Marvin Krislov became the 14th President of Oberlin College in the summer of 2007. Since arriving at Oberlin, Krislov has led collaborative, consensus-driven efforts to make the College and Conservatory of Music more rigorous, diverse, inclusive, and accessible to students from every socioeconomic background. His creation of the Oberlin Access Initiative, which removed the loan burden for hundreds of Pell Grant-eligible students, reflects his abiding commitment to surmounting the challenges facing low-income, first-generation students.
Under his leadership, Oberlin has entered a new era of environmental action and sustainability with the launch of the Oberlin Project, the creation of the Green Arts District, and the construction of the mixed-use Gateway center. He has overseen major expansion and renovation of Oberlin’s physical plant, including construction of a new, natural gas power plant replacing a coal-fired facility, a new jazz studies building, a new stadium complex, and acquisition and conversion of the historic Apollo Theatre in downtown Oberlin into a cinema and cinema studies complex.
Krislov led the most successful comprehensive fundraising campaign in Oberlin’s history, reaching its $250 million target 18 months ahead of schedule and raising a total of $318 million. He played a leading role in revitalizing Oberlin’s health and wellness and athletics programs and facilities. That includes instigating and driving fundraising for the Knowlton Athletics complex, including the $8 million gift from the Knowlton Foundation—the largest gift to date by a non-Oberlin donor.
Increasing alumni engagement has been a priority of his administration. Achievements include creating the President’s Advisory Council, and strategically moving the Oberlin Alumni Association in new directions with focus on career connections, alumni-to-alumni and alumni-to-student networking, and enhanced regional programming. This included transforming governance of the Alumni Association from a 300-member council to a leadership body of 27 members.
While serving as president, Krislov has continued to teach and be active in public service. He has taught advanced courses every semester at the college on aspects of law and public policy. In November 2009, he was appointed to the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Through his writings, his speeches and public appearances, and his membership on the National Council on the Humanities, Krislov has raised Oberlin’s international and national profile while championing the value of liberal arts education. His op-ed pieces on topics including his commitment to teaching, student voting rights, colleges’ role in driving sustainable economic development, and student mental health have been published in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Columbus Dispatch, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Crain’s Cleveland Business. He also co-edited The Next Twenty-five Years—Affirmative Action in Higher Education in the United States and South Africa, published by the University of Michigan Press in December 2009.
Krislov went to Oberlin from the University of Michigan, where he had been vice president and general counsel since 1998. During his tenure there, he led the University of Michigan’s legal defense of its admission policies, resulting in the 2003 Supreme Court decision recognizing the importance of student body diversity.
Krislov earned a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, at Yale University in 1982, and was named a Rhodes Scholar. He earned master’s degrees at Oxford University and Yale, and a juris doctor degree at Yale Law School in 1988.
Prior to entering academic life, Krislov served as acting solicitor from 1997 to 1998 in the US Department of Labor, and as deputy solicitor of national operations from 1996 to 1998. He had previously served as associate counsel in the Office of Counsel to the President.