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About Oberlin
Oberlin College: Scholarship, Diversity, Social Commitment

Statement of Goals and Objectives for Oberlin College

Oberlin College, an independent coeducational institution, holds a distinguished place among American colleges and universities. Oberlin was the first college to grant undergraduate degrees to women and historically was a leader in the educating of blacks; its heritage is one of respect for the individual and active concern for the larger society. The College uniquely combines an outstanding professional school of music with a leading undergraduate college of arts and sciences. The two divisions reinforce each other. The Conservatory provides flexible programs to prepare students as professional musicians and teachers of music. Deeply committed to academic excellence, the College of Arts and Sciences offers a rich and balanced curriculum in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Within that framework the College expects that students will work closely with the faculty to design an educational program appropriate to their own particular interests, needs, and long-term goals.

Oberlin seeks a diverse and promising student body. Recognizing that diversity broadens perspectives, Oberlin is dedicated to recruiting a culturally, economically, geographically, and racially diverse group of students. Interaction with others of widely different backgrounds and experiences fosters the effective, concerned participation in the larger society so characteristic of and tolerant of divergent views. The Conservatory of Music in particular seeks talented musicians with considerable potential for further growth and development. Performance is central to all of the curricula including music education, history, theory, composition, and technology.

Oberlin's faculty is dedicated to combining effective undergraduate instruction with productive scholarship and artistry. Members of the faculty are highly skilled and professional, well-grounded in their chosen discipline; yet they characteristically have interests that extend beyond their own specialization. The College seeks to recognize and encourage teaching of unusually high caliber, and scholarly and other creative activities are considered essential to continued teaching excellence. Thus, active research, scholarship, artistry, and/or performance is expected of each faculty member.

Oberlin College enjoys an exceptional physical plant including libraries, art museum, computing center, scientific laboratories, physical education facilities, concert halls, and practice rooms. Creating an environment in which academic excellence can flourish, these attractive physical resources are important to realizing the aims of the College.

For its students, the aims of Oberlin College are:

  • to equip them with skills of creative thought, technique, and critical analysis which will enable them to use knowledge effectively;
  • to acquaint them with the growing scope and substance of human thought;
  • to provide for their intensive training in the discipline of a chosen area of knowledge;
  • to ready them for advanced study and work beyond the college years;
  • to foster their understanding of the creative process and to develop their appreciation of creative, original work;
  • to expand their social awareness, social responsibility, and capacity for moral judgment so as to prepare them for intelligent and useful response to the present and future demands of society;
  • to facilitate their social and emotional development;
  • to encourage their physical and mental well-being;
  • to cultivate in them the aspiration for continued intellectual growth throughout their lives.
    --Adopted by the General Faculty November 15, 1977





Oberlin's Distinguished 167-Year History

The roots of Oberlin College reach back to 1833 when two young Yankee missionaries arrived at a stump-dotted clearing in the forests of northeast Ohio.

The Rev. John J. Shipherd and Philo P. Stewart, inspired by Alsatian pastor John Frederick Oberlin, resolved to found a college and colony on the western frontier "where they would train teachers and other Christian leaders for the boundless most desolate fields in the West." They shortly gained the support of Charles Grandison Finney, one of the 19th century's great revivalists. Finney's reputation attracted students to the college and colony, "bound together by a solemn covenant which pledged them to the plainest living and highest thinking," as well as financial support for the College and the town of Oberlin.

In the spring of 1833, the first settler, Peter Pindar Pease, built his log house at the center of Oberlin. That December, 29 men and 15 women students began classes in the Oberlin Collegiate Institute. Two years later circulars describing Oberlin noted that "youths are received as members, irrespective of color." As a result, by the turn of the century one-third of all African American graduates of predominantly white institutions in the United States had graduated from Oberlin.

In 1837 four young women matriculated for the regular college course. Three of the four graduated in 1841 and became the first women in America to receive A.B. degrees.

In 1850, by an Act of the Ohio Legislature, the Oberlin Collegiate Institute became Oberlin College. The change was in name only since collegiate instruction had been offered from 1834 when the original charter was granted.

The music division became part of the College in 1867, two years after its founding as a private school. The Graduate School of Theology, organized in 1835 as the theological division, was merged with the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University in 1966.

Present-day Oberlin College reflects its early commitment to high intellectual standards, liberal education, excellence in teaching and social and moral commitment.

The town of Oberlin, Ohio (population 8,600) is 35 miles southwest of Cleveland and is easily accessible by car, plane, bus or train.





Degree Programs

The academic programs of Oberlin College are based in its two divisions: The College of Arts and Sciences (2,200 students) and the Conservatory of Music (650 students).

The College of Arts and Sciences offers a four-year undergraduate program leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. The Conservatory of Music offers four-year undergraduate programs of professional and academic studies leading to the Bachelor of Music degree, as well as two-year programs leading to a Performance Diploma (undergraduate) and an Artist Diploma (graduate).

A five-year Double-Degree Program leading to both the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bachelor of Music degree is also available. The Conservatory also offers limited graduate programs leading to the Master of Music (opera theater, conducting), the Master of Music Education and the Master of Music Teaching degrees. All of these are five-year programs integrated with specific undergraduate Oberlin Bachelor of Music degree programs. The Master of Music in Historical Performance program admits students with undergraduate degrees from schools other than Oberlin.

Academic information differs in some cases between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. For information about degree programs, graduation requirements, advising and academic standing, grading policies, major and minor study and other areas, please refer to the College of Arts and Sciences, Conservatory of Music or Double-Degree sections of the catalog.






Oberlin's facilities are unsurpassed by any school its size. It has one of the nation's most extensive college library collections, one of the three finest college art collections in the country and first-rate facilities and equipment in music, theater arts, the natural sciences, computing and physical education.

  • The Seeley G. Mudd Center houses most of the College's collection of more than 2 million items; the balance is in three departmental area libraries elsewhere on campus.
  • The Irvin E. Houck Computing Center maintains more than 125 networked Macintosh and DOS/Windows computers in public areas spread across the campus, as well as another 55 terminals connected to the College's central AlphaServer. This equipment is made available to all students without charge. Using this technology, students can do word processing, construct spreadsheets, perform statistical analyses, write and run programs, send and receive electronic mail and connect to computers worldwide via the Internet. All dormitory rooms are connected to a campus network.
  • The Roger W. Sperry Building, completed in 1990, houses offices and teaching and research laboratories for the Neuroscience Program. Specialized laboratories are available for research in molecular neurobiology, electrophysiology, pharmacology, endocrinology, neural development and neuroanatomy.
  • Peters Hall, completed in 1887, was renovated in 1996 and its function redefined primarily for foreign languages. Extensive classroom space, including a dedicated seminar room for each department, and faculty office space is complemented by the Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, a state-of-the-art language lab and media center. Also housed in the building are the Study-Away Library and offices for international students, student advising, Learning Assistance Resource Center, Residential Life and Services and the Counseling Center.
  • The Kettering Hall of Science houses the Departments of Biology and Chemistry and an extensive science library. It includes a greenhouse, a cold room and radiochemistry preparation room, a vision tunnel, growth chambers and instrument rooms. It is located in a complex with the Wright Physics Laboratory, the Roger W. Sperry Building and the Severance Laboratory for Psychology.
  • In addition to the facilities of the Conservatory (see the Conservatory of Music section of the catalog), performing arts utilize Sophronia Brooks Hall Auditorium, which seats 500 for theater and opera productions, and Warner Center for the Performing Arts, used for theater and dance classes and productions.
  • The Allen Memorial Art Museum, internationally recognized for the excellence of its collection, was established in 1917 as the teaching collection of Oberlin College. Over the years the Museum's collection has been carefully developed through purchases and gifts. It has been ranked as one of the finest college or university art collections in the nation, and it continues to grow in size and distinction. The collection, which ranges over the entire history of art, is particularly strong in the areas of Dutch and Flemish painting of the 17th century; European art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; contemporary American art; and Old Master and Japanese prints.
    The Museum is a landmark building designed by noted American architect Cass Gilbert. In 1977 it was expanded through the addition of a large new gallery for modern art, designed by the architectural firm of Venturi, Rauch and Associates. The Allen Memorial Art Buildings also house the College's art department with its superior art library of 75,000 volumes.
  • Athletic facilities are located in the Jesse Philips Physical Education Center. It contains Carr Pool, (site of two NCAA swimming and diving championships), a Nautilus center, a free-weight room, three full-length courts for basketball, volleyball and indoor tennis, six racquetball courts, nine squash courts, a training room and specialty rooms for activities such as gymnastics and fencing.
  • Oberlin's John W. Heisman Club Field House was completed in the fall of 1992. Connected to the Philips Physical Education Center, it contains a 200-meter track and four tennis courts, plus space for football, baseball, soccer and lacrosse practice. Other facilities include 12 all-weather tennis courts, 22 multi-purpose outdoor fields and six bowling lanes.


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