Alumni in Service to Oberlin College: Campus Brims with Alumni Speakers

Syndicated columnist and FOX News contributor Michelle Malkin ’92 gave a campus lecture in February titled “Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild,” based on her new book by the same name. Michelle began her career at the Seattle Times and has since published three books dealing with immigration, racial profiling, and liberal ideology. Her standing-room-only talk was the first in the newly endowed Ronald Reagan Political Lectureship Series sponsored by Steven Shapiro ’83 and the Oberlin College Republicans.

Heather Moore ’92, photo historian at the U.S. Senate Historical Office, spoke with students about careers in archives and museum studies. Her visit was sponsored by the anthropology department.

The Rhythms of Resistance sponsored a performance by Erik “Chicago” Murray ’92, who demonstrated the ritual dance of Capoeira Angola. Guests included Mestre Joao Grande and Justin Emeka ’95.

Joani Blank ’59, publisher, retailer, and owner of the Sexuality Library, attended Oberlin’s Sexual Health Conference in March to present “Sex: The Way We Were—A Half-Century Retrospective.” Joani offered a 50-year, decade-by-decade retrospective of anecdotes surrounding her own personal sexuality and that of her peers, commenting on the related political climate. Her visit was co-sponsored by the Sexual Information Center, the Forum Board, and the Office of Health and Life Skills.

Diana Fox ’88, associate professor of anthropology at Bridgewater State College, presented “A Gift from God: Gender and the Feminist Ethnography of Water in Three Trinidadian Communities.” Diana reported on a preliminary study of water acquisition, management, and distribution in three Trinidadian villages and the impact of gender ideologies on the decisions, work patterns, and meanings associated with water. She happily discussed careers and research that combine gender studies, anthropology, and environmental studies. Her visit was sponsored by the anthropology department, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Gender and Women’s Studies Program.

Rebecca Bigler ’86, a guest of the psychology department, presented “Understanding Social Stereotyping and Prejudice: A Historical Overview and Personal Perspective.” A professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, Rebecca studies the question of how and why humans are prejudicial. Tracing her interest in the subject back to work in psychology at Oberlin, she talked about her most recent paper, which outlines the factors that determine when a social group will become the subject of stereotyping and prejudice. Rebecca has found that when adults “use gender to label children and organize the environment,” children respond by “attending to gender and form hypotheses about gender differences.”

Cory Arcangel ’00 turned a longtime hobby into a career as a celebrated digital artist. His interest in computer technology and digital artwork began long before Oberlin, where he switched from a major in classical guitar performance to the TIMARA program. Since graduating and moving to New York, his digital media art has been featured in the Guggenheim Museum and in galleries in Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. During workshops and a campus lecture this spring, he assured students that the Oberlin alumni network is strong, especially in New York. “Be nice to your classmates now; they may be great contacts in the future!” he said. –Danielle Young

The history department sponsored a lecture by Karin Zitzewitz ’96 titled “The Aesthetics of Secularism: Modernist Art and Visual Culture in India.” With a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University, Karen studies how Indian modernist artists staked their claim to modernism through embracing their national identity. In discussing the scandal surrounding F.N. Souza’s 1948 nude self-portrait, Karen suggests that artists assembled a modernist persona out of a combination of liberal discourses of citizenship and the global cliche of the “artist’s life.”

Robert Oelhaf, Jr. ’89 is an attending ER physician at Sewickley Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania, where he also serves as the disaster preparedness medical director. He visited with biology professor Yolanda Cruz and talked with students about the American health care system and its preparedness for disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Robert reflected fondly on his time at Oberlin, admitting that he would have extended his education by four more years just to take advantage of all the interesting and diverse course offerings. –Danielle Young

The Center for Service and Learning/America Reads sponsored a talk by Mike Sowiski ’03 titled “Disaster Preparedness: Turning Chaos into Order—Teaching in the Real World.”

The Multicultural Resource Center sponsored its second annual series titled My Name is My Own: Queering the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality. Desiree Pipkins ’05, Mryl Beam ’04, Julie Dulani ’04 and Ilana Turoff ’04 took part in a young-alumni panel, which, along with lectures, film screenings, and workshops, explored the construction and experience of race, gender, and sex in various communities.

Steven Cohen ’73, clarinetist and professor at Louisiana State University, presented a Conservatory master class for clarinet students and performed in a faculty guest recital featuring the works of Messiaen.

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