Celebrating 175 Years: Founder’s Day 2008

By Harmony Pringle '11

Washington, D.C., mayor and Oberlin alum Adrian Fenty came to Oberlin last Wednesday, December 3, to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of the day Oberlin first opened its classroom doors. Little did he know that we knew his birthday and Oberlin's coincided. Surprised with a birthday cake, he blew out the candles during a small reception in Peters Hall. [Sorry, no photos of the cake!]

The party was part of a series of events commemorating the 175th anniversary of Oberlin's first day of classes. The day's celebrations began at noon, when trumpeters from Roy Poper's studio played an excerpt from Verdi's Requiem from the belfry of Finney Chapel. Later that evening, students,  faculty, staff, and alumni gathered in West Lecture Hall to hear the keynote address. 

Oberlin junior and Truman Scholar Helen Hare opened the evening, speaking of her experiences working in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and interning for Mayor Fenty, reminding audience members that high ideals must be supported by serious action. Frederick Slabach, executive secretary of the Truman Foundation, officially named Oberlin a 2008 Truman Foundation Honor institution in honor of our almost two-century-long commitment to leadership in public service. He also noted that during the 32 years of the foundation's existence, 15 Truman scholarships had been awarded to Oberlin students. 

Fenty then stepped to the podium, awash in applause. "The 175 legacy is very strong," he said. "While we are achieving great things, we are not sacrificing our principles."

Photos by John Seyfried 

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