Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz is a woman on the move. Slowing down doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary, especially given her day job, President of Oakland University.
“Pretty much from the moment I arrive until the moment I go to sleep, I’m non-stop busy doing wonderful and exciting and challenging and fascinating things,” she said. “Every day is different but really wonderful.”
Dr. Pescovitz, who has been in the position since last July, has big plans for the university, and isn’t one to doubt, especially after you take a look at her very impressive resume.
First, there’s her medical degree from Northwestern University, where she earned Distinguished Alumni Awards from both the Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern University. Then there’s her 21-year career at Indiana University, during which time she was Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs at IU’s School of Medicine, President and CEO of Riley Hospital for Children, and interim Vice President for IU’s Research Administration. This was followed by a stint at the University of Michigan as the university’s first female Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Health System CEO, before becoming Senior Vice President and U.S. Medical Leader at Eli Lilly and Company.
She’s also a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher who has published more than 190 papers and books, and a sought-after speaker on topics ranging from healthcare to women’s issues.
While Dr. Pescovitz has been a scientist, physician, and seasoned administrator, all of which she said helped her prepare for becoming OU’s president, the role that helped her prepare the most? Being a mom.
“Being a parent, I believe that my most important role is to create an environment in which my children can be nurtured and thrive and eventually reach their maximum potential,” she said. “Parents try to ensure that their children will succeed and thrive and actually exceed what they did. You want your children to excel.”
During her time as OU’s president she hopes she can help OU excel as well. She thinks Oakland University has great potential, like change the world kind of potential. Its part of what attracted her to the job in the first place. The William Beaumont School of Medicine didn’t hurt either.
“I’m really excited about our potential to leave a lasting impact on the world,” she said.
Dr. Pescovitz hopes to improve the university in terms of academic excellence and student success. She also wants to leave a mark on the region through quality of life, economic impact, and the difference they make in people’s lives. She wants her students to graduate and change the world, which has already begun.
“While we’re already doing really, really well, I believe we have room to do even better,” Dr. Pescovitz said. “What excites me is knowing that we can raise the bar even higher.”
And she doesn’t mean just at OU, but at colleges and universities across the state.
“I think that if we improve at Oakland we’ll be having a positive impact on the state’s higher education status,” she said. “And I see Oakland as a place that if we move the bar of the needle here we will be moving the bar of the needle in the rest of Michigan.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent