Welcome one and all to the 2014-2015 academic year at Oberlin College and Conservatory! New students, returning students, new and returning faculty and staff members, I hope your summer breaks were safe, fulfilling and fun.
The beginning of the academic year is always an exciting time in Oberlin. The pace of life quickens. A fresh blend of purpose, promise, and possibilities fills the air as the campus repopulates, and classes, extracurricular activities, and athletics begin anew.
I really enjoyed meeting many of our new students and their families during the past week. Together we made a small piece of history when I became the first Oberlin president to post a photo—of the new students and their families gathered in Finney Chapel—on Instagram. Thanks for your help with that, Class of 2018! If you have ideas for other photos I can post on Instagram please feel free to email me.
Going off to college is one of the great rites of passage in a person’s life. I remember that feeling of striking out on my own my freshman year, of beginning a great personal and intellectual journey. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But I was excited about exploring my interests and intellectual passions and discovering new ones. I hope you are, too.
At Oberlin, learning and love of learning are the driving forces in our lives. The attributes an Oberlin education instills are worth attaining just to have a more fulfilling life. But they are also critically important for our graduates’ future success in this globalized, technologically-driven economy. Your Oberlin education will prepare you to meet life’s challenges, and to be leaders in your chosen fields.
Some of you first-years may already have a destination in mind—becoming a teacher, an advocate, a business person, a doctor, a pastor, a lawyer, a scientist, an entrepreneur, an artist or a professional musician. If you do that is great. If you don’t know yet what you want to do in life that is fine, too. Oberlin is where you will figure that out.
Richard Berman and his staff in the Career Center are eager to help with that process. Whether you are a first-year or starting your final semester here, they can help you find and explore career options and opportunities, and in some cases finance internships. So please make use of their services.
STRATEGIC PLANNING One of the exciting developments at the start of this academic year will be the initial gathering of Oberlin’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee. The committee is composed of members of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees, as well as Oberlin College faculty, students, staff, administrators, and alumni. While this composition of the Steering Committee seeks to ensure that the strategic planning process will be informed by members’ diverse experiences with and relationships to Oberlin, Steering Committee members’ participation in this vital institutional planning effort will not seek to represent the interests of any particular constituency, but will be oriented and focused toward Oberlin as a whole.
The committee’s charge is: • To provide advice to the Board of Trustees on the strategic direction that Oberlin should take in the future to make Oberlin one of the most distinguished institutions of higher education in the world • To review the landscape of higher education, the driving forces that have emerged and will likely develop, views of relevant constituencies, and various trends that will affect the status and stature of liberal arts colleges and conservatories of music over the next two decades • To make recommendations for a plan for the future that articulates both a shared vision of Oberlin and specific recommendations to be implemented over the next three to five years to help us realize that vision.
We’ve created a Strategic Plan web site at http://new.oberlin.edu/strategic-plan/index.dot. There’s a link on the site where you can join the conversation about shaping the future of our great college and conservatory. Your input is welcome and appreciated.
As part of the strategic planning process, leading thinkers will be brought to campus to talk about the current state of higher education and the factors that will likely affect the college and conservatory in the years ahead. The Strategic Plan Speaker Series kicks off this Thursday with Eugene Tobin, senior program officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He will speak about the current landscape of higher education. His talk is free and open to the public. It will be at 8 p.m. in the Science Center’s Dye Lecture Hall.
Looking ahead, Oberlin’s Convocation series will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9, in Finney Chapel with “An Evening with Ishmael Beah ’04.” Mr. Beah graduated with a BA in creative writing. He has become an internationally acclaimed, best-selling author and a high-profile spokesperson for human rights, especially the rights of children. His first book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier was published in 2007. It is a chilling account of the involvement and fate of child soldiers in Sierra Leone’s civil war. His new novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, was published this past January. I’m very much looking forward to hearing what Ishmael Beah has to say.
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