On August 1st, the Toni Morrison Society moved its home office to the campus of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. It was the culmination of nearly a year of conversations and planning with President Marvin Krislov, Dean of the College Sean Decatur and the Toni Morrison Society Board. The office of the Society will be located in the Mudd Library on Oberlin’s campus. It will be staffed by a part time administrative assistant and student clerical staff with on-campus oversight by Faculty Liaison Professor Meredith Gadsby. Society Board Members Dr. Marilyn Sanders Mobley of Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Maryemma Graham of University of Kansas, and Society Member Dr. Marilyn Valentino of Lorain County Community College will serve as Society Liaisons.
The first public announcement of the Society’s move to Oberlin came in March of this year during Ms. Morrison’s visit to Oberlin to read from her new novel Home. Ms. Morrison says she was very pleased with the move. She had always thought that Oberlin would be the perfect home for the Society and she was thrilled that there was now an Affiliation Agreement and that the Society’s coming to Oberlin would finally be a reality. When the announcement of the move was made in Finney Chapel before Ms. Morrison’s reading on March 14th, the audience erupted into loud cheers and applause. It was a warm welcome from the Oberlin Community and one that the Society hopes to build on and enrich as it becomes part of the Oberlin family.
Indeed, there are many reasons that Oberlin College is a perfect location for the new home for the Society. It is a town only 8 miles from Morrison’s home town of Lorain, it appears by name in three of Morrison’s novels, and in April of 2009, Oberlin College placed the second Bench by the Road to commemorate Oberlin as a site on the Underground Railroad.
The Society will manage its membership and programming operations out the Oberlin Office, hold its annual Board meetings on the Oberlin campus and launch the Toni Morrison Society Lecture series in the fall of 2013 at Finney Chapel. The Society will provide public humanities workshops for Oberlin College students, and participate in community outreach projects in the city of Oberlin and in Ms. Morrison’s hometown of Lorain. In February of next year, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Society will hold an open house and a public humanities lecture.