The participation of girls and women in sports and physical fitness has changed dramatically since my childhood and since Phillips Gymnasium opened in 1971. As I watch Oberlin's women student-athletes (and even my young daughter) compete, I marvel at the opportunities that exist nowadays.
Indeed, many of us who were not varsity athletes have discovered the positive benefits of exercise and fitness, including stress reduction and greater energy. At Oberlin, these trends — the inclusion of women and the greater participation of faculty, students, and staff in exercising the body as well as the mind — have significantly increased the demand on campus for programs and facilities.
On the weekend of September 21-22, we launched Oberlin Illuminate: A Campaign for College and Conservatory. As part of this comprehensive campaign, we are asking our alumni and friends to support activities such as health, wellness, and athletics. As our website and this publication note, we are setting an ambitious but reachable goal of $250 million, making this the largest campaign in Oberlin's history.
In keeping with Oberlin's tradition of providing education to all regardless of background, our single highest priority is support for strengthening Oberlin's historic commitment to access and inclusion. Other top priorities are: bolstering our outstanding faculty by increasing the number of endowed professorships; creating a distinctive 21st-century curriculum that includes cocurricular innovation and alumni mentoring; and building on Oberlin's internationalism and spirit of pioneering social activism by reinventing our college and town as a global model of thriving, post-carbon economic development centered on education and the arts.
All these priorities will further Oberlin's standing as the only liberal arts college with an internationally renowned conservatory of music and one of America's top college art museums.
Oberlin Illuminate is off to a strong start. I am also encouraged by the growth in support for the alumni fund in recent years. This is critical to maintaining the quality of Oberlin's operations, particularly in what continue to be economically challenging times.
We will be holding some wonderful campaign events in the coming months in New York, Washington, DC, and other major cities across the country. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at these events. Be sure to invite your fellow members of the Oberlin family, as well as friends of Oberlin.
I ask that all of you express your commitment to Oberlin's mission and future by participating in this important campaign. As always, I am eager to hear from you and to see you. As we begin our sixth year together, I congratulate all of you on your role in sustaining this magnificent institution, and thank you for your ongoing support and efforts.
President, Oberlin College