When September Comes

When September comes, I return to Oberlin. Not for classes, like during my student days, but for Alumni Council Weekend, where 200 other alumni volunteers and I rediscover campus and learn how we can better support Oberlin’s mission of fostering social engagement and academic and artistic excellence among a new generation of students.

Being actively involved with our Alumni Association for the past decade has been a great deal of fun and has allowed me to know and work with some fantastic Oberlin alumni. This year was especially important; at the end of the weekend it was my honor and privilege to assume the presidency of the Alumni Association. Special thanks to my friend and predecessor Leanne Cupp Wagner ’76, who did a magnificent job during her term and who will continue to serve on the Executive Board for the next year.

The costs associated with providing an Oberlin education are great, but the College continues to attract exceptional students. With the support of a strong faculty, our students consistently do wonderful things. During Council Weekend we experienced a fabulous performance by the Jasper Quartet, an extraordinary student string ensemble featuring J. Freivogel and Evan Few on violin, Sam Quintal on viola, and Rachel Henderson on cello. President Nancy Dye is working on taking this group to Iran, where they will be outstanding goodwill ambassadors for Oberlin and our country.

Council Weekend also featured a panel discussion with four alumni-elected trustees: Karen Florini ’79, Michael Lythcott ’70, Bob Frascino ’74, and Danette DiBiasio Wineberg ’68. The event focused attention on an important right that Oberlin alumni have enjoyed since 1878, namely, that six of the 30 seats on the Board of Trustees are filled through direct election by alumni. Information on this year’s candidates appears on page 26. I urge you to vote and thereby participate in this aspect of College governance.

We always hear reports from the admissions office during Council Weekend. While this year’s entering class is exceptionally strong, we have lost some ground in our enrollment of students of color—black, Asian, and Latino. The College’s commitment to diversity remains strong, but we face an increasingly competitive environment with other elite colleges and universities in attracting and enrolling talented students of color. Identifying and recruiting such students is one way alumni can help Oberlin.

Economics is also a major factor, since the charged cost of an Oberlin education is beyond the means of many families. We need to raise the percentage of alumni who financially support Oberlin to ensure that our financial aid program is meeting student need. Maintaining our historic access and excellence requires sustained financial support from all alumni and friends of this institution.

The stories that appear on the pages of this magazine and on Oberlin’s website routinely highlight the incredible things that Oberlin students, alumni, and faculty are doing in many fields of human endeavor. These stories make the case for Oberlin today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Wonderful things continue to happen in Oberlin, and each September my pride in being an alumnus is renewed.