Alumni Association Honors Volunteers

Nine of Oberlin’s most stalwart volunteers were honored by the Alumni Council in September for work ranging from recruiting new students to organizing class reunions. “The generosity and support that these volunteers demonstrate to Oberlin never ceases to amaze me; it is an honor and privilege to work with them,” says Alumni Association Executive Director Laura Gobbi ’91.

Distinguished Achievement Award:
Author and musician James McBride ’79 is perhaps best known for his New York Times’ best-seller The Color of Water, which sold more than 1.7 million copies and became required reading at many colleges and high schools. Appointed by President Bush to a six-year term on the National Council of the Arts, James is now writing his third novel and developing a radio show with Minnesota Public Radio. Called The Corner, the show is described as an “urban version” of the Prairie Home Companion. “James’ career continues to display the values of Oberlin through education and through a sincere desire for others to find their life’s passion,” says Bill Bradford ’76, chair of the Alumni Awards Committee. “It is with deep pride that his Alumni Association honors his life and accomplishments.”

Distinguished Service Award:
Longtime Oberlin volunteer Clyde Owan ’79—known by many as the man behind the camera—has served the Alumni Association in nearly every capacity: as president, treasurer, member of the Trustee Search and Admissions Advisory committees, and as coordinator of the Washington, DC, alumni club. “Clyde also shared his electronic expertise with the College so that alumni communications could be sent via e-mail instead of snail mail,” says Bradford. “You can’t say he is a stranger to these parts; Clyde’s list of volunteer service to the College is almost as long as my arm.”

Alumni Admissions Volunteer of the Year:
“Walt Galloway treats his volunteer experience like a paying job,” says Assistant Director of Admissions Joshua Levy ’94. Walt Galloway ’69, as a member (and now chair) of the Admissions Advisory Committee, was praised for his student recruitment efforts in the Rhode Island area, including organizing a fall preview event, attending college fairs, planning a reception for local students admitted to Oberlin, and driving to Boston to interview prospective students. “Walt consistently and successfully pushed for more communication between the Alumni Recruiting Network and the Alumni Office, which has helped us improve the way we disseminate admissions information to our volunteers,” adds Levy.

Regional Coordinator of the Year:
As coordinator of the Oberlin Club of Colorado, Ellen Hertzman ’85 was applauded for planning interesting and dynamic alumni events, often along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. “Through her efforts, good humor, excellent organization skills, quiet spirit, effective leadership, and conviction of the heart, the Oberlin Club of Colorado has met and far exceeded its previous achievements,” says Paul Wolansky, director of alumni outreach and education. “Ellen has done an amazing job with a club that has a strong history.”

Class Agent of the Year:
As a Conservatory cluster agent for the past 15 years, Carolyn Pratt ’79 not only helped the Class of 1979 obtain its highest reunion fundraising total ever in 2004, but with equal enthusiasm also guided successful fundraising efforts for two other 25th-reunion classes. “Carolyn’s love for Oberlin and the Conservatory of Music remains constant,” says Donna Ancypa Holmes ’91, assistant director of The Oberlin Fund. “She continues to make the case for supporting The Oberlin Fund in creative and effective ways.”

Class Presidents of the Year:
The inspiration of Barbara Distler ’84, Sarah Anderson Richards ’85, and Poppea Dorsam ’86, members of their 20th-reunion planning committee last year, helped make their cluster reunion the best attended in May. “Their now famous Top 10 Reasons to Attend Reunion, which tempted alumni to return, should be copyrighted and published by alumni associations nationwide,” says Gobbi. “These women made great efforts to be all-inclusive of their classmates’ interests: they planned panels with meaningful discussions, organized a formal recital and informal variety show, hosted a class dinner at which they honored losses in their cluster family, and celebrated with many faculty guests.” To increase interest, the women teamed with Mirla Agnir ’85 to design a reunion web site, which flourishes today as a place to post pictures and chat.

Certificate of Appreciation:
Recognized as the “quintessential coordinator” of the Washington, DC, alumni club, Amy Alipio ’91 has put her journalistic skills to work as creator of the region’s alumni newsletter and as host of an annual winter term project at National Geographic Traveler, where she serves as assistant editor. The organizer of many regional events, including a picnic attended by 170-plus alumni, students, parents, and volunteers, Amy organized the DC steering committee, which for years has served as the flagship organization for the regional network.