Oakland University president retiring

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    Effective Aug. 1, Gary D. Russi, who has served as president of Oakland University since 1996, will retire.
    According to an announcement at the Oakland University website, at its next formal session the board of trustees will appoint Betty J. Youngblood, associate vice president for Outreach, as interim president.
    Russi and Youngblood will work together to ensure a smooth transition as a national search gets underway for a new president.
    In a statement, OU Board of Trustees Chair Michael Kramer described Russi as a “transformational leader for Oakland University”, saying he’s made a lasting mark on the university. He also said Russi has helped OU achieve new benchmarks for enrollment, research, collaboration and academic opportunities.
    “Dr. Russi has guided Oakland University through exciting times and has championed our school’s distinctiveness and dedication to students,” Kramer said in a statement. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Russi for his two decades of dedicated service to Oakland University. Clearly, he leaves a lasting legacy and will be missed.”
    Since Russi became president of Oakland University (he was interim president from 1995-1996), the student population has grown to nearly 20,000 and more than 65 new academic degree programs have been added. In addition, the university has invested more than $400 million, “to enrich environments for teaching, research, learning and living.”
    There have also been a variety of capital improvements, including a $43 million Science and Engineering Building and a $64 million Human Health Building. The latter, which opened last year, launched the first new allopathic medical school in the state in 47 years.
    In addition, both a $75-million engineering center and a $30-million student housing complex are slated to open next year.
    Russi first came to Oakland University in 1993 as vice president for academic affairs. Before that, he worked for 20 years at Drake University in Des Moines, IA.
    Russi holds a bachelor of science degree in pharmacology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a doctor of philosophy degree in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Kansas.
    He was an undergraduate research assistant in chemistry at Southwestern Oklahoma State University; and began his professional teaching and research career at Kansas University in 1969.
    He is co-chair of the Oakland County Business Roundtable and vice chair of Oakland County Automation Alley; and a member of the Detroit Renaissance Board of Directors; among other positions.

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