Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Coles gave the commencement address and received the Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree at Oberlin's 163rd commencement exercises May 27. Coles, who has written for more than 30 years on the inner lives of children, is professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard Medical School and a research psychiatrist for the Harvard University Health Services. In his address to more than 600 graduating seniors, he urged them to be kind.
Others who were awarded honorary degrees were actor Avery Brooks '70, whose most recent television credit is the role of Captain Sisko in the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine; Harry Gray, director of the Beckman Institute and Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology; and Christopher Rouse '71, composer and professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music. Community volunteer Jane Baker Nord was awarded the Oberlin College Community Service Award.
Oberlin students are rarely at a loss for something to say, and never at a loss for places to publish what they have to say. Since the 19th century, there have been approximately 130 different student publications, some with as short a life as one or two issues, others for longer periods, according to Dina Schoonmaker, head of the special collections and preservation department in Mudd Center.
Students begin journals and magazines with a variety of audiences in mind. Current publications include periodicals that address the concerns of African-American students and Latino students, as well as journals that focus on political commentary and student-authored literature. The number of student publications varies widely from year to year.
The oldest, continuously published student publications are The Oberlin Review, the weekly student newspaper, which was established in 1874, and Hi-O-Hi, Oberlin's yearbook, begun in 1890.
Shannon Fox '97 has become one of the top competitors in the history of women's track and field at Oberlin. At the 1996 North Coast Athletic Conference championships, she won individual titles in three events: she finished first in the 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters for the second year in a row, and she claimed her first 3,000-meter title.
She broke her own school record and qualified for the NCAA championships in the 10K with a time of 37:47.66. Her time of 18:13.00 in the 5K broke the Oberlin record of 18:25.3 set by Sarah Cox in 1986. With a time of 10:35.40 in the 3K, Fox became the first Oberlin woman to win three titles in a conference championship meet.
In all, Fox has won seven NCAC track championships (five outdoor and two indoor) and was the NCAC women's cross country champion last fall.
The culprits behind the mysterious "Soon You Can Choose" messages that have cropped up lately in the Oberlin Alumni Magazine and elsewhere were recently captured on film. Caught in the act of emblazoning their cryptic catch phrase on the Tappan Square rock, the brazen graffitists claimed to be members of a division of Development, Alumni Affairs, and Communications splinter group that calls itself "the Dream Team."
Around the Square investigative reporters have learned that the Dream Team, known officially as the Oberlin Fund Team, consists of staffers who are working with Director of the Annual Fund Kathy Mead to advertise and explain changes made to Oberlin's annual-giving program.
Team spokesperson Alan Moran said the enigmatic slogan was part of a "teaser campaign" to pique interest in the revamped program. Further information about the Oberlin Fund will be disseminated early in the 1996-97 academic year, which began July 1, said Moran, who is director of communications at the College.
As the 1995-96 school year ended, so did the original version of Oberlin Online, the College's World Wide Web site. After a little more than a year on the Internet, the Oberlin home page (http://www.oberlin.edu) and main pages were reorganized and redesigned.
The new pages, which went online Commencement weekend, feature a brighter, more graphically oriented appearance along with restructured information categories. The new-look site also has a powerful search function that allows users to find information more easily.
The Oberlin Online project, an ongoing collaboration between the Computing Center and the Office of Communications (with advice from a work group made up of faculty, staff, and students), has drawn positive reviews from its online audience.
When George Walker '41 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music this spring, he became first black composer to win the award in its 80-year history. He won for his composition Lilacs, a work for soprano voice and orchestra commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered February 1 in Boston.
Members of the Pulitzer nominating committee praised the 16-minute piece--based on the poem by Walt Whitman--as "masterful and rigorous, one that deepens with successive hearings yet grips an audience from the first."
In his more than 60 years as a composer, Walker has published over 70 works, including overtures, sinfonias, concertos, sonatas, string quartets, cantatas, and a Mass. His works for the piano are frequently performed in concert by his sister Frances Walker, professor emerita of pianoforte at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
The Conservatory Library presently owns 47 of Walker's works. His other commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Immediately after graduation, chemistry major Anna Studebaker '96 headed to New York to begin work as objects technician at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last semester, she curated a month-long exhibition in Mudd Center titled "In the Name of Allah: A Chemical and Art Historical Analysis of Some Oberlin Qur'ans."
The exhibition, she said, demonstrated "current chemical methods of dating and pigment identification as well as the strengthening relations between science and art." It also acquainted viewers with "the structural and spiritual qualities of the Qur'an that make it such a unique and exquisite literary piece."
Studebaker's interest in the Middle East-an intellectual legacy from her great-great-grandfather, who founded the American University in Beirut--also led her to study Arabic with Associate Professor of Religion James Morris and to serve three years as an Islamic art intern with the Cleveland Museum of Art.