Building begins on OU bell tower and housing

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 1, 2013

ROCHESTER HILLS — Construction has begun on two important new additions to Oakland University.

A 151-foot carillon tower and a student housing project are both stated to be completed in 2014.

The carillon tower will serve as an architectural centerpiece for the campus, university officials said. Donated by OU benefactors Hugh and Nancy Elliott, the tower will include a plaza with a water fountain, a garden and landscaping.

“We made our wealth here, and we’re going to leave our wealth here,” said Hugh Elliott, an Auburn Hills business owner, in a statement. “What better place than the university?”

In addition to funding the carillon tower, the Elliotts have donated $2 million to the OU School of Business Administration, established endowed scholarship and academic lecture funds, contributed to the Hugh and Nancy Elliott Room in the OU O’rena, and created and have sponsored the OU President’s Invitational golf outing, which has raised more than $1 million in more scholarships. 

The Elliott Carillon Tower will become the 14th carillon tower in Michigan when construction is complete in the fall of 2014. The tower’s 49 bells will ring in concert with a live playing schedule, and traditional quarter-hour chimes will be heard across campus.

A 500-bed student housing complex is slated to be completed in August of 2014 at OU. Construction of the $30 million building is in response to a 37 percent increase in student housing rental agreements over the past four years.

“By investing in our students’ academic and campus experience with projects like the new housing complex, we are creating a total campus community,” said Oakland University President Gary Russi in a statement. “A community that our students will remember as their home and their foundation for success.” 

Freshmen and sophomores living in the new facility will have access to a small cafe and space for student meetings, and private and group studying. The building will also become the new home of the OU’s Honors College.

According to Montgomery, budgeted funds and bonds will fund the new housing facility construction, which is planned for the north edge of campus, near existing on-campus housing.

“More people want to live on campus,” said Ted Montgomery, OU media relations director. “New housing is really needed. It is all about campus life. We are really enhancing the student-life experience.”

Building construction will aim for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, which has been incorporated in the design of the recently opened OU Human Health Building and the 127,000-square-foot Engineering Center, currently under construction.

Oakland University student Brian Johnston, of Shelby Township, said he believes the campus expansion projects are needed. “The population of the student body is getting bigger and they need to get more engineering students,” he said. “I will trust the university. I like the open spaces and the wilderness here,  seeing deer and groundhogs. I hope when I come back here in 10 to 15 years, it will not be a little city.”