Krislov Named President of Pace University


Photo by Rick Yu, Photo editor

President Marvin Krislov announced Tuesday that he will become the eighth president of Pace University. After 10 years at Oberlin, he will begin at his new post Aug. 1.

Melissa Harris and Alexis Dill

Oberlin College’s top administrative spots are up for grabs as searches ensue to replace President Marvin Krislov and Vice President of Finance and Administration Mike Frandsen.

Krislov, who announced his impending departure in September, will leave for a new post as president of Pace University in New York City beginning Aug. 1. His decade of service as the College’s 14th president leaves a legacy of, alongside notable controversies that gained traction in national media, capital-planning projects like the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center’s creation and a record-breaking fundraising effort.

Although Krislov said that he had limited knowledge about Pace before the opportunity came across his desk, he grew increasingly interested in the institution. Many students at Pace are working-class, immigrant and first-generation college students, underscoring one of Krislov’s primary passions when it comes to higher education: accessibility.

“I didn’t know a lot about Pace, but the more I found out the more excited I was,” Krislov said. “I wanted to do something where I felt I could make a difference. I’ve been very interested in access, opportunity and diversity issues, and Pace is a campus that really puts that at the center.”

Many have been quick to point out that Oberlin and Pace seem to share little in common, raising questions about the two distinctive student bodies and sharply differentiating campus environments. Still, Krislov said that the institutions, despite their surface-level differences, have some similar core values. “Traditional college-age students today have a different set of demands and concerns, and I think technology has really changed the way people think and work,” Krislov said. “There’s also, for at least some students and families, a lot of anxiety about what the future looks like. But some of the things that Oberlin does so well [includes] creating community and bringing people together in meaningful ways. … At Pace, it’s a different type of community in that not everyone lives within five minutes walking to campus, and even on the different campuses and there are also multiple campuses.”

As Krislov will soon depart from Oberlin, College junior and Student Senator Thobeka Mnisi said that he has reached out to her hospitably.

“On a personal level, I felt nothing but fondness toward him,” Mnisi said. “He had extended gracious hospitality to me my first semester, constantly making time to meet with me and listen to me rant about the injustices of the world and ways that Oberlin harbored those, inviting me to is house for Rosh Hashanah despite my being outwardly Christian and consistently making an e ort to understand my interests so he could connect me with people who could help me realize my goals. I’ve also taken a class with him, in which he was very accommodating of my unique experiences as an international student even though it was an American Politics class and am currently taking an Education Policy class with him where he’s being just as accommodating on my non-traditional background.”

However, she was also critical of Krislov’s handling of certain conflicts on campus.

“With regards to responding to controversies, I felt like he always tried to remain impartial even on situations where I think partiality would have been more judicious,” Mnisi added. “I was frustrated with the lack of response in 2014 when students were protesting and mourning the deaths of unarmed Black men across the country. I felt like a public address of some kind was in order, but it never came. … I think the president has the responsibility to set the tone about how such contentious issues are discussed, and that’s something that could’ve been better handled.”

After a very public application for the presidency of the University of Iowa last fall and 10 years at the College, preparations have long been underway to find Krislov’s successor. Conversely, Frandsen’s exit for the presidency at Wittenberg University after just three years at the College comes as a surprise. He will take over at the Springfield, Ohio, campus starting July 1. Frandsen’s predecessor, Ron Watts, filled the role for 37 years.

Frandsen said he did not initially plan on the quick turnaround at Oberlin but said that becoming president of a university has long been a career goal.

“I came to Oberlin knowing that the next step in my career would be to a presidency,” Frandsen said. “Wittenberg has given me a tremendous opportunity to do that at a place I really connected with and believe in. It came sooner than I expected.”

He landed the position over nearly 90 other applicants as the result of a six-month national search. Wittenberg has been without a permanent president since Laurie Joyner left for Saint Xavier University in Chicago in November 2015. Wittenberg’s Interim President Dick Helton has held the post since January 2016.

Frandsen described Wittenberg’s presidential search as similar to Oberlin’s ongoing hunt for Krislov’s replacement. He said he had phone calls with staff members, faculty and students of the 15-member search committee, which was led by Tom Courtice of TBC Search Consulting, LLC.

Although an exciting milestone for Frandsen, his wife and two daughters, he said the decision has also been bittersweet. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Tim Elgren expressed how Frandsen will be missed at the College.

“Mike has had a strong impact in a short period of time,” Elgren said. “Mike has helped Oberlin College. Its board, administration, faculty, students, sta [and] alumni face some hard financial realities. His has been a steady voice working to develop broad understanding of the necessity to bring our institutional spending practices in line with our resources. Wittenberg is fortunate to have [attracted] a leader with his integrity, vision, passion and compassion.”

Frandsen said he hopes to leave a lasting impact on other people on campus as well.

“I have great colleagues among the faculty, staff and board, and I have had the chance to work with great students, though only a few,” Frandsen said.

Of the many ways Frandsen has participated at the College, he said his favorite time spent with students was when he took the Steel Drum ExCo and performed alongside students of the College and Conservatory.

“I hope people will say I had a positive impact and that I conducted myself with honesty and integrity,” Frandsen added. “I hope I improved communication on campus and in my division, not only about finances, but also between people.”

As Frandsen departs from the College, Presidential Search Committee Student Representative and double-degree senior Jeremy Poe said he appreciated Frandsen’s effort to make financial information accessible to students, but maintained some criticisms of the way Frandsen handled the precarious nancial situation he inherited.

“When Frandsen came to Oberlin a few years ago, he soon began giving presentations to campus constituencies, something he has continued to do until the present,” Poe wrote in an email to the Review. “Those presentations, and his availability for questions, have for students been very useful for understanding the finances of this school and how administrators and the board are thinking about them.”

Still, Poe added that he disagreed with some of the philosophies that Frandsen seemingly perpetuated in his role at the College.

“[Frandsen] was a proponent of the analogy ‘students are customers,’ a position I strongly disagree with,” Poe said. “He went along with a strategic planning process that diminished the institution’s ability to adjust to a challenging financial situation. He certainly didn’t cause many of the problems at Oberlin. The present financial situation may not be his fault, but he was responsible for the school’s finances. It is unfortunate that he is leaving at a time of mounting questions and concerns in the community.”

Zachary Crowell, a former senator, OC ’16, also believes that Krislov was committed to addressing student concerns and that Frandsen also worked towards making financial information more transparent. However, as an organizer for Defending Oberlin Financial Accessibility, he also expressed how the two could have performed better.

“I believe one area of improvement would be less reluctance to improve upon the status quo, especially with marginal issues,” Crowell said. “However, even on smaller and virtually cost-less issues, like which [Campus Dining Service] workers were allowed to eat meals on breaks, it took student demonstrations to get any change to the policy.”