university.

“There is an accrediting body, North Central Association, and they come to us every 10 years,” Russi said. “It’s remarkable; last time they were here, just a few months ago, they told us that we had no weaknesses. In other words, they gave us a clean bill of health and gave us 10 years before they came back.”

Russi talked about how the university has been able to avoid cutting programs and jobs, despite having the state funding cut every year since 2000, while other universities around the country have not been so fortunate.

“We’ve had none of that at Oakland, and there are some special reasons why that has occurred,” Russi said. “One of the reasons is that we’ve done great planning at Oakland. We have been able to invest in faculty as we continue to grow, which continues to say that we’re of quality. We’ve been able to add (degree) programs, and in fact we’ve added about 65 programs in 10 years.”

Russi talked about how technology will impact Oakland in the future.

“Technology is going to change us and the type of students that are coming to us will change,” Russi said. “Interdisciplinary learning will become a very, very important part of the world. We think students will take control of their own learning. Faculty will facilitate that and they’ll connect you with resources. It’s becoming more prevalent every day, but it’s going to be huge in the future.”

Russi said students need to be involved in planning OU’s future.

“One of the challenges we have is to identify our competitive advantage,” Russi said. “If we don’t identify our competitive advantage, competitors will run us over. As part of the planning process, we need your insight. I would like to hear students’ insight on what is our competitive advantage for Oakland University.”

Russi followed up his presentation with a question and answer session. He was asked whether Oakland would receive more state appropriations in the near future.

“I had an opportunity to meet with (Gov. Rick Snyder) three times, and with the 15 public university presidents,” Russi said. “We sat with him and talked about funding and higher education. He told us that ‘everyone is going to share in the pain,’ so that suggests that the likelihood of seeing an increased appropriation for higher education, certainly in the next couple years, would be pretty slim.”

Russi was also asked about potentially switching athletic conferences, given the success of the basketball team.

“The Summit League is a basketball league,” Russi said. “It is surrounded by schools, there are 10 of us, that their premiere sport is really basketball. We’ve been very successful in all of our sports, and we’ve done extremely well in those 11 years (of Summit League membership).”

Moving to another conference, Russi said, would increase the pressure to add a football program.

“At this point, football is not in the cards for some time, but once football is in the cards and we start to think about football, then you start looking at other athletic conferences, ” Russi said.

Russi was also asked about the upcoming Homecoming tailgate and he said that students seem excited for the opportunity.

“I think there are 185 spots available for the tailgate,” Russi said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all 185 spots were taken and each spot brought the maximum of 20 guests? That would be pretty cool for our first tailgate experience.”

Other OUSC news

Three OUSC legislators were approved as committee chairs. Alexis Halsell was approved as the steering committee chair. Darrell Boyd was approved as the judiciary chair. Trang Le was approved as the research and review chair.

Emilia Allen and DeTara Michener were approved as multicultural affairs committee members.

OUSC also announced the winners of the Monopoly stock challenge.

The 22 participants in the challenge were given $10,000 of imaginary funds to work with. The students then chose up to five stocks, and whoever made the most money between Nov. 26 and Dec. 26 was declared the winner.

Samantha Dowda won first place after buying 600 shares of Arvin Mentor and making a profit of $2696. Trang Le finished in second place with a profit of $1,523.37 and Charles Scott finished in third with a profit of $1,036.96.

Scholarship committee chair James Kaminski said first place was awarded $200 in Spirit Cash, with second place receiving $100 and third place receiving $50.

“It was a good turnout and we had a lot of people show interest,” Kmainski said.