Oberlin Bids Farewell to Dean Gates

Sarah Washington, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, students, faculty and community members came together to bid farewell to current Dean of Students Linda Gates.

As people lined up one by one in the Root Room of Carnegie to wish her luck after Oberlin, it was clear that Dean Gates had managed to touch each one of them in some aspect of their lives. This was made even more apparent when President Krislov, future Dean of Students Eric Estes, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Leonard Podis and current senior class president Luke Squire made short speeches for the occasion.

“During my time at Oberlin, Dean Gates’s door has always been open,” said Squire. “She has supported me and taught me the importance of being patient.”

Estes rattled off a list of adjectives that he and his colleagues at Student Life and Services all agreed describe Dean Gates well: “She is graceful, understanding, wise, noble, generous, just, caring, patient, fair and warm…” said Estes.

Adding to Estes’s and Squire’s professions, Professor Potis extolled Gates’s personal virtues: “She is humble but self-confident, collaborative but independent of spirit [and] cautious but decisive.”

One of the most memorable moments of the reception was President Krislov announcing that the common room in Kahn Hall will be renamed the “Linda M. Gates, Class of ’65, Living Room.”

President Krislov then read aloud an Elizabethan sonnet he had prepared for the occasion describing Dean Gates as possessing “the magic that calms the storms.” Toward the end of his reading, President Krislov presented Gates with a rocking chair.

After the speeches were over, Dean Gates addressed the crowd. She thanked all those for attending the reception and expressed gratitude for individuals in her life who had helped her make an impact on Oberlin.

“It is a wonderful thing to be loved,” she said.

She described her experience at Oberlin and joked that the dean of students is “the most interesting job on campus,” and that “our job at student life and services is to keep the drama invisible.”

She wished Estes well as he took on the role of Dean of Students and ended her speech with a heartfelt proclamation: “I do love this institution and all of you.”

Although retiring from her official position, Dean Gates is still invested in Oberlin. When asked what she hopes the next Dean of Students will accomplish in the future, Gates stated, “I look forward with great expectation to Oberlin’s future on many fronts. Oberlin’s history reflects a legacy of an extraordinary student body, faculty and staff and a liberal education that is unsurpassed in any undergraduate institution in the world. That will not change. What I look forward to is a continuation of that legacy and to Oberlin’s becoming more widely recognized for exemplary integration of the arts and sciences and a firm, clear, energetic commitment to issues of social justice — a beacon for the future that honors the past while it creates a better world.”