Oakland University president makes $1M gift to school

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Oakland University President Ora Pescovitz said she wants to attract extraordinarily talented high school students to the college to make the school the region's "university of choice."

That's why Pescovitz is making a $1 million gift to OU, the Rochester-based university that she has led since 2017.

The gift, to be announced Monday, will be used for scholarships to attract creative and innovative students who are expected to be future community, civic and business leaders.

Oakland University President Ora Pescovitz

"These are the kids that go on to do remarkable things, change the world," said Pescovitz during an interview with The Detroit News. "I want to attract students who may not be thinking about Oakland. We have so much to offer them."

The "Pescovitz Presidential Scholarship" will be administered by OU’s Honors College. It will be awarded to students for the fall semester, beginning with four or five students per year. OU spokesman Brian Bierley said in four years the scholarship endowment will benefit 16 to 20 students annually.

Tuition at OU costs $14,025 annually for an in-state student.

“We are committed to improving the quality of life in the region, and an essential part of that is to cultivate students’ potential and leadership abilities that will have a transformative impact on our communities,” said Pescovitz. “Oakland’s mission is built on the vital connection between students’ success and community success.”

The gift brings the total of Pescovitz's philanthropy to the university during her presidential tenure to $1.78 million. 

Earlier this year, Pescovitz created two endowments with gifts and commitments of $500,000. A third endowment was created in 2020 with a gift of $25,000. The endowments include the Malouf, Pescovitz, Ruchim Family Endowment for Global Student Experiences; the Rabbi Richard G. and Bella Hirsch Faculty Endowment for Racial and Social Justice Endowment; and the Bella Rozencweig Hirsch Endowment for Biomedical Ethics.

"Once again, President Pescovitz has demonstrated her unwavering commitment to student success with another remarkable gift to Oakland University,” said Mike Westfall, vice president, University Advancement, who noted the gift follows in the legacy of philanthropy established by OU founder Matilda Dodge Wilson. Wilson and her husband, Alfred, donated their 1,400-acre estate and $2 million to Michigan State University in 1957, according to the OU website, to establish Michigan State University-Oakland, which became Oakland University. 

OU Honors College Dean Graeme Harper said the gift is going to support high-achieving students “who commit not only to their own success, but to the success of others and our community."

“This magnificent new scholarship has the potential to change the world for the better through students right here on our campus,” said Harper.

The university's Board of Trustees voted unanimously earlier this year to extend Pescovitz's contract through June 2025.

Pescovitz earns $483,170 annually. In the 2021 fiscal year, she took a voluntary 20% pay cut to help address budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

Before joining Oakland University, Pescovitz was senior vice president and U.S. medical leader for BioMedicines at Eli Lilly and Co. and CEO and vice president of medical affairs at the University of Michigan Health System from 2009 to 2014.

The university has a student population of more than 18,000 undergraduate and graduate students.