New OU president aims for excellence

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 10, 2017


ROCHESTER HILLS —Oakland University’s new president, Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said her priorities are clear.

“I believe the university exists for students,” she said after a May 4 unanimous OU Board of Trustees vote naming her OU’s seventh president.

Pescovitz said that after a listening tour she will implement goals to achieve academic excellence in targeted areas to attract students, retain faculty and inspire philanthropy.

Board members named Pescovitz following a national search involving 61 candidates.

“It was a tough challenge, but we are convinced we have the right person,” OU Board of Trustees Chairman Ric DeVore said.

Pescovitz will begin her new job July 1, succeeding George Hynd. Hynd has been OU’s president since 2014. His three-year contract was not renewed by the OU Board of Trustees. Pescovitz, 60, comes to OU from Eli Lilly and Co., where she served as senior vice president.

An “affordable education” is another top goal that Pescovitz has identified for OU students, along with engagement with the community.

“Every student here should come prepared to solve a real-world problem through an immersive learning experience — with schools, businesses and hospitals,” she said.

She plans to hold quarterly meetings with students, and she said she will examine tuition standards and state support.

“OU is one of the least-well-supported from state funding,” she said. “It is important — I will work with the government affairs office to make sure we get appropriate funding for the kind of work we do here.”

Pescovitz, a renowned pediatric endocrinologist and researcher, has published more than 190 manuscripts and books. She previously served as the University of Michigan’s vice president for medical affairs and health system chief executive officer.

Her late husband, Mark Pescovitz, was a renowned transplant surgeon at Indiana University, and her family includes three children and their families, along with partner Dan Walsh, a cardiologist.

Pescovitz “has the ability to foster and guide the university toward a bright future given her expansive experience and leadership positions coupled with her broad vision for OU,” DeVore said. “Based on her performance throughout the entire interview process and the open forum with the campus community, she emerged as the right leader at the right time who can continue the development of academic excellence at Oakland University, as well as lead the garnering of additional fiscal resources.”

“Congratulations to Dr. Pescovitz on her appointment as president of Oakland University,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a statement.

“Oakland County and the university have worked together to help build the knowledge-based economy in our region, especially with collaboration between the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and our Medical Main Street initiative,” Patterson said. “We look forward to continuing our warm relationship.”