October 31, 2019
Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, and Friends of Oberlin,
I am writing to update you on progress in implementing the One Oberlin recommendations, and to invite you to engage with the critical processes that will bring these plans to fruition.
As I wrote last year, the One Oberlin report was an extraordinary achievement: ten major recommendations for the College and Conservatory, better aligning our resources to our mission and championing investments that will build upon Oberlin’s academic excellence. The report was endorsed by more than 80 percent of General Faculty members voting in May, and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at the June meeting.
The One Oberlin report lays out an ambitious timeline for implementing each of its recommendations over the next five years, with the majority of the work taking place in the first three years. This implementation presents a historic challenge and opportunity for all of us. It will require of us an exceptional and sustained level of effort, focus, creativity, courage, and collective commitment to the future of this institution. If we succeed, we will build on Oberlin’s excellence and lay important groundwork for financial sustainability in Oberlin’s third century. In the process, we will provide leadership in higher education at a time of unprecedented financial, demographic, and political tests.
To succeed, we must act with urgency. Following the Board vote in June, senior Oberlin leadership and I met to organize our One Oberlin work for the coming year, assigning each recommendation to one or more of the deans and vice presidents. These leaders then began to identify the relevant group or groups who will lead this work forward, launching these efforts in earnest with the beginning of the academic year.
We have now launched a new website, Oberlin.edu/oneoberlin, to document these efforts, collect news and highlights, and offer opportunities for the campus community to engage as these initiatives move forward. Here are just a few examples of the content already on the site:
A new video overview of One Oberlin;
Rosters for committees that will develop new Conservatory-College interdivisional curriculum, review the Conservatory curriculum, explore large-ensemble organization, examine Conservatory admissions, lead the administrative restructuring of the Arts & Sciences;
News about our new Winter Term director, Deanna Bergdorf, and 29 new programs that will launch this year as we reinvigorate the Winter Term;
News about our new Executive Director of the Career Development Center, Dana Hamdan, and plans for expanding and integrating our preparation for life after graduation; and
The schedule for the 19-city tour on which I and other senior leaders are speaking about One Oberlin with alumni, parents, and friends.
I hope you will check the One Oberlin site periodically to track the progress of these important initiatives. I and other senior leaders also plan to reach out regularly via email, the Daily Digest, and other channels to highlight particular milestones and important moments in implementing One Oberlin.
Finally, I want to extend my thanks, once again, to all of you who are putting so much time and effort into ensuring that these plans succeed in a way that is true to Oberlin. Your work at Oberlin is a tribute to those who have gone before us, and a gift to those who will follow.
Carmen Twillie Ambar