Dear fellow alumni:
One of the key missions of the Alumni Leadership Council (ALC) of the Alumni Association is to engage all alumni with the college and conservatory in enriching, personal ways that maintain strong engagement long after graduation. This engagement with both campus life and our diverse alumni body were top of mind at the ALC’s most recent meeting in Oberlin between 14-16 July.
First, about the serious stuff. We had a lot of discussions, providing the ALC’s combined experience and recommendations to Alumni Office staff and fellow volunteers. We reviewed the Alumni Office budget and left with a general consensus that in light of the recent budgetary restrictions, we want to focus our programming on alumni events and activities that most contribute to building engagement. We do not yet know what this might mean from an alumni program perspective but we need to focus our resources. In the same vein, we had a detailed brainstorm and discussion on Commencement/Reunion Weekend: what parts of the event are meaningful, fun, and engaging, and which ones have lost their appeal over time? We want to be nimble and responsive to changing expectations. In this session, we also learned the fascinating factoid that the Champagne Luncheon (and its various reincarnations as the annual meeting of the Alumni Association) under the iconic tent has been an unbroken tradition since 1839. For those of you who are not aware, the warm sparkling wine that long lost its fizz has been upgraded a few years ago to something more classy!
We had a call with incoming Board of Trustees Chair Chris Canavan ‘84 about the overall financial environment of Oberlin and had an engaging session.
And now onto the fun stuff. Did you know there were several fabulous wineries just outside of Oberlin? The ALC had the pleasure to take a tour of Vermillion Valley Vineyards, co-founded by Emeritus Professor of Biology David Benzing. We tasted various wines right amongst the vines as we learned about the soil and specific climatic conditions. Yes, you can serve up a bottle of well balanced and very pleasant almost-Oberlin wine at your next party!
No ALC meeting would be complete without some interaction with students and that’s just what we did - over lunch with student-athletes and their coaches who were on campus for the summer.
And last but not least, we were treated to a lovely dinner by Kendal at Oberlin. We dined with fellow alumni and thanks to my good luck of where I was seated, I had a fun time learning what life was like for an Obie in the 1950’s. Somehow the idea of taking an ocean liner to study abroad in London just sounds so quaint, so luxuriously slow, and simply so wonderful to have as part of our shared Oberlin heritage.
Bálint Gergely '00
Secretary of the Alumni Association