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 Oberlin College: Goals and Objectives

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 natural 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 Oberlin graduates. Oberlin seeks students who are talented, highly motivated, personally mature, 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 171-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.
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