On March 25, Eric Estes was appointed to take over the position of Dean of Student Life and Services. Current Dean Linda Gates, who has held the position for six years, will be retiring, and Estes’s appointment will take effect on July 1 of this year.
During a five-month long search that led up to Estes’s appointment, several candidates were considered for the position, many of whom already made up faculty and staff of Oberlin, in addition to others from across the country.
“It was a strong pool,” said President Marvin Krislov. “A very, very strong pool. But Eric was really the outstanding candidate. There were other outstanding candidates, but he was really the strongest, we felt.”
Professor David Kamitsuka headed the search committee, and cited “effective collaborative work, excellent communication skills and a track record of success in bringing creative thinking to student life initiatives” as qualities that the committee was searching for in a prospective dean.
Estes, who came to Oberlin in 2004 to serve as the Associate Dean of Student Life and the Director of the Multicultural Resource Center, fit these characteristics with experience working at Duke University — where he was a Mellon Lecturing Fellow in the University Writing Program and chaired the university’s task force on LGBT matters — and as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany in 1995-96.
While Estes said he currently has no specific goals in mind to work toward during his time as dean, he is “going to do a lot of listening at the beginning.” He aims to be “highly visible and accessible to all students,” and he hopes to arrange an informal “Coffee with Krislov”-type event where students can approach him and discuss campus issues.
“Oberlin College and Conservatory is a very special place and it has come to mean a great deal to me,” said Estes, who applied for the job “because of the important connections between the dean of students position and [his] interest and passion for working with students, faculty and staff to build and bridge a personal and intellectual community for all students as well as supporting and empowering students in the day-to-day.”