I’m writing to inform our community about important staffing changes and to provide an update on the Oberlin Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s membership and progress.
On the staffing front, Joyce Babyak will become Dean of Studies, succeeding Kathryn Stuart. Kathryn will continue in her role as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and will focus exclusively on coordinating the strategic planning process. These changes will take effect on March 1.
The changes reflect the expanding demands of the strategic planning process and the importance we place on student success supported by academic advising, International Programs, the Office of International Students, and the work of the Bonner Center for Service and Learning and the Career Center.
Academic advising is one of the critical functions coordinated through the Office of the Dean of Studies. A deep consideration of advising as an opportunity for development and greater synergy is emerging as a key strategic directive for the College. Joyce Babyak has already been working closely with students, faculty, staff, and administrators to move these initiatives forward. She is the lead on a Teagle Foundation grant that is focused on curricular coherence and a reconsideration of the important role academic advising can play.
Joyce brings unique talents and sensitivities to her new position, as well as tremendous experience and knowledge. She spent 11 years as a faculty member in the Religion Department and served in the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences office as Associate Dean, Acting-Dean and, most recently, Senior Associate Dean.
I want to thank Kathryn Stuart for her work as Dean of Studies. Since 2002, she has led the Office of the Dean of Studies, which coordinates academic advising in the College of Arts and Sciences, advises students, and helps faculty members with advising and academic policy concerns. In addition, this office advises students concerning leaves of absence and winter term and provides advising about international programs (study away) and advising and services for international students. Other offices in the group include the Registrar, Career Center, Fellowships Advising, Bonner Center for Service and Learning, and Institutional Research. Prior to assuming the position of Dean of Studies, Kathryn was assistant to the president, associate dean of the Conservatory of Music, and associate professor of piano pedagogy.
She has simultaneously been doing outstanding work organizing and facilitating our strategic planning process. As Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, she has deep knowledge of and insights into the challenges Oberlin is facing. Kathryn will continue supporting the efforts of the Steering Committee and its working groups as they begin articulating and refining the strategic objectives that will ultimately comprise Oberlin’s new strategic plan.
To expand student involvement with our strategic planning process, six new student members of the working groups were recently selected. Three were elected by the student body, while three were selected by the Student Senate. The new working group members are: Jasmine Anderson, David Hayden Arp, Avalon McKee, Sarah Minion, Sophie Mvurya, and Nina Pulley.
I am pleased to welcome the new students to the working groups. I also want to thank the three students who are already members of the committee and the working groups—Sophie Davis, Ryan Dearon, and Machmud Makhmudov—for their stellar work to date to our strategic planning effort.
Oberlin’s strategic planning process is moving forward on many fronts. The Oberlin Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s three working groups have been engaging with a wide array of Oberlin students, staff, faculty, trustees, alumni, and guest experts.
The committee held a planning session February 7 in Oberlin, at which the three working groups—Education Futures: Cultivating a New Learning Environment; The Students of the Bicentennial: Who We Teach; and Resources and Sustainability: How We Support our Mission—met in extended sessions. The working groups reported they are making good progress in addressing those key themes that frame Oberlin’s future.
The Board and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will be keenly focused on moving this process forward at the upcoming March meeting.
President, Oberlin College
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