Campus Highlights

Representing the Oakland Spirit

A look at Mel Gilroy's life with Oakland University

Pioneer Profile

icon of a calendarJanuary 20, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Joan Rosen

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Mel Gilroy has been and always will be representative of the Oakland spirit. His life is a story of total commitment to this institution.

Mel came to OU in 1968 when he was just 17-years-old, as a member of Charter College. He reminisces about the camaraderie in that class, all of whom lived together and studied together in the dormitory. He still maintains friendships made at that time. Some of those friendships included the students who were active in the Barn Theater, OU's first theatrical enterprise. He performed in "Indians" with students Patricia Roan and Randy Judd, who became life-long friends.

He left Oakland in 1971 during his junior year to attend the Police Academy in Detroit. He returned to Oakland as a member of the OU police department for forty years. Mel jokes about his 22 year educational plan. While working for the university, he completed his degree, graduating in 1989. What took so long? In those intervening years, he married Jennifer, whom he met at Oakland, and they raised a family of three daughters, Megan, and twins, Emily and Erin. The couple also have a 25-year-old granddaughter and 13-year-old grandson.

Sheldon Appleton, one of Mel's college professors, piqued his interest in China and International Affairs. In 1985, Mel traveled to China as a member of the first U.S. police delegation invited to the country to promote U.S.-China relations. With Leonard Woodcock, President of the UAW and first U.S. Ambassador to People's Republic of China, he continued his work with a state-funded grant to promote economic development in Michigan with Chinese corporations. The goal was to bring jobs to Michigan. Cultural exchange is an ongoing project for Mel.

In addition to promoting Oakland University whenever and wherever he can, Mel serves on the Judd Advisory Board of the College of Arts and Sciences. Working with the Judd Family Endowed Fund, he has contributed to two community events: "A Study of the Early Choreography of George Balanchine" presented in November 2018 and "World Without Ice," a program on climate change, presented on campus in September 2017. This included a lecture, a concert and an art installation.

If you ask Mel Gilroy what he considers to be his home, he will tell you, "Oakland is my home. I came here in 1968 and I have never left.

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