Building on Success

In this issue of the alumni magazine, you will see coverage of Commencement and Reunion, which included the first outdoor Illumination in four years! I was privileged, during Commencement exercises on May 30, to present the Alumni Medal to retired Alumni Association Executive Director Midge Wood Brittingham.

Paired with the tradition of Commencement at Oberlin is change, particularly among the College’s leadership and senior staff. Robert Lemle ’75 was named chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, assuming the position from outgoing chair Thomas Klutznick ’61. In May, Oberlin experienced the sad loss of one its staunchest supporters, Jim Pohlman ’54, a member of the Board of Trustees since 1986 and a champion of all things Oberlin.

Harry Hirsch arrived this summer from Macalester College as the new
dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Linda Gates, former associate dean of students at Oberlin, was appointed the new dean of students, while longtime faculty member Al MacKay began serving as the College’s new provost, responsible for implementing the College’s new Strategic Plan. The introduction of new ways of thinking at Oberlin is nicely balanced with ongoing College tradition.

The Executive Board of the Alumni Association used its annual planning meeting in June to revisit the Alumni Association’s Strategic Plan, which was first written in 1999. We examined it in the context of the College’s new Strategic Plan, starting with the most basic question: “How can the Alumni Association add value to Oberlin College?” By using standard strategic planning tools, we have updated our goals through 2010, identifying specific objectives under each goal. In September, during Alumni Council weekend, our various committees and affiliate groups will consider how these aspirations fit with their own work and define the metrics that will measure our objectives.

Your Alumni Association remains vibrant. Regional activities are occurring throughout the country, and volunteers are working hard to support Oberlin’s goals through admissions work, career services support, and fundraising. The Oberlin Fund posted a record year—exceeding its $4.3 million goal—and the College hopes to build on this success by increasing the percentage of alumni who participate, as well as the overall dollar amount given.

It is always the vision of the Alumni Association to provide a lifelong community for students and alumni, to be an effective partner in supporting Oberlin’s academic and artistic excellence, and to enhance commitment to Oberlin’s historic values and community service. As I complete my term as president of the Alumni Association, I believe that we are making good progress toward this vision.