OU, OCC launch partnership

Leaders of Oakland University and Oakland Community College gathered at OU’s Meadow Brook Hall on Thursday morning to celebrate the announcement of Oakland 2 Oakland, a new concurrent enrollment program.

“This has been a long time coming, from my perspective,” said Jacqueline Long, OU board of trustees chair and an alumna of both OU and OCC.

OU President Gary Russi and Provost Virinder Moudgil signed a celebratory agreement with OCC Chancellor Timothy Meyer and Martha Smydra, interim vice chancellor of academic and student affairs, making their partnership official.

“The O2O program will enable a more timely completion of the associate’s degree and the bachelor’s degree,” Russi said.

The new program will go into effect starting with the winter 2011 semester.

The program offers joint admission to both schools through one application as well as coordinated financial aid and advising. Students would be concurrently enrolled in both OU and OCC.

“With one single admissions application, the students can take advantage of resources and course selection at the Oakland University campus and the five Oakland Community College campuses throughout this county,” Russi said.

And because they would be “indistinguishable,” Mary Beth Snyder, VP of student affairs and enrollment management, said students enrolled in O2O would be eligible to live in OU student housing.

“If the students want to live in our housing, this is now an affiliation agreement that would allow them to live in campus housing — subject to space,” Snyder said.

In addition to housing services, all campus services offered to OU students would be available for O2O participants..

Scholarships would also be available. Moudgil said he anticipates that citizens of Oakland County would want to assist the program financially.

“There will be people who have resources who would like to support students … because that makes the community more vibrant, it makes a great place to live and work in … and it helps the economy,” Moudgil said. “Also, we keep our young people in the state.”

Current OU and OCC students and transfers with 32 or fewer credits, as well as those in their first year, are eligible. International students, those seeking a second degree and others are not eligible.

Freshmen students need a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher to enroll, while transfer students must have earned a minimum GPA of 2.5 to apply.

Students may not have completed more than 32 hours of university course work to qualify for the O2O program.

O2O mirrors the Macomb 2 Oakland program, which started in 2006 and currently enrolls 531 students.

“M2O was the first of its kind and it became a model partnership,” Moudgil said. “Other schools in the state are doing this now, but not on this scale.”

Cost per credit hour is substantially less at OCC — $60.10 compared to $292.75 in the lower division and $319.75 in the upper division at OU — which may make students less apt to attend OU for a full four years.

“But what we lose, potentially, at the freshman level, we’ll make up at the junior, senior level,” Snyder said.

And Snyder said students who enroll in the program “have every intention of graduating from Oakland University.”

According to Meyer, OCC currently has a total enrollment of about 74,000 students.

“Nearly half of them have the clear intention of transferring. I’m very proud to say the majority of those who do transfer come to Oakland University,” Meyer said.

Jane Choi, a sophomore, said she liked the smaller class size of OCC, adding that the teachers were “hands on.” She transferred from OCC in winter 2009 and came to OU for its political science program.

Because she has over 32 credits at OU, she wouldn’t be eligible for O2O, but said she’d have considered it were it around when she started college.

Snyder said the program should make school more “economically feasible” for families in the community.

Kristen Mishark, a junior studying finance, hasn’t taken courses outside of OU, but said the program sounds appealing for that reason.

“It probably could have saved me more money and time,” Mishark said.

Others at the presentation stressed the importance of education for Michigan’s future.

“Regardless of how the state’s vision is described, it is clear that the future is dependent on a more educated workforce,” said Mary Otto, VP of OU’s Outreach program. “And underlying that is the importance of increasing access and making it easier for students to persist to degree completion.”

Despite the economy, enrollment has been up at both schools.

While OU had a 4.1 percent enrollment increase this year, Meyer said there’s been “a major uptick” in enrollment at OCC.

“We’re about 32 percent higher than we were five years ago,” Meyer said. “We’re only 100 students shy of our all-time enrollment.”

Moudgil said the program should add to the OU student body population, which should mean less chance of a tuition increase.

There is also a partnership with St. Clair Community College in the works, which Snyder said should launch this fall with a signing in April.

“All the same benefits apply,” she said.

To find out more about O2O, visit www.oakland.edu/o2o.