Most of the time, when people think of the United States auto industry, it’s Detroit, Michigan that comes to mind, not the small city of Rochester, about 25 miles to the auto capital’s north. However, Rochester has the widow of car manufacturer John Dodge to thank for one of the city’s most notable locations: Oakland University.
John Dodge was the co-founder of Dodge Brothers Motor Cars, a company which quickly gained prosperity in the early days of the auto industry. Dodge and his wife Matilda purchased a 320-acre farm in Rochester in 1908, and when Dodge died in 1920, Matilda became a wealthy widow with a large parcel of land. After Matilda married lumber broker Alfred Wilson, the two expanded the farm into a 1,500-acre estate on which they built a mansion they christened Meadow Brook Hall. In 1957, the Wilsons donated the estate and $2 million to Michigan State University with the aim of establishing a new college in Oakland County.
Oakland University opened in 1959 as a branch of Michigan State University, enrolling 570 students. In 1963, the first graduating class of 125 students received diplomas, and that same year, the college’s name was changed to Oakland University.
In 2009, the public university canceled classes for several days at the start of its fall semester due to a faculty strike, but professors soon returned to the classroom after reaching an agreement with the university on a three-year contract.
Today, Oakland University’s enrollment averages more than 18,000 students each fall, and the college counts more than 80,000 graduates among its alumni.
Though there is an abundance of activities in which to participate on-campus, college students who wish to take a break from campus life can browse one of downtown Rochester’s salons, restaurants, shops, and other businesses. Nature lovers can visit any of the city’s three parks and hike or bike on the trails, or they can simply take in the beauty of the waterways that surround Rochester, a city situated in the Clinton River Valley amid the Clinton River, Stoney Creek, and Paint Creek.
One of 82 doctoral/research universities in the nation, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Oakland University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association. The student-to-faculty ratio is 19 to 1, and 94 percent of the school’s faculty have doctoral degrees.
The college offers 134 baccalaureate programs, as well as 124 graduate and certificate programs in such fields of study as business, education, engineering, health sciences, and the arts. Students interested in the field of health sciences can choose to attend the William Beaumont School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, or the School of Health Sciences. Oakland’s College of Arts and Sciences includes majors from music, theatre and dance to the biological sciences.
Students of the medical school will practice at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, a teaching and research hospital ranked the best Detroit metro-area hospital. The facility also was highly rated in six specialty categories on U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 list of America’s Best Hospitals.
The schools of nursing and education offer several programs that may be taken completely or partially online, and the School of Health Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences each allow students to attend some of their courses online. Specific online classes are also available in numerous other majors. In addition, the university features a concurrent enrollment program in conjunction with Macomb Community College and a continuing education program. Oakland University has several summer programs to meet students’ needs, and there are opportunities to study abroad in more than a dozen locations around the world.
Qualified students may be admitted to the university’s Honors College, where small classes of 10 to 20 students encourage student-teacher interaction and independent thought. The Honors College is open to all students, whether incoming freshmen, transfers or current students, who meet the minimum academic requirements. Incoming freshmen must have at least a 3.5 grade-point average and a minimum ACT score of 25 to qualify. Students transferring from another college or from within Oakland University must have a 3.5 GPA and undergo an on-site interview.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Freshmen applicants to one of Oakland University’s undergraduate programs should complete an online application and submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores, along with a completed downloadable high school counselor form. Transcripts and the counselor form should be sent directly from the school and bear the seal of that institution; documents marked “issued to student” will not be accepted. Test scores should also be sent directly to the university.
Transfer students who have compiled at least 24 college credits and a 2.5 GPA will be considered for admission. Applicants should submit an online application and college transcripts and should apply by January for the fall term, by September for the winter term, and by December for the spring or summer.
Though Oakland University is known as one of the most affordable universities in Michigan, more than 60 percent of students receive financial aid from federal, state or private sources, or from the college itself. All students seeking financial aid should first fill out the FAFSA form to determine eligibility for federal aid in the form of such funding as Pell Grants. Both the state of Michigan and the university also offer grants, including Oakland’s 100% Tuition Grant, awarded to a first-time student who is a Michigan resident in financial need.
The university also sponsors numerous scholarships, awarded on the basis of financial need, academic merit, affiliation with specific majors or programs, or a combination of these criteria. All incoming freshmen, for example, are automatically considered for academic merit scholarships upon acceptance to Oakland University.
In addition, scholarships can be garnered from such outside sources as the Imagine Fund or the Sell Used Books College Essay Contest. Students can also find scholarships for which they are eligible on websites such as FastWeb.com.
Federal students loans, such as the Stafford Loan and the Parent PLUS, and private loans are another option of which many students take advantage.
The university recommends applying for financial aid as early as possible. Students with questions can contact Oakland’s financial aid office for assistance.
Student Financial Aid Details
Oakland University is home to more than 15,000 undergraduate students and 3,000 graduate students, and those who choose to live among the campus’s many acres of meadows and woodlands can do so at any of five co-ed residence halls and six student apartment buildings. Residence halls are dormitory-style, and laundry rooms, cable television, and wireless internet are available. The Ann V. Nicholson student apartment complex features private baths, and rent includes basic cable, internet, and garbage disposal. In addition, residents can visit the Community House, a lounge area overlooking the basketball and volleyball courts and equipped with internet service, a big-screen TV, and two fireplaces.
Matthews Court Student Townhomes offer similar living arrangements to the Nicholson complex but are open only to juniors, seniors, or graduate students.
Students may also choose to live in learning communities, groups of students sharing living quarters, as well as similar interests or majors. There are also four Greek cottages shared by upperclassmen who belong to specific organizations or programs.
Among those organizations may be one of Oakland University’s 11 Greek houses.
- Sigma Pi
- Sigma Alpha Epsilon
- Tau Kappa Epsilon
- Theta Chi
- Alpha Delta Pi
- Alpha Sigma Tau
- Delta Sigma Theta
- Gamma Phi Beta
- Phi Sigma Sigma
- Sigma Gamma Rho
- Zeta Phi Beta
In addition to the active Greek life, Oakland University has many other recreational options for students, including an art gallery, theatre, and the Meadow Brook Music Festival. There are numerous club sports open to all students, encompassing everything from aikido and cricket to fencing and equestrian activities. In addition, there is a long list of intramural sports and activities, including typical offerings like table tennis and basketball but also featuring such novelties as Texas Hold ’Em tournaments and Wii bowling tournaments.
Students with a journalistic bent may be interested in joining the Oakland Post, the university’s independent student-run newspaper, or WXOU, the college radio station, which broadcasts at 88.3 FM.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
In addition to its club and intramural offerings, Oakland University boasts a plethora of NCAA Division I sports. Teams were known as the Pioneers from the 1950s until 1997, when the school moved up from Division II to Division I and the athletic programs were renamed the Golden Grizzlies.
- Cross Country
- Swimming and Diving
- Track and Field
- Cross Country
- Swimming and Diving
- Track and Field
Altogether, the Golden Grizzlies have amassed 20 regular-season titles, 38 tournament championships, and 28 NCAA appearances. In 2011, the men’s basketball team made its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The men’s swimming and diving team made the NCAA tournament four straight years from 2005 to 2009, and the women’s soccer team appeared in the NCAA tournament three consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2004.
Additionally, the school boasts 1,366 academic all-league selections in the history of its athletics department.
- Associated Press. “Oakland University eyes second straight trip to NCAA tourney.” Daily Tribune. Mount Clemens, MI. 9 Feb. 2011. Print.
- Downtown Rochester. Web. 14 May 2011. <http://www.downtownrochestermi.com/>.
- Oakland University, Rochester, MI. Web. 14 May 2011. <http://www.oakland.edu/>.
- Williams June, Audrey. “Strike Settled, Oakland U. Professors Return to the Classroom.” Chronicle of Higher Education. Washington, D.C. 10 Sept. 2009. Print.