The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Commentary September 15, 2006

Editorial: Searching for a Fearless Leader

Wanted: Fearless leader to help us in our journey to change the world. Must have big ears, wide eyes, tall stature.  Thoughtful mouth, perceptive nose and sensitive touch necessary. Open arms, ready feet and firm grip required.

Of course, the wish list for a new president does not stop there.  The end of an era is always bittersweet, but with it comes possibility.  Much like a prospective student sets out in search of a “good fit,” Oberlin is about to embark on a quest for a candidate who will partner with us — students, faculty, the community — to preserve what is Oberlin.

Oberlin is not just any other place.  We pride ourselves in our progressive tradition and active involvement in College governance.  Any prospective president (or dean) must be not only aware or just receptive to these attributes, but wholeheartedly propelled by their importance as defining characteristics of Oberlin.

Any candidate must be willing to challenge Oberlin convention without compromising its ideals.  He or she must not make important College decisions behind closed doors, but rather delight in the input of his or her community members—all of whom have a vested interest in Oberlin.  Our new leader must always have our interests on his or her mind. He or she must be focused on engaging us in decision-making, instead of keeping us blinded until after the fact.

With this type of mentality, the Oberlin community will be involved in future implementations of the Strategic Plan.  Their interests will be respected and supported in the renegotiation of the OSCA contract.  Student safety and comfort and environmental sustainability will be paramount to Phase II and future building projects.  The president will provide the resources crucial to student success — both in terms of essential faculty members and in terms of SPACE. 

And beyond just involvement, Oberlin has some catching up to do.  Oberlin requires a leader who will not shy away from the challenges of keeping it competitive.  This means a president whose fundraising capabilities will enable the much-needed dormitory updates and who will ensure that our academic offerings match or exceed those expected at competitive colleges.  At a minimum, this translates into the creation of a Middle Eastern and North African studies program.

We do not desire a puppet figurehead who acquiesces to the pressures of faculty, students or trustees.  An effective Oberlin leader must also possess strength of character sufficient to pursue a course of action most beneficial to Oberlin — which may not always align with popular sentiment or any individual agendas.

It is our hope that this wish list not only guides the search committee, but also President Dye’s final year at Oberlin.  Our classifieds ad need not remain unanswered or unfulfilled until July 1. We are confident that whoever is brave enough to respond will leave a legacy not soon forgotten. 

Editorials are the responsibility of the Review editorial board – the Editors-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Production Manager and Commentary Editor – and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Review staff.


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