Black and Latino student leaders from Oberlin and the 11 other colleges in the Great Lakes Colleges Association strengthened their leadership skills at a recent conference titled "Black and Latino Student Unions in the 21st Century: Identity and Roles." The conference was held at the College of Wooster.
Nine officers of various Oberlin student organizations took part in the weekend program. Students attending the conference got to know one other not only through interactive workshops, but also through such informal events as a Caribbean Feast and an "All Schools Small Schools Jam."
The Oberlin student-leaders said the best thing about the con-ference was that it enabled them to share their perspectives and to learn from one another in a community broader than any one campus can be. They also said it was inspiring to realize other students were working to improve their home and campus communities.
Regrettably, the Allen Memorial Art Museum had to cancel the last day of its art rental earlier this fall. Happily, the cancellation was due not to lack of interest, but to abundant interest.
The art rental begins with a preview day, when available works are scouted by prospective renters. On the second day the rental is open to students, and on the third day it is open to members of the faculty, administration, and community.
Students wishing to rent began lining up outside the museum at about noon on the preview day, according to museum Director Anne Moore. In just four hours the next day, student art lovers had snatched up about 300 of the 327 works available, she said.
"This is definitely the biggest turnout we've ever had," said museum Assistant Registrar Wendy Brisbine. "Normally we have about 60 to 80 works left over at the end of the third day. This time we had about 25 works left after lunch on the student day."
Oberlin is unique in how it rents original works of art to students. The program was begun in 1940 by Oberlin's renowned and beloved art professor Ellen H. Johnson. Works are rented for just $5 per work per semester.
Ensuring Musicians for the Future, the three-year campaign for merit scholarships in the Conservatory of Music, reached its conclusion in June 1996 having achieved 106 percent of its goal.
Begun in July 1992 by the Conservatory and the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, the campaign had a goal of $3 million; it raised $3,019,458. A total of 790 alumni, parents, faculty and staff members, and friends of Oberlin made gifts to the campaign.
"Merit scholarships are the highest priority in the Conservatory today," said Conservatory Dean Karen Wolff. "Now the Conservatory can begin to ensure that an Oberlin education and scholarship support are available to deserving and talented students."
The Center for Service and Learning (CSL) has received a $3 million gift to endow its operations. "This gift is nothing short of thrilling for what it will do for the community and for Oberlin College," said Daniel Gardner, special assistant to the president for community service and director of the CSL.
Longtime Oberlin residents and philanthropists Jane and Eric Nord made the gift to benefit both the College and the greater community of Lorain County. Last year, Oberlin students and faculty members volunteered an estimated 48,000 hours to organizations in and around Oberlin. With endowed funding, the CSL will be able to continue and expand current programs and assure community organizations of its long-term existence and commitment to service.
"One of the greatest needs of our society is to educate young adults to become engaged in the community," said President Nancy Dye. "This gift will continue to allow students to use the skills they learn in the classroom to bring about social change."
Distinguished African-American alumnus John Mercer Langston, an ancestor of poet Langston Hughes, was honored by the State of Virginia recently with the installation of a historical highway sign marking his birthplace.
Proposed and funded by the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation, Inc., the marker was approved by the Virginia Historic Resources Board with the assistance of the Oberlin College Archives.
The son of a freed slave, Langston was born in Louisa, Virginia. He entered Oberlin in 1844 and by 1853 had earned three degrees from the College. He was one of the earliest African-American lawyers in the nation and was the first black to be elected from the State of Virginia to the U.S. House of Representatives. He also was U.S. minister to Haiti, the first dean of Howard University's Law School, and the first president of what is now Virginia State University.
The Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve recently inducted Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, Class of 1850, into the Cleveland Hall of Fame as part of the city's bicentennial celebration.
Sessions was the first African-American woman in the nation to complete a collegiate course of study. (However, it was not until 1862 that Mary Jane Patterson became the first African-American woman to receive a baccalaureate degree.)
Early Settlers Association Vice President Gilbert M. True said Sessions was chosen for "her work as an abolitionist, educator of freedmen in the post-Civil War South, and memorable writing." At her graduation, Sessions gave an acclaimed address titled "A Plea for the Oppressed." Listening was a trustee who had supported the College's open admissions policy. He reminded the audience how others had predicted ruin if Oberlin admitted blacks. Stanton's eloquent address, he said, refuted that prophecy.
"Prometheus at Coney Island," a poem by junior Quentin Rowan of Brooklyn, N.Y., is among 75 selected by Adrienne Rich for inclusion in The Best American Poetry of 1996 (Scribner's). Rowan's work, which he wrote in his junior year of high school, first appeared in the journal Hanging Loose.
Of his poem, Rowan said, "I wanted Prometheus to meet with the modern world in a sort of hotbed of urban and cultural decay, a place that had once flourished, where reenactments of the Civil War would take place on large open lawns, yet today makes one feel hollow and nostalgic. There is an emphasis on taste, sight, and touch, because Coney Island is a smorgasbord of these sensations, and taste, sight, and touch are things that have not changed with the passing of time."
The editor of his high school literary magazine, Rowan is majoring in English at Oberlin and plays in various rock-and-roll bands.
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