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Oakland University plans South Foundation Hall expansion

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published January 15, 2019


ROCHESTER HILLS — A critical shortage of classroom space will be addressed in an upcoming Oakland University renovation and expansion project.

South Foundation Hall will receive a 25,000-square-foot expansion and a renovation to the current 55,000-square-foot building. According to OU officials, enrollment at the university has increased by 59 percent since 1998.

“The renovation of South Foundation Hall is an important component of our strategic plan and will enable us to continue to meet the educational needs of all of our students,” OU President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said in a statement.

South Foundation Hall, one of the first classroom buildings on campus, was formally dedicated in 1959 as Foundation Hall. The renovation will configure the building to increase the number of classrooms, while allowing for changing teaching methods and updated technology.   

“This renovation of an original campus classroom building will gradually build a sense of timelessness that links generations of the campus community,” OU Vice President James Lentini said in a statement. “It also provides much-needed academic space for a campus that has seen tremendous enrollment growth and has transformed into a national research university.”

The $40 million project will be funded via bonds and a state contribution, approved by the Michigan Legislature. University officials say the project will not increase tuition for students.

“We greatly appreciate the governor, Legislature and especially our local representatives supporting the ongoing growth and sustainability of Oakland University,” Pescovitz said.

A recent report from the Michigan Higher Education Institutional Data Inventory revealed that OU has the lowest available square footage of classroom space per student of all 15 Michigan public universities.

The South Foundation Hall project aims to provide additional space for those studying health professions, education, humanities and the arts.

Both South and North Foundation halls were originally built with $2 million donated by Matilda and Alfred Wilson. Both buildings are named in tribute to the Michigan State University Oakland Foundation, an organization of 50 community members who played an active role in founding and developing the university during its earliest years.

In the most recent update to the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education, OU has moved up to the second-highest tier of research universities. This tier features colleges and universities with high research activity, a designation held by only 3.1 percent of the 4,424 colleges and universities on the Carnegie Classification list, according to OU officials.  

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