Celebrating Our Heritage
Please join me in congratulating our two new academic deans, Andrea Kalyn in the Conservatory of Music and Tim Elgren in the College of Arts and Sciences. Their appointments were approved by the full Board of Trustees on Tuesday, February 11. Dean Kalyn is—and will continue to be—an outstanding leader for the conservatory and for Oberlin. Dean Elgren, a leader in undergraduate research and STEM education, will be a visionary dean for the arts and sciences faculty and for this college. Dean Kalyn already is on campus, and Dean Elgren will assume his duties on July 1, 2014. More detailed information about their credentials will be posted soon to Oberlin OnCampus. Many thanks to the members of the search committees for their superb and extensive work and to the many faculty, staff, and students on campus who participated in the search processes.
During February, we celebrate Black History Month. Oberlin’s proud legacy of promoting equality and opportunity for African Americans has led institutions of higher education across the nation to follow suit, and that legacy has, and continues to, attract many to study, teach, and work here. Oberlin’s Black History Celebration, organized around this year’s theme of Civil Rights Acts: Then and Now, offers a rich array of lectures, plays, concerts, and other activities. Among the highlights:
• Actor, director, musician and teacher Avery Brooks ’70 returns to campus for a Convocation on February 22;
• The Rev. James Lawson, who received an honorary degree several years ago, will spend several days on campus and will draw upon his schooling here at Oberlin’s Graduate School of Theology and his subsequent work with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.;
• Dr. Earl Lewis, the president of the Mellon Foundation and a scholar of American history, will be here near the end of the month; and
• the ensemble Imani Winds, featuring Oberlin alumnae Toyin Spellman-Diaz ’94 on oboe and Monica Ellis ’95 on bassoon; playwright Dominique Morriseau, filmmaker Ryan Coogler, and Grammy Award-winning singer Angelique Kijdo, whose artistry is demonstrating the role of the arts in illuminating history and culture.
Oberlin’s heritage of pioneering work also animates the exciting LaunchU program, which just finished its second and even more successful year under the guidance of Dean Andrea Kalyn. This program, an outgrowth of Oberlin’s Creativity & Leadership Program and the work of the President’s Advisory Council, brings students, alumni, faculty, and friends together to jump start innovative projects in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. The modern version of Oberlin’s long tradition of mentoring, the LaunchU incubator is reminiscent of the support Oberlin student Charles Martin Hall received from his teacher, Professor Frank Fanning Jewett in his quest to find an inexpensive method for producing aluminum.
At LaunchU’s public pitch competition, held February 1, I was struck by the focus on access and quality, hallmarks of Oberlin’s history and its enduring values. In designing the projects, students and alumni employed a range of disciplines and perspectives, in keeping with our tradition of broad-based liberal arts education. The budding entrepreneurs aimed to produce high quality work, whether it be a product or service, and to make it accessible to a greater range of people, in some cases an international audience. LaunchU, an extraordinary program with unlimited potential, thus upholds our heritage in perhaps unexpected ways.
A health tip courtesy of our athletics trainer Jill Rondini: It’s very important to stay hydrated in this cold weather, so drink plenty of water.
I have student office hours Tuesday afternoons and by appointment. Should you wish to see me, please contact Jennifer Bradfield by e-mail at email@example.com. Stay warm!