Marvin Krislov Inaugurated
The inauguration of President Marvin Krislov was, as Robert Lemle, chair of the Board of Trustees put it, “a historic event.” Not only was the event of great significance for the College, but it was also an event of great rarity — only the fourteenth presidential inauguration in the nearly one hundred and seventy five years of Oberlin College’s history.
On Friday, Nov. 2, faculty, faculty emeriti, alumni, students and friends of the College could be seen strolling towards the John W. Heisman Field House, where the inauguration was held. The College’s traditional colors, crimson and gold, adorned the room.
The inauguration began with a brass ensemble organized by the Conservatory, followed by an academic procession: faculty, administrative and professional staff, members of the Student Senate, delegates from other colleges and universities and the trustees of the College, marched down to the stage in traditional academic robes, led by President Krislov. The audience stood in respect to welcome the procession — academic pomp and decor at its best.
Lemle gave the opening remarks, extolling Oberlin’s history of “academic, artistic and musical excellence.” His speech was followed by a speech by Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan, who drew parallels between Michigan and Oberlin, stating how the two institutions shared a common history of diversity and academic achievement. She lauded President Krislov for his work at the University of Michigan, commending him for his “commitment to social justice.”
Her speech was followed by similar speeches from representatives of the faculty, Student Senate, the Alumni Association, Oberlin City Council, the state of Ohio and the U.S. House of Representatives. All these speeches, filled with messages and expectations, resonated with hope and confidence. The speakers welcomed President Krislov as the fourteenth president of Oberlin College and unanimously lauded his efforts for the advancement of education and social justice, in particular his legal defense of diversity in University of Michigan’s admission policies.
The speeches also reflected the various hopes the community has for President Krislov’s term. Speakers commented that the president’s background and experience blend very appropriately with Oberlin’s mission: to provide “uncommon education to the common man,” as President Coleman from the University of Michigan said.
Speakers expressed their hope that the new president would lead Oberlin to new heights and would further Oberlin’s mission of excellence, inclusion and diversity.
Then came the formal installation of the new president, with former President Nancy Dye presenting the presidential medal. President Krislov took the dais and went on to give his first speech as president. His speech, gleaming with his characteristic lively humor, conveyed some important messages. It exuded spirit and motivation, and an elaboration of his values – values that are central to his career, his past and of course, his future: Oberlin. In his speech, the new president reaffirmed his intention of embracing Oberlin, with its rich history and traditions.
A particularly interesting part of his speech was a “virtual tour” of the Oberlin campus. Traversing in time, President Krislov revisited Oberlin’s history through a pictorial representation of the different places and monuments on campus. From the Memorial Arch to the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the William and Orville Wright Laboratory of Phyiscs, the Conservatory, and finally to Tappan Square, the audience ‘walked’ with the new president as he led and reflected upon the years that have seen Oberlin evolve into its present state.
The inauguration culminated with the recitation of the College songs, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and “Ten Thousand Strong,” followed by a performance by the Oberlin College Choir.
After Lemle’s closing speech, the academic procession, led by the newly-inaugurated president, marched its way out of the hall, marching to the praises and accolades of a festive audience.
To quote President Krislov: “Today we recommit to advance the future of our Oberlin, and the world’s Oberlin.”