Transitioning to the New Website

The launch of our new website on May 31 was a major milestone in our efforts to modernize and consolidate Oberlin’s public-facing web presence. A lot of work remains, however. For the next couple of months, we will be in a transition period during which the old content management, DotCMS, is still being used for some things, and the new system, Drupal, is being used for others. Things can get a bit confusing when you have to jump back and forth, so I’ll try to clarify which things are in which place.

What’s in the new system?

Any page whose URL in your web browser’s location bar starts with “” lives in Drupal. You also can recognize the Drupal pages by the green “Menu” control at the upper right. The new site includes the homepage, the top-level sections such as Life at Oberlin and Conservatory of Music, most of the admissions pages, all faculty (and some staff) bios, and news & events.

Other areas are in transition, with some information on the new site and some remaining on the old site for now.

Areas of Study and Academic Departments/Divisions

The top-level sections include a new section, Areas of Study, aimed at prospective students to help them learn about what they can study at Oberlin. Each major, minor, and performance instrument is represented by a single page with photos, general information, and links to other pages where they can find related information.

The web team in the Office of Communications is responsible for keeping these 100+ pages up-to-date, accurate, and relevant for prospective students. We welcome input from faculty and staff to make these pages as effective as possible at showing prospectives what Oberlin has to offer.

Meanwhile, academic departments and divisions continue to have their own sections of the site where they can publish more information related to their offerings. For now we’ve set up a single overview page for each College department and Conservatory division, each with a link back to the corresponding DotCMS site. We plan to migrate the remaining DotCMS pages into the department/division sections of the new site starting in October. Please continue to keep your DotCMS sites up-to-date until we contact you about migrating your site to Drupal. Once the migration is complete, we will provide training in the new system to everyone who needs it.

Administrative Offices

Similar to the departments/divisions, offices initially are represented by a single page on the new site linking back to the DotCMS site. As each office site is migrated, the new site will include all of the office site’s child pages and staff bios. Please continue to keep your DotCMS sites up-to-date until we contact you about migrating your site to Drupal. Once the migration is complete, we will provide training in the new system to everyone who needs it.

Faculty/Staff Bios and Listing Pages

All faculty bios have been set up in the new system, and any existing links to the old DotCMS bios will automatically redirect to the new site. If you come across one that isn’t redirecting properly, please let us know. We’ve also imported the bios for staff in academic departments.

There has been some confusion about the pages that list faculty and staff, largely related to the distinction between areas of study and departments/divisions. In the Drupal backend, we’re able to associate each person with one or more departments/divisions and one or more areas of study. One distinction we’ve made is to include all faculty and teaching/lab staff in the areas of study pages for prospective students, while on the department/division pages, we’re including administrative staff as well. We’ve done our best to attach people to the correct entities using the course catalog and other sources, but if you notice an error, please let us know.

Here’s an example to highlight the difference:


The events calendar is a special case. Calendar tools are very specialized, so rather than rebuilding the whole thing from scratch, we are keeping our existing calendar system (Localist) while automatically importing events from Localist into Drupal. The import runs several times a day to keep the two sites in sync.

This means that you can create events the same way as always at, without having to learn a new system. And once they are imported into Drupal, they can be shown on relevant pages in the new site.

Getting Help

The best way to get help from the web team is to use one of our new support request forms. This helps us to keep track of requests so we can get them done as quickly as possible. Please use one of the following:

Of course, sometimes you might need something that can’t easily be expressed in a form. You can always email us at And feel free to call me at x56218.

Bill Denneen
Director of Web Initiatives
Office of Communications

Add Your Comments

You must be logged in to comment.

Hello! My name is María Zoraida Maclay and I am the Disability Resources coordinator at the Office of Disability Resources within the Center for Student Success. I handle adaptive technology as well as disability Justice. I’m concerned about the accessibility of the site, as I’ve found it difficult to navigate using my screen reading software, and I also have found many videos without proper captioning. Is there a plan to ensure this site will meet section 508 standards for accessibility/access?

Maria Zoraida Maclay

Maria, your timing is perfect. We have started contacting accessibility experts, and we have a call set up with one of them next week. We’d love to involve you in the process. I’ll get in touch by email.

Bill Denneen