Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Oberlin Board of Trustees, Oberlin Parents Council Hold Meetings

The Board of Trustees of Oberlin College met March 7 and 8. At the meeting, the Trustees discussed changes that need to be made at Oberlin to address three trends in higher education.

As a result of the demographic aftershock of the 2008 recession, the number of college graduates will begin to decline rapidly in two years. This looming “enrollment cliff” is something that colleges across the nation have had to begin planning for. 

“These demographic shifts have huge consequences for colleges and for Oberlin, but we are very confident that Oberlin will emerge stronger than ever,” said Chair of the Board of Trustees Chris Canavan, OC ’84. 

Canavan also said that broader economic trends make Oberlin’s financial model increasingly untenable. He said that the institution would have to change to accommodate changes in higher education across the board. 

“The financial model, a mainstay of Oberlin, is harder and harder to maintain due to wealth and income inequality,” he said. 

The Board also discussed how higher education will change in an environment of changing technology and the rise of artificial intelligence in education.

“I believe the golden age of residential liberal arts education is ahead of us, not behind,” said Canavan. “Technological advancements only lead students to value community more, as society becomes increasingly atomized by technology. … These technological advancements, AI only being the most recent, change what it means to be a residential institution.”

Beyond these three key issues, the trustees discussed other achievements and problems facing the College. 

On Friday, the Board of Trustees had dinner with the Oberlin Parents Council, which met for its official meeting on Saturday. 

The Council’s principal purpose is to help raise money for the College by encouraging parents to donate money through various fundraising efforts. They are also trying to help with career opportunities by creating connections within the broader Oberlin community. Additionally, they seek to aid communication between the College and parents and encourage fostering connections to help students. Finally, the goal of the committee is to help out with Oberlin Admissions, with the aim of supporting new applicants and their families’ transition to Oberlin. The council has formed several committees to tackle these agendas.

During its meeting on Saturday, the council heard presentations from Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Kamitsuka. The Council then discussed the work of the committees, their assignments, and their chairs. 

Chair of the Parents Council Bill Keating said that he felt that the meeting was a success.

“I think what was great about this past weekend [was that it] was the second time this [academic] year that we’ve had a chance to come together face to face, and I think that’s helpful,” Keating said. “It makes things a lot more productive for us to be building relationships. … Our goal is to use our time wisely and try to be as impactful as we can to support the College [and] I think we’re all pretty passionate about Oberlin.”

The next meetings of the board will be June 6 and 7.

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