Ex-Obie Explains Alumni Association

Rick Pender

To the Editors:

Did you know that Oberlin College alumni established an association in 1839? That’s 172 years of grads who have loved Oberlin and how it shaped them as people who make a difference in the world. Seventeen decades of alumni have found ways to make a difference and to give back in support of future generations of students.

I graduated from Oberlin in 1971 with a degree in English. I’ve worked in the communications field for many years, using many of the fundamental skills I learned during my four years in college. I could not have afforded those years were it not for generous alumni before me who supported the Alumni Fund. I benefited from their generosity, but I didn’t really start to think about that until some years after I graduated. No one reminded me that I should.

So my letter is your reminder: Once you’ve enrolled at Oberlin, you’re officially on your way to becoming an alumnus/a. Even if you don’t get financial aid, you have benefited from others who graduated before you and who supported with dollars or time.

Did you know that Oberlin’s Board of Trustees is made up of alumni who help govern and shape the college, making it an ever better institution of higher education?

Some years ago, I recognized that I would never have the wherewithal to contribute enough to make a building possible. But I found ways to work on behalf of the college to encourage others to support it, especially to urge fellow alumni to make financial aid more readily available.

I chair the Development Committee of the Alumni Association, a group of grads who encourage other alumni to make financial gifts to Oberlin. We have recruited nearly 600 alumni to our cause who serve as “agents” and contact their classmates in hopes that they’ll be supporters, too. We are making a difference — our goal this year is $6 million — and we hope our efforts will inspire more in the future.

In particular, we are grateful for current Oberlin students who understand, even before they graduate, the importance of this kind of support. Some students work in the telephone operation managed by the Alumni Fund office that reaches out to grads and invites their contributions. Others undertake special efforts such as encouraging graduating seniors to donate their matriculation fee back to the Alumni Fund as their firsts gift to the college. That’s a great way to start saying thanks to the college and the alumni who preceded you, and it’s the first step in making a difference for students who will follow you.

I’m proud to be an Obie, and I want to see the College continue to be an outstanding experience for a broad cross-section of students in the future. I hope you’ll join the cause.

-Rick Pender
’71 Chair, Development Committee Alumni Association Executive Board