The College Confirms: Former DC Mayor Fenty Will Teach Next Fall

Caroline Hui, Monica Klein, and John Light

A version of this article that ran on February 11th stated that Fenty will co-teach a Politics class this spring semester. That was incorrect. Fenty will co-teach POLT 105 next fall and will make an as-yet-unscheduled appearance in Professor Paul Dawson’s POLT 209 class this spring

Former mayor of Washington, D.C. Adrian Fenty, OC ‘92, will join the College staff as a visiting professor and a career advisor in the African American Studies Department, the College’s Office of Communications announced on Jan. 19.

Fenty sought a second term as mayor, but lost in the primaries in September to former Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.

“There are a lot of people in America – who many of us would think are very accomplished – who lose elections,” said Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov. “That doesn’t mean they’re disqualified from talking about these things.”

Fenty will return to his alma mater to co-teach POLT 105 next fall and will also make an appearance in Professor Paul Dawson’s Public Policy class this semester.

When not teaching, Fenty will remain based in Washington, D.C., the release said, “where he will continue to manage a portfolio of consulting clients, participate in speaking engagements and advocate for education reform and other urban policy initiatives.”

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to come back to Oberlin,” Fenty said in the release. “My experience at Oberlin greatly influenced my outlook and beliefs. I’m looking forward to working with the next generation of students who want to make a difference.”

During his four years in office, Fenty assumed control of the D.C. public school system, built community parks and handpicked a female police chief. According to an article in The Washington Post, a median of household incomes increased $7,000 between 2006 and 2009, standardized test scores shot up and homicides dropped by 20 percent in his four-year tenure.

“To have a mayor talk about his experiences and be self-critical and also think about with students the experience of urban politics I think is enormously beneficial,” said Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov said. “I think great colleges and universities utilize practitioners and people who have those experiences to help enrich the educational opportunity. Most students that I know find these experiences extremely exciting and they feel that it really benefits their education.”

“Adrian Fenty’s appointment will be celebrated by all Oberlin students, especially those of color and those who are committed to progressive causes,” said College Senior Shayne Wells, who interned for Fenty.

Nevertheless, others are more skeptical about the College’s most recent hire.

“I expect the school to hire high quality professors and I question the motivation behind this hire, especially given Fenty’s reputation,” said an Oberlin student from Washington D.C., who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I fault Oberlin and not Fenty himself; he is allowed to seek a job wherever he likes but it is the school’s responsibility to hire qualified staff.”

In Fenty’s single meeting with Dawson’s class, students will present Fenty with the results of their research projects. According to the class syllabus, their assignment is to tell the former mayor what he did wrong.