Oakland University hosts open forum for president search: Ora Pescovitz

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., Eli Lilly and Company’s senior vice president and U.S. medical leader for Lilly BioMedicines, took questions from the campus community and public as a part of the search for the university’s next president on Thursday, April 20, in the banquet rooms of the Oakland Center.

Pescovitz is one of two candidates vying for the position. The first, Carl Camden, president and CEO of Kelly Services, had his open forum with campus on Monday, April 17.

The Oakland University Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. and press conference at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 4 to announce the next president of the university.

Pescovitz began her opening describing the work her father did during the Civil Rights Movement, among other pieces of her personal history. She continued, speaking about her philosophies of mentorship and work/life balance as important parts of her professional development and as priorities she would like to bring to the university.


“All successful people need to be happy … we must continually strive to find it,” Pescovitz said.

Pescovitz took questions from students and faculty ranging from how she would support the LGBTQ+ community at the university to tuition costs and how she would implement some of her personal philosophies.

Here are some of the questions, edited for space, and answers posed by campus to Pescovitz during the forum:

Q: How do you see Oakland University progressing in the future to develop higher education?

A: “I see Oakland University being a diamond in the rough, it’s a very good institution with potential. I believe very much we need to learn how to develop and target certain areas. Not in every area, we have to prioritize where we can develop our areas of excellence and identify the areas we can do more … We already have areas where we’re outstanding, those are ones we need to expand upon and be opportunistic.”

Q: How do you define diversity?

A: “It’s expansive, we have diversity across many different areas. There is (racial diversity), diversity of gender, religion, culture, economic groups, geographic orientation. In our mission statement we talk about wanting to be a global university so it’s very important. When you think about why students come to college, it’s so they can learn something new, something they didn’t know before coming here and they have to be exposed to people of different views and backgrounds and religions and to be people who have differences … We have to teach tolerance and the only way to do that … Is by truly experiencing those people,”

Q: Can you point to specific examples of how you implemented the work/life balance in your previous positions?

A: “I hope there are development and mentorship opportunities here … I think they need to exist on the ground. Small opportunities and large opportunities. The small ones have…

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