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Records of the Dean of Students (Group 12)
[18] Records of the Dean of Students, 1935 (1967-82)-1985, 29ft. 9in.

Administrative History

In 1964, the board of trustees created the Office of the Dean of Students to direct and to coordinate all offices concerned with student services. The dean of students reported directly to the president. Prior to the creation of the office, the functions of the dean of students were carried out by various offices throughout Oberlin College’s history.

From 1836 to 1894, women students were under the direction of the Ladies’ Board of Managers, which was mainly composed of professors’ wives. In 1894, the positions of dean of Conservatory women and dean of College women were created. Over the years such women as Adelia Field Johnston (1837-1910), Florence Fitch (1875-1951), and Mildred McAfee (b. 1900) filled the post of dean of College women. The almost simultaneous resignation in 1935 of both women deans allowed the positions to be reorganized and combined into one of fice with two positions, a dean and an assistant dean of women. The dean of women, elected by the board of trustees, was responsible to the Women’s Board, a body under the General Faculty. The duties of the office included the administration of social regulations, the guidance of women’s activities, the selection and guidance of matrons (house directors), the formulation of housing plans, and the determination of campus employment for female students.

In 1971, another major reorganization of the administration of student affairs took place. The dean of students continued to provide policy leadership and administrative supervision to all offices involved with student affairs, but the Offices of the Dean of Men and the Dean of Women were eliminated. These responsibilities were redistributed along functional rather than gender lines. Two associate deans and two assistant deans replaced the deans of men and of women. One associate dean managed such campus affairs as the student government and the student judicial system, and the second selected, trained, and evaluated dormitory staff. One assistant dean was responsible for overseeing housing and dining facilities, while the other worked to provide dormitory programs to enrich student life Although the names of some of the positions within the Office of the Dean of Students changed between 1971 and 1988, no significant changes were made in the overall functions of the office until 1989. With the retirement of Dean George H. Langeler (b.1927), the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Services were merged under the Office of Student Life and Services.

Scope and Content

The records of the Office of the Dean of Students document the activities of the dean and his staff, including the activities of the dean of women. Consisting mostly of Dean George H. Langeler’s correspondence, the records document the turbulence that existed on campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Topics include abortion, cohabitation, racism, and the Vietnam War. Various documents, including financial records, minutes and notes of meetings, and annual reports, contain information regarding the Office of Dean of Women and women students. There also are records on the Health Plan Board, which organized and reviewed the Oberlin College Student Health Plan.

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