Redefining Our Priorities

It is often said that the only two certainties of life are death and taxes. I guess that’s another way of saying that the only constant in life is change itself.

The Alumni Association saw quite a bit of change in 2004 with the arrival of Executive Director Laura Gobbi ’91 in January and then the retirement of Margaret Erikson ’62, director of on-campus alumni activities, in December. As this magazine goes to press, the search for Margaret’s replacement is well under way. We hope to have an assistant director of alumni events and electronic communications on staff by Commencement-Reunion weekend in May. Paul Wolansky remains on staff with a slightly different job title: director of alumni outreach and education.

Also responding to change have been Oberlin’s faculty, administrators, students, and trustees, who have been leading an extensive strategic planning effort for the past year and a half. The challenge for Oberlin in the coming years lies in balancing its unique characteristics with its ability to thrive in the ever-changing world of higher education. The strategic planning effort has addressed both the financial imperatives for Oberlin and the programmatic aspirations for maintaining academic and artistic excellence. After 18 months of discussion, the General Faculty and the Board of Trustees adopted the document in early March. Watch your mailbox for a copy of the Strategic Plan for Oberlin College, which is also available online at

It is clear that alumni will have a critical role to play in the implementation of the new strategic plan and in the ongoing success of Oberlin College. We serve as a vital connection to the broader world, both in supporting the teaching/ learning experience and in educating prospective students and employers about the value of an Oberlin education.

The executive board of the Alumni Association will now review its own strategic plan to assure its alignment with the College’s priorities. At our retreat in June, we will assess our current span of alumni activities, as well as any potential new roles that alumni may play in implementing the College-wide plan. While our overall goal of offering a lifelong community for students and alumni will remain intact, our focus may shift toward providing more educational and outreach opportunities to our regional communities. This is reflected in the newly revised roles of alumni staff members and in the programs offered to alumni.

Memories of Oberlin from our own student days are great, but even better is knowing that our alma mater continues to strive for academic and artistic excellence and leadership among liberal arts institutions, and that the Alumni Association is right in tune!