Donica Thomas Varner

  • Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary


Donica Thomas Varner is an experienced litigation attorney and higher education law practitioner with over 23 years of professional experience representing and advising public and private employers. Prior to joining Oberlin, Donica served as associate general counsel and practice group leader for the faculty, staff and student legal practice group in the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel at the University of Michigan.

Donica began her legal practice with Detroit based law firms representing public and private employers in the areas of employment and labor law. Donica left private practice to join the legal staff at Wayne State University where she represented the university in trial and appellate courts, regulatory investigations, and labor negotiations. She then joined the legal staff at the University of Michigan in 2002 where her practice focused on student affairs, employment, immigration, litigation, and international engagement issues. She is a graduate of S.H.A.P.E. American High School in Belgium, North Carolina State University with a degree in political science, and the University of Michigan Law School.


Donica Varner Contributes Chapter to New Book: Reframing Campus Conflict

October 13, 2020

Donica Thomas Varner co-authored with Simone Himbeault Taylor a chapter in Reframing Campus Conflict (2 ed.) published by Stylus Publishing, LLC.  The chapter titled Reconciling Legal Obligations with Education Goals: Revisiting Foundations of Student Conflict Work is described by co-editor Jennifer Schrage as providing a "compass for all IHE leadership teams navigating the current educational landscape!"


NACUA Invites Donica Varner to Lead Risk Management Discussion

July 26, 2018

Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary Donica Thomas Varner was a featured speaker for a webinar that explored how to manage the risks and liabilities of student organizations. Presented by the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the conversation co-facilitated by Varner examined how to best manage risk through formal recognition systems, conduct expectations and enforcement mechanisms, and strategies for managing financial, travel, reputational, and other risks.


Constitution Day: Q&A with Donica Thomas Varner

September 11, 2018

On Monday, September 17, 2018 at 5 p.m., Oberlin College will observe Constitution Day with a conversation between Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine and Oberlin’s Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Donica Thomas Varner.