In Memoriam: Former Dean of Students George Langeler

October 2, 2017

Communications Staff

Tree branches with pink buds
Photo credit: Sela Miller

We are saddened to share news of the passing of George H. Langeler, former dean of students. Langeler passed away on Friday, September 30, 2017 at Kendal at Oberlin. He was 89.

Langeler impacted the lives of many during his 34 years at Oberlin College. He arrived on campus in 1959 as a biology professor before filling a series of administrative roles. He went on to serve in the role for which he was most known, as dean of students, from 1966-1989.

During his tenure as dean of students, Langeler helped introduce transformations to campus life that would be later adopted across the country, including the establishment of one of the nation’s first co-ed residence halls and the formation of one of the first campus dispute-resolution programs.

Professor of History Clayton Koppes, former dean, provost, and acting president of Oberlin, shares these thoughts about Langeler:

“George Langeler became Oberlin’s dean of students in 1966–one of the riskiest times in college administration. Activism on behalf of the African American freedom movement animated the campus. Opposition to the war in Vietnam soon engulfed Oberlin, like all campuses.

George somehow negotiated through that tumultuous era. That Oberlin managed to support its students and to adapt to a new era for which few administrators or faculty were prepared is a great tribute to George’s leadership. How did he do it?

Fundamentally, people on all sides trusted George. They knew he was honest and sensed his innate decency. He genuinely respected others and was always willing to learn from them; he did not assume he had all the answers. George supported minority students and took courageous stands in particular on behalf of gay and lesbian students. He established critical alliances with faculty and believed in the arduous, but ultimately enduring process, of creating community consensus. His remarkable tenure and faithful stewardship leave a profound legacy.”

We will share additional information about services for Dean Langeler when details become available. Please look for a longer reflection on his life in the Oberlin Alumni Magazine.

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