Oberlin Welcomes Trustee-Student 5k Fun Run Tradition

This weekend, Obie alum will make their way back to campus for Homecoming weekend, a tradition centered around the Oberlin community com- ing together to celebrate varsity sports. With the arrival of alumni from various class years, Oberlin students have the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new connections.

Additionally, the Board of Trustees gathered this week for one of their four annual meetings. Currently, the board comprises 30 members with different professions and skills. However, they are not only meeting to discuss the future and welfare of Oberlin — on Friday morning, students had the opportunity to participate in a jog with two trustees: David E. Shipley, OC ’72, and Sean P. Gavin, OC ’98.

Shipley is a law professor at the University of Georgia, where he teaches civil procedure, copyright law, remedies, and administrative law. While teaching, he has also written a casebook on copyright law, book chapters, and over 20 law review articles. He majored in history at Oberlin and wrote for The Oberlin Review while running and swimming during all four years of college.

“It’s an excellent way to get to know students,” Shipley said of the 5K Fun Run. “You’re on a conversational run, and it’s relatively slow. We ask about a variety of things: what [your] major [is], how you like it [at Oberlin], where you’re from, what year you are, [and] what your plans [are] after graduation.”

Shipley will be joined by Gavin, who is a portfolio manager at Fidelity Management & Research Company in Boston. At Oberlin, he was a double-degree student, majoring in Mathematics and Trombone Performance. Gavin finished his major requirements in only four years while playing varsity football and club rugby for the Yeomen. In 1998, Gavin was president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and is now a John W. Heisman Club board member, which allows him to continue to have a voice in student athletics beyond graduation.

Gavin is aware of the rarity that a varsity athlete could also be a double-degree student. He explained that he owes his positive experience as a double-degree athlete to the diversity that existed on Oberlin’s campus.

“I think it’s very unique,” Gavin said. “When I was here, I wasn’t the only varsity athlete in the Conservatory. There were a bunch of us. I think nowadays with varsity athletics, athletes are very highly trained and in a recruitment type of situation. Overall, [Oberlin is a] rare place where you can get a sampling of everything.”

Both Gavin and Shipley try to do the 5K run every time the board meets while students are on campus, and the early-morning start time is designed to work around interested students’ schedules. The trustees are also planning on possibly doing a gym workout in the winter to allow the bonding between students and trustees to occur in the event of restrictively cold weather.

Jared Steinberg, OC ‘19, has attended the run in the past and echoed similarly positive sentiments. “The run [is] a great way to meet students and learn about what goes on behind the scenes at Oberlin,” Steinberg said. “It might be early and cold, but it gets your blood pumping and you feel great afterwards.”

For those that are nervous about the three-mile length, Shipley and Gavin want them to know it’s not a competition or opportunity to show off athletic prowess. The run is more of a casual jog, and the pace is slow to allow conversation.

“We’re not running really fast,” Shipley said. “It’s about a nine or ten-minute pace, and it’s ordinarily dark due to the time change. At sun- rise, it isn’t until after seven and we’re running along the bike path. It’s as casual as you can because you’re running, your heart’s beating, and you’re breathing hard.”

Gavin hopes that the 5K Fun Run serves to not only emphasize the importance of physical health, but also highlight that a community can be built through exercise and athletics.

“We want people to get together and enjoy [exercising] using the brand new facilities, which are phenomenal,” said Gavin. “We’re trying to broaden the appeal in understanding that there are many pillars to a traditional liberal arts education and the strength of both mind and body are equally important.”