Monthly Archives: October 2012

Efficient water heaters earn Consumers Energy rebate

The installation of 130 new, more energy-efficient water heaters in the Ann V. Nicholson Student Apartments earned Oakland University a rebate of $163,750 from Consumers Energy incentives in October.

“This was a very successful project for housing,” said Siraj Khan, director of engineering and facilities business management. “Working with Consumers Energy to boost efficiency and improve the plumbing system was a good thing to do. It saved gas for them and money for us, so it was a win-win for everyone.”

The original heaters, installed when the apartments were built in 2002, required frequent repairs, resulting in more cost and labor, according to Frank Moss, maintenance manager of university housing.

So far, the heaters, which were installed the last week in August, have increased efficiency by seven percent. He said the design of the previous heaters  was better suited for warmer climates, working to provide hot water in addition to fueling indoor heating.

“The old system was wearing out and leaked faster,” Moss said. “We got to the point where we were replacing the water heaters on a regular basis and spending a lot of money and labor to keep the system up.”

When the staff considered installation of new heaters last May, Consumers Energy Business Solutions informed them of the rebates available for eco-friendly updates.

Michael Alberts, project manager and engineer, planned and found the replacement water heaters in addition to filing paperwork to apply for the rebate through the Consumers Energy incentives program. A team of consultants worked to plan the process.

“The rebate helped the cash flow of university housing to allow us to change all the water heaters in one year instead of the planned two-year cycle,” Alberts said. “The result was earlier energy savings and minimizing increases in student apartment rents.”

The results will be more apparent after winter, but there have not been any problems, according to Alberts.

More initiatives to reduce usage are planned, including programmable thermostats, low-flow shower-heads and faucet aerators. With these additions, OU can apply for more rebates in an effort to keep costs down and productivity up, according to Moss.

Getting students involved

The Sustaining Our Planet Earth program is getting involved to teach on-campus students the right way to run appliances and home services like heating, according to Albert.

Albert said members of SOPE will provide training to students for the new programmable thermostats to make them run most efficiently.

Students’ work, in addition to facility updates, adds to the efficiency and overall impact of updates around campus.


OU-INCubator hosts “Meet the Candidates” open house for local politicians

Candidates running for the House of Representatives in the 11th and 8th Congressional Districts joined Countywide Candidates, giving speeches and interacting with voters at Meet the Candidates Open House, hosted by the Oakland University Office of Government Relations.

Each candidate gave a five minute speech in the conference rooms before joining guests at round tables in the lobby to discuss their beliefs and stands on issues.

Preston Brooks, a retired Navy captain and OU Computer Science and Engineering Professor, is running as an Independent candidate for Congress. He spoke and interacted with voters at the open house, stressing the importance of giving the power back to the people and getting it  away from money.

“The two-party system in Congress is broken — it’s in gridlock,” Brooks said. “A good (political) idea doesn’t have any labels. The people need to have the power.”

Tom McMillin is running for re-election as Republican State Representative. If re-elected, he said he will try to turn the state around, bringing more jobs to Michigan while keeping transparency in government.

McMillin was first in state legislature to put his office budget, staff names and salaries as well as his benefit package online for citizens to see.

If re-elected, he plans to continue this focus, as well as building employment.

Running as democrat for county sheriff, Jane Felice Boudreau wants to make a difference. Working in the police department for 18 years, she says her focus will solely be in her work as sheriff.

“I’ve always loved police work,” Boudreau said. “It’s about being committed to give 150 percent to the position and leaving politics behind.”

Running for Congress, Dan Goebel, Libertarian candidate for the 8th Congressional District, wants to see changes made. Goebel wants to reduce interference in foreign affairs that are not direct threats to the nation’s safety, as well as support the Free Currency Act.

With fifteen candidates covering the multiple districts, Meet the Candidates

brought OU faculty, students, staff and alumni to the OU-INCubator for discussion of voters’ concerns.




Music major works to help impoverished children in India

On her final day in India, junior music major Molly Bruner looked out her bus window on the drive back from an orphanage and knew something had to change. After 10 days devoted to opening three orphanages and working with children, Bruner wanted to do her part to help with the poverty she wittnessed.

“I thought, ‘I can’t let this continue,’” Bruner said. “I stayed up all night our last night and wrote down fundraising ideas — thoughts about what I could do to help. I knew I could not go back and live life as normal or find a new normal.”

Bruner had done a lot of local volunteering with her church — mostly involving music — but last summer she went on a mission trip through Angel House. It is a rescue initiative ran through Oakland Community Church’s young adult group, The Gathering.

With her mission group, Bruner worked to open three new homes, introducing orphans to a new life.

“The poverty was really hard to deal with. It changed me a lot as a person — how I view things, how I spend my money and what’s really important in life,” Bruner said. “The people, though they were so poor, were very kind and very open, warm people. I liked working with them.”

Doing more

This was not  enough, however, as Bruner wanted to do more.

Courtesy of Molly Bruner

After returning home, she planned out fundraisers for her project, “Let’s Change India 2014” aimed at raising $15,000 to open her own orphanage which would house 12 children.

“Molly has a plan,” Lindsay Russo, co-founder of Angel House said. “While others have an idea of how to fundraise, her vision sets her apart. She’s really thought it through and cares. You can tell by the hard work she’s put into her fundraising — she’s in it to make a difference and we couldn’t do what we are doing without people like her.”

While the work is small scale in a country with about 25 million orphans, according to Russo, small steps make a difference.

Opening homes for 12 , 25 and 50 children, Angel House has provided homes for 1,000 orphans so far.

Bruner’s friends, juniors Helen Hass and Lauren Doucet are contributing to the cause.

In addition to their help with fundraising, Hass will work on the website and project marketing, as well as set up a Twitter account.

Doucet said she shares Bruner’s passion for putting a stop to human trafficking and slavery, and she admires her friend’s dedication.

“Molly is extremely unique,” Hass said. “She’s very passionate and determined to carry through the plans she makes. I completely admire how much she wishes to do this, with all of the thought and research she’s put into it.”

The road ahead

Current fundraisers include “Coffee for Orphans,” at Caribou on Walton boulevard. Nov. 10 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., a benefit concert “Opera for Orphans” with some of her music friends, as well as a fundraiser with her group at Oakland Community Church. But there will be many more to come, according to Bruner.

“I can talk about my faith all I want but unless I do something about it, my faith is nothing,” Bruner said. “Life is so short, we have such little time to make a difference. Life does not revolve around you. It should revolve around helping others. If you want to truly find yourself, go help others.”

The Oakland Post

Author, zombie expert Max Brooks speaks on campus

Zombie expert and author Max Brooks stopped on campus Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. to provide tips on surviving a zombie outbreak, with information taken from his writings and experience.

“The first rule of zombie survival: disabuse yourselves of all the myths perpetrated by conventional zombie entertainment — books, comics, TV shows meant to entertain,” Brooks said.

After an introduction by members of the Student Video Productions and Student Life Lecture Board, who both hosted the event, Brooks began the presentation by talking about how his books are classified as “humor.” However, he denied there is anything funny about being attacked by zombies.

“The problem in this country is that we don’t know where the line is between entertainment and reality,” Brooks said. “We blur that line a lot, so much that we start believing that what people do in the fictional world, we’d actually do in real life.”

Brooks discussed various strategies people can utilize in the event of a zombie apocalypse, some being, as he put it, boring but necessary.

“In true zombie survival, it’s not about being entertaining,” Brooks said. “It’s about all those little, tiny boring details you would never see in a zombie movie, but I guarantee you would keep you alive.”

While Brooks said America’s zombie kit would probably consist of cars, guns and light sabers, he spoke about the importance of simple things like hydration, gasoline, transportation and the appropriate weapons. He also discussed the importance of relocation, the fight for survival while respecting nature and working together as a society.

Throughout his presentation, Brooks engaged the audience, getting students involved by asking and answering their questions and addressing concerns. A question and answer session following the presentation gave students an opportunity to receive more advice from the zombie expert, consisting of a variety of topics ranging from dealing with post-zombie economic issues to depending on others in the event of an attack.

His books were sold and signed after the presentation. “Zombie Survival Guide” is a New York Times best-seller and “World War Z” is being made into a movie starring actor Brad Pitt.

The event brought students, alumni and local residents to the presentation hear Brooks’ advice.

“I came to the event because I’m obsessed with zombies,” sophomore Erin Ward said. “I read his books and they were absolutely hilarious. Brooks is a clever guy, the event was definitely worth coming to.”

Lowry Center making the grade for national accreditation

In Oakland University’s 50th year of child care services, the Lowry Center for Early Childhood Education earned accreditation from the National Association for Education of Young Children for performance based on portfolios as well as surveys from faculty, students and parents.

Located on the first floor of Pawley Hall, the on-campus lab school provides a  learning forum with the help of student workers and grad students in addition to full-time teachers.

“NAEYC is a great thing to strive for,” Faculty Director Julie Ricks-Doneen said. “We’re very happy about it. It’s assuring and tells parents that the center puts in the extra effort.”

Based on a variety of factors,  gaining accreditation is a sign a school meets high standards for quality early education. “Helping parents make the right choices and improving the quality of education and care provided in programs for young children since the early 1980s,” according to the NAEYC website.

Accreditation criteria includes a safe environment for students, acceptance and inclusion of community and family perspectives and attention to the children.

“The NAEYC accreditation system raises the bar for child care centers and other early childhood programs,” said Dr. Jerlean  Daniel,  executive director of NAEYC, in a press release on OU’s website. “Having earned NAEYC accreditation is a sign that the Lowry Center is a leader in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education.”

Ricks-Doneen and the staff worked over a series of days to prepare and submit the documents, according to preschool teacher Josh Yax.

After teaching education at Macomb Community Community College, he said he knows  Lowry fulfills the best practices for an early learning center.

“I didn’t have any worry about Lowry receiving the accreditation,” Yax said. “Everyone here takes this job seriously. I’m proud of the faculty’s interactions with the students and one another.”

Students from many OU programs play a crucial role in the Lowry Center, according to Ricks-Doneen. They get involved on all levels, from assistance with teaching, to planning, research projects and entertainment.

Brandy Ellison, senior and human resource development major, is one of the teacher assistants on staff. Working at Lowry for three years, Ellison helps in the classroom. She was excited to find out the school earned the national accreditation it applied for last semester.

“I would recommend Lowry to anyone,” Ellison said. “It’s easy to see how much the teachers care. It’s so exciting to see the kids transition through the different classes and how much they mature. Kids grow a lot here.”

Full story

Campus community invited to candidate open house

Curious about the individuals running for local office?

The Office of Government and Community Relations at Oakland University is hosting its first “Meet the Candidates Open House” at the OU INCubator in the Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion Oct. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Members of the OU community have the opportunity to drop by and meet both state and national candidates and the 8th and 11th Congressional District candidates.

They will be met via round table discussions with eight to 10 people in the Clean Energy Research Center, according to Rochelle Black, OU vice president of Government and Community Relations and one of the event’s coordinators.

The event will also include speeches by members of the congressional districts.

Forming the idea

“The idea came about because we wanted to find a way to connect the OU community with people running for office,” Black said. “It’s the first time we are hosting the event like this.”

After collecting information to poll the top 10 cities of students, faculty, staff and alumni, two congressional districts were chosen to cover the majority.

Because almost 50 percent of the student population resides in Oakland County, six offices from that area will attend, including executive, clerk, water commissioner, county treasurer, prosecutor and sheriff, according to Black. Several state house candidates from Macomb County will also attend, because of the student presence in that area.

The Clean Energy Research Center, where the round tables will be set, will be split by party.

Ideally, Black said all parties will attend, including Democratic, Republican and third-party candidates. 

While the political science program was not involved in the planning of this event, Dave Dulio, political science department chair, thinks this is a great event for all members of the OU community to attend. He is also recommending it to his students.

Elected officials and students interaction

“Hosting it as an open house gives students a chance to interact with elected officials, which is never a bad thing,” Dulio said. “It is also important for the university because we don’t have many mechanisms to support candidates providing opportunities to meet with potential constituents. It helps the candidates but also provides a public service, as part of the larger mission of the university to engage with the public,” he said.

While OU has been hosting many political events, including the recent Paul Ryan rally and last year’s Republican Primary Debate, this event provides a different opportunity.

Rather than utilizing the university as a venue, the Open House gives attendees the chance to speak with candidates and have their voice heard, according to Dulio.

“Students and others from the OU community should attend to learn more about who they’re voting for,” Black said. “It’s very important for officials to know that people care about the issues. Voters’ desire and complacency to learn sends a powerful message to candidates.”

Students battle with sleep deprivation

Oakland University junior, Ryan Pollex is a full-time student with a total of five

classes. When he is not heading to class at 8 a.m., he usually goes to work at 6 a.m.

Non-stop schedules like this, which Pollex and many other college students struggle to keep up with, can lead to sleep deprivation, ending in a lack of focus.

“I don’t really have time for naps,” Pollex said. “Between classes,  I’m busy doing homework.”

According to Graham Health Center Nurse Nancy Jansen, many students have similar complaints.

“Overscheduling, homework, work and family demands contribute to a lack of sleep in todays college students,” Jansen said. “Some people have anxiety and difficulty sleeping.”

Junior Eric Ratkowski also faces issues from sleep deprivation. Although he has eliminated caffeine and high sugar foods, as well as excercised for relaxation, he has trouble falling asleep. This can lead to fatigue during the day.

“It is honestly the whole day I am dead tired, but I cannot sleep,” Ratkowski said. “There’s always way too much on my mind at any one given time that it is just too hard to let myself go and fall asleep.”

Procrastination also leads to sleep issues, according to Jansen. Many students wait to do their work when they have time during the day, leading to late nights and difficulty winding down after mental stimulation.

“I guess it started last year, when I’d be procrastinating homework and just didn’t want to go to sleep,” freshman Tressa Collins said. “It kind of just became a habit to stay up late, which is a problem when I have to get up early.”

Collins has not used caffeine or taken naps during her first semester on campus, though she has used energy-yielding products in the past.

For students with anxiety and insomnia, working on a consistent sleeping schedule is key for improvement, according to Jansen. Limiting caffeine and alcohol, as well as, turning off electronics (TV or the computer) and avoiding late-night exercise can make a difference.

She also recommends that students develop a regular sleep schedule, going to sleep and waking up at relatively similar times each day. For students who do not  have this option, for those who work late and have class in the morning, short naps during the day can help them be sure to be well-rested.

But naps should not exceed an hour.

“It’s a really important aspect of one’s health that students often have trouble with,” Jansen said. “Most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night.”

Students who have tried these methods without success can make an appointment with Graham Health Center for an evaluation to find the cause of their sleep issues.