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OU Libraries Timeline: diversity

1959: First OU "For Credit" Classes

diversityproject_021First "for credit" classes begin on September 21 with 570 students (1). Race and gender statistics are unavailable for this group.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives

1. In July 1958, OU offers non-credit continuous education class in a converted chicken coop. See OU Firsts


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1959: Lynn Anderson Ruth: First OU Student

Lynn E. Anderson First OU StudentChosen from a pool of students who finished in the top half of their class, Lynn Anderson Ruth registers for classes at Michigan State University - Oakland and receives student number 000001, making history as the first MSUO student.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


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1959: OU's First International Students

diversityproject_030diversityproject_024OU enrolls its first international student, Aydin Ilgaz, a 19-year old male from Istanbul, Turkey (1). Dang Xich Lan (above right), a 29 year old from Vietnam, enrolls in January 1960 (2).

1. "MSU-O Has First Foreign Student," The Oakland Observer, 11 December 1959, p. 5.

2. "Vietnam Student Enrolls at MSUO," The Oakland Observer, 29 January 1960, p. 1.

Images: OU Kresge Library Archives


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1960: Association of Women Students

Photo of women walking across OU Vandenberg BridgeThe University forms an organization for women students on campus: the Association of Women Students (1). This association is briefly mentioned in the October 14, 1960 Academic Senate meeting minutes.

1. Oakland Observer, Oct. 21, 1960, p.3, v.2: no.2.
Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1961: Czetong Song

Mr. Czetong 'Tom' Song, a researcher with the Association for Asian Studies, UM, was named assistant librarian. Song, an American of Korean ancestry born in Tokyo, held a master's degree in philosophy from UM and received a Master's degree in library science from UM in 1962. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College and spoke six languages. He departed Kresge Library for a position at WSU in 1964.


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1962: First OU Enrollment Statistics by Gender

First OU Enrollment Statistics by Gender OU starts reporting student enrollment by gender. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, a total of 1, 259 students enrolled in the Fall 1962 semester: 615 women and 644 men.

Image: "Enrollment by Gender" Office of Institutional Research and Assessment


1965: Diversity and Inclusiveness Leadership: Dr. Manuel H. Pierson

diversityproject_045pierson_collage A founding father of OU diversity efforts, Dr. Manuel H. Pierson begins a 28 year mission to promote diversity and equal opportunity for students, staff, and faculty. Dr. Pierson held several challenging administrative positions at OU. During his tenures as Associate Dean of Students and Director of Special Projects, Associate Dean of Student Services, and Assistant Vice President, Dr. Pierson led many diversity and equal opportunity initiatives, including Upward Bound and Project 20. Dr. Pierson died on February 13, 2006. The University held a memorial on March 16th. His colleagues and friends recalled his achievements during the 14th Annual Keeper of the Dream Banquet at OU. Dr Pierson's pioneering spirits lives on in Oakland's continuing mission of diversity and inclusiveness.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1965: Isaac Jones

isaac_jonesIsaac Jones is the first African American to graduate at OU. He receives a BA in Sociology. In 1968, Jones was fatally shot. OU created a scholarship in his name (see Chancellor Varner's speech for dignity and justice for all and 1968 Isaac Jones Memorial Scholarship entry below).

Image: Photo of Isaac Jones in Oakland Center. Photographer: Johnnie R. Blunt


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1966: Project Upward Bound

Project Upward Bound Scholar Life Cycle Project Upward Bound is founded. A federally funded program, it serves underachieving high school students who have the potential for post high school training. Its mission is to provide academic, social, cultural, and career enrichment that prepares students to succeed in higher education.


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1967: Project 20

diversityproject_011In an effort to create a more ethnically diverse student population, OU admits 20 African American high school graduates under the Project 20 initiative. Funded by local businesses, Project 20 "aim[s] at dis-advantaged teen-agers whose high school grades [are] too low to admit them to college. Instead of past achievement they [are] selected on the basis of their potential and motivation". In June 1971, twelve Project 20 students graduate from OU (1).

1. The Sunday News-Detroit, June 13, 1971 p. 22A


1968: First OU Woman Engineer

Ann Auten, a native of Athens, Michigan, is the first female graduate from the OU School of Engineering (1).

1.Lakeland Tribune, August 8, 1968


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1968: Isaac Jones Memorial Scholarship

Isaac Jones Scholarship NoticeShortly after the February 3rd murder of Isaac Jones, OU's first African American graduate, the University establishes the Isaac Jones Memorial Scholarship fund. The financial aid gift is awarded to promising African American high school graduates from Pontiac, Michigan. Pontiac Central High graduate Cecilia E. Brown (picture above) is the first recipient.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1969: Gender Inequality and Women's Rights at OU


Like its peers, Oakland University has struggled with gender inequality. During the last half-century, the University has produced numerous reports that analyze pay and promotion gaps between male and female faculty and staff. These reports also describe differential achievement levels and opportunities between male and female students.

In 1969, the Women Right's Committee produced "On Encouraging Sexual Equality at Oakland University," a five page document that recommended programmatic and structural changes that would facilitate a more welcoming environment for female student, staff, and faculty. In 1971, the Oakland chapter of the American Association of University Professors produced "Report of the Status of Women at Oakland". This report was updated in 1978. In 1993, the Task Force on the Status of Women at Oakland University issued it's own report. Together, these reports illustrate a history of challenges and successes for women at OU.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1970: International Students and Scholars

International Students and Scholars Welcome In July, the International Students and Scholars Office is established. As noted on its website, ISSO " is committed to building an international campus through service, support and advocacy to nurture global citizenship and multicultural appreciation."

Image: OU International Students and Scholars Office


1971: Black Liberation Caucus

Atlanta Blackstar Photo  of Black Panther Party In January, the Black Liberation Caucus is founded. According to the March 15, 1971 edition of OU, an official university newsletter, BLC replaces the Association of Black Students, as the "formal" organization for OU African American students. The article notes that BLC views itself as a political organization linked with a world-wide liberation movement". In its general policy statement, BLC offers the following political stance:

The Black Liberation Caucus is dedicated to the liberation of black people and is guided by the principles of black revolutionary nationalism and pan-Africanism. We are committed to a struggle against racism, capitalism, and imperialism both in the U.S. and internationally, especially on the African continent.

According to a James D. Graham essay, "The Revolution Was Not Televised: Perspectives from the Banks of Beer Lake, 1969-1975," by 1974 BLC morphed into the "more inclusive" student organization: Association of Black Students. However, Oakland University Archive documents (an October 23, 1969 article about ABS information day event for prospective students and a photo of the ABS from the 1969 OU yearbook Ascendent 69) indicate that ABS had been in existence since 1969. Most likely ABS regained its position as the official voice of OU African American students during this period.

Image: Altanta Blackstar "9 Black Liberation Movements Subverted by Racist Governments" November 29, 2013


1971: OU La Raza Day

la_razaOakland University Latin-American staff and students, in conjunction with the Admissions Office, sponsors the university's first "La Raza Day". La Raza Day is a campus visitation program, culturally oriented to Latino high school students. The goal of the program is to "promote cultural awareness and to explore the opportunities and facilities available in higher education for...Latino student[s]". The second annual La Raza Day is briefly mentioned in the April 18, 1972 Oakland University Newsletter.

Image: La Raza from Constitution Warrior


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1972: George Gardiner

George Gardiner became Dean of the Library in 1972, and held the position until 1983. He held an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and had previously served on the staffs of the Fisk University Library in special collections, the University of Chicago Library in reference, the American Library Association in the Library Administration Division, Illinois State University in reference, and as director of the library of Central State University, Ohio. He published articles in the areas of collective bargaining, Black studies, and reference services, among others.


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1974: Afro-American Studies Program

OU starts the Afro-American Studies Program, a concentration to "help students see the history, life, and culture of Afro-Americans from the perspectives of several different academic disciplines. In the memo below, Professor De Witt S. Dykes explains that the program, which requires 28 credits, is suitable to a wide range of students. Afro-Americans Studies (later combined with African Studies Program and renamed African and African American Studies) is currently a minor concentration in the International Studies ProgramMemo: Afro American Studies Program. Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1974: Black Alumni Association

The OU Black Alumni Association is established in June.


1976: Indra David

Indra David became a librarian at Kresge Library, at the rank of assistant professor. She held a B.A. from the University of Madras, India, and a Masters in Library Science from Syracuse, and had previously worked as a librarian at Queen's University. She later earned her doctorate at Wayne State University in 1990. She became Associate Dean of the library in 1985, and served as Interim Dean in 1998-99.


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1981: Black Profiles Booklet

OU Black Faculty and Staff BookletDean of Students Manuel H. Pierson approves the production of "Oakland University Black Profiles," a booklet of OU African American student leaders, faculty, and staff. Distributed on October 27, 1981, this publication was compiled to facilitate solidarity and academic success within the OU African American student population.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1988: Hispanic Heritage Month

Dancers perform during OU's 2012 Hispanic Celebration Month On September 15th, Hispanic Heritage Week is expanded to a month long celebration (see information on the Center for Multicultural Initiatives website). A dance performance from the 2012 OU Hispanic Heritage Month is featured above.

Image: Hispanic Celebration Month


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1989: OU Affirmative Action

According to the May 10th Board of Trustees Meeting minutes, Dr. John De Carlo, Vice President of Government Affairs, motioned the Board to approve an affirmative action policy that would facilitate diversity among the University's staff and faculty. The motion was approved.  


1990: Mission: Unity

Picture of OU students of various genders and ethnicitiesMission: Unity, consisting of students, staff, and alumni, is formed to facilitate cross-cultural discussions about race. Marc Allen Payne, a senior, is its founding president. The organization is later renamed Cross-roads. (11 July 1990 Board of Trustees minutes).

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1992: Origins of OU Center for Multicultural Initiatives

Oakalnd U. protestors want minority postApproximately 150 African-American students conduct a sit-in at President Sandra Packard's office, in protest of lack of an office for minority affairs. This action results in the creation of an Office for Minority Equity a year later. Glenn McIntosh is appointed Director In January 1994 (OU Senate Minutes, January 13, 1994). OME is later renamed the Center for Multicultural Initiatives.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


1993: Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award

Andrew Young, Keynote Speaker , 2006 Keeper of the Dream Banquet In January, the OU Center for Multicultural Initiative establishes the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., several scholarships are awarded annually to OU students "who have contributed to interracial understanding and good will".

Image: Andrew Young, Keynote Speaker, 2006 Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Banquet


1993: Kevern and Bledsoe Donation

A gift of $1000 was made to the Kresge Library by Ron Kevern and Wilma Ray Bledsoe, to be used for the purchase of recent university press books about African-Americans. Wilma Ray Bledsoe was the first African-American Vice President for Student Affairs at Oakland University, while Ron Kevern was an administrative professional at OU.


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1993: Manuel Pierson Diversity Statement

During the September 30, 1993 OU Senate meeting, Dr. Manuel Pierson presents findings about ethnic diversity at the University. As noted in the minutes, Dr. Pierson "stressed the importance of recognizing diversity and encouraging respect for different cultures, traditions, and viewpoints within Oakland University as well as in the broader society. "


1993: Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives

diversityproject_039 Originally housed within the Office for Minority Equity, the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives "serves as a resource and is charged with promoting and furthering the university's commitment to the principles of diversity inclusion and equal opportunity." The Office is linked to several diversity and inclusion initiatives: Presidential Diversity Award, Employee Resource Groups (ERG), and ADVANCE: WISE@OU. The above picture features several international students from an early 1960s "foreign student tea." From left to right: Angelique Sherman (Liberia), Mary Finkelstein (Cuba), Elizabeth Davis (Liberia), Wolfe Metzger (Austria). Director of Admissions Herbert Stoutenburg (standing, far right) and Mrs. Stoutenburg (seated, far right) host the group.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


2003: SAFE Program for OU LGBTQIA Community

SAFE logoS.A.F.E. (Students, Administration, and Faculty for Equality) is established. According to the October 23, 2003 campus news release, SAFE is "a new organization committed to providing an open and supportive environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campus community. Program participants, or "allies," are available for assistance and also help challenge homophobia, heterosexism and other forms of discrimination".

Image: SAFE


2004: LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group

Oakland U LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group OU employees establish the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Ally Employee Resource Group (LGBTQIA). The group's mission is to " to foster an inclusive, open campus community, and to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and allied people." LGBTQIA notes that its mission also "support[s] the diversity and full inclusion and achievements of [the OU] student body."

Image: LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group


2006: Asian-American Celebration

collage of diversityproject033, 041, 042, and 043From January 30 to February 3, OU holds its first Asian-American Celebration to recognize the uniqueness of cultures that "fall within the boundaries of Asia," including Russia, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.

Image: OU Kresge Library Archives


2006: Native American Student Association

Native AmericansThe OU Native American Student Association is founded to "increase awareness on campus about the culture and heritage of Native Americans". For more recent information, see Student Aspires to Work for Native American Rights.

Image: Student Aspires to Work for Native American Rights


2007: Gaylor Collection

The Robert Gaylor Collection, devoted to materials focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and issues, was dedicated. Mr. Gaylor, who retired from the Oakland University Library in 2003 after 37 years of service as a librarian, assembled this collection over a period of 40 years.

Portrait of Robert Gaylor


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2009: Kym Worthy lecture at Kresge Library

On February 5, as part of Oakland University's African History Celebration month, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy came to Kresge Library to speak on "Economic and Spiritual Recovery in a Post-Kilpatrick Detroit." Kym Worthy at KL 2009


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2011: CMI C.O.R.E. Summer Bridge Program

A diversity initiative headed by the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, Collectively Oakland Retains Everyone (C.O.R.E.) Summer Bridge Program is a free, week-long residential experience on campus, designed to help new students bridge the gap between high school and college, while building relationships and honing academic skills. The Bridge Program is the first step in helping first year working-class and other minority students succeed at Oakland University. After the Summer Bridge Program, CORE students meet with mentors weekly to facilitate academic progress. They are also required to live on campus during their first year.

Image: CORE


2011: Women in Science and Engineering at Oakland (WISE@OU)

Women in Science and Engineering at OUIn September, National Science Foundation (NSF) awards Oakland University a four-year, $519,00 ADVANCE grant to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields. According to the program's website, W.I.S.E. has four institutional goals:
  • Increase diversity of search pools
  • Ensure that an increased percentage of new STEM tenure-track faculty are women or are from under-represented populations
  • Ensure that an increased percentage of tenured STEM faculty are women or are from under-represented populations
  • Ensure that each academic unit has a percentage of women or under-represented populations at full professor level

Image: WISE@OU Celebrating Faculty Achievements


2012: OU Female Engineering Faculty

OU Women Engineering FacultyOU ranks 4th in the country for percentage of women tenure-track/ tenured faculty in engineering. See American for Society of Engineering Education "Engineering by the Numbers" (p.30).

Image: WISE@OU


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2013: OU Minority Enrollment 2013

The OU Office of Institutional Research and Assessment reports a minority student population of 4,012 in its Fall 2013 headcount. This represents roughly 21% of the total student population. This number does not include possible minorities among the 1,013 unreported students.
  • African American = 1, 768
  • Asian/Pacific Islander =1,010
  • Hispanic = 528
  • Native American = 188
  • Foreign Nationality = 486
For more information, please consult Office of Institutional Research and Assessment Student Profile.


2013: Women as Majority of OU Student Population

OU women medical studentsAccording to the OU Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, 20,169 students enrolled in the fall 2013 semester. Approximately 66% are women. This percentage seems to reflect gender enrollment statistics compiled by the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Undergraduate students

  • Male: 6, 820
  • Female: 9,774

Graduate students

  • Male: 1,412
  • Female: 2,163
Image: OU Women medical students


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Photos courtesy of the Oakland University Archives.

Created by Name / Updated on February 18, 2014 by Name

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