In 1957, Meadow Brook Farms in Rochester was 1,500 acres of rolling hills with a 110-room mansion as its centerpiece.
Fifty years later, the location is a bustling university campus with nearly 18,000 students and a reputation for outstanding academics and research programs.
Much has changed since Alfred and Matilda Dodge Wilson announced in 1957 that they would donate $2 million and Meadow Brook Farms to create Michigan State University – Oakland.
It officially opened with 570 students in 1959 and became Oakland University (OU) in 1963. In 2000, enrollment topped 15,000 students for the first time, and in 2006, 17,737 students attended OU classes.
Throughout 2007, Oakland University is celebrating its 50th Anniversary with numerous special events, including a Founders’ Day Celebration on April 18 and a 50th Anniversary Faculty, Staff and Families Celebration on September 7.
Also, Meadow Brook Hall is featuring a special exhibit that contains numerous items from OU’s past, including the shovel used for the University’s groundbreaking, charter class yearbook and class rings, newspaper articles, photos, and Matilda Dodge Wilson’s cap, gown and diploma.
Oakland has also launched a 50th Anniversary web site, which provides a timeline, historic photos, personal memories, and other details about the special occasion.
While OU celebrates its past, it continues to pursue new accomplishments as part of its “OU in 2010” initiative.
Formulated in early 2001 by the University’s president and provost, “OU in 2010” created a blueprint for the next 10 years, establishing goals and strategies to grow the University and make it “a premier university of the 21st century.”
More than 2,300 initiatives have been undertaken so far by Oakland to meet its goals. Among those have been the creation of new law and graduate programs.
In July 2006, the The American Bar Association granted Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s request to establish full, three-year Juris Doctor degree programs through its Oakland University location. The new programs allow students in Southeast Michigan more opportunities to pursue a law degree and provides professional development opportunities for OU faculty and staff.
Recently, Oakland University’s School of Nursing began offering a new joint Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with Northern Michigan University. Doctor of Nursing Practice is the highest degree for clinical nursing practice, and nurses with master’s degrees can complete the accelerated program in 16 months. Courses will be offered in 7-week intervals and will be innovative and flexible, incorporating technology for online classes and Web conferencing to create face-to-face interaction over a distance.
Technology and research were also integral parts of the “OU in 2010” initiative.
Students are able to get high-speed Internet access and connect to Internet2 with the University’s fiber connection to Merit Network. Oakland University became a Sponsored Educational Group Participant of Internet2 in 2001.
Last fall, OU’s University Technology Services began enhancing the campus wireless network. By the end of the upgrade, all buildings on the main campus will have wireless GrizzNet access. Plus, more network access points will be added over the next couple years, which will enable students to utilize laptops and other wireless devices in the classroom.
The University has also given students more opportunities to pursue computer-related study.
The Department of Computer Science Engineering now offers a new major in Computer Information Technology. In addition, four master’s programs allow students to pursue knowledge in computer science and engineering, software engineering, information systems engineering, and embedded systems.
This summer, select undergraduate students can participate in a research experience funded by the National Science Foundation. The Undergraduate Computer Research at Oakland University (UnCoRe) program allows students to conduct research on a variety of topics related to Intelligent Information Engineering. The program is entering its sixth year and has earned several grants and awards.
The Summer Institute in BioEngineering and Health Informatics will also challenge research students during the summer.
The Summer Institute allows 15 students pursuing degrees in Computer Science, Natural Science, Health Science, or other majors to spend 10 weeks dedicated to solving multidisciplinary problems. Projects scheduled for 2007 include “Antigen Detecting Capacitance Based Biosensor,” “Bioinformatics Processes and Tools for the Discovery, Identification, and Cataloguing of Helitrons,” “Multisensory Agitation Control in Alzheimer’s Disease,” and “Application of Extended Genetic Algorithm to Tertiary Protein Structure.”
It’s been 50 years since Matilda Dodge Wilson used a gold shovel to break ground during a dedication ceremony, and the dream of an innovative university in Rochester, Michigan has become a reality.
What started with 570 students and a few buildings in Rochester has grown to become an accomplished university with nearly 18,000 students, 115 baccalaureate degree programs, and 90 graduate degree and certificate programs.
Oakland University’s goal is to be a “premier university of the 21st century” by 2010. Just imagine the accomplishments OU will have achieved by its 100th anniversary celebration.