Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Spring 2007 Vol. 102 No. 3 OAM Home | Oberlin Online


Ignore the Rankings

“A Future by Design” (Winter 2007) provided a thoughtful and inspiring overview of the strategic planning that is going on at Oberlin. One quibble: The author refers at one point to “...national rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. That’s a criterion that should have the lowest possible weight, if any at all. Oberlin didn’t become Oberlin by tacking to the winds of “national rankings.” Our proudest achievements, having to do with public service and leadership in the struggles for the rights of women and minorities, would surely not have won us high scores in the “national rankings” of earlier times. The late David Riesman published The Lonely Crowd during my years at Oberlin. His book seemed to speak to students of that era, as I trust it does to those now, when he wrote of “inner-directed” and “other-directed” personalities. My hope is that Oberlin will continue to be the inner-directed institution it has been throughout its long, distinguished history.

Michael Berla ’52
Columbia, Md.

Local Foods

I enjoyed the article “Eating Fresh.” Coming from an agriculture background, I am overjoyed to see that Oberlin is becoming aware of the real world, where the rubber meets the road. Coincidentally, I just finished reading the book Mendel in the Kitchen, which speaks directly to the problem the world is facing in sustainable agriculture. Arable land is not increasing in area, and the number of mouths to feed is increasing at the rate of 80,000,000 per year. Read the book. (It is not for those given to magical thinking over rational thinking.)

Daniel K. Miller ’68
Yerbaniz, NL, Mexico

Oberlin Storms Carnegie Hall

I was a little disappointed with the last edition of the alumni magazine. I expected to see a list of books recently published by alumni. Furthermore, I was hoping to see mention of Ishmael Beah’s successful book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which is featured in every Barnes & Noble and ad-vertised in Starbucks around the country. Secondly, I feel that the pictures from the Carnegie Hall concert did not represent the diversity of attendees. As a young, black, female Conservatory alumna (who was in attendance), I feel like the photo selection perpetuated the stereotype that the Conservatory is elitist, and that classical music is for old white people. (Where are the Asians and young people?) For future articles, please attempt to display the diversity that Oberlin claims to embrace. 

Ivy Julease Newman ’04
New York, N.Y.

Gridiron Champions

The article “The Greatest Oberlin Football Team on Record” (1950) featured the exploits that season of Kevney O’Connor, the team’s quarterback. Kevney was certainly an outstanding player, but there should have been mention of Bob Ebel, team captain. Bob was a four-year letterman, and his outstanding play and leadership qualities were well known at the time. I confess to a personal interest in Bob’s role in the team’s success; he was my senior-year roommate in White House.

George Wiley ’50
Indiana, Pa.

Celebrating Black Presence at Oberlin

I am curious about other reactions to the article on the Alumni Association of African Ancestry. I am in the Class of 1961 (and a white female). At Oberlin, I did not think of the race of other students. Some may have, but they did not make themselves known. Now, reading the article, I realize that minority students probably were very aware of race. I hope that my black friends from Oberlin know who they are, and know that for me, awareness of race was not involved in our friendship.

Marty Tippett Hoffheimer ’60
Newton, Mass.

Contrast, Please

I enjoyed the winter issue with Mayor Adrian Fenty on the cover, but I found the text impossible to read in places—faint brown on black! Keep elderly eyes in mind as you design the magazine. We need contrast.

Brigitte Alexander ’57
Pittsburgh, Pa.