Summary Information

Oakland University Archives and Special Collections
Historic Oakland University Documents collection
Date [inclusive]
5.0 Linear feet

Preferred Citation

Item, folder title, box no., Historic Oakland University Documents, Oakland University Archives.

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Oakland University -- originally Michigan State University - Oakland -- opened its doors in 1959 on a brand new campus carved out of the Meadow Brook Estate, with 2 buildings, 24 faculty and about 570 students. Durward B (Woody) Varner became its first Chancellor. The new MSUO was intended to be an elite liberal arts branch of MSU. Its curriculum was designed from the ideas put forward during the Meadow Brook Seminars -- a series of workshops held at Meadow Brook Hall with academic leaders from the best institutions in the country.

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Scope and Contents

This collection brings together documents of multiple origins relating to the early history of the university, from its planning and founding to its development in the years following its opening.

These documents deal with the planning of the future university in the 1956-1959 period (box 1). This includes the Meadow Brook Seminars, a series of meetings held at Meadow Brook Hall in 1959 to discuss the curriculum of the future university (box 2). Additional materials document the establishment of the university in 1959-1960 (box 3). Curriculum development is also addresssed (box 4) as well as student life (box 6). The collection includes press releases, brochures and other promotional material produced by the young institution (box 6). Finally some materials deal with the 1963-1973 period (box 7).

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Oakland University Archives and Special Collections

Kresge Library
100 Library Drive
Rochester, MI, 48309

Access and Use

The Historic Oakland University Documents collection is open for research except for certain records restricted by statute or university policy. Box 6 contains confidential information, and some folders are closed for 75 years from date of creation or until death of subjects.


Copyright held by Oakland University.


Processed by Linda Hildebrand. Updates by Dominique Daniel

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Collection Inventory

Box 1 


Matilda Wilson College of Michigan State University. December 28, 1956 

General note

A rough draft of a proposal, author unknown, sent to MSU President John Hannah, D.B. Varner, J.H. Denison. The proposal envisions the establishment on the Meadowbrook Farms of the Matilda Wilson College of MSU.

House concurrent resolution no. 5 January 24, 1957 

General note

A concurrent resolution of appreciation and acceptance of the gift of Mr. and Mrs. A.G. Wilson of Meadow Brook Farms, and a cash endowment to Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science.

Selected Population Characteristics of Oakland and Macomb Counties, Michigan. January 1957   15 leaves

Oakland Macomb County Advisory Committee - correspondence, minutes. March 1957 

Michigan State University Branch Survey: Oakland and Macomb Counties. May-June 1957   22 leaves

General note

MSU, in close cooperation with local school systems is conducting a survey of needed community college and university programs in this area.

Planning for future post-secondary educational needs in Oakland and McComb Counties: tentative draft of study outline. ca.1957 

Post secondary education in Oakland - Macomb Counties: Summary. ca. 1957 

Adult Education Needs in Oakland-Macomb Counties. June 1957   12 leaves

A compilation of data concerning the need for post-secondary education in the Oakland-Macomb County Area. September 1957   3 folders

Information on Michigan State University - Oakland. 1958   3 leaves

Minutes and correspondence of the University Community Planning and Development Study Committee. 1958-1959 

Information and Reconnaissance Survey: Area Development Study--Avon and Pontiac Townships and Michigan State University Oakland. October 1958 

General note

Prepared by the Area Development Study Group, Institute for Community Development & Services, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Development Plan for M.S.U. - Oakland. Harold W. Lautner, Campus Landscape Architect, Michigan State University. December 8, 1958 

General note

Includes tentative development plan for the campus, Floor plans for Faculty Housing and a lot layout for the Faculty Subdivision. 2 added copies with some missing pages.

Administrative Procedures for matters concerning the Planning and Development of the “University Community”, Avon and Pontiac Townships, Oakland County Michigan. April 1959 

General note

Prepared by Avon-Pontiac Townships Regional Planning Commission and the Institute for Community Development and Service, Michigan State University.

Minutes of the Avon Pontiac Townships Regional Planning Commission. 1959-1961 

General note

Includes occasional mentions of MSU-O and plans for the area near the university.

MSUO Purposes 

Building Needs. Memos from D.B. Varner. March 7 and 26, 1960 


General note

Meadowbrook Farms; Building areas; Campus development plan

Map. Proposed layout plan: Intramural, dormitories & student center. September 6, 1961   [11.5” x 11.5”]

Landscaping - Nursery at MSUO. Memo. September 25, 1959 

University Development Analysis / developed and prepared by Swanson Associates, Inc. Architects and Planners.   18 leaves

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Box 2 


Meadow Brook Seminar materials. Agendas, notes, supplementary materials, reports. 

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Box 3 


Correspondence re: the establishment of MSU - O. Dec. 4, 1956-Feb. 25, 1959 

MSUO Administrative Group. Minutes. Additional memos. 1959-1966 

Memos to Varner -- MSU Board actions relating to MSUO. 1958-1960 

Memorandum relating to Michigan State University - Oakland. ca. 1958   5 leaves

General note

The situation in higher education; Factual information about the program proposed at MSUO; Financial data.

Mailing address for MSU-O to be Rochester, Michigan. August 7, 1958 

Michigan State University - Oakland Budget request ca. 1958   6 leaves

RE: Application for a bank account for MSU-O. June 26, 1959 

MSUO Personnel: Lists of faculty and staff and classified employees. 1959-1961 

Organization of the University. 1960 

University Committees. 1960 

New faculty memo from Robert Hoopes, Dean of the Faculty. April 26, 1960 

Name changed to Oakland University February 1963 

General note

Press release and photocopies of newspaper clippings.

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Box 4 


MSUO Curriculum Committee Report December 1957   16 leaves

General note

1. Introduction: the Committee and its objectives. 2. Minimum degree requirements. 3. Subcollegiate instruction. 4. General education curriculum. 5. Business administration curriculum. 6. Teacher education curriculum. 7. Engineering curriculum. 8. Science and arts curriculum.

Curriculum Development. Memos and proposals. 1957-1961 

Suggested Curriculum for MSUO. (Draft of Curriculum - MSU-O). May 22, 1959? 

Curriculum - Michigan State University - Oakland. May 22, 1959   5 copies

General note

Introductory comments; Purposes; The curriculum development process; Some general guidelines in the curriculum development; From guidelines to specifics; The liberal studies program; Teacher education; Business administration; Engineering science; The continuing education program. Also includes the synthesis and summary documents from the Meadow Brook Seminars on Higher Education and a list of member of the MSUO Foundation.

Degree requirements. (Proposed) April 26, 1960 

Trimester information. 

General note

Proposed trimester plan for Oakland University, (no date); Newspaper clippings concerning the trimester proposal; Correspondence.

Honors Program (proposed) [no date] 

Miscellaneous papers. 

Michigan State University - Oakland : it's programs. ca. 1963 

Educational Policy Committee Minutes and Memos. (Curriculum) 

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Box 5 


MSU Press Release: 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 3, 1957. Wilson Gift of estate to MSU for branch college. Dept. of Information Services, Michigan State University. Jan. 3, 1957   5 leaves

MSU Press Release: June 25, 1958. Establishment of the Michigan State University Oakland Foundation. June 25, 1958 

MSU Press Release: July 7, 1958. Establishment of the Michigan State University Oakland Continuing Education Center. July 7, 1958 

MSU Press Release: March 25, 1959. Public relations program for MSU-O -- information plan. March 25, 1959   6 leaves

MSUO Press Release: Sept. 20, 1961. Meadow Brook Hall to host ball to raise scholarship funds. Sept. 20, 1961   2 leaves

“Construction begins on Oakland Branch", The Quarterly Record of Michigan State University. Spring Quarter 1958. p. 1-2. 1958 

MSU Reporter. Issues containing information about MSU-O. 1958-1959 

General note

A. "Michigan State University Oakland." June 1958, cover, p. 4-5

B. "MSU-O - a report of progress." October 1958. p. 16-17

C. "MSU-O on schedule for 1959 opening." November 1958. p. 7

D. "Building curricula at MSU-O: Business administration." January 1959. p. 4-5

E. "Building curricula at MSU-O: Liberal arts." February 1959. p. 4-5.

F. "MSU-O: a new approach to higher education. September 1959. p. 2-3.

Introducing Michigan State University - Oakland. [Promotional brochure] ca 1958   [1 page, folded in thirds]

Introducing MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY -- OAKLAND: Engineering, Teacher education, Business administration, Liberal arts. 1958   6 leaves

General note

To begin with a tradition, by John A. Hannah, Curriculum and facilities, An appraisal by the press, Location, A summary of facts about MSU--O.

The story of a new kind of university as Time has told it: Michigan State University Oakland. Reprint of Time article that appeared in the Sept. 28, 1959 issue. Sept. 28, 1959 

This is Michigan State University Oakland: MSU’s new sister school. A reprint from the Michigan State University Magazine. November 1959. [16 p.] il. November 1959   6 copies

A gift . . . and a challenge to you and your community. [Promotional brochure] 1959. 8 p. 1959 

Facts about MSUO’s buildings and campus. ca. 1960   2 leaves

MSUO. [Promotional brochure. folded sheet.] ca. 1960 

Michigan State University Oakland Rochester [Promotional brochure] ca. 1960-1 [20 p.] il. 1960-1961   3 copies

Michigan State University Oakland. [Promotional brochure]. 1961   folded sheet

Michigan State University Oakland Fact Sheets. January 30, 1961 and September 15, 1961 

Trimester--a richer future sooner at MSUO [Promotional brochure] 1961   folded sheet

Emblems & Motto (Various design prototypes). 

General note

Folder contains information on the proposed motto and official seal [no date].

On-to-College nights - Michigan State University Oakland. Sponsored by the Community Relations Committee of the MSUO Foundation. [no date] 

Facts about the Campus and Buildings. [16 p.] (prototype for a brochure?). 1962 

Guide to the Curriculum. [Promotional brochure] 8 p. ca. 1961 

A gift -- and a challenge to you and your community. Michigan State University - Oakland Scholarship brochure prototype. Text for an 8 page, 2 color brochure.  Summer, 1959   11 leaves

Memos concerning student publications & university communication needs. 

Memos concerning publicity. 

Speeches? Three envelopes containing note cards for speeches, possibly Chancellor Varner's notes. 

George Matthew's (History) Brief history of Oakland University Prepared for the University Planning Committee. November 17, 1977    14 leaves

George Matthew's (History) unfinished History of Oakland University, chapters 1-3. Handwritten and typed but still in draft format. 

University Brochures - miscellaneous subjects 1961-1965? 

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Box 6 


Application for Admission, Acceptance. 1959-1960 

Access and Use note

This folder contains confidential information. Closed for 75 years after creation or death of subjects.

Alumni College brochure 

Testing: Entrance and Placement. ca. 1959 

Fall Quarter Report on Student Affairs 1959   46 leaves. 2c

General note

Contents: Dean of Students, Counseling and testing, Physical education, recreation and intramural athletic, Report on land usage, Activities, Health Services, Student Center, Student publications, University Bookstore.

Book list, spring term 1960 

Freshmen Conference April 28, 1960 

MSUO Student Directory, 1961-1962 1961-1962 

Scope and Contents note

Printed as a service by your Student Government, Bruce Plaxton chairman; Mickey McWilliams and Ron Miller. [48 pages]


Student Directory Cover Art 1962-1963 


Student Recruitment (Folder with speeches & other information). 1961 

Student Information Bulletin. 12 p. September 1, 1962 

Student life at Oakland University. ca. 1962   2 leaves

Constitution of the Student Body of Michigan State University Oakland (proposed) 6 leaves. Constitutional amendments (proposed)   2 leaves

Charter Class job offers. Photocopies of newspaper articles. 1963   10 leaves

Master Number List from the Office of the Registrar. -- All students. From 0001 to 7499 1959-1965 

Access and Use note

This folder contains confidential information. Closed for 75 years after creation or death of subjects.

Student Identification cards. Samples. 

Access and Use note

This folder contains confidential information. Closed for 75 years after creation or death of subjects.

ROTC and AFROTC. Correspondence dealing with the requirements of a ROTC program. 1958   22 leaves

Student Housing in a Congenial New Form. 1960? MSUO: a new pattern, 48 students in a house. 1961? [Promotional brochure] (Anibal, Fitgerald, Pryale and Hill). 1960-1961 

MSUO Reports. Press clippings from local newspapers profiling a number of OU students 1960-1964   21 leaves

Charter Class graduates. Press clippings from local newspapers 1963 

Michigan State University Oakland Freshman Bulletin. May, 1962. 52 p. May, 1962 

Proposed housing regulations. Memos 1961 

Student Scholarships - memos and contacts list. 

University Christian Fellowship of MSU-O. Organization chart.   1 leaf

Optimum size of student body for present campus: preliminary report June 14, 1963   4 leaves

Lower Quartile Project, 1962. Report on academic performance of freshmen, by David Lowy. May, 1963. 1962-1963   4 leaves

Michigan State University Oakland. Ground-Breaking Ceremonies [8 p.]**** May 2, 1958 

Convocation of Charter Class. Program, September 17, 1959. 28 p. Speeches by Chancellor D.B. Varner, Thomas H. Hamilton, Robert Hoopes. Newspaper clipping. Also preliminary planning document. September 17, 1959   10 typewritten leaves

Invitation to a convocation for the parents of the members of the charter class, Sept. 20, 1959. 

Convocations of the Freshman Class of Michigan State University Oakland. Sept. 15, 1960, Sept. 4, 1963. Programs. Also newspaper clippings about convocations 1960-1964. 1960-1964 

Campus Activities, 1959-1962. Folder of invitations, programs available to students. 1959-1962 

Scholarship Banquet. 

Annual Recognition Dinner for the Continuing Education Faculty, MSUO. “A new concern for an old problem,” by Durward B. Varner, Chancellor. An address presented May 26, 1961. 12 p. May 26, 1961 

Promote Michigan Week. April/May 1961 

Detroit Horse Show June 20-25, 1961. For the benefit of the Scholarship Fund of MSU-O. June 20-25, 1961 

Saturday Seminars: Intellectual Adventures for High School Students. 1961-1962 

Culture Internationale. 1962. (Folder contains Planning Committee memos and list of contributors.) 1962 

Annual Recognition Dinner: Academic Honors and Awards. Program. March 8, 1962. March 14, 1963. 

Commencement. April 20, 1963. Charter Class. 

General note

Folder contains : 1) Invitation; 2) Order of procession of graduates; 3) Programs -7 copies; 4) Newspaper clipping from the Pontiac Press, Apr. 22, 1963.] 5). Commencement music informational leaflet.

Commencement. April 18, 1964. Program. 

Convocation of the Clergy - Friends of MSUO. Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1959. "A continuing education program." 

Pontiac Centennial 1961 

Correspondence concerning Mr. Dang Xich Lan, an international student from Laos. 1960 

Access and Use note

This folder contains confidential information. Closed for 75 years after creation or death of subjects.

Graduate Placement 1963 and 1964. 

Women's Regulations - Housing handbook 1964-65 

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Box 7 1963-1964 

Oakland University history, 1963-1964 

Oakland University history, 1964-1965 

Oakland University, 1966-1967 

Circle K (Kiwanis) Club of Oakland University 1967 

Oakland University history, 1968-1969 

Annual reports - physical plant, grounds, convocation and graduation 1967-1968 

Guidelines for Continuing Physical Development - By Johnson, Johnson & Roy, Landscapes Architects 1971 

General note

Booklet; Includes oversize map, "Long Range Physical Development Plan - Oakland University"

Proposal for change at Oakland University 1969 

Oakland University history, 1969-1970 

Report on “Early Goals of Oakland” 1970 

Scope and Contents

Covers the first 10 years of Oakland University

Oakland University history, 1973-1974 

Commendation from Oakland County 

Planning Commission, Planning Cycle Procedure Manual ca 1970 

MSUO Business Office Policies and Procedures 1961-1968 

Hollie Lepley, "The Oakland University Story: Physical Education, Recreation, and Intramural Sports, Intercollegiate Athletics" 2/11/1984   4 page typescript

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Box 8 

OU's independence 1970 

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Oversize materials 

Map-case Drawer

OU Charter Class 1963   picture in frame

1 B

Signed Birthday Card from Fitzgerald House n.d. 

1 B

Signed Birthday Card 1962 

1 B

Signed Birthday Card 1963 

1 B

Signed Poster Board Birthday Cards undated   6 cards

1 B

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Scrapbook - James Wolfe 1964 

Scope and Contents note:

Scrapbook of James Wolfe, 1964 alum; containing photos, newsclippings, correspondence, and University publications.