Campus Bulletin: Current Students, Faculty and Staff

Commencement/Reunion Reimagined

May 8, 2020 9:45 AM

Office of the President

Dear Oberlin College Community,

Each May members of the Oberlin community gather on Tappan Square to celebrate the achievements of our graduating class. We reconnect with our alumni who return to Oberlin to commune at reunions, reinforcing for themselves the specialness of this place.

It is very disappointing to say that this year, we will be unable to experience Commencement/Reunion Weekend in the same way, due to the impact of the coronavirus.

At Oberlin, I recognize the endless ripples this decision will create for seniors, who fully deserve recognition for their academic and musical accomplishments. Parents, grandparents, and other family members, even the city of Oberlin, all will be impacted. The ramifications reflect the importance of a weekend that is distinctly Oberlin.

We are making two promises to the Class of 2020 and their families. First, we are working hard to plan a virtual way to mark May 25, 2020, that reflects the student-first orientation of Commencement. We have what we believe to be a great idea, but we would like to work with Student Senate before we unveil it.

Secondly, we will host a combined Commencement weekend for the Class of 2020 with that of the Class of 2021. This also will be a first reunion for the Class of 2020, and we will assemble a group of students from this class to help plan the weekend.

For the 50th reunion Class of 1970, we would like to invite you back to celebrate with the Class of 2020 in 2021. Given the overwhelming size of a joint reunion with all the clusters from 2020 and 2021, Advancement staff will be working with alumni leadership to determine what may be possible for other reunion classes who will miss this year’s weekend. Continue to monitor this page for additional information.

For the alumni who planned a return to Oberlin, we know this news is also disappointing, but hopefully heartening as well. We know you visit campus as often as you can and have built lasting friendships that are rooted in Oberlin. This will be a new way to celebrate together. 

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about what makes Oberlin so special. Our students are largely scattered across the United States right now. Yesterday, our dedicated faculty launched 500 remote learning classes, including a number dedicated to studying various societal impacts of COVID-19. Most of the classes proceeded without complications, as a number of faculty had reached out to students beforehand to test the Zoom remote software. In the Oberlin Conservatory, we distributed equipment and instruments to make it possible for faculty and students to continue private lessons and coachings remotely, and we updated our curriculum and policies for the semester so that students could complete their recitals and other performance requirements.  In addition, the Student Life division created an entirely new way for students to participate in the Oberlin community. I hope you take a few minutes to experience the remote gathering place we call ‘‘RemObies.’’

Our staff has worked around the clock, seven days a week to implement changes that safeguard the very institution we hold dear. Our alumni have sent notes of support.

In these unprecedented times, even as we have had to be apart, we have pulled together in extraordinary ways.

I am already looking forward to the coming months when we will have the opportunity to be together in person again and enjoy our Oberlin community. Until then, I wish you and your families good health, safety, and peace.

Carmen Twillie Ambar