Search Committee Announces Transition Team Formation

Johan Cavert

The Presidential Search Committee created a transition team at the end of March to help ensure a smooth entry for the College’s next president and their staff. The team is composed of 20 representatives from the faculty, student body, Board of Trustees, staff and the alumni association.

Manish Mehta, Chemistry professor and faculty representative for the transition team, said the group’s main task is to familiarize the next president with the many communities on campus.

“The purpose of the committee will be to aid the new president’s transition to Oberlin,” Mehta wrote in an email to the Review. “Broadly speaking, we will help in two areas: first, to orient the president to the campus and various campus constituencies, and second to arrange a series of introductions to those campus communities.”

ere was no formal application to gain a spot on the transition team. Instead, the Presidential Search Committee invited any interested individuals from various Oberlin constituencies to volunteer and participate in the process.

Honorary Trustee and Transition Team Chair Liz Welch, OC ’80, described the decision-making process of forming the team.

“The board decided we needed to pay attention to transition of the outgoing president and the incoming president to make sure it was an organized and supportive leadership transition for everybody in the community,” Welch said.

The current team is divided into two subcommittees, one of which oversees events for the departure of outgoing President Marvin Krislov, while the other is tasked with preparing for the new president’s arrival and orientation.

One task of the outgoing administration transition team has been to organize events celebrating Krislov’s work at the school over the last 10 years.

“Marvin really is connected with Oberlin students, and we wanted to make sure that students knew that, and that Marvin knew that students appreciated him,” Welch said.

The transition team has organized a series of farewell events and ‘thank you’ celebrations for Krislov. These included a luncheon last week at e Hotel at Oberlin and various events with alumni. Upcoming events will include a student “TGIF” event and a panel discussion during Commencement weekend.

The transition team also discussed with Krislov how to best facilitate the incoming president’s arrival.

“We talked to President Krislov about coming into Oberlin 10 years ago and things he particularly appreciated, and we should continue doing,” said Presidential Search Committee Chair Lillie Edwards, OC ’75. “I know the committee did a great job reaching out to new college presidents and head of transition committees at other schools around the country.”

According to Welch, there was not as much of a concrete transition plan in 2006 when Krislov arrived.

“I was on the board at the time, and I’m pretty sure that there wasn’t as formalized a plan as we’re doing now,” she said.

As far as the next president’s arrival, Welch said all groups on campus would have the chance to meet with the new president and to discuss future plans.

“As soon as [the president is] named, we will start producing what we are calling ‘briefing binders,’” Welch said. “They literally get a briefing book that says, ‘Here’s the topic for today.’ It might be fundraising or it might be curriculum or it might be students. … As soon as they come to campus … they will have briefing sessions with various constituents. It’s to give them a flavor of the campus

and what our students care about and who those students are.” College sophomore and Student Liaison on the transition team Sadie Keller, stressed the importance of face-to-face interaction

between the new president and students.
“Ideally, the new president would spend time listening to students,” Keller said. “We don’t want them sitting in an office, going through paperwork. We want them in Mudd, at the [Conservatory], at a co-op, getting to know students. I think that’s our job as student liaisons, is to try to facilitate those conversations as much as possible.”

The exact schedule for events the transition team is organizing largely depends on when the new president is announced. Members hoped that orientation events could begin before the end of the semester but had doubts about such an expedited timeframe.

“We imagine a series of ‘rollout’ meetings and introductions … during the school year, either late this semester or early in the fall semester,” Mehta said. “Given the excitement, we anticipate that many groups will want time with the new president, so one of the things we will have to do in the beginning is to limit that access until the president has had a chance to be oriented and settled in.”

Edwards also used the PSC’s announcement to assure the Oberlin community that the Presidential Search Committee was progressing on schedule. Though information on candidates and a timeframe cannot be verified because of confidentiality, “progress reports let the community know that we are indeed hard at work,” Edwards said. “We have candidates who are the full spectrum of people who have a demonstrated track record in higher education as administrators and who are extremely well qualified and create a very exciting and competitive pool.”

College sophomore Cole Mantrell and College juniors Sally Slade and Jake Berstein are also part of the transition team.