By Midge Wood Brittingham '60
Alumni Council Weekend, held on campus September 19-21, began and ended with glorious, bright September sunshine, marred only by a series of intense downpours on Saturday as council members trooped from meeting to meeting across the soggy campus. One member arriving at the Oberlin Inn, thoroughly drenched, said with a broad smile, "This is the Oberlin I remember."
Although council members kept busy with council business, which included the installation of a new association president, Peter Kirsch '79, they took time for socializing and for recognizing their peers' outstanding efforts.
Leanne Wagner '76 was recognized as Alumni Recruiting Network Coordinator of the Year. Managing a team of as many as 12 alumni recruiters, she coordinated the Northern New Jersey area, and, on her own, organized fall and spring preview receptions for admitted students. A member of the Admissions Advisory Committee, she also found time to train new alumni coordinators, and helped locate potential network coordinators for other geographic regions.
Barbara Distler '84 and Leah Robinson '82, coordinators for the Chicago alumni group, were named Regional Coordinators of the Year for their many hours of behind-the-scenes work arranging last spring's Serve-a-thon (see "A Chicago First").The marathon day of community service proved so popular, Barb and Leah plan on making it an annual event. They're also working on seeing another of their ideas through to fruition: a family weekend retreat at a camp in southern Wisconsin.
Bill Loerke '42 was recognized as Class President of the Year. The success of the Class of 1942's 55th reunion last May, was due in large part to his organizing skills. Besides arranging the Class's Commencement symposium, What We Teach and Why We Teach It, Bill helped classmates Tom Piriano and Doug Handyside organize Saturday's class dinner and arrange music for Sunday night's. He also assisted Ellen MacDaniels Speers in sharing her history of the Cox and Finney families in an informal presentation. Bill has somehow managed to attend every Alumni Council Weekend during the past five years, and he has distinguished himself by turning out every class letter punctually.
Class Agent of the Year honors went to Katz '71 for what Oberlin Fund associate director Claudia Jones calls his ambition and vision in encouraging recent graduates to make pledges to the College. During last year's Alumni Council Weekend, Joel made a unique offer to Class of 1996 agent Ben Jones: if he could involve 35 percent of his classmates in giving to the College, then the Class of 1971 would make a contribution to their senior-class gift--the Lorain County Scholarship Fund. Although the 1996 class officers' intensified efforts weren't enough to make the 35-percent target, they did raise participation to 28 percent--far higher than the norm for new classes.
Exec Board Hail and Farewells
Two members rotated off the Executive Board: Sharon Davis Gratto '66 and Mary Heller Cope '56.
Sharon has energetically chaired the Conservatory Alumni Committee for three years. One of her committee's more innovative goals was to encourage more Alumni Council members to sing--not an easy task. Still, after President Nancy S. Dye's remarks about Oberlin's long-range plan during Friday evening's dinner, Sharon led the group in singing some of Oberlin's traditional songs. Hugh Flood, the conservatory's newly appointed choral director, followed Sharon, conducting council members in a rousing version of the "Alleluia Chorus" of Handel's Messiah. Sharon will remain active in the association as president of her class.
Mary, who remains on as a class agent, completed her three-year term as an at-large member of the board. She has been instrumental in organizing the last three Alumni Council Weekends: moderating student panels, serving on alumni panels, and planning the discussion of Oberlin's long-range planning report, "Broad Directions for Oberlin's Future."
New executive board members include Amy Steingart '86, cochair of the Oberlin Lambda Alumni Affiliate Group, and Dawn Alexander '82, former chair of the African-American Alumni/ae Committee. The committee recently reorganized as an affiliate group of the Alumni Association--the African American Alumni/ae Association--which Dawn will also chair.
Midge Wood Brittingham is executive director of the Oberlin College Alumni Association
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