The Nancy S. Dye presidential papers (1948 (1994-2007)–2007) cover the thirteen-year tenure of Oberlin College’s first woman president. Broadly, the official records document administrative actions and decisions made by Dye and her senior staff, with an emphasis on cultivating and developing the college’s relationships locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. In many ways, this voluminous record (125.68 l.f.) of two subgroups, 32 records series, and 81 subseries captures the process of creating and carrying forward a strategic vision for Oberlin College. The files document the implementation of fundraising efforts, including those leading to new building construction (i.e., the Science Center and the student housing on Union Street); the advancement of diversity and multicultural education agendas; and her formation and oversight of campus-wide committees and task forces (i.e., Sexual Education and Ethics Task Force). Captured here, too, is Dye’s management style when handling personnel issues across all employee lines – administrative and professional staff and union employees. Taken as a whole, this expansive record details both successes and challenges faced by a modern college president in American higher education.
Given the broad range of documentation for the Dye administration, a significant portion of it provides potential users with a window to understand the ways in which she created a senior staff and assigned roles for these high-level administrators. Records relating to the senior staff are found in the following three series: Series 5, Files Relating to Units Reporting to the President; Series 12, Emails; and Series 23, Personnel Files. Collectively, these series illuminate the relationship between the president and senior staff, some of whom became her trusted confidents. Due to the confidential nature of these records, Series 5 and 23 are marked restricted. Also of some consequence are the confidential legal files (Series 4), which cover a wide range of topics including campus incidents, personnel issues, and violations of student safety.
The record is particularly strong in its coverage of President Dye’s active campus presence. Probably more detail exists in these files than in any other record group of an incumbent president who established relationships with students at a number of levels (i.e., from attending athletic events and musical performances to art exhibitions). Her interest in welcoming international students is also evident in the record. Further, Dye was the first president to build a kiosk outside of the Cox administration building so that students could post questions and receive responses from her (Series 26, Files Relating to Students & Organizations). Finally, the administration’s development of a community service program as well as various student support units constitutes another well-documented example of the administration’s student commitment. A wealth of information on the Center for Service and Learning, the Office of the Ombudsperson, and the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP) is found in Series 6, Academic Department & Administrative Office Files.
Inversely, a full run of primary sources, such as appointment calendars and itineraries, tell us much about how the president spent time away from campus to represent the college. Included are records documenting her attendance at fundraising events for the “New Oberlin Century” campaign; her international travel in an effort to create global connections; and her service to an overwhelming number of boards of external organizations to advance the Oberlin name (Series 19, Files Relating to Dye’s External Service). Categorically speaking, the following three divisions illustrate various layers of the administration’s external service: influential leaders in higher education (i.e., Association of American Colleges & Universities), foundations in the U.S. (i.e., Kresge Foundation HBCU Initiative), and service-centered organizations (i.e., Cleveland Council on World Affairs). Resources documenting individual organizations are uneven in size and character but provide a valuable gauge for measuring Dye’s external commitments.
Of particular interest to users are subject files accounting for the college’s role in the local community and in events of a national scope. As for the City of Oberlin, the college developed the Oberlin College – Schools Partnership Program (Series 28, Subject Files and Subgroup II, Series 1). These files provide in-depth information about the collaboration between the college and city school district for tutoring students in reading, writing, and music. Included in community relations subject files is the scholarship program, which enabled qualified Oberlin High School graduates to attend the college tuition-free. Issues of national significance affecting higher education (i.e., affirmative action in Grutter v. Bollinger, et. al.) are also documented in Series 28. Records detailing how Dye and the senior staff faced the community’s emotional reactions to September 11, 2001 are found in Series 12, Email, Chronological in addition to Series 28. Finally, the administration’s pivotal response to conflicts in the Middle East, the U.S.A. Patriot Act of 2001, and other unsettling developments relating to civil liberties on college campuses are important subject files of national scope.
Through the advancement of administrative initiatives and meaningful partnerships, the record also provides documentation to understand challenges faced by the Dye administration over thirteen years. The budget and fiscal files (Series 7 and 8) provide evidence of presidential accountability in handling campus expenditures, though it is not a comprehensive view of thirteen years. To shed light on how faculty and staff responded to the lay-offs and budget crisis of 2002-03, researchers should consult Series 8 and Series 12. Information is very thin concerning the board’s 2002 deferred compensation package for Dye. Also providing evidence of challenges facing the administration are the extensive strategic planning exercise files of 2004-06. These records detail how the administration worked with the faculty governance structure to build a five-year plan (Series 22, Long Range Planning Files).
Considering the record group as a whole, materials represent a broad range of documentation and file type. The most significant bulk consists of correspondence including thousands of letters and printed emails from a diverse audience. Other materials primarily consist of countless annotated documents (including drafts), multiple computer disks (various electronic files), many handwritten notes, carefully prepared reports (i.e., president’s reports to the board of trustees), meeting minutes (i.e., senior staff meetings), and so forth. The documentation variety is especially apparent in the labor relations and union files (Series 23, Subseries 3), in which interspersed among materials of high value such as agreements, formal letters with attorneys, and contract information are routine news clippings and email exchanges.
As previously referenced, Dye’s presidential records consist of two main subgroups. Subgroup I, Nancy S. Dye Records, comprise thirty records series: Annual Reports; Calendars, Logbooks, & Itineraries; Board of Trustees Files; Bylaws & Legal Files; Files Relating to Units Reporting to President; Academic Department & Administrative Office Files; Budget & Fiscal Files, Accounts, President’s Office; Budget & Fiscal Files, College-wide Accounts; Commencement Exercises Files; Correspondence, Daily Logbooks; Correspondence, Chronological Files; Emails (printed); General Correspondence Files; Alphabetical Correspondence Files; Letters of Recommendation; Invitation & Greeting Card Files; Councils, Committees, and Taskforces Files; Electronic Records; Files Relating to Dye’s External Service; Files Relating to Foundations & Memberships; Inauguration Files; Long Range Planning Files; Personnel Files; News Clippings Files; Self-studies & Consultation Reports; Files Relating to Students & Organizations; Speech Files; Subject Files; Writings Files; and Photographs. Subgroup II, Presidential Assistants Records, contains files that two presidential assistants created and received: Diana Roose (Series 1) and Kathryn Stuart (Series 2).
The voluminous correspondence files (both letters and email messages) are found in nearly every record series. When seeking written communication, researchers need to consult the following five series: Series 11, Correspondence, Chronological Files; Series 12, Emails (printed); Series 13, General Correspondence Files; Series 14, Alphabetical Correspondence Files; and Series 15, Letters of Recommendation. Additionally, a number of electronic letters were saved on CD-ROMs in Series 18, Electronic Files. The sets of correspondence files offer wide documentation on Dye’s opinions and decisions that relate to college business, campus incidents, and the myriad of issues faced in higher education in the U.S. Collateral information is also found in the email series. Often, a second copy of an email message or letter exists in the appropriate subject files (Series 28). The multi-tiered structure of Dye’s correspondence files, developed by the record creator and her staff, has added to the bulk and resulted in extra steps for potential users; yet, it also allowed maintaining the original organizational system. While generally organized by record format, some overlap does exist, specifically in the area of printed email messages, which were filed in general and alphabetical correspondence series. In a record group of this size, users are likely to find copies of correspondence (electronic or printed copy) residing in more than one series.
Given that Dye was the first Oberlin College president to use email as a primary communication tool, the email series lacked a comprehensive filing system or a method to preserve the messages in digital format. Broadly, email correspondents originate from all levels of the campus community. Her attention to students and parents, her professional relationships with senior staff and faculty, and her input regarding administrative offices dominates this discrete unit (Series 12). More than any other in the record group, this series provides a sense of her personality, opinions, and management style. Even so, problems in this rich series are abundant. Dye sporadically printed her email messages both sent and received. As a result, documentation is incomplete and uneven; some months may contain only sent or only received messages. Frequently, email attachments were not printed, creating further gaps in documentation. The series contains four subseries of overlapping date spans; researchers must consult each subseries when seeking individual correspondents or topics.
Although extensive in volume over a long presidential term, noticeable gaps exist in the record group. The administrative files covering Dye’s final ten months in office, for example, were modestly maintained against earlier years. Documentation is sparse given that Dye did not push forward any new business during her final year (2006-07). Accounting for the sparse number of annual reports (7) found in Subgroup I, Series 1, researchers will need to count on the information obtained from her summary reports sent to the Board of Trustees (Series 3). Another example of a gap is the daily logbooks for correspondence (Series 10). Due to the cumbersome nature of logging each letter received with date, sender, and replied date, office staff maintained only two notebooks (1994-95). Upon retirement, Dye requested that the Archivist allow her to retain many of her speech files, although a number (41) remain in Series 27. Given the need to reduce the bulk of this record group, series significantly reduced were Subgroup I: Series 2, Subseries 3, Itineraries; Series 19, Files Relating to Dye’s External Service; and Series 28, Subject Files.
In addition to presidential assistants (Subgroup II), this record group contains the files of a number of other creators. There exists in this group the files created/received by Clayton Koppes, then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who served as acting president (July 1 to December 31, 2001). Some records produced by Koppes during Dye’s six-month sabbatical are located throughout the record group, specifically in the series of correspondence, itineraries, and subject files. Additionally, located here are records created by one of Dye’s presidential secretaries, Lisa Farrar, and they are found in Series 22 (Subseries 5) and Series 12 emails for the 2005-06 academic year.
Unlike previous twentieth century presidents, Dye asked the Archivist to accept the records on a yearly installment basis after her first year in office. He extended this courtesy knowing that such a plan of action could lead to future arrangement issues (staff in the president’s office mostly arranged the files by academic year). In the end and as anticipated, the consecutive character of the discrete units was reassembled to build the levels of control of a very large record group. Some exceptions existed to maintain the original integrity of the records. For instance, in General Correspondence (Series 13), president’s office staff filed all correspondence with faculty for the 1994-95 academic year in alphabetical order. The following year, 1995-96, faculty correspondence was again filed in alphabetical order, regardless if the correspondent also wrote in the previous year. Simply put, when looking for an individual correspondent, researchers must consult files across the entire span of thirteen years.
 Additional actions were taken to reduce bulk. Through the use of sampling methods, specifically in Series 7, only a representative sample of invoices exists from the president’s office expenditures. Among the files removed from the record group were those identified as “personal” (7.5 linear feet) by the president’s office staff because the characteristics were non-institutional.
 Since the establishment of the College Archives in May 1966, presidential records - before being transferred to the Archives - were routinely kept in a storage room located on the Cox Administration building’s third floor. Archivist Roland M. Baumann negotiated the transfer of the presidential records of S. Frederick Starr and said group came to the College Archives shortly after he left office. The records of the three previous presidents, Emil C. Danenberg, Robert W. Fuller, and Robert K. Carr, were transferred to the Archives within a two-year span (1976-1978), several accessions represented different presidential records. Presidential records were often passed from one administration to the next, creating provenance issues.
NANCY S. DYE PRESIDENTIAL PAPERS, 1948 (1994-2007)-2007 (125.68 l.f.)
SUBGROUP I. NANCY S. DYE PRESIDENTIAL PAPERS, 1948 (1994-2007)-2007 (116.23 l.f.)
Series 1. Annual Reports, 1994-96 (0.1 l.f.)
Series 2. Calendars, Logbooks, & Itineraries, 1994-2007 (8.97 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Appointment Calendars, 1994-2007 (0.6 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Telephone Message Logbooks, 1994-2006 (3.37 l.f.)
Subseries 3. Itineraries, 1994-2006 (5 l.f.)*
Series 3. Board of Trustees Files, 1948 (1994-2007)-2007 (3.95 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Board Meetings Files, 1994-2006 (0.92 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Committees Files, 1994-2007 (0.83 l.f.)
Subseries 3. Name Files, 1948 (1994-2007)-2007 (2.2 l.f.)*
Series 4. Bylaws & Legal Files, 1973 (1994-2006)-2006 (7.9 l.f.)*
Subseries 1. Name Files, 1994-2006 (5 l.f.)*
Subseries 2. Subject Files, 1973 (1994-2006)-2006 (2.9 l.f.)*
Series 5. Files Relating to Units Reporting to President, 1993-2007 (2.05 l.f.)*
Subseries 1. Name Files, 1993-2006 (1.25 l.f.)*
Subseries 2. Senior Staff, Meetings of, 1994-2007 (0.8 l.f.)*
Series 6. Academic Dept. & Administrative Office Files, 1990-2007 (14.1 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Academic Departments & Programs, 1991-2007 (4.15 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Administrative Offices & Departments, 1990-2007 (9.95 l.f.)
Series 7. Budget & Fiscal Files, Accounts, President’s Office, 1994-2006 (2.5 l.f.)
Series 8. Budget & Fiscal Files, College-wide Accounts, 1994-2006 (0.8 l.f.)
Series 9. Commencement Exercises Files, 1995-2006 (0.8 l.f.)
Series 10. Correspondence, Daily Logbooks, 1994-95 (0.01 l.f.)
Series 11. Correspondence, Chronological Files, 1994-2007 (5.4 l.f.)
Series 12. Emails (Printed), 1994-2006 (9 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Email with Index, 1994-98 (1.25 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Email Incoming & Outgoing, July 1998-Feb. 1999, Nov.-Dec. 2003, May-Dec. 2004 (0.8 l.f.)
Subseries 3. Email, Chronological, 1996-2006 (6.65 l.f.)
Subseries 4. Email with Faculty, 2001-04 (0.2 l.f.)
Subseries 5. Website, Incoming Emails Through, 2000-03 (0.1 l.f.)
Series 13. General Correspondence Files, 1993-2007 (13.5 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Administrative Transition Files, 1993-95 (0.4 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Administrative & Professional Staff, 1994-2006 (0.8 l.f.)
Subseries 3. Alumni, 1994-2006 (3.4 l.f.)
Subseries 4. College & University, 1994-2007 (0.8 l.f.)
Subseries 5. Community, Letters to, 1994-2006 (0.2 l.f.)
Subseries 6. Faculty, 1994-2006 (3.2 l.f.)
Subseries 7. Government, 1999-2006 (0.1 l.f.)
Subseries 8. Regional: Oberlin & Lorain County, 1994-2007 (0.4 l.f.)
Subseries 9. Regional: Outside Lorain County, 1994-2006 (1.4 l.f.)
Subseries 10. Students & Parents, 1994-2006 (2.6 l.f.)
Subseries 11. Various Correspondence Files, 1994-2004 (0.2 l.f.)
Series 14. Alphabetical Correspondence Files, 1994-2007 (1.4 l.f.)
Series 15. Letters of Recommendation, 1988-2005 (0.8 l.f.)*
Subseries 1. Chronological Files, 1988-2003 (0.4 l.f.)*
Subseries 2. Name Files (alphabetical), 1998-2005 (0.4 l.f.)*
Series 16. Invitation & Greeting Card Files (Oberlin College), 1995-2006 (0.2 l.f.)
Series 17. Councils, Committees, & Task Forces Files, 1986-2007 (4.35 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Faculty Councils & Committees, 1986-2007 (2.9 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Campus-wide Committees & Taskforces, 1995-07 (1.45 l.f.)
Series 18. Electronic Records, 1995-2007 (0.6 l.f.)
Series 19. Files Relating to Dye’s External Service, 1994-2007 (6.25 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Academic Search Consultation Service, 1995-98 (3f)
Subseries 2. The Access Program, 1994-2004 (6f)
Subseries 3. American Council on Education, 1994-2007 (7f)
Subseries 4. American Council of Learned Societies, 1996-2007 (7f)
Subseries 5. Assoc. of American Colleges & Universities, 1994-07 (18f)
Subseries 6. Assoc. of Independent Colleges & Universities of Ohio, 1994-2007 (7f)
Subseries 7. Cleveland Council on World Affairs, 1998-2001 (2f)
Subseries 8. Consortium of Financing Higher Education, 1994-2007 (13f)
Subseries 9. Educational Leadership Program, Inc. (Troutbeck Program), 1994-2005 (13f)
Subseries 10. Five Colleges of Ohio, 1994-2007 (7f)
Subseries 11. Great Lakes Colleges Association, 1994-2007 (22f)
Subseries 12. Humanities Foundation, (Univ. of Kentucky), 1994-97
Subseries 13. International Research & Exchanges Board, 2005-07 (2f)
Subseries 14. Kendal at Oberlin, 1994-2007 (5f)
Subseries 15. KnowledgeWorks Foundation, 2001-02, 2006-07
Subseries 16. Kresge Foundation HBCU Initiative, 2000-02
Subseries 17. Lake Ridge Academy, 1997-2000
Subseries 18. Nat’l Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, 1994-2007 (6f)
Subseries 19. North Coast Athletic Conference, 1994-2007 (10f)
Subseries 20. Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (formerly
Cleveland Commission on Higher Education), 1994-2007 (12f)
Subseries 21. Ohio Campus Compact, 1996-2003 (4f)
Subseries 22. Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, 1994-2007 (14f)
Subseries 23. Ohio Rhodes Scholarship Trust, 2000-04 (4f)
Subseries 24. Pomona College, 1997-2006 (9f)
Subseries 25. Second Nature, 1996-98, 2000 (3f)
Subseries 26. United Negro College Fund, 2006-07
Series 20. Files Relating to Foundations & Memberships, 1994-2007 (4.15 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Foundations (Abington-World Bank), 1994-2007 (3.75 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Membership in Organizations, 1994-2007 (0.4 l.f.)
Series 21. Inauguration Files, 1994 (1.4 l.f.)
Series 22. Long Range Planning Files, 1988-2006 (7.15 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Strategic Issues Steering Committee, 1988-95 (1 l.f.)
Subseries 2. SISC Lite, 1993-95 (0.4 l.f.)
Subseries 3. “Broad Directions for Oberlin’s Future,” 1994-99 (2 l.f.)
Subseries 4. “A Strategic Plan for Oberlin College,” 2003-07 (2.5 l.f.)
Subseries 5. Lisa Farrar’s Files, 2003-06 (1.25 l.f.)
Series 23. Personnel Files, 1977-2007 (3.3 l.f.)*
Subseries 1. Search Files, 1994-2007 (1.25 l.f.)*
Subseries 2. Labor Relations & Union Files, 1977-2005 (1.25 l.f.)*
Subseries 3. Nancy S. Dye Personnel Files, 1994-2006 (0.2 l.f.)*
Subseries 4. Subject Files, 1994-2007 (0.6 l.f.)*
Series 24. News Clippings Files, 1993-2004 (0.2 l.f.)
Series 25. Self-studies & Consultation Reports, 1994-2006 (2 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Student Retention Studies, 1994-2002 (0.4 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Self-study, North Central Association of Colleges & Schools, 1994 (1997-98)-2006 (1.2 l.f.)
Subseries 3. Various Files, 1996-2006 (0.4 l.f.)
Series 26. Files Relating to Students & Organizations, 1994-2007 (1.1 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Student-related Files, 1994-2005 (0.5 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Student Organizations Files, 1996-2007 (0.6 l.f.)
Series 27. Speech Files, 1994-2007 (1.25 l.f.)
Series 28. Subject Files, 1957 (1994-2007)-2007 (12.5 l.f.)
Series 29. Writings Files, 1971-2004 (0.4 l.f.)
Series 30. Photographs, 1994-2007 (0.1 l.f.)
SUBGROUP II. PRESIDENTIAL ASSISTANTS RECORDS, 1994-2007 (9.45 l.f.)
Series 1. Diana Roose’s Files, 1994-2007 (5.35 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Committees & Task Forces Files, 2000-07 (1.25 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Files Relating to Student Retention, 1995-2002 (1.65 l.f.)*
Subseries 3. Topical Files, 1994-2007 (2.45 l.f.)
Series 2. Kathryn Stuart’s Files, 1998-2002 (4.1 l.f.)
Subseries 1. Academic & Administrative Unit Files, 1998-2002 (0.8 l.f.)
Subseries 2. Convocations & Speakers Files, 1998-2002 (1.25 l.f.)
Subseries 3. Committee Files, 1998-2002 (0.4 l.f.)
Subseries 4. Topical Files, 1998-2002 (1.65 l.f.)
* RESTRICTED materials. Permission of the Archivist required.