Where Are We; Where Are We Going?

Oberlin 2020 Charts a Path to the Future

What will be the dominant characteristics of the social, economic, and political environment in which current Oberlin students will live and work?

What is Oberlin doing--in its academic programs, pedagogic approaches, and residential-life programs--to help students thrive in the decades ahead? What changes should we make?

Oberlinians have been asking--and answering--questions like those in formal and informal venues since the start of the academic year, when the long-range planning process, Oberlin 2020, began. Students, faculty, administrators, and staff members volunteered to take part in group discussions exploring broad, open-ended questions about Oberlin's mission for the coming decades and how best to meet that mission. During September's Alumni Council Weekend, in a panel discussion open to the entire campus, alumni explored how Oberlin's sense of its mission in earlier eras reflected the social, political, and economic conditions of the times.

From the nine-month-long process will emerge a consensus of Oberlin's values and priorities for the future, and a vision of how the College can achieve the goals it sets for itself.

Throughout the process participants have been cautioned not to consider change in micro-bursts of improvements, such as "If we add one more professor to x department, we would be better off." Instead, a global approach to Oberlin's mission has been stressed.

"We are looking for a sense of the fit we need between our goals, and the social, political, and economic conditions of our time," says Assistant to the President Diana Roose, who is coordinating the details of Oberlin 2020.

As this issue of the OAM went to press, the consultant team that facilitated the discussions was preparing a report summarizing the themes arising in the groups. Discussion of the themes and major issues will continue in greater detail throughout spring semester and a report will be issued in June 1997.


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