Reaching for the Stars

Renie Rideout Federighi '54 and daughter Carol Federighi
Photo by Yvonne Gay Fowler
“The happiest years of Francis’ life were spent at Oberlin,” says Renie Rideout Federighi ’54, glancing at her daughter, Carol. “But I don’t think he would have enjoyed being at the center of all of this attention.”

Francis Federighi ’53 was the quiet type. He and Renie met as students, where, following bridge games in the dining hall, Renie would hold Francis’ coat; in return, he’d pay her a penny. “He had an offbeat sense of humor,” she laughs.

The two were married, and after a successful career as a theoretical physicist with the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Francis began teaching computer science at the State University of New York at Albany and at Union College, where he served as the first full professor of the discipline.

Francis spent hours advising his students and often welcomed them them into his home. Francis died in 1997, but his bond with college students remains strong. While raising money for her 50th reunion class last year, Renie asked about ways of memorializing her husband while at the same time making a gift to Oberlin.

A strategy soon took shape: by setting up a life insurance policy that named Oberlin as the owner and beneficiary and a gift annuity that generates income to pay insurance premiums and support the current-use needs of the College, Renie created the Francis D. Federighi, PhD ’53 Professorship in Natural Science. It was one of the College’s more complicated gifts. “I’m glad we were able to pull it off,” she says.

Dan Stinebring's team at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico
Photo by Dan Stinebring

Named to the professorship last April was Dan Stinebring, professor of physics and astronomy, whose students will benefit from the Federighi gift. The professorship’s accompanying stipend, along with an ongoing grant from National Science Foundation, will allow Stinebring to continue studying pulsar signals in places such as Puerto Rico and Australia. “

Support like Mrs. Federighi’s provides new opportunities for students; it’s encouragement to keep doing good work,” Stinebring says. He and three students spent two weeks at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, last winter term, operating the observatory’s large telescope and analyzing how radio waves were deflected by gas and dust between the solar system and certain pulsars.

People who do this kind of research are just like me,” says senior Margaret Putney, full of enthusiasm for her studies in astrophysics. “I got lots of encouragement from the people working at the observatory and those who were visiting.”

Senior Max Rudolph, following a winterterm trip to San Diego to present a poster at an American Astronomical Society meeting with Stinebring, dropped his second degree in music to concentrate more heavily on physics. “Mr. Stinebring is brilliant,” he says. “His passion for research is contagious.

Photo by John Seyfried
The Alumni Association welcomed Danielle Young in September as the new assistant director of alumni events and electronic communications. With a degree in English from Colorado State University, she went on to hold positions in alumni relations and professional development at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Education and School of Forest Resources.

“Having bridged campus and alumni constituencies with great success throughout her years at Penn State, Danielle will be a fine asset to our team as we seek to support more educational programming and bolster our alumni website,” says Alumni Association Executive Director Laura Gobbi ’91.

Photo by Rebecca Lammons '06

“I am extremely honored to be at Oberlin,” Young says. “I look forward to working for the Alumni Association and with the many dedicated alumni who serve their alma mater.”

Danielle can be reached at

Delta Lodge Director of Athletics Vin Lananna accepted a position in July as associate athletics director/director of track and field and cross country at the University of Oregon. Serving as interim director is Joe Karlgaard, formerly the assistant director of athletics for external affairs and media relations. Lananna, who was assistant head coach for Team USA’s middle-distance and distance runners in the 2004 Olympics, will remain involved with Oberlin as a special assistant to the president for athletics.

Strategic Planning Process Makes Strides

Oberlin’s newly adopted Strategic Plan moved into a new phase this semester with the creation of six working groups charged with suggesting strategies for implementing the plan’s main goals.

Two of the committees, Curricular Pathways and Curricular Support, are focused on adapting and revitalizing Oberlin’s curriculum. Four other committees will concentrate on the remaining goals: support and build the faculty, build campus community, internationalize Oberlin, and move toward environmental sustainability. Composed of faculty, staff, and in many cases, students, the groups hope to present final recommendations to the College over the next few semesters.

“The Strategic Plan itself provides an outline and a direction for the future, but not the details,” says Provost Al McKay. “These committees are charged with developing proposals that will be presented to the regular governance structures on campus to be implemented.”

Alumni were mailed a copy of the Strategic Plan last spring, and members of the Alumni Council’s Executive Board are now meeting with McKay to discuss ways of communicating with alumni as the implementation phase moves forward.

For the full text of the plan, visit

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