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Rochester Hills

Russi retires from Oakland University’s top spot

June 19, 2013

ROCHESTER HILLS — In August, Oakland University President Gary Russi will retire from the position he has held since 1995.

During his tenure, Russi oversaw the launching of a medical center, an expanded student body and staff, and $400 million in OU building improvements.

“He transformed this place,” said Ted Montgomery, OU media relations director. “He accomplished so much.”

According to university officials, since Russi was named OU president in 1995, the student population grew to almost 20,000, and more than 65 new academic degree programs were added.   

“Doctor Russi has been a transformational leader for Oakland University. He has made a lasting mark on the university and helped the institution reach new benchmarks for enrollment, research, collaboration and academic opportunities,” said Michael Kramer, chair of the Oakland University Board of Trustees in a statement.

New additions to the OU campus during Russi’s tenure include the Human Health Building, the Science and Engineering Building, a recreation and athletics center, the Elliott Hall of Business and Information Technology, Carlotta and Dennis Pawley Hall, new student apartments and a student activities center.

In addition, the university launched the first new allopathic medical school in the state in 47 years, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Slated to open in fall of 2014 are a new engineering center, a student-housing complex and a new bell tower.

“Doctor Russi has guided Oakland University through exciting times and has championed our school’s distinctiveness and dedication to students,” Kramer said. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Russi for his two decades of dedicated service to Oakland University. Clearly, he leaves a lasting legacy and will be missed.”   

The OU Board of Trustees named OU Associate Vice President for Outreach Betty Youngblood as interim president. Russi will work with Youngblood to ensure a smooth transition as a national search for a new university president begins.

“It has been my honor and pleasure to serve this tremendous university,” Russi said in a statement.

“I extend my appreciation to the faculty, staff, alumni, friends, donors and the entire Oakland University. The significant growth of Oakland University is a testament to the hard work of the extremely high-quality faculty and staff with whom I have had the privilege of working,” Russi said.

About the author

Staff Writer Linda Shepard covers Rochester Hills and Oakland Township for the Rochester Post. Shepard has worked for C & G Newspapers since 1998, graduated from Oakland University and is a past winner of the Michigan Press Association award. Shepard takes an avid interest in Detroit’s history and current rebirth.

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