* Following the custom recently reinstituted by President Nancy Dye of holding an all-campus convocation at the beginning of each semester, the Reverend Fred Steen of Oberlin has arranged for the Fisk University Choir to visit Oberlin to provide a program for the opening of spring semester.
* The College of Arts and Sciences has done an excellent job of doing the impossible: finding a replacement for Stuart Friebert, who retired from the Creative Writing Program he founded and headed so memorably for the last three decades. A smooth transition to a new era was critical, says Clayton Koppes, dean of the college, and was eventually resolved by attracting not just one, but two nationally regarded poets who are, from early indications, highly effective teachers. Martha Collins, professor of creative writing, is former chair of the English department at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and also an experienced administrator. Pamela Alexander is associate professor. Reports from the students at the close of the semester have been extremely enthusiastic about the program.
* Professors rely upon both high- and low-tech techniques to improve student writing, but the brown-bag luncheons scheduled each Thursday as colloquia on pedagogy are guides for the best uses of the options. OCTET (Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching) has gotten off to a fast start under the leadership of Gary Kornblith, associate professor of history, with emphasis on adapting new information technology techniques for teaching and learning into the next century.
* A new $105,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will be used to sponsor a broad range of activities to teach and reinforce cooperation and integrated curricular studies in the context of ethnic studies and multicultural issues. Called "Common Ground: Education for Democracy," the grant will cover new pedagogical initiatives, faculty and staff diversity workshops, and community-service projects.
* Don Hunsinger, winding up the last year of a four-year appointment as director of athletics, has advised Dean Koppes that he does not want to be reappointed. Instead, he wants to resume his coaching activities, and leave the administrative details to a new AD. A search committee, broadly representative of the Oberlin community, will seek an administrator "committed to Oberlin's values and the place of athletics, broadly construed, in Oberlin College life," according to Koppes.
* The proposed Environmental Studies Center now seems an assured addition to the campus. The Board of Trustees has approved a budget for the preliminary construction documents, with groundbreaking anticipated for late spring 1998. With good fortune, by summer of 1999 the project could be completed and ready for use by students.
* Another exciting addition to the campus is the proposed Science Facility. Assuming that financing becomes available, construction could begin in June 1999, with occupancy planned for the fall of 2002. A schematic design for the building will be presented to the Board of Trustees in March, and, if the Board approves the plans, the design development phase, which takes five months, will then begin.