Campus News

Making Oberlin Great

May 8, 2014

Marvin Krislov

I’m always moved by the faculty and staff we honor at our annual service awards. The honorees we celebrated last week represented, according to Dean Eric Estes, a combined 1,565 years of service to Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Oberlin’s standing as one of the world’s great academic institutions relies on the hard work of hundreds of people doing all kinds of jobs. Those jobs include groundskeepers, security personnel, food service workers, custodial staff, administrators, office workers, mechanics, maintenance people, coaches, and, of course, our great teacher-scholars to name but a few.

Many thanks to our honorees, and to everyone who works at Oberlin for the time, effort, and thought you put in to support our students and our community.

Thanks, too, for your help with this spring’s All Roads events. Because of all the construction work going on along Lorain Street and at the intersection of Lorain and Route 58, this was a somewhat challenging All Roads season.

Despite that, our faculty, staff, and students were, as usual, great hosts. Many prospective students and their families told me that of all the colleges they have visited, Oberlin’s people are the most welcoming. It seems like everyone these visitors met—whether it was a dean, an admissions staffer, a food service worker or a member of the grounds crew—was friendly and helpful.

And nearly all the guests I meet over the course of the year tell me how beautiful Oberlin’s campus is, and how impressed they are by our facilities, our programs, and our people. Those programs and this truly beautiful campus happen because you care about this College and Conservatory, this town, and the people who live, work and study here.


Warren Darcy, the Conservatory of Music’s great musical theory professor is retiring this year. Warren, whose mother graduated from the Conservatory and inspired him to study here, graduated from the Conservatory in 1968, and returned to teach here after earning his PhD at the University of Illinois. In fact, Warren was the first Oberlin student to major in music theory which was introduced as a major subject during his undergraduate days.

Warren is an also an outstanding writer. His scholarly books, Wagner's Das Rheingold (Oxford University Press, 1993) and Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata (Oxford University Press, 2006) won the Society for Music Theory’s Wallace Berry Award. He is also a creative writer, producing short stories and novels in the horror/crime genre.

A symposium will be held in honor of Professor Darcy’s retirement and in recognition of his 41 years of extraordinary service to Oberlin College & Conservatory as Professor of Music Theory. The speakers and topics include: James Hepokoski, Chair and Professor of Music, Yale University, “Gottheit, Silence, Life, and Death in Beethoven's Heiliger Dankgesang;” William Kinderman, Professor of Musicology, University of Illinois, ”Rotations and Fantasy-Projections in Wagner and Mahler;" Patrick McCreless, Professor of Music, Yale University, "Drama and Musical Form in Late Wagner: Siegfried and the Rhinemaidens;" and Matthew Bribitzer-Stull '95, Associate Professor of Music Theory/Composition, University of Minnesota. "The Diaspora of the Wagnerian Leitmotiv."

The symposium will be on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. in Clonick Hall at the Kohl Building.

One of the great leaders of our campus community, Ron Watts, also will be retiring this year as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer after 37 years of service. Ron has provided stellar leadership and oversight for the annual budgetary process, overseen all major financial operations, provided lead support for related trustee and campus committees, and coordinated strategic planning and reporting functions for all financial areas of the college.

Ron has served on many local nonprofit boards including the Oberlin Early Childhood Center, Allen Memorial Hospital and Foundation, and the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association. In addition, he has served on the Keystone Local School District political action committee. He has instilled the same level of commitment in his staff by supporting them as they also give back to the community.

Ron is an extraordinary individual and his institutional knowledge will be greatly missed when he departs at the end of this academic year. However, the residual effects of his leadership and contributions will continue to be realized for generations to come. Please join me for a celebration honoring Ron in Carnegie Building’s Root Room on Friday, May 16, at 4:30 p.m.


This past weekend showcased an extraordinary range of talent, from the Oberlin Dance Company’s exciting and varied program, to the OC Aerialists, the wonderful joint concert of the Arts and Sciences Orchestra, the Oberlin College Choir, and the Musical Union, not to mention the many, many recitals.

A special shout out to the Musical Union. Founded in 1837, Oberlin Musical Union is the second-oldest continuing choral tradition in the United States, after Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society. Musical Union performs the great works for chorus and orchestra, such as Beethoven’s Mass in C, which they performed this past Sunday. Musical Union exemplifies Oberlin’s wonderful and amazingly talented intergenerational community as it includes OC students, faculty and staff, and local residents young and old.

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