Arcadia Welcomes Its 20th President, Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III

By Sue Gettlin | May 13, 2011

Dear Arcadia Community – Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Parents, Friends, Neighbors and Supporters:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the leadership of this University, it is my great pleasure and honor to announce that the Twentieth President of Arcadia University will be Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III.

With a remarkable 30 of the 32 members of the Board of Trustees participating in a special meeting on Thursday, the vote to appoint Mr. Oxholm was unanimous.

Tobey is passionate about higher education and the liberal arts, excited about the future of Arcadia, prepared to meet the challenges we will face, committed to transparency, integrity, and shared governance, and successful at everything he has done. He is “a local boy”: a proud graduate of Radnor High School, he and his wife raised their family in Mt. Airy and Merion, and both are held in the highest regard for their demonstrated commitment to public service.

Tobey’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 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, California – the first campus remote from Philadelphia in that university’s 118-year history. His service to Drexel included a year as the University’s Executive Vice President, seven years as a member of Drexel’s faculty senate and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, and three years as Drexel’s senior officer, campus founder, visionary and spokesperson on the west coast.

His contributions have been recognized by, among others, the American Bar Association with its Pro Bono Publico Award; by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity 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.

Many of us were also privileged to meet his wife of nearly 33 years, Kimberly (Kim) Campbell Oxholm, whom he met while both were students in the Master of Public Policy program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Kim has a long and impressive record of public service in her own right, both in Philadelphia and in Sacramento. Their two sons and future daughter-in-law reside in Philadelphia – the younger son (Ted) a rising second year student at Penn Law, the older (Geoff) a doctoral candidate in computer science at Drexel, and his fiancée (Pita Lacenski) a double-degree master’s candidate in social work and government administration at Penn.

While an undergraduate, Tobey took two world tours with the Amherst College Glee Club, visiting and singing in seventeen countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. His wife, Kim, spent a semester abroad in Italy while at Syracuse, and their sons each have studied abroad as undergraduates, Geoff in Spain and Ted in Tunisia. They all have continued their global travels, individually and as a family, and are at home in the world.

Both Tobey and Kim are fully committed to the mission and the future of Arcadia, and are looking forward to becoming full members of and participants in the life of this remarkable institution. Tobey has called the Presidency of Arcadia “my dream job. I am passionate about Arcadia’s mission to develop critical thinkers and engaged, responsible citizens of the world. I am delighted to be able to return to Philadelphia, the city that I love and have called home for most of my life. I am truly blessed to be called to serve an institution with such long and proud traditions, and to help lead Arcadia to what will no doubt be a glorious future.”

This announcement is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the Board of Trustees and so many here at Arcadia. Special thanks to the members of the Search Committee for their hard work and commitment to bringing the search to the best possible outcome. I especially want to thank Chris van de Velde, Chair of the Committee, and Theresa Rollins, Vice Chair. We also thank the large number of faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends who participated in the search process at such a busy time of year.

Tobey will be attending our Commencement on Friday, May 20, and will assume office effective July 1.

Please join me and the Trustees in welcoming Tobey and Kim Oxholm into Arcadia’s family, at home in Glenside and around the world.


Margaret Wright Steele ’80

Chair, Arcadia University Board of Trustees