Division of Student Affairs & Diversity

Oakland Center, Suite 150
312 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4452
(location map)
(248) 370-4200

Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesdays with extended hours: 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Uniting Urban Achievement and Academic Excellence, Pontiac Michigan

Pontiac Initiative

Oakland University is committed to working with its neighbors, especially Pontiac, to determine potential areas of meaningful partnership that will benefit both the community and Oakland’s students. Oakland University and Pontiac joined forces for a broad-reaching partnership that emphasizes community engagement and mutually beneficial relationships -- we call it the OU/Pontiac Initiative.

In fall 2014, and again three more times since, more than 150 representatives from Oakland University and the Pontiac community met via Town Hall meetings. Attendees included OU faculty and staff, Pontiac business owners, representatives from non-profit agencies, Pontiac schools, hospitals and the Mayor’s office as well as Pontiac residents and enthusiasts. Through these interactive meetings, we shared needs and concerns and brainstormed ideas of how we could work together to solve issues of public concern.

 Community Engagement at OU  Photo Gallery

Ongoing Projects

Education-PK12 Connections

  1. Early childhood partnership: Identify and explore needs, challenges of early childhood providers in Pontiac and identify activities of mutual interest such as internships, professional development, etc.
    OU contact: Shannon McNair, mcnair@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Coco Moulder, cocomoulder@gmail.com
  1. Expanded partnership between Pontiac Schools and SEHS: Articulate the ways for utilizing SEHS resources within Pontiac School District to stabilize and expand upon existing relationship & programs. May involve student teaching, Reading Recovery programs or misc. projects or research. Faculty at SEHS are committed to building a partnership with Pontiac Schools that began two years ago. After conversations with the superintendent, Alcott Elementary has been identified as a Pilot School. Includes monthly meetings with counselors and social workers at International Technology Academy & Pontiac High School.
    OU contact: David Secord, dmsecord@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Kelley Williams, kelley.williams@pontiacschools.org
  1. Parent University: A parent-based action group, supported jointly by Pontiac School District & Oakland University that is designed to help parents become advocates of their children’s success. Planning meetings and collaborative efforts are ongoing to identify parent leaders and offer parent workshops.
    Pontiac contact: Kelley Williams, kelley.williams@pontiacschools.org
    OU contact: Paola Nkwuzor, paola.nkwuzor@pontiacschools.org
  1. MS Algebra workshops: Algebra sessions are held for five weeks in the fall and again in the spring on the campus of Oakland University for 7th
    OU contact: Reginald McCloud, rjmcclou@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Kelley Williams, kelley.williams@pontiacschools.org
  1. Spanish translations: Professor Saenz-Roby is offering document translation services to Pontiac High School by Oakland University Spanish students and, in conjunction with the Oakland University Center for Multi-Cultural Initiatives, she also provides live translation services during FAFSA parent workshops at Pontiac High School. These services are intended to supplement those already available in the district and offer Oakland University students authentic translation experiences.
    Pontiac contact: Teni Franklin, teni.franklin@pontiacschools.org
    OU contact: Cecelia Saenz-Roby, saenzrob@oakland.edu
  1. PTG research at PSD: An OU Psychology professor who studies growth after trauma has recently received a grant to study teen mothers. She will work with Pontiac School District teen mothers at Pontiac High School in Fall 2017.
    OU contact: Kanako Taku, taku@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Angela Powell-Medlock, adpowellmedlock@aol.com
  1. Reading Methods service learning course 414 at Baldwin Center and Alcott Elementary
    OU Contact: Tanya Christ, christ@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Rebecca Stewart, rstewart@baldwincenter.org
  1. Medical students as teacher initiative: First year Medical students teach a one-hour health lesson in local schools. Twenty-seven Pontiac elementary school teachers participated in the Medical Student as Educator series. Elementary class room teachers chose from lesson topics related to health and wellness. This series supports classroom goals of improving the health and wellness of students, while positively impacting the learning environment at no cost to the district. This is an ongoing project that repeats in the fall of every year.
    OU Contact: Rose Wedemeyer, ragutier@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Kelley Williams, kelley.williams@pontiacschools.org

Education-College Readiness

  1. Pathways: Pontiac to OU: Strategies for recruitment, scholarships, and retention of students who are from Pontiac. Articulating, streamlining and communicating pathways between Oakland University & Pontiac High School for Pontiac School District students. May include the identification and reduction of barriers, financial literacy for students and parents and/or the creation of new success strategies between the two entities.
    OU contact: Ruth Paula, rmpaula@oakland.edu; Pontiac contact: Samino Scott, samino.scott@pontiacschools.org

Workforce Development and Job Skills Training

  1. Workforce Development group: 
    OU contact: Michael Mazzeo, mazzeo@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact(s): Bret Rasegan, raseganb@oakgov.com & Jennifer Llewellyn, llewellynj@oakgov.com
  1. LPN and CNA (nursing) training for Pontiac students: To offer the Oakland University School of Nursing Continuing Education Patient Care Technician (PCT) program to Pontiac High School students so they can obtain their PCT certification and be ready to enter the workforce and/or License Practical Nurse (LPN) program upon graduation.  This program will mirror the program recently launched at Focus: HOPE in Detroit, Michigan.
    OU contact: Teresa Rodges, trodges@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Kelley Williams, kelley.williams@pontiacschools.org      

Business Start-Ups and Entrepreneurial Support

  1. Business support: Oakland County Economic Development office, in conjunction with One Stop Shop Business Center and Oakland University School of Business Administration are working together to identify the needs of second stage businesses in Pontiac and will work together with business school faculty to create service learning projects.
    OU contact: Michael Mazzeo, mazzeo@oakland.edu
    Pontiac (Oakland County) Contact: Greg Doyle, doyleg@oakgov.com

Community Engagement & Neighborhood Development

  1. Faith-based town-hall meeting: A gathering of faith-based organizations with the goal of relationship building and sharing strategies for working in urban areas. Talks have been underway to schedule this meeting and coordination efforts are ongoing.
    OU contact: Alan Epstein, epstein@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Pastor Jones, dougjones@core.com
  1. Community gardens: Create a cohesive group of interested and qualified individuals and organizations who care about clearing blight in Pontiac. They will clear lots, test soil and plan for future gardens. Projects may include intergenerational gardening, the selling of produce, cooking and eating differently. Groups include Healthy Pontiac We Can! OC Economic Development office, Growing Pontiac and the Neighborhood Coalition as well as OU Cares.
    Pontiac contact: Jill Robinson, robinsonj@oakgov.com
    OU contact: Faye Hansen, hansensm@oakland.edu
  1. Perfect the Parks Day: A designated day to get students from Oakland University and Pontiac High School in parks around Pontiac to clear blight by clearing lots, in conjunction with the Office for Student Involvement and Friends of the Pontiac Parks Association.
    OU contacts: Courtland Sargent, sargent161@gmail.com 
    Pontiac contacts: Jane Bias-DiSessa, jbais-disessa@pontiac.mi.us and Katha Lee James, KathaJames@yahoo.com
  1. Grizz Night: An annual event where OU students visit downtown Pontiac for a variety of activities that may include but are not limited to: free food or food discounts, music performances, karaoke, lip sync wars, sidewalk vendors, a visit to Erebus and discounts from participating businesses and/or non-profits. Intended to create a positive buzz between Pontiac businesses and OU students.
    OU contacts: Jean Ann Miller, jam@oakland.edu;
    Pontiac contacts: Christian Marcillo, Main Street Pontiac (formerly known as Pontiac Downtown Business Association) christian@futurehelpdesigns.com


  1. ‘Pontiac night’ at OU basketball game: An athletic event dedicated to Pontiac students/families/community groups that is intended to get them on campus for a positive, community building experience. Various activities and freebies for attending.
    OU contact: Fleetwood Fleming, ffleming@oakland.edu
  2. Annual Pontiac bus tour: An annual bus tour of Pontiac that includes stops at sights of interest in Pontiac. Goals for this are to allow OU and Pontiac folks to mingle, allow OU faculty (esp. new faculty) and staff to discover the history and future of Pontiac and envision possibilities of working together. Utilizes the model and stops of the first bus tour, Sept 2015. The 2017 bus tour has not yet been scheduled.
    Pontiac contact: Rick David, murphyhouse28@gmail.com
    OU contact: community@oakland.edu

Arts, Culture & Diversity

  1. Art show featuring OU and Pontiac students: Showcase art from both OU & Pontiac students.

  2. Pontiac/OU arts calendar: Includes OU arts performances, Meadowbrook Theater shows on the Pontiac Arts calendar to encourage Pontiac attendance. Currently an initiative of the Pontiac Arts Commission with potential expansion to include OU events.
    OU contact: Mark Stone, stone@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Dwayne Anthony, DLyons@pontiac.mi.us
  1. OU at the Strand Theater: Create a connection between OU Fine Arts programs and the Strand so that some OU performances can take place at the Strand.
    OU contact: Kevin Corcoran, corcoran@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Debra Welch, dwelch@flagstarstrandtheatrepontiac.com
  1. Freedom to Read: A read-aloud program of Ray Bradbury’s 451 Fahrenheit followed by the movie and a discussion. Participants were offered the opportunity to create a video as well.
    OU contacts: Anne Switzer, switzer2@oakland.edu
    Pontiac Contact: Devan Greene, dbgree@tln.lib.mi.us

Marketing & Advancement

  1. Process for promoting and supporting experiential learning in Pontiac: This idea grew from a year-one group in academic service learning. They met several times to discuss how to increase the number of OU students and faculty who were interacting with Pontiac organizations in a meaningful way. They created a job description and Oakland University hired an Experiential Learning Coordinator who is working on creating more pathways for faculty to engage in service learning experiences. He will coordinate faculty efforts with the Office for Student Involvement who currently coordinate volunteer activities for students and with Career Services who coordinates internship experiences.
    OU contact: Dave Dulio, ddulio@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: David Bowman, bowmand@oakgov.com
  1. E-blast: A bi-weekly electronic newsletter that highlights network projects with a goal of creating ongoing communication within the network. OU Journalism students help write content and network members are encouraged to submit content for publication.
    OU contact: Community@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Jane Bias-DiSessa, jbais-disessa@pontiac.mi.us

Collaborative Partnerships

  1. Healthy Pontiac We Can!
    OU Contact: Jennifer Lucarelli, lucarelli@oakland.edu
    Pontiac contact: Jennifer Kirby, kirbyj@oakgov.com
Get Involved

We are always looking for Oakland University and Pontiac community members to help lead a diverse range of efforts as part of this initiative. Please contact any one of us below to talk about how you can get involved.

Community Engagement
(248) 370-4200

Steering Committee List

Co Chairs
Thomas E KimblePresident, Michigan AARPthomasekimble@aol.com
Glenn McIntoshVice President for Student Affairs & Chief Diversity Officermcintosh@oakland.edu


Jane Bais-DiSessaDeputy Mayor, City of PontiacJbais-disessa@pontiac.mi.us
Ed BahouraLocal businessman and representative from the Chaldean Communityedbahoura@gmail.com
Cassandra BarraganOU Institutional Research and project research coordinatorbarragan@oakland.edu
Beverly BeltramoSt. Joseph's HospitalBeverly.beltramo@stjoeshealth.org
Michelle BosauOakland University Corporate RelationsBosau@oakland.edu
David BowmanOakland County Commissionerelectdavidbowman@gmail.com
Gottfreid BriegerRetired Professor and Adviser to MayorGottfreidbrieger@sbcglobal.net
Carl ByerlyCEO Michigan School for the Arts and Pontiac Arts Commissioncbyerly@michiganschoolarts.org
Brenda CarterPresident, Pontiac Board of Education LeadershipBrenda.carter@pontiacschools.org
Kevin CorcoranDean, College of Arts and Sciencescorcoran@oakland.edu
Rick DavidCEO, Lighthouse of Oakland Countyrdavid@lighthouseoakland.org
Rosana HullGeneral Motors PowertrainRosana.g.hull@gm.com
James JacksonUS Senator Peters OfficeJames_jackson@peters.senate.gov
Douglas JonesPastor, Welcome Missionary Baptist Churchdougjones@core.com
James KingPontiac Optimist Clubjekg@comcast.net
Andrew MeisnerOakland County TreasurerMeisnera@oakgov.com
Christopher Northcross, SrPontiac activistcnorthcross@comcast.net
Leona PattersonPontiac activistTreb48341@aol.com
Al PopeRetired from Chrysler Government Relationsal_pope@att.net
Angela PowellState Representative Greimel's officeAngela.powell@house.mi.gov
Bret RaseganPlanning Supervisor, Oakland County Economic Developmentraseganb@oakgov.com
Teresa RodgesDirector of Outreach, OU School of Nursingtrodges@oakland.edu
David SecordPartnership Coordinator, School of Education and Human Servicesdmsecord@oakland.edu
Douglas SmithFormerly with MEDC and Oakland County.  Now Oakland Community CollegeSmithdj628@gmail.com
Nicole Wells StallworthAssistant Vice President, OU Office of Government and Community Relationswellsstallworth@oakland.edu
Kelley WilliamsSuperintendent, Pontiac School Districtkewilliams@pontiacschools.org
Kermit WilliamsPontiac City Councilkwilliams@pontiac.mi.us

Ex-officio Members
Ora Hirsch PescovitzPresident, Oakland Universitypresident@oakland.edu
Deirdre WatermanMayor, City of Pontiacdwaterman@pontiac.mi.us

The OU/Pontiac Initiative seeks to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between the university and the community of Pontiac. This will be accomplished by building a greater university presence within the city, promoting experiential learning opportunities and encouraging more student activities to be planned at downtown Pontiac venues.

This newsletter will be sent out every two weeks to keep participants in the Initiative informed about these activities and more.

To sign up to receive the e-newsletter, please click on a link below or contact community@oakland.edu.

May 19, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPZcAm

  • Community Housing-announcement
  • Fine Arts camp-program overview
  • Parking meter app-announcement
  • Project Upward Bound anniversary-announcement
  • All Saints Episcopal church Spanish service-program overview

April 12, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPZuqG

  • Project Upward Bound anniversary-announcement
  • SMART schedules Pontiac to Oakland University
  • VISTA wanted for 2016-2017

March 24, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPZjMd

  • Arab-American Art show-announcement
  • PAL summer program-announcement
  • OUWB medical students at Gary Burstein clinic
  • GRIZZ night-announcement
  • Oakland University School of Business summer camps for Pontiac students
  • MLK day of service

March 15, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPYGlV

  • WXOU birthday bash
  • GLAD mentoring-program overview
  • Parent University resource request
  • Re-root-program overview
  • OU Day of Service
  • Pontiac Optimist club oratorical contest-pics

March 2, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPYPWp

  • March 5, 2016 Town Hall preview
  • City Kids goat farm-business overview
  • Sky’s the Limit visit to OU basketball game-pics
  • OU School of Education’s Reading Recovery program at Baldwin Center

February 19, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPYvaf

  • Oakland University School of Business Administration and Pontiac Schools
  • Community meeting for PSD millage
  • International group profile
  • Ascend Foundation career fair announcement
  • Community Health Fair announcement
  • Summer employment at Oakland County parks announcement

February 2, 2016: http://conta.cc/1t4B2mh

  • Healthy Pontiac We Can! Fresh Food sites
  • Healthy Pontiac We Can! Non-motorized plan-community feedback sessions
  • Lyrics on Vinyl-business overview
  • Partnership banners hanging in Pontiac-pics
  • SEHS African Symposium
  • Perfect the Parks Day

January 15, 2016: http://conta.cc/1sPYhjk

  • Pontiac High School & OU Counseling department partnership
  • Freedom to Read program: OU and Pontiac library team up
  • Engineering student TA’s from Pontiac

December 21, 2015: http://conta.cc/1sPYLWs

  • Requesting an OU intern
  • OUTV on Comcast
  • Mad Cow Leather-business overview
  • Growing Pontiac

December 3, 2015: http://conta.cc/1t4A7Ct

  • Nov 5, 2015 Town hall survey results
  • Medical students teach health lessons
  • Wade McCree scholarship overview
Parent University

Oakland University and Pontiac Schools are working together to make Parent University a valuable community resource.

The program encourages families to connect to schools and the community and provides resources that help parents become full partners in their child’s education.

The parent engagement plan includes ways to improve communication, raise awareness of information vital for student success, and build authentic parent partnerships through direct engagement among parents, school officials and community partners.

Oakland University students also have the opportunity to learn through participation in the program.

Parent University is part of the OU/Pontiac Initiative, a partnership focused on community engagement to create a mutually beneficial relationship. The initiative has been in place since November 2014.

To get involved, email Gabriela Sullen.

Parent University is sponsored in part by Genisys Credit Union.

For more information about the OU/Pontiac Initiative, click here.

Instructor Volunteer Form

Pontiac Public Schools

Wellness Initiative
Parent University Zumba

One of the areas of focus for Parent University is Health and Wellness. This includes classes on nutritional food preparation, exercise events and more. For information on our events, please contact Gabriela Sullen at (248) 451-6883.

Pictured above: Parents and students participated in a Parent University Zumba class in October 2016.