Visionary Academic Leader Named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
David Kamitsuka has been appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College following an extensive national search. Kamitsuka has served as acting dean since the summer of 2018, and he will begin his new role on January 1, pending approval by the Board of Trustees.
An award-winning teacher, accomplished scholar, and visionary administrator, Kamitsuka has served Oberlin for 26 years. He chaired the steering committee for Oberlin’s Academic and Administrative Program Review, which produced the landmark One Oberlin Report that recommends a range of programmatic and operational initiatives that will ensure Oberlin’s excellence, relevance, and financial sustainability for generations to come. The One Oberlin Report received the overwhelming endorsement of the General Faculty and unanimous approval from the Board of Trustees, launching a five-year period of implementation.
"David brings to this role deft leadership, a deep appreciation for what makes this institution distinctive, and an enduring love for Oberlin," said President Carmen Twillie Ambar. "We saw all of those qualities in abundance over the last year and a half, as David took on two extraordinarily challenging roles. In both, he truly excelled, and this institution is already better for his service. David is the right leader to continue building on that momentum."
Prior to his appointment as acting dean, Kamitsuka served as senior associate dean, and associate dean of the curriculum in the College of Arts and Sciences. He led the development of the Academic Advising Resource Center and the Peer Advising Leaders program for first-year students.
Kamitsuka was the founding director of the Oberlin Center for Convergence (StudiOC), which develops innovative learning communities that bring together courses from the college and conservatory, thereby affording students opportunities to make connections across disciplines and develop rich interactions with faculty and classmates. Kamitsuka was also the founding director of Oberlin’s First-Year Seminar Program, which offers seminars that span the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and the natural sciences and math divisions.
"After a broad search and in-depth interviews with strong candidates from across the nation, we came to understand that the very best candidate for Oberlin’s future is already here," said Yumi Ijiri, professor of physics and chair of the search committee. "I want to thank my fellow committee members, along with the many students, staff, and faculty who assisted the search process in various ways: helping to identify possible candidates, participating in listening sessions, suggesting search procedures, and attending finalist interviews."
A scholar of religious studies, Kamitsuka joined the college in 1993, as an assistant professor. He has served as chair of the Jewish Studies Program, the Middle East North African Studies Program, and the Department of Religion.
Kamitsuka has been selected to serve on numerous academic and administrative committees during his tenure at Oberlin. He was a member of the Strategic Planning Steering Committees in 2004-05 and 2014-15, and has served multiple times on elected faculty governance committees such as the College Faculty Council and the Educational Plans and Policies Committee. He has also served as chair of the Student Life Committee and the Presidential Religious and Spiritual Life Task Force.
Kamitsuka previously held teaching appointments at Lafayette College and Haverford College and was a teaching fellow at Yale University. His areas of instruction and research focus on the philosophy of religion from the 17th century to the present. He is the recipient of Oberlin’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education.
Kamitsuka earned a bachelor’s degree at Haverford College and master’s and doctoral degrees at Yale University, and is the author of Theology and Contemporary Culture (Cambridge University Press). He is an Oberlin Shansi trustee and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Wabash Center, which supports teaching and scholarship in religious studies.
"It is an honor to have been selected to serve as the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Oberlin is a place unlike any other, with its unique history, enduring values, and distinctive modes of excellence," Kamitsuka said.
‘‘This is an important time of challenge and renewal for higher education. I am confident that our faculty and students will seize this moment to shape the kind of institution worthy of future Oberlin generations. I look forward to the opportunity of working with President Ambar, the Board of Trustees, my remarkable faculty and administrative colleagues, and the entire Oberlin community, to build on Oberlin’s academic achievements, innovative spirit, and creative leadership in higher education.’’