Donica Thomas Varner has been appointed vice president, general counsel and secretary after serving as interim general counsel and secretary since June 5, 2017.
"I am excited to have such an experienced and well-regarded attorney join us at Oberlin,” says President Carmen Twillie Ambar. “Donica is tremendously talented and hard-working, and she has already made her mark on Oberlin College as a valued colleague and an important addition to the leadership team."
Varner brings to Oberlin more than 23 years of experience as a litigation attorney and higher education law practitioner. She began her legal practice with Detroit-based law firms representing public and private employers in the areas of employment and labor law. She 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. Varner later joined the legal staff at the University of Michigan, where her practice focused on student affairs, employment, immigration, litigation, and international engagement issues. Most recently, she 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.
Varner’s time as interim general counsel and secretary has been instrumental in her understanding of campus affairs. “The last nine months have given me the opportunity to engage directly with trustees, faculty, students, staff, administrators, and alumni and experience their passion for Oberlin,” says Varner. “As a result, I have an understanding of how we can work together to safeguard campus treasures that promote creativity, exploration, and inclusive excellence, such as the College of Arts and Sciences, the Conservatory of Music, the campus libraries, and Allen Memorial Art Museum.”
Varner’s belief in the college’s leadership cemented her desire to continue in the role. “Under the visionary leadership of President Carmen Twillie Ambar and Board of Trustees Chair Chris Canavan, Oberlin College is well-positioned to continue to distinguish itself as a preeminent liberal arts residential community of scholars, learners, artists, and social entrepreneurs.”