The board of trustees at Arcadia University were no fans of Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III whom they fired as president last month, but the Chelthenham Township Commissioners feel very differently.
The commissioners on Wednesday night plan to honor Oxholm for “his leadership, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to improving the quality of life in the region” and his efforts in forging partnerships with the township, home to Arcadia’s 55-acre campus in Glenside.
“He’s done a fantastic job of reaching out to the Cheltenham and Glenside community. He understood the importance of the community’s role in the university, and the university’s role in the community,” said J. Andrew “Drew” Sharkey, township commissioner for Ward 1, representing Glenside.
Trustees forced out Oxholm after only 20 months at the helm of the private university enrolling about 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. They have been mum about their reasons, which has angered some in the Arcadia community.
The idea to honor Oxholm - a lawyer and formerly a key aide to the late Drexel president Constantine Papadakis - came from board President Art Haywood. The commissioners will present Oxholm with a resolution at tonight’s commissioner meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in Curtis Hall on Church Road in Wyncote.
“I am proud of all that we achieved together in building a very strong "town/gown" relationship over my 20 months as president,” Oxholm said in an email. “The economic futures of both are clearly tied together, and there is nothing but benefit to the residents of the region from a vibrant university that views service to its neighbors as part of its mission...As I will tell then tonight, I am very thankful to the Commissioners for this "going away" present. It means a great deal to me.”
Under Oxholm’s leadership, the university invited the public to on-campus plays, lectures, exhibits and sporting events, helped with recovery efforts from two hurricanes and a major apartment complex fire and hosted trainings for township organizations and others, according to the resolution. The school also partnered with businesses in a “buy-local initiative targeting students and staff.”
Oxholm partnered the Arcadia sports teams with local athletic clubs, said Sharkey, a lawyer. And he got the university involved with the township’s sustainability plan, he said.
“If something were going on in the university and he wanted the township to know about it, he would just pick up the phone and let the township know,” Sharkey said. “Tobey’s energy was refreshing.”
He was surprised to hear that Oxholm had been let go, he said. But he said the township is committed to continuing to work with the university and will meet in the next few weeks with Oxholm’s replacement, Nicolette DeVille Christensen, who is serving as chief operating officer.
“Even though we liked Tobey, we want to make sure we have a strong relationship moving forward,” he said.
Here’s the full context of the resolution:
of the Board of Commissioners of Cheltenham Township
Whereas, THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP,
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, with heartfelt admiration and appreciation,
recognizes CARL “TOBEY” OXHOLM, III, for forging new partnerships to
strengthen the bonds between Arcadia University in Glenside and the entire
Cheltenham community during his tenure as university President; and
Whereas, In just 20 months, CARL “TOBEY” OXHOLM, III, initiated a community calendar
and numerous outreach efforts to invite the public to on-campus plays, lectures
exhibits, sporting events, and more. The university welcomed youth sports teams to
practices, assisted with recovery efforts from two hurricanes and a major apartment
complex fire, and hosted trainings and meetings for the American Red Cross, Glenside
Fire Company, Cheltenham Police Department, Cheltenham Sustainability Committee,
and several public meetings by Township and County officials. The university also
partnered with area businesses in a buy-local initiative targeting students and staff; and
Whereas, An invaluable member of the Cheltenham Sustainability Steering Committee, CARL
“TOBEY” OXHOLM, III, helped sponsor popular “Zip Cars,” which are available for
public use, and fostered Arcadia’s ongoing commitment to the environment represented
by new drains and a relief pipe for flood control, a natural walking trail, and a “Green
Report Card” highlighting all of the university’s environmentally friendly endeavors.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF
CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP, duly convened in regular session this Seventeenth Day
of April, A.D., 2013, does hereby officially honor and thank CARL “TOBEY”
OXHOLM, III, for his leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to
improving the quality of life in the region and wishes him the best of luck in all of his
future endeavors. It is further directed that this Resolution be spread in full upon the
minutes of this meeting and that a copy thereof be presented to Mr. Oxholm.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, ART HAYWOOD, President of the BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF
CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP, have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the
Township of Cheltenham to be made a part thereof. DONE AT ELKINS PARK,
PENNSYLVANIA, in the year of the Township of Cheltenham, the one hundred and
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
OF CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP