Arcadia University Board Announces Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III as 20th President

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 18, 2011

Arcadia University has announced that the next President of Arcadia University will be Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III. He will be the University’s 20th president since its founding in 1853. He will participate in the University’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremony this Friday, May 20, and will take office on July 1.

Oxholm is a Senior Vice President of Drexel University and Dean of its Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento, Calif. His service to Drexel University in Philadelphia includes one year as Drexel’s Executive Vice President and seven years as Secretary to its Board of Trustees and a member of Drexel’s faculty senate, before spending the last two years full-time as Drexel’s senior officer, campus founder, visionary and spokesperson on the West Coast.

“Tobey is passionate about higher education and the liberal arts, and he is excited about the future of Arcadia,” says Margaret Wright Steele, Chair of Arcadia University’s Board of Trustees. “He is innovative, well-prepared to meet the challenges that higher education will face over the next decade, committed to transparency, integrity, and shared governance, and successful at everything he has done.”

Oxholm grew up in this region. He is a 1971 graduate of Radnor High School, and after they both graduated from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, he and his wife, Kimberly Campbell Oxholm, reared their family in Mt. Airy and Merion before moving to Sacramento in 2009. “Both Tobey and Kim are held in the highest regard for their demonstrated commitment to public service,” says Steele, “and we are very glad that Arcadia is the reason they will be coming home.”

Addressing the challenges faced by academia and the talents Oxholm brings to Arcadia, Drexel University President John A. Fry said of Oxholm, “In these days of budget cutbacks and increases in demands for our services, you know as well as I how essential it is for universities to have at their helm creative, entrepreneurial thinkers who recognize the value of transparency, integrity and accountability. Beyond providing all of that, I have found here at Drexel that there are few who are held in such high regard and personal affection, from the maintenance staff to the Trustees.”

Oxholm’s accomplishments in academia are many. Over the past decade, he led Drexel University’s academic merger with MCP Hahnemann University; helped to start Drexel’s Center for Civic Engagement and its master’s program in public policy; engineered the adoption of domestic partner benefits; created a captive insurance company for Drexel’s doctors and nurse midwives; helped to restructure Drexel’s international studies programs and create Drexel’s distance learning initiative; worked with students to create Drexel Green, Drexel’s award-winning sustainability movement; spearheaded the ground-up creation of a state-of-the-art law school; established Drexel as the first university in the country to adopt “the Spirit of Sarbanes-Oxley”; originated one of the largest philanthropic gifts in Drexel’s history; and, most recently, led the development of Drexel’s Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento, Calif.,—the first campus remote from Philadelphia in that university’s 118-year history.

“There is no question that globalism is the mega-trend for the 21st century,” says Oxholm, “and Arcadia has been there, doing that, for 60 years. I was privileged to visit 17 countries as part of my collegiate experience, and my wife, both sons, and one future daughter-in-law all studied abroad during college. In this day and age, there is no mission of greater importance to the future of our country than having its citizens appreciate the value of diversity and be excited, not threatened, by the new and the different. I am simply delighted to be able to help Arcadia develop future leaders who are at home in the world.”

Oxholm received his Bachelor’s of Arts summa cum laude from Amherst College, his Master’s of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and his Juris Doctorate from the Harvard Law School. He had been an attorney in Philadelphia for 22 years—including five as Chief Deputy City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia—before joining Drexel in 2001. He has been recognized for exemplary public service by, among others, the American Bar Association with its Pro Bono Publico Award; for his commitment to diversity by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award; by Corporate Counsel magazine for being one of America’s most innovative general counsel; by his undergraduate alma mater, Amherst College, for exemplary service, particularly for his leadership of the Alumni Fund; by Harvard University, for his six years of service as a Visitor to Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1979; from Drexel, with the Provost’s Award; and most recently by several awards Drexel has received for excellence in academics and civic involvement from the City Council of Sacramento, the County’s Board of Supervisors, and the Assembly of the State of California.