What is Olin 20/20?

Olin 20/20 has presented an opportunity for Olin to lean forward into the values that make Olin, Olin. With the launch of the presidential search, the first in Olin’s history, it was apparent that the next few years would present an interesting opportunity as an important chapter of Olin’s history came to a close. Olin 20/20 was launched to provide a framework within which to reflect on our current state, where we have exceeded our goals, and where we have fallen short. It was an opportunity to peer into the future, envision what is possible and imagine “What’s next?” It was a way to embrace this time of transition and use it to move forward and challenge ourselves. Olin 20/20 was also an opportunity for the Olin community to come together and celebrate what makes Olin so special.

(Scroll down to view the multimedia-filled story of Olin 20/20)

Olin 20/20 kicked off with a bagel breakfast on September 6, where students, faculty and staff were invited to contribute to an Olin 20/20 timeline, listen to Dean of Faculty, Mark Somerville and Associate VP of Marketing and Communication, Anne-Marie Dorning provide their outlook on Olin 20/20 and of course, eat bagels. The Olin 20/20 framework also inspired an extension of Olin’s current graphic identity, which manifested itself in the form of driveway flags, banners, a website, videos and email signatures.

On October 17, the Olin community tuned in to a special President’s Council meeting featuring an interview with Olin Trustee and Founding Chair of Olin College, Larry Milas who was the driving force behind the creation of Olin College. From the start, Olin has focused on working in teams, learning by doing, communication skills and a willingness to share its engineering model with the rest of the world.

On January 12, forty Olin students returned to campus early from Winter Break for Olin’s first Build Week. Modeled after Build Days of Olin’s past, this student-initiated week inspired reflection and discussion on the past 20 years of Olin's history as well as opportunities for campus betterment projects.

At a “Mark my Words” event on January 24, Mark Somerville stated that Olin was built with audacious intentions “with marching orders not just to be another college but instead to be an important and constant contributor to driving change in engineering education throughout the world”.

Olin alumni were invited to participate through a series of events beginning at Alumni Weekend in September with Olin Legends, a game designed by students (after several rounds of ideation) to foster conversations and story-telling between alumni and current Oliners. Throughout the year, faculty, staff and alumni met in a series of events from informal coffees to lengthier faculty talks. These events ranged from an AlumNight Out in Boston to a faculty and staff visit to San Francisco where Professor Dave Barrett visited with companies and hosted an AlumNight Out.  Professor Jessica Townsend attended an Alumni & Friends Event in Seattle, Professor Caitrin Lynch met up with Alumni in Colorado and Professor Lynn Andrea Stein visited alumni in New York City.

The entire on-campus community gathered together on February 5 for a festive celebration of Olin President Rick Miller’s 21-year tenure. The event featured heartfelt tributes, a trivia game, cannoli, an original acapella song by the Powerchords and a sticky note mural of President Miller himself. The celebration was a poignant moment in the final months of the academic year as Olin prepared to say farewell to President Miller in June.

Olin College held a “Fauxmencement” for the Class of 2020 on March 12, a truly Olin-y response to the College’s decision to move classes online in light of the spread of COVID-19. The afternoon was included a processional, the handing out of “faux” diplomas and music by the Olin Conductorless Orchestra.

Dr. Gilda Barabino was announced as Olin’s next president on March 26 as students, faculty and staff eagerly waited on a Zoom call for the news to go live. Dr. Barabino expressed confidence in Olin’s future with a message to the Olin community, “Olin is a truly remarkable place, and I know we can work together to rewrite the next chapter of Olin’s history.” An Olin education is one in which students, faculty and staff are collaboratively engaged together in experimenting, exploring and trying to solve problems that matter.

A year of Olin 20/20 experimenting has reinforced the idea that separate from Olin’s success in the world, what truly makes Olin, Olin is that we care about our community and the consequences of the problems we choose to solve. Olin is determined to strengthen its commitment to doing-good in the world by building on our innovative and respected undergraduate program in engineering and committing to our next audacious goal together.