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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

An unexpected beginning

<esident Oden is retiring.

The beginning of the school year is not usually about endings. However, this announcement gives us the chance to reflect not only on what President Oden has accomplished in the past, but also what opportunities he has created for the future of Carleton.

Three years ago President Oden started Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections, a fundraising campaign with the goal of $300 million dollars. The money is dedicated to financial aid, facilities, and support for professors and students. To date, Carleton has raised $235 million dollars, President Oden being the driving force behind the initiative.

On a more personal note, we will always remember the first time we saw President Oden during New Student Week when he was giving a speech on Carleton Values. He told the story of former Carleton President Donald Cowling and a “crazy idea.” In the 1920s, amidst criticism and mockery, President Cowling purchased 800 acres of land to turn into an arboretum, land that would remain an untouched refuge of wilderness on Carleton’s campus. The land exists today as one of Carleton’s most distinctive and beloved resources. President Oden concluded the story by stating his desire to have his own moment of “enlighten madness” for Carleton.

One of President Oden’s admittedly “nutty” idea was co-leading a group of 32 Carleton students on an off-campus program to Egypt and the Middle East. The trip brought President Oden into contact with “the best students I’ve ever known, anywhere.”

President Oden is truly a unique leader. When Oden decided to announce his retirement, he made sure that The Carletonian, a student run newspaper, received the opportunity to break the story. We got the chance to speak with President Oden over the phone. During our conversation, he said, “Carleton will be just fine. No one’s irreplaceable, least of all me.”

President Oden always says there is no such thing as an average Carleton student. Likewise, Rob Oden is no average college president. The average college president does not take a group of students abroad. He also does not teach a fly-fishing course or offer apple crisp to the entire freshmen class.

It is hard to imagine the past four years without his presence on campus. Whether it’s seeing him run in the arb, or greeting every student he passes, President Oden has come to embody what Carleton College means to us.

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