Welcome new students, faculty, and staff! Welcome back returnees! I wish you all a wonderful academic year here at Oberlin.
There is no other school quite like Oberlin. We have an outstanding faculty who love teaching undergraduates. We offer extraordinary opportunities to learn, explore, and grow here on campus and around the world. Ours is the only small liberal arts college in the country that also has a world-class conservatory of music, one of America’s finest teaching art museums, a renowned science center, and a landmark environmental studies center. Those are powerful educational assets that enable us to create so many opportunities for scholarship, creativity, research, and interdisciplinary study.
Oberlin also has so much going in terms of co-curricular and extracurricular offerings. As I told incoming first-years and transfer students when they arrived for orientation, there is always so much going on at Oberlin that it is important to choose which activities, events, and clubs with which you’ll be involved. You can’t do it all.
That said, I encourage everyone to attend Bryan Stevenson’s talk, American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference, at 8 p.m. on September 9 in Finney Chapel. Stevenson is one of this country’s leading thinkers on criminal justice, and a leader in the movement against mass incarceration in the United States. He has led efforts that have reversed death penalties for dozens of condemned prisoners. He is a MacArthur fellow and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment by the legal system. His TED Talk on the subject of injustice has been viewed 2 million times. He teaches law at New York University School of Law, and his best-selling memoir Just Mercy has earned numerous awards and much praise.
Stevenson's talk is the first of the 2015-16 Convocation Series. Other speakers this fall are novelist Zadie Smith (September 29), investigative journalist Sonia Shah ’90 (October 27), and entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt, founder of Sirius and United Therapeutics (November 5).
The Top 10 Greenest Universities
I was thrilled to see Oberlin is ranked fifth in Sierra magazine’s annual list of “America’s Greenest Universities.” The Sierra Club publication lauded our campus-wide efforts to achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. It praised our conservation efforts, which include monitoring water use in 19 residence halls in real time. Congratulations to our students, faculty, staff, and fellow citizens helping create a sustainable future for our college, city, and region.
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