A Community of Givers

The generosity of Oakland University donors is evident across campus — in every building, program and center. Every gift makes a difference in the lives of our students, helping them fulfill their dreams in the classroom and beyond.

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Community Collaboration

icon of a calendarDecember 20, 2018

icon of a pencilBy Jennifer Hogan

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“Our strong ‘Community of Givers’ deserve a special thank you for their generous commitment to the future of Oakland University,” says Michael Westfall, vice president for university advancement, “And, most importantly, their commitment to the future of our students.”

Donors like these elevate the Oakland University experience every day. Aspire. Advance. Achieve. is the theme of OU’s comprehensive campaign which launched November 2018. This multi-year, cross-campus initiative will impact every facet of OU. Find out more about the campaign and its priorities in the enclosed editorial insert or by visiting

Charles A. Blackman
Charles Blackman stands next to a black vintage carRetired MSU professor and history-lover Charles A. Blackman donated a 1938 Packard Series 1608 Twelve Limousine to Meadow Brook Hall. This vehicle once belonged to Anna T. Dodge, widow of auto pioneer Horace Dodge, and will serve an important role in furthering Meadow Brook’s mission to interpret, preserve and share the rich history of the Dodge Brothers Motor Company and family with our community and region.

Nihal and Chrystal Goonewardene
A civic building situated in a plaza on a sunny summer day
Nihal W. and Chrystal D. Goonewardene are funding an endowment, the George C. Balch Memorial Scholarship for Study Abroad and Study Away. This fund will support scholarships for students in the political science department who will either intern in Washington D.C., study abroad or conduct fi eld research domestically or overseas.

Mark C. Bowers
Mark Bowers dressed up with a bow tie leans up against a brick wall at Meadow Brook Hall
OU alumnus Mark C. Bowers holds two degrees from the OU School of Engineering and Computer Science, has a deep commitment to advancing opportunities for the next generation of students in the sciences, and is especially interested in supporting activities that enrich education in biology or physics. He established the Stone Knives and Bearskins Endowment for Student Enrichment in the Sciences to fund undergraduate research, assistantships, visiting professors and lecturers and student academic competitions in the College of Arts and Sciences.

John M. Hoffmann
John and Don Hoffmann pose smiling outside on a sunny day
Established by Dr. John M. Hoffmann and Safety Engineering Laboratories, Inc., the Safety Engineering Lab Scholarship Endowment provides scholarships for undergraduate or graduate students with a declared major in environmental health and safety, or students pursuing a master’s degree in safety management in the School of Health Sciences. Dr. Hoffmann and his son Donald J. Hoffmann, Ph.D., recently added to the scholarship endowment to generously extend scholarship support to a greater number of students in the coming years. 

Robert L. Gebbie
Robert Gebbie smiles as he stands front of an industrial machine
OU alumnus Robert L. Gebbie has established an endowment in memory of his father and mother, William Robert Gebbie, Sr. and Marian Hayslett Gebbie. To honor William’s and Marian’s love of the arts and their generous nature, Robert has designated the endowment to support undergraduate students majoring in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance with costs and travel expenses for enrichment opportunities to perform in productions both domestically and abroad. This includes programs in Greece, Berlin and the senior showcase in New York City, as well as performances for competitions across the country and internationally.

Kenneth and Kim Janke
Ken and Kim Janke stand in front of Elliott Tower on campus looking at each other and smiling holding hands
Kenneth Janke is a member of the School of Business Administration’s Board of Visitors and alumnus of the MBA program. He and his wife Kim demonstrated their leadership when they made a pledge to support expanding Elliott Hall, home to OU’s business school. The couple made this gift in honor of Frank Cardimen, a faculty member whom Kenneth credits with influencing his successful career in the insurance industry. Their support will help future business students by providing more room for business courses, experiential learning, research activity and career services.

Susan Ylvisaker and Edwin Gordon
John Ylvisaker poses with female nursing students who received scholarship outside on fall day in front of Meadow Brook Hall
Susan Ylvisaker and her husband, Edwin Gordon, carry on family legacy of philanthropy that supports the OU School of Nursing. According to Susan’s late mother Tekla V. Strom Ylvisaker, “Nursing is a profession that gave me more than I could ever give back.” Tekla lived out her ideals, humanitarian values, professional goals and high standards in her dedicated nursing career. The Ylvisaker Endowed Fund, established in Tekla’s memory by her husband, John, provides tuition support to students in the School of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program who embody this same commitment. Recently, Susan and Edwin added to this endowment to further sustain this legacy and extend this support to even more nursing students in the coming years.

Walter and Donna Young
Walter and Donna Young stand smiling in front of European city with cathedrals in the background
Established in 2004, the Donna and Walt Young Study Abroad Endowed Scholarship Fund makes it possible for undergraduate Honors College students to participate in study abroad. A recent gift from Donna and Walt will generously provide the opportunity to study abroad to more students in the coming years. This gift provides essential funds for housing, tuition, books, fees, airfare and other necessary transportation costs associated with study abroad experiences. 

Halabu Family
The Halabus pose, parents smile sitting in chairs in front of their children who all stand behind them smiling
Elizabeth, Peter, Paul, Nathan and Christopher Halabu established the Shamil and Laura Halabu Endowed Honors Scholarship to recognize their parents, Shamil and Laura Halabu, who taught them that a quality education was a key component to long-term success. Shamil and Laura met at Oakland University, both graduating in 1981 with Shamil receiving his B.A. in chemistry and Laura her B.A. in history. The donors’ children also attended OU and now wish to help future students attain the same quality education that they and their parents enjoyed. They have established a merit scholarship to help students in The Honors College with tuition expenses.

Phillip and Barbara Williams
Phillip and Barbara Williams smiling and standing on either side of their granddaughter who is dressed in Oakland University regalia
Phillip and Barbara Williams met as students at the Kresge Library and, over the course of their lives, have given generously of their time and resources to see the University grow and thrive. A recent gift, given to establish the Phillip and Barbara Williams Endowed Fund for the Kresge Library, will support historical archives, including items of special historical significance to the University such as the “Memories of OU” project.

Jaws Group
black and white photo of group of college friends from the 1970s sit and stand in a group smiling for the camera
What started with a group of 18 freshmen living in Hamlin Hall in 1975, has grown into an extended family spanning three generations. The group calls themselves “Jaws,” inspired by matching t-shirts purchased for an intramural team all those years ago. Today, the group remains friends and has come together to give back to their alma mater, establishing the Jaws Legacy Housing Scholarship, an endowed fund that will benefit student leaders living in University housing.

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