Master’s Programs Would Damage Oberlin

David Arnow, OC ’73

To the Editors:

Be careful what you wish for — you may get it. Among the top reasons I went to Oberlin was that it did not follow the university model. Master’s programs were few and almost every class I took was taught by a full-time, experienced professor with the highest degree available in the discipline. This remains the top reason I advise students I know to apply to Oberlin.

Be wary of Master’s programs. It is all too tempting for scholars and researchers to focus on their graduate students to the detriment of their undergraduate teaching. Since 1981, I’ve been a professor at the City University of New York and have witnessed this in my university and others. John Ciardi’s famous quote, “A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in the students,” is by now almost a cliché, but it often applies.

I would also like to add that apart from the main point there are some worrisome elements [in Joseph’s article] (“Oberlin Should Look to Universities as Financial Models,” The Oberlin Review, Feb. 17, 2017). “More creative forms of generating profit”? Particular concern for “those who could pay full tuition”?

The greatest assets Oberlin has are its soul and core values. Financial crises result in damage, but damaging these will only make the crisis worse.

– David Arnow
OC ’73