Polls Are Open: Vote for Alumni-Elected Trustee

Oberlin’s tradition of allowing alumni to nominate and elect College trustees dates back to 1892. Today, six members of Oberlin’s 31-member Board of Trustees are elected by alumni. Scott Bennett ’60 and Diane C. Yu ’73 are the newest candidates for the position of alumni-elected trustee, with a six-year term that begins July 1, 2006. Please read on, and then cast your vote. To vote for alumni-elected trustee, complete the election ballot at www.oberlin.edu/alumni/. The voting deadline is Nov. 23, 2005.

Scott Bennett ’60

Scott Bennett is a retired academic librarian. After graduating with honors from Oberlin and earning a PhD at Indiana University, he taught English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Through good fortune, he became a librarian first at the University of Illinois, then at Northwestern and Johns Hopkins, and finally at Yale, where he led an organization with 600 employees and a budget of $50 million.

Since retiring in 2001, Scott has re-established his connection with liberal arts colleges through his work as a senior advisor for the Council of Independent Colleges’ library program. He has also pursued a research, writing, and consulting program focused on the design of libraries as learning spaces. These activities have brought him into working contact with students, faculty, and administrative leaders at numerous liberal arts colleges.

Scott has recently volunteered with the United Way of Champaign County and serves on the national advisory board of the Vogel Library at Iowa’s Wartburg College. He also has served in elected offices at the local, state, and national levels of the American Association of University Professors and has worked with the Association of Research Libraries, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities, the Johns Hopkins University Press, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and numerous libraries, museums, state agencies, colleges, and universities. He has published widely on subjects that include library issues, copyright, scholarly communication, the history of publishing, textual editing, and bibliography.

In the early 1990s, Scott became the inaugural president of the Friends of the Oberlin College Library. In 2004 he was re-elected to that post and has been working to build the group’s membership. He also has explored opportunities for collaboration between Oberlin’s library and that of China’s Yunnan University.
Scott lives in Urbana, Illinois, with his wife, Carol Glass Bennett ’60. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Scott reads avidly, attends concerts at least weekly (and wishes he were a musician), travels frequently, kayaks when there is time, and maintains two 100-year-old houses.

What strengths would you bring to the Oberlin College Board of Trustees?
I prize my Oberlin education, and my deep commitment to the College has been enhanced by the contact with other liberal arts colleges that my consulting work brings. And as a former resident of Baltimore and New Haven, I understand how a commitment to the College involves a commitment to the success of Oberlin as a town.

My chief strengths as a leader and academic administrator have been the ability to identify key issues, ask critical questions, stay focused, manage budgets creatively, and work collaboratively. I understand organizations and take great pleasure in helping to foster change and organizational success.
As a librarian, I am keenly sensitive to the many ways academic support staffs contribute to educational success. Academic planning properly focuses on students and faculty but frequently slights the educational function of librarians, student services staff, and academic computing personnel. As a consequence, these people are often underutilized in building the strongest possible environment for learning.

What is your vision for Oberlin College?
I want today’s students and future students to have the same transformative experience at Oberlin that I had. I want students to explore freely the world of ideas; to learn the demanding disciplines of academic inquiry and of music and the other arts; to build a sense of community and global engagement; and to take up the responsibilities of engaged citizens.

To bring these things about, Oberlin must continue to attract the best students and faculty and respond imaginatively to the fundamental changes in demographics, student learning styles, pedagogy, information technology, and global awareness that are transforming higher education. The College must also remain a thoughtful steward of its resources and must succeed in making the case for increased support.

The College that does these things will be different from the one I attended in every respect but one: the quality of the learning it nurtures. Engaging with pervasive change is the key to maintaining this one essential continuity, but change is often difficult for colleges and universities. One of the most significant responsibilities of a trustee is to help advance that engagement.

Diane C. Yu ’73

Since 2001, Diane has been chief of staff and deputy to the president of New York University (NYU), the largest private university in the nation, where she is the highest-ranking woman. Previously, she was associate general counsel and managing counsel at Monsanto Company; the youngest person, the first woman, and the first person of color named general counsel for the State Bar of California; the first member of the judiciary selected as a White House fellow; and the first Asian American Superior Court commissioner in California. She earned a JD degree at the University of California at Berkeley.

At Oberlin, Diane was a student representative (appointed by the College president) to the Education Commission, a member of Social Board and Musical Union, an admissions office tour guide, and a Rathskeller waitress. She cofounded the Asian American Alliance and was the first student to graduate with an interdisciplinary major in East Asian studies. Since graduation, she has served as vice president of her class and as class agent.

Diane is past chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, the national voice for women lawyers, and its Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits U.S. law schools. She has served on the boards of the Commonwealth Club of California, Association of Corporate Counsel, and White House Fellows Association. Her awards include the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Trailblazer Award, Missouri Woman Justice Award, 10 Outstanding Young Women of America, and an honorary doctorate from City University of New York. She is married to attorney Michael Delaney and enjoys travel, music, theater, film, art, cooking, writing, volunteering at church, and reading.

What strengths would you bring to the Oberlin College Board of Trustees?
My diverse background as a university administrator, lawyer, corporate executive, and public sector leader provides relevant experience for the Board. Being the NYU president’s “alter ego” has exposed me to all aspects of academic administration and affairs. I understand the importance of listening to the interests of faculty, students, deans, trustees, donors, parents, alumni, external audiences, and other stakeholders.

Corporate experience has provided me insights pertinent to the College’s management challenges. As a lawyer, I have advised the NYU Board of Trustees, Monsanto’s Board of Directors, and California’s State Bar Board of Governors. I teach a leadership seminar at NYU and have first-hand appreciation for what is influencing today’s liberal arts students.

My track record includes winning a case in the U.S. Supreme Court during my tenure with California’s State Bar. At Monsanto, I was one of 28 people chosen from the company’s 28,000 employees to take part in its Frontiers of Leadership program. I have extensive experience with the media and have spoken nationwide on a variety of topics. Additionally, my service on nonprofit boards has prepared me well to set priorities, formulate policy, think strategically, oversee personnel, collaborate, build consensus, and raise funds.

I am eager to assume more formal responsibility and stewardship for the College. Oberlin transformed me—giving me a sense of purpose and direction, offering me opportunities to grow intellectually and socially, and enabling me to interact with and be mentored by dazzling faculty, administrators, and fellow students. My gratitude will inspire and motivate me to serve effectively as a trustee.

What is your vision for Oberlin College?
Oberlin should be recognized as one of the nation’s finest liberal arts colleges and music conservatories. It has a history of championing individual freedom and collective social action, and it is a community where the fullest expression of the human mind, body, and spirit are celebrated.

In reviewing Oberlin’s Strategic Plan, I was struck by its scope and ambition. Rather than presume to have a superior competing vision, I embrace the plan’s articulated goals. I support intensifying efforts to attract and retain quality faculty as the surest path to enhancing excellence. Emphasizing greater coherence in the educational program and enriching the student experience are also critical. If Oberlin continues to cherish its community spirit and social commitment, it will facilitate valuable interchanges between faculty and students and impart perspectives and skills that prepare its graduates for lives of service and meaning.

Information above supplied by the Oberlin Alumni Association and the Office of the Secretary.