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Alumni in Service to Oberlin College

The ASOC program thrived during the spring semester, with dozens of alumni returning to campus to connect with faculty and students. As usual, our alumni speakers continued to reflect a wide range of scholarship and talents. Here are but a few:

Lynn E. Fisher ’84, professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Illinois-Springfield, gave a lecture titled First Farmers in Southern Germany: Recent Archaeological Research. Since 1994, Lynn has been part of a collaboration of researchers studying a Stone Age settlement in southern Germany with colleagues from UC-Santa Barbara and the University of Tubingen, Germany. She is interested in the evolution and ecology of hunter-gatherer societies, particularly the role of foraging societies in anthropological theory. Having been a visiting instructor at Oberlin from 1995 to 2000 while pursuing her PhD at the University of Michigan, Lynn was happy to be back on campus while visiting with her mentor and friend Linda Grimm in the anthropology department. The feeling was certainly mutual!

Michael Bobker '73

The Environmental Studies Program sponsored a visit by Michael Bobker ’73, director of strategic planning for the Association for Energy Affordability, a non-profit providing weatherization and energy efficiency services to low-income communities in the New York City area. Michael has been working in and analyzing New York buildings for more than 25 years, including as a boiler mechanic, one of his particular areas of expertise. He joined Oberlin Professor Kathryn Janda’s class Fundamentals of Building Performance to give a talk titled Performance Contracting for Building Energy Services. Michael made the most of his time here, as he also joined students for a (recycled) brown bag lunch and met with members of the Sustainable Community Associates and the Oberlin Design Initiative, local organizations that were started by alumni.

In April, sculptor and filmmaker Juan Luis Buñuel ’57 returned as a guest of the Department of Hispanic Studies for a series of events related to his own work and that of his father, renowned Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900-1983). Juan was thrilled to be back in Oberlin for the first time since he’d graduated, and he was much impressed by how much the campus had changed. Born in Paris, he grew up in New York, Hollywood, and Mexico City. After earning a degree in English at Oberlin, he worked as an assistant director to Orson Welles, Louis Malle, and Juan Antonio Bardem. Spanish House, in addition to hosting screenings, lectures, and an interview with Juan in Oberlin and at Cleveland’s Severance Hall, also sponsored a colloquium that featured a roundtable discussion with scholars from the University of Chicago, University of New Orleans, Oberlin’s own Sabastiaan Faber and Narciso Hidalgo of the Hispanic studies department, and Geoff Pingree of the cinema studies department.

Tanya Uyeda, Bonnie Cheng, and Anne Kitagawa

The Department of Art/Baldwin Fund and the Department of East Asian Studies teamed up to invite Anne Rose Kitagawa ’87 and Tanya Tomoko Uyeda ’88 to share their knowledge of Japanese art and conservation. Anne Rose, the assistant curator of Japanese art at the Sackler Museum at Harvard, spoke about the uncovering of an important illustrated Tale of Genji album owned by the museum. Tanya lectured on her conservation work with scroll paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she serves as assistant conservator of Japanese paintings. Her talk was followed by a viewing of objects
in the Allen Memorial Art Museum with students of Bonnie Cheng, assistant professor of Asian art. Anne Rose and Tanya also met with students informally during dinner at
Asia House to discuss careers in the fine arts.

Mary Young ’50, professor emeritus of American history at the University of Rochester, joined Gary Kornblith’s class Native American History, ca. 1450-1900 to discuss her essay The Cherokee Nation: Mirror of the Republic. Mary is semi-retired at best, as she still teaches a course at Rochester on Democratic America from 1800-1865 while working on a book titled The American Republic and the Cherokee Nation, in which she presents perspectives on the removal of the Cherokee from Appalachia to Oklahoma from different points of view—from the federal government to missionaries to the Cherokee Nation itself. Mary also specializes in American history in the early national and Jacksonian periods. She’s been back to campus several times, including for her 50th reunion, and looks forward to celebrating her 60th!

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