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

Obies, Past and Present, React to Dye’s Departure

Student Senators, who work closely with the President as representatives for the student body, offered their thoughts on Dye’s resignation:

“Most senators felt that something was going to happen, with all the strange things happening like the article on Dye’s evaluation in Inside Higher Ed and Hirsch’s resignation. But her resignation was probably for a lot of different reasons. Maybe pressure forced her out, or maybe she got tired of the politics outside her job. Also, she’s been here for twelve years, which is a long time.”

Matthew Adler, College senior

“I think that as a whole the presidency of Nancy Dye should be remembered as a successful one. That being said, the level of tension between faculty and the President reached a degree where there was really no going back…[and] as a senator I began to believe that for all her good intentions we were getting somewhat of lip service on issues of importance…I think that she made the right choice in a time of transition, and has taken into account both her own interests and that of the community as a whole.”

 – Colin Jones, College junior

“Nancy Dye can spend this year creating her legacy. She has a great opportunity to make Oberlin a national leader in green construction by ensuring that Phase II is built to the LEED platinum standard. She can finally start planning for a student theater and arts space…President Dye inherited a school that had been somewhat neglected. In the first seven years of her tenure, she helped rebuild the campus and our endowment. She oversaw an increase in Oberlin’s academic competitiveness. She turned the college around.”

Colin Koffel, College junior

In 2005, several students came together to launch “Students for Administrative Reform.” The group was responsible for placing a question on the student senate referendum asking students if they had confidence in President Dye: The overwhelming majority of respondents did not. Marshall Duer-Balkind OC ‘06 and College seniors Peter Collopy and Cecilia Hayford were the key organizers of this effort.

“There were a handful of decisions being made without adequate consultation from students and faculty, particularly the elimination of the London program, the closing of the Biggs computer lab, last-minute changes to Safer Sex Night and the firing of the Multicultural Resource Center interns in 2002. I think the vote of “no confidence” in Dye back in 2005 possibly had an impact on her decision to resign. It could also, of course, be for personal reasons or faculty pressure. But in my mind, the referendum was never intended to get her to retire or get kicked out.”

 – Peter Collopy, College senior

“I think the referendum empowered the faculty, mainly because it showed that students were supporting them and understood their discontent. It’s not always the case that students and faculty are on the same side, and the faculty knows that…[But] Students for Administrative Reform never meant to get so personal, and it’s gotten very personal, unfortunately.”

Cecilia Hayford, OC ‘06

“For me, the breaking point was the union discontent in 2004 that almost led to strike. Dye’s major academic study is about the formation of unions, and to see her using such heavy union-busting tactics when she knew what she was doing felt like a real betrayal…I do think the referendum had a positive impact. Last year was a quiet year. Dye used to make big decisions at mid-terms and finals so students couldn’t do anything about them. The referendum showed that students were paying attention and this probably had the effect on moderating how and when she made those decisions.”

Marshall Duer-Balkind, OC ‘06

Chris Pinelo OC ‘94 was the sole student representative serving on the presidential search committee when Dye was appointed. He has been involved with the College since graduating and serves on the Alumni Council.

“Nancy had an enormously successful track record…and was very impressive during our interviews. She was well prepared and seemed to approach her work with a great deal of thoughtfulness and sensitivity. She understood Oberlin’s important place in history and was clearly energized by the prospect of leading the institution into the future. I also remember being impressed by her accomplishments as a scholar, which was another important consideration. My expectations were high and I think Nancy has definitely met them. Being a college president is a tough job...Twelve years is a long tenure and I know everything hasn’t been perfect…as an active member of the Alumni Council, I haven’t agreed with every decision she’s made. I can, however, say with confidence that Nancy was exactly what Oberlin needed in 1994, and I believe she has served this institution well.”

Douglass Dowty OC ‘05 was Editor-in-Chief at the Review for two and a half terms, and was a close follower of Dye’s presidency.

“Nancy Dye has been a champion and successful steward of Oberlin…But she also had her faults.  Dye clearly deceived the faculty by hiding the intentions of faculty cuts…instead of admitting the cuts were aimed at strengthening the College, she concocted a platform of budgetary crisis…[then] she jumped ship and switched into full-time crisis mode, secretly knowing behind closed doors there was no crisis. She stopped reaching out to students and faculty.  She stopped building consensus or explaining her rationale to faculty committees.  She’s clearly been planning her resignation for the past two years…When you’re a lame-duck, “no-confidence votes” by students and faculty rebellions are mere annoyances, not calamities. She doesn’t have to worry about anyone loathing her this year…A year from now, the faculty will carry on from this squabbling bruised but alive, while Dye marches into the sunset as one of Oberlin’s most efficacious, and rich, all-time presidents.”


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