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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: Oakland University Archives


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1960: Association of Women Students

Photo of women walking across OU Vandenberg BridgeImage: Oakland University Archives
The University forms an on-campus organization for women students: 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.  


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1962: Associated Women Students of Michigan State University Oakland

Image source: 1961 Student Yearbook "Oak Leaves"
Students formed the Associated Women Students of Michigan State University Oakland. The group aimed to "provide a spirit of unity among women students… to promote high standards academically and socially, to represent women students in matters of university interest, to work cooperatively with faculty, students, and other organizations toward the continued development of the university, and to help develop qualities of leadership and responsibility among women students." All women students at OU would be members of the association. There would be no membership dues and the organization would operate on the University activities budget. By April of 1962, the Associated Women Students were a part of the Intercollegiate Association of Women Students. Some members of the organization were even able to travel across the state to an IAWS conference to meet other similar organizations.


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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


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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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1969: Ad Hoc Committee on women's rights

Document source: Women's Rights, Ad Hoc Committee, 1969, vertical file, Oakland University Archives
In 1969, Oakland female faculty created an Ad Hoc Committee to discuss women's rights on campus. Some of the key points they brought up were the need for a university subsidized child care center, gynecological services in the health center, and equal wages for equal work. A survey was completed in December of 1969, revealing statistics about the university population. Out of 301 faculty, only 49 of them were female, and out of 64 marked as professors, only two of them were female.  In addition, while 39% of male faculty members were tenured, only 10% of female faculty were.  


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1969: Gender Inequality and Women's Rights at OU

diversityproject_038 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 students, 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 its own report. Together, these reports illustrate a history of challenges and successes for women at OU. Image source: Oakland University Archives


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1970: Coed living

In 1970, a proposal was put forward to encourage the creation of some coed living spaces in the existing student dorms. These spaces were planned to only house "hand-picked" students whose parents would know ahead of time they would be living in a co-ed space.


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1974: Women's Center

Image source: Women's Center, vertical file, Oakland University Archives
In June of 1974, talk first started about getting a Women's Center on campus. People felt that the center was needed to serve OU women and in the local community as well. There was concern over whether or not the center would be legal under Title IX, but coordinators of the Women's Center assured skeptics that it was. They reassured concerned members of the OU community that there was no desire to exclude men, and said some male students already had interest in the center in the summer of 1974. On July 22, 1974, the official Women's Center Proposal was drafted. The goal was to "serve women, primarily those returning to school after some interruption". The proposal went on to list the variety of services that were to be offered thorough the center: academic advising, counseling, files of resource materials on opportunities for women, and more. The importance of having a facility with all of these support functions was emphasized, as at the time, no other place on campus could fulfill all of the functions that the Women's Center planned to do. By January of 1975, the Women's Center opened in the Oakland Center, and less than a year later it was hosting talks on rape, lectures on sexuality, and film screenings.  


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1982: The Women of Oakland University

Image source: Women of OU collection, Oakland University Archives
The Women of Oakland University became an organization to replace the University Women's Club. The by-laws of the organization were sent out with the first newsletter. They read in part "The purpose of Women of Oakland shall be 1) to promote a spirit of community among women associated with Oakland University, and 2) to provide service to Oakland University. These purposes shall be effected by offering educational, cultural, service and social opportunities to members of the organization." Members paid dues and were able to become part of smaller subcommittees. These smaller "interest groups" put on events of their own, ranging from aerobics, baby-sitting exchanges, book exchanges, crafts, sports, and forums for women's issues. All meetings for the organization were held at Meadow Brook Hall.


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1993: Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives

Image source: Oakland University Archives
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.  


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

NSF AdvanceIn September, National Science Foundation (NSF) awards Oakland University a four-year, $519,000 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


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2012: OU Female Engineering Faculty

OU Women FacultyFor fall 2012, the  American Society for Engineering Education ranks Oakland University 4th in the country for percentage of women tenure-track/ tenured faculty in engineering. See "Engineering by the Numbers" (p.30). Image: WISE@OU


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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.


Project credits: original research by Johnnie Blunt; updates by Dominique Daniel and Cheyanne Kramer

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Created by Name / Updated on May 24, 2019 by Name

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