Campus News

Faculty Members Receive Promotions

May 15, 2019

Communications Staff

Cox building with spring flowering tree
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83

Eleven faculty members have been promoted to the rank of professor or associate professor with continuous tenure for the academic year beginning July 1, 2019. 

  • In celebration of the promotions, we asked each about their most memorable experience at Oberlin and what they enjoy about being a professor. The following are grouped by rank and listed alphabetically.


    Promoted to Associate Professor

    Matthew Bahar, associate professor of history

    “Lately, I’ve reflected a lot on my arrival at Oberlin in fall 2012. One encounter that semester is still etched in my mind. While walking in front of Rice Hall on the first day of class, I was approached from across the street by a student who introduced himself, welcomed me to campus, and commented on my job interview talk from the previous February. The brief exchange surprised me and helped ease my first-day jitters. We still keep in touch and enjoy recalling the end of his Oberlin career and the beginning of mine.  He proved to be only the first of many cordial, earnest, and curious students I’ve encountered here.”

    Matthew Bahar
    Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

  • Aaron Goldman, associate professor of biology

    “My research and teaching interests lie in between several traditional disciplines. At Oberlin, I’ve found a vibrant community of students and professors with the same enthusiasm for working  across disciplinary boundaries. It’s a real privilege to work here.”

    Aaron Goldman
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Gunnar Kwakye, associate professor of neuroscience

    “I’ve always been interested in teaching, conducting research with a diverse group of individuals, and giving back to the community. However, I never considered being a professor until retired Professor of Neuroscience Lynne Bianchi recruited me as a visiting assistant professor. I was very impressed with the overall quality, dedication, and enthusiasm of Oberlin students, as well as the support and mentorship from faculty and staff. Thus, I decided to pursue a career as a professor at Oberlin College. My overarching goals as a professor are to recruit, mentor, teach, conduct research, and inspire a diverse group of students who are the future leaders of the world.”

    Gunnar Kwakye
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Leslie Kwakye, associate professor of neuroscience

    “The most enjoyable thing about being a professor is mentoring students in research. I love my research and doing my research, but I like it the most because I get to mentor students. I get to see them excited about research and develop their own scientific thinking and knowledge base —then go out and succeed in their own right.”

    Leslie Kwakye
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Paul Thibodeau, associate professor of psychology

    “What I enjoy most about being a professor is having the opportunity to work with students. I love teaching and mentoring students in research. It’s incredibly rewarding to help students learn new skills and grow.”

    Paul Thibodeau
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Lola Thompson, associate professor of mathematics

    “I took a yearlong sabbatical during my fourth year at Oberlin, splitting my time between the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Germany and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. I was nowhere near Oberlin, yet I kept running into Oberlin students and faculty everywhere! I would see Oberlin students in the audiences of my talks at conferences, where they would wait around to give me hugs and fill me in on what I was missing during my year away. While I was living in Germany, I had several colleagues reach out to me when they found themselves in nearby countries—I wound up exploring Vienna, Paris, and Berlin with other Oberlin faculty members. When I started my position in Berkeley, I immediately received emails from various Bay Area Oberlin alums, who wanted to meet up for coffee or offer me tours of the Googleplex. It was incredible to feel this strong sense of community, even when I was so far away from campus.”

    Lola Thompson
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Promoted to Professor

    Margaret Kamitsuka, professor of religion

    “An aspect of teaching at Oberlin that has been gratifying for me is hearing from former students who reconnect and share how their religion department or gender studies courses helped launch their academic and career directions. Because teachers at Oberlin are supported in their efforts to mentor students as a whole person, these kinds of teacher-student connections are fostered and prove to be meaningful in the future.”

    Margaret Kamitsuka
    Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

  • Tom Newlin, professor of Russian

    “One of the really wonderful things about being a professor is that every year you have the chance to meet and get to know lots of interesting new people—your students!”

    Tom Newlin
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Maureen Peters, professor of biology

    “It’s hard to define the mix of memorable moments that characterize life as an Oberlin professor, but the ones that stand out in my mind usually involve gatherings of current students and alumni. These times make me realize how special it is to be a part of a community of curious, thoughtful, and caring people that extends through time and space. It’s wonderful to see how easily Obies meaningfully connect with one another, to witness their zest for life, and to hear about their journeys into professional careers and adulthood. Alumni often reflect on how their Oberlin educations have impacted their lives and express their gratitude for their time at Oberlin. These events make me proud to be a part of such a formative period for them.”

    Maureen Peters
    Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

  • Baron Pineda, professor of anthropology

    “Although I enjoy being in Oberlin, my most memorable work with students has been in London, working with students and doing my own research in the context of the Danenberg-in-London Program. I have done this twice (2010 and 2015), and it allowed me to combine and intensify things that I really enjoy: working closely with students, having great academic resources at my disposal, going to plays and concerts, and traveling.”

    Baron Pineda
    Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

  • Drew Wilburn, professor of classics

    “I’ve been teaching Magic and Mystery in the Ancient World since I arrived at Oberlin, and I love introducing students to the religious and mystical practices of the Greeks and Romans. One of the most memorable—and enjoyable—moments of my career at Oberlin built on this, and it expanded my own areas of interest. As one of the faculty on the Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program in spring 2017, I was able to offer the History of Medicine, cotaught with Maureen Peters, and Magic, Witchcraft and Religion from Stonehenge to Harry Potter. I worked closely with the 24 students in the program, and we visited an immense amount of sites and museums related to medicine and magic. With the assistance of alum Tracy Chevalier, we had a sneak preview of Harry Potter and the History of Magic at the British Library. Later, I was able to share my knowledge with alumni by leading a tour of the exhibition when it traveled to New York City this past January. The Danenberg Oberlin-in-London program is a unique Oberlin opportunity, and I was thrilled to take part in it with our fantastic students.”

    Drew Wilburn
    Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

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