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Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty Appointed Visiting Professor

Jan 20, 2011

OBERLIN, OHIO — Oberlin College is pleased to welcome Adrian Fenty ’92 as a distinguished visiting professor of politics.

Fenty, who is the youngest person ever elected mayor of Washington, D.C., served in that position from 2007 until January 2, 2011. During his term as mayor, Fenty brought the public school system under mayoral control and delivered unprecedented gains in student achievement in both math and reading.

Fenty was elected to the Council of the District of Columbia at the age of 29 in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004. As Councilmember, he quickly became known for his responsiveness to his constituents, being deemed “king of constituent services” by one political observer. A Washington, D.C., native, Fenty double-majored in English and economics at Oberlin College.

Fenty will return to Oberlin starting in the spring 2011 semester, when he will participate in a politics course. In fall 2011, Fenty will co-teach with Oberlin Professor of Politics Paul Dawson an introductory course on American politics, which focuses on the relationship between politics and public policy. Fenty will remain based in Washington, D.C., where he will continue to manage a portfolio of consulting clients, participate in speaking engagements, and advocate for education reform and other urban policy initiatives.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Fenty will kick off the 2011 Oberlin Convocation Series in September as a featured lecturer. He also will contribute to advising and career guidance initiatives in the Department of African American Studies.

“I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to come back to Oberlin,” said Fenty. “My experience at Oberlin greatly influenced my outlook and beliefs. I’m looking forward to working with the next generation of students who want to make a difference.”

Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov believes Fenty will offer fresh insights into the current political climate.

“Oberlin College is delighted to have Adrian Fenty on campus as a visiting professor,” said Krislov. “His ability to relate timely, personal experiences will be a significant contribution to the discussion and teaching of political thought. Our students will benefit greatly from Fenty’s participation in teaching and mentoring.”

Oberlin Politics Professor and Department Chair Harry Hirsch explains that the introductory politics course will draw on an original case study Fenty is writing about his mayoral administration, with a focus on the politics of educational reform.

“We’re excited that Mr. Fenty will bring his legal background and public service experience to the Department of Politics,” said Hirsch. “We look forward to providing opportunities for Fenty to meet informally with students to discuss the ways in which their academic training and social concerns can lead to public service careers.”

Fenty’s eagerness to serve as a career advisor in the Department of African American Studies stems from a desire to give back as a mentor and offer assistance to those who choose to follow a similar career path.

“Mr. Fenty acknowledges the importance of interdisciplinary training by sharing his insights on careers in public service with majors and minors in the Department of African American Studies,” said Meredith Gadsby, associate professor of African American studies and chair of the department. “His willingness to provide professional opportunities for African American Studies majors during his mayoral campaign and administration is an extension of his commitment to mentoring future public servants and activists.”

Both current students and alumni, who recognize the former mayor for his accomplished public service and support of progressive causes, have expressed enthusiastic support for Fenty’s appointment.

“I'm very excited to hear that Adrian Fenty will be teaching at Oberlin. We talk so much in politics classes about how to craft effective and transformative public policy, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to hear from someone who has done just that. The 2009 legalization of same-sex marriage supported by Mr. Fenty in Washington, D.C., represented an enormous victory for the LGBT rights movement, and I'm very interested to be able to learn from someone who made that happen.”

— Joe Condon ’13, Oberlin College Democrats co-chair

“Adrian Fenty’s appointment will be celebrated by all Oberlin students, especially those of color and those who are committed to progressive causes. In his willingness to invest in us and through drawing on his practical experience, Mr. Fenty is once again demonstrating his commitment to Oberlin and all it stands for.”

— Shayne Wells, Vice President, Oberlin College Class of 2011, member of Black Student Union


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