Nancy Dye Recruits in Pakistan
In the endeavor to reaffirm and redefine the school’s mission, a recurring catchphrase has been “Internationalize Oberlin.” In this spirit, President Nancy Dye recently conducted a two-week student recruitment trip in Pakistan.
“The goal for my trip was to reestablish relationships between the schools in Karachi and Lahore…that have traditionally, over many years, sent students [to Oberlin],” said Dye.
She explained that Oberlin has not had admissions representatives in Pakistan since the fall of 2000. This long absence, Dye felt, warranted a presidential visit.
Oberlin, however, is not alone in this. This semester was the first since Sept. 11, 2001 that any American college or university has visited Pakistan. Oberlin is in good company: Harvard, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania also sent representatives for student recruitment this fall.
Dye is the only college president to have personally represented her institution on these trips. Accompanied by an Oberlin alum, Imran Salahuddin, OC ’93, a banker now working in Karachi, as well as the Education Officer of the American Consulate and the head of the Fulbright Commission in Pakistan, Dye visited several private high schools in the cities of Karachi and Lahore.
“We really want to have more Pakistani students,” she said, “so I hope that people apply.”
Dye found that Oberlin’s reputation preceded itself in the schools she visited and was held in particularly high regard for the College’s history and current state of its science programs. Dye recalled that before she was introduced at a high school in Karachi, a chemistry teacher recounted the century-old story of Oberlin alum Charles Hall who, in 1886, shortly after his graduation, discovered an efficient way to produce aluminum.
While Dye’s trip was primarily focused on student recruitment, she also found it to be an eye-opening experience about more than just education.
“I think so many Americans feel so much anxiety about Pakistan because of what we read in the newspapers,” she said. “But when you’re there on the ground, people are going about living their lives and raising their families and going to work and being sociable and so forth. It gives you a more rounded sense of what the situation in Pakistan is like.”
Oberlin is not only increasing its recruitment efforts in Pakistan but in other countries as well. According to Dye, the admissions office has done more international recruitment this year than any year in its history. Charles Grim, a senior administrator in admissions, reported that Oberlin is recruiting in 19 countries this year, including Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, India and Pakistan.
“One of the larger themes here is that we are working hard to have more international students as a goal of the Strategic Plan and to internationalize the campus in all kinds of other ways, too, programmatically,” said Dye. “This is something that is moving forward.
“I would like to see Oberlin [as] the most international college in the United States,” she added. “It would be nice to see Oberlin as a real world college.”
Although Pakistan is not geographically included in the region commonly known as the Middle East, Dye commented that the prevalence of Islam and its national history of British imperialism and colonialism present a strong argument for considering its study within the context of developing a Middle Eastern and North African studies department at Oberlin.
“The more you really think about what MENA should be, it should in many ways encompass that arc [of the world from Egypt to India],” said Dye. “Much of this arc, we really need to somehow incorporate into the curriculum.