VHS grad named Carleton College president Robert A. Oden, Jr., president of Kenyon College in Gambier, OH, has been appointed the 10th president of Carleton College, as announced Feb. 8 by the college's board of trustees. Oden succeeds the retiring Stephen R. Lewis, Jr., effective July 1.
"Carleton is about many things, but chiefly it is about people, about talented students, staff and faculty," Oden said. "It is the people who are Carleton that is the college's greatest strength and greatest resource � it was meeting the people of Carleton that convinced me that leading the college is what I wanted to do."
Margaret Ann Towsley Riecker, a 1954 graduate of Carleton and chair of the college's board of trustees and the presidential search committee, said, "As we move forward in meeting the challenges and opportunities that face us, we are indeed fortunate to have someone with Mr. Oden's background and talent at the helm. With his respect for the unique and irreplaceable nature of American liberal arts colleges and his understanding of the relationship between teaching and scholarship, Mr. Oden is well suited to lead Carleton in continuing its mission of providing a liberal arts education of the highest quality."
A native of South Dakota, Oden earned a bachelor's degree magna cum laud and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University. He attended Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, earning a second bachelor's degree and master's degree before returning to Harvard to complete a master's of theology and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and literature. From 1975 to 1989 he was a member of the religion faculty at Dartmouth College, and was the recipient of Dartmouth's first Distinguished Teaching Prize.
Oden has focused his research on Biblical literature, the ancient Near East and comparative religions. He is a widely-published author of articles and books, including the forthcoming A History of Biblical Scholarship, and has lectured at educational and academic institutions and academic meetings across the country and abroad.
Oden served as headmaster of The Hotchkiss School, an independent secondary school, from 1989 to 1995, when he was appointed president at Kenyon.
At Kenyon, Oden led a highly-successful capital campaign, raising over $100 million. He also lead a successful faculty review of the curriculum, worked to diversify the faculty and enhance and preserve the beauty of Kenyon's campus, established a board of trustees and endowment to ensure the future of the schools' journal, Kenyon Review, and encouraged the purchase of hundreds of acres around Gambier to preserve the college's rural character.
Oden has been a member of the boards of the Columbus Academy in Columbus, OH, the Great Lakes Colleges Association, the North Coast Athletic Conference and The Ohio Five. He has been a trustee of The American University in Cairo, Egypt, since 1990.
Oden and his wife, Teresa, have two grown children, Robert and Katharine. He enjoys fly-fishing (and has published several articles on the topic), running, reading, and travel, particularly to the Middle East.
"My chief responsibility at Carleton will be helping to assemble talented students, staff, and faculty, and then setting them free," Oden said. "Presidents play many roles, but it is that of recruiting talented people and then working to gather the resources to support them which is central. Talented people work together best when granted freedom and offered support, and this is what I aim to do."
Ranked among the nation's top liberal arts institutions, Carleton is a private, co-educational college, located 40 miles south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. High academic standards, an excellent teaching faculty and a diverse student body contribute to Carleton's outstanding reputation. Enrollment is approximately 1,900 students.