Obies Should Consider Joining Ranks of Alumni Donors

Rick Pender

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It seems likely that someone has given you a copy of Dr. Seuss’s book  Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, a piece of optimism that’s become a traditional graduation gift since its publication in 1990. I can think of no better place to start that journey to the places you’ll go than Oberlin College. When I graduated in 1971, I had ideas about where I was going — but my life did not follow the path I had in mind. In fact, it got better.

I graduated as an English major with plans for a career in teaching. But my Oberlin education prepared me for so much more, leading eventually to my work today on behalf of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, where I oversee fundraising and public affairs. My skills at communication and persuasion were built on an excellent liberal arts education from Oberlin, where I learned to think and solve problems. I’m glad to say that I have been able to return the favor to Oberlin in a small way as an alumni volunteer, using my experience in fundraising to chair a committee of graduates who reach out to our classmates and ask them to support the Oberlin Annual Fund.

Our efforts provide a significant supplement to the resources that support financial aid for students. (I could not have afforded to attend Oberlin without financial aid that was made possible by gifts from alumni.) Even if you don’t receive financial aid, you have benefited from grads who contributed funds for buildings, faculty and innovative programs. The committee I chair engages more than 600 alumni who contact classmates and encourage their support. Each year we play a significant role in rais- ing approximately $6 million.

As the chair of the Alumni Development Committee, I also serve on the executive board of Oberlin’s historic Alumni Association, a core group of dedicated volunteers who support the College’s operations in many ways — from admissions outreach to helping students and recent grads get launched into successful careers after Oberlin. We relish the opportunity to remain engaged in keeping Oberlin a vibrant and thoughtful place.

I especially value my interaction with the hard-working staff in the Annual Fund office, as well as numerous current students who assist with fundraising — such as phoning grads to encourage their contributions or reaching out to current seniors about donating their matriculation fee back to the Annual Fund. In fact, that gesture is a great way to make your first gift to Oberlin and start saying thanks for the excellent education you’ve received. By doing so, you will begin to make a difference for students who come after you.

I’m proud to tell people I’m an Obie, and I suspect you are too. As you look to the future, I urge you to join the ranks of alumni donors who provide support that makes it possible for future students to share in this great experience. “Oh, the places they’ll go!”

–Rick Pender
OC ’71

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