Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Fall 2012 Vol. 107 No. 4 OAM Home | Oberlin Online

Around Tappan Square

First Ever Conservatory Reunion

Conservatory Reunion Cabaret, old chums: The first-ever Conservatory Reunion
(William Reiter)

More than 200 alumni representing 65 class years joined current and emeriti faculty members in June to recreate the experience of making, talking about, and enjoying music at the first-ever Conservatory Reunion & Celebration.

The weekend's performances ranged from the sublime to the silly — a range that sometimes occurred within a performance. The Alumni Reunion Recital on Friday included the posthumous presentation of the Distinguished Achievement Award to Moses Hogan '79, one of the most celebrated contemporary directors and arrangers of spiritual music. Until his death in 2003, Hogan created dozens of original arrangements of classic spirituals and formed several choirs that performed them with new vitality. Accepting the award was his sister, Ava Hogan-Chapman.

A highlight of the reunion was a Saturday evening cabaret performance by thrice-Tony-nominated Obie winner Judy Kuhn '81 and Grammy and Emmy nominee Seth Rudetsky '88 (pictured), featuring songs from Kuhn's vast repertoire of Broadway shows.

The reunion took a turn toward the silly on Saturday night with the resurrection of Mock Student Recital. Cohosted by Rudetsky and George Preston '82, program host and producer for 98.7 WFMT in Chicago, the evening featured stories, songs, and skits, including a parody of a Baroque aria to the children's poem "Old Mother Hubbard" ("Sounds weird, but it was totally hilarious," according to an audience member). An alumna sang the "Queen of the Night" aria from The Magic Flute, turning into a chicken as she sang ("You kind of had to be there"). Preston, Carol Silverman-Kurtz '82, and Alyson Cambridge '02 performed a Preston-penned parody titled "I'm Just an Obie, Baby."

Pictures and quotes from the weekend can be found at The OC Reunion Blog


Oberlin College has received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator, for four consecutive years, something only 6 percent of the charities they rate have done.

The Supreme Court of the United States was scheduled to hear arguments in Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin in October. At issue is whether this court's decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment permit the use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions. Oberlin joined three dozen highly selective colleges and universities in an amicus brief that supports the need for race-conscious measures in the admissions process, based on these institutions' compelling educational interest in enrolling a broadly diverse student body.

The redesigned Oberlin Alumni Magazine has been recognized with two awards from its peers, earning a bronze award for magazine publishing improvement from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE); the spring 2012 issue won an Award of Excellence from the University and College Designers Association (UCDA).

Illuminating Kickoff

Oberlin Illuminate: A Campaign for College & Conservatory, a seven-year fundraising and engagement effort aiming to raise $250 million, kicked off its public phase September 20 with four days of special events designed to celebrate Oberlin and represent the campaign's broad range of initiatives.

The goals of the campaign are to broaden access to an Oberlin education, strengthen the campus community, enrich the academic program, provide meaningful opportunities for alumni engagement, make Oberlin more competitive, and better position students for success after they graduate.

Appollo Marquee The Appollo Marquee Captured the Spirit of the Weekend

Filmmaker Jonathan Demme and actress Rhea Pearlman — both Oberlin parents — joined in the celebration of the Apollo Theatre's renovation as a community theater and its rebirth into a state-of-the-art home base for the college's Cinema Studies Program.

Ben & Jerry's cofounder Jerry Greenfield '73 joined Oberlin trustees in dishing out about a thousand scoops of ice cream that he donated for a town-gown ice cream social (above, center). Oberlin alums Rick Black '73 and Robin Silverblatt Black '72 were recognized for their financial support of renovations to the geology labs, named in honor of former faculty members James Powell and Norman Grant.

Other campaign kickoff events included an Oberlin Orchestra concert in Finney Chapel (see back cover of OAM); illumination in Tappan Square; a panel discussion with four of Oberlin's MacArthur fellows — Ralf Hotchkiss '69, Richard Lenski '77, Diane Meier '73, and Thylias Moss '81; a conversation with alumni authors Ishmael Beah '04, Melissa Fay Greene '75, James McBride '79, Megan McDonald '81, and Josh Neufeld '89 (see photo, page 1); and alumni film screenings at the Apollo, including All the President's Men, whose screenplay was written by William Goldman '52.

During the early phase of the campaign, more than $143.1 million was raised, or 57 percent of the goal. Oberlin Illuminate is scheduled to conclude June 30, 2016.

Too Hip to Care about Being #1

Make your own paper hipster doll

The Huffington Post has named Oberlin second among its "10 Most Hipster Colleges of 2012." "Famous for its progressive politics and quirky student body, Oberlin doesn't disappoint if you're looking for a student body that takes the idea of hip so far it nearly becomes unrecognizable," states its Oberlin entry. "And while most liberal arts schools have their fair share of characters in the student body, Oberlin's hipster bona fides go beyond people's clothes: its list of student organizations includes a bike co-op, a slow food group, and a quidditch league." The entry also gives props to the co-ops as an alternative to fraternities and sororities

"The Wizard of Oberlin"

Because of the Wonderful Things He Does

David Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, received the Visionary Leadership Award for his pioneering efforts in the field of sustainability at the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment Climate Leadership Summit held at American University on June 21 and 22. Also in June, the editor in chief of Sierra magazine, a bimonthly magazine published by the Sierra Club, came to Oberlin — "what may be the epicenter of America's economic, educational, and environmental salvation" — to meet Orr. The resulting profile, "The Wizard of Oberlin," appears in the publication's September/October 2012 issue.

College & Main

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Oberlin College Archives partnered with the Oberlin Heritage Center in 2011-2012 to build "Oberlin and the Civil War," a digital collection of Civil War-era materials in the Oberlin College Archives. The project was published in June but will continue to grow during the Civil War sesquicentennial years ahead.

Visit the archive at

Year of the Queer

Theorist David Halperin '73 and author Joey Mogul '92 are among the speakers taking part in "Year of the Queer," an interdisciplinary series of academic courses, speakers, performances, and social events organized to inspire and support a campus- and community-wide conversation about queer life today.

For a full schedule of information see


Tita Reed, the city of Oberlin's economic development and housing director, was named the college's special assistant to the president for community and government relations. She replaces Sandra Hodge, who retired.

Alumni event information can be found at The Oberlin Alumni Association.