The Kenyon College Board of Trustees, in the final meeting chaired by Barry F. Schwartz ’70, set a course for the future of the College — unanimously supporting the Kenyon 2020 strategic plan, endorsing a new sexual misconduct policy, and authorizing the acquisition of the Buckeye Candy building in downtown Mount Vernon.
Meeting in Gambier on April 23-24, the board celebrated the tenure of Schwartz, who was described by trustee Brackett B. Denniston III ’69 as “an intelligent and wise decision-maker” and by President Sean Decatur as a sage mentor. During Schwartz’s term as chair from 2011-15, he oversaw the hiring of Decatur as Kenyon’s 19th president, record-breaking numbers of admissions applications, creation of the Kenyon Institute, establishment of the Middle Path Partnership, and the construction of the Cox Health and Counseling Center and the Rothenberg Hillel House. Schwartz, who remains on the board, will receive an honorary doctorate at Commencement on May 16.
“The confidence placed in me by the board and the responsibility of guiding the College as board chair have brought me great satisfaction in that Kenyon, an institution that I love, is well-positioned for enduring success in the 21st century,” Schwartz said after the meeting. “Given the visionary planning of this administration, our excellent faculty of teacher-scholars, our outstanding campus and facilities and our supportive alumni, I believe our students will be well-prepared for career achievement, engaged and informed citizenship and global leadership.”
Denniston, the board vice chair, takes the reins as chair on July 1, and Joseph E. Lipscomb ’87 P’19 will serve as vice chair.
In his message to the trustees, Decatur said, “Kenyon is a place where the formal and informal flow together, where creative activity thrives alongside quiet contemplation, where students regularly display the excellent products of their hard work and regularly enjoy the company of friends.”
The Kenyon 2020 plan was developed by Decatur with the input of about 500 alumni, faculty, staff and students over two years and creates a vital framework for the new world of the liberal arts as the College approaches its 200th anniversary in 2024. The strategic plan, “with a clear set of priorities,” helps articulate the return on investment in a Kenyon education, Decatur said, and is the foundation for the planning of a new capital campaign.
With three broad priorities, the strategic plan promises an integrated, comprehensive experience for students that prepares them for post-graduate success; smart use of resources to attract an academically elite and diverse student body; and a strengthened Kenyon community that is at once global in scope and local in emphasis.
The 2020 plan specifically calls for developing a larger endowment to boost financial aid; attracting a more diverse student body, faculty and staff; building an enhanced first-year student experience with greater cooperation between the Academic and Student Affairs divisions; boosting “high impact experiences,” including study away, internship, community-based learning and research opportunities; enhancing faculty and staff professional development; and improved outreach to the local and regional communities.
Metrics of the plan’s success are being developed and will be shared with the community, Decatur said.
On April 23, the board embarked on a bus tour of Mount Vernon guided by Sam Barone ’72, executive director of the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County. A walking tour of the Buckeye Candy building’s first floor was included. The board later hosted about 20 local community leaders, including Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis and Gambier Mayor Kirk Emmert H’10, professor emeritus of political science, at a dinner in Gund Commons that also featured Kenyon scholarship students and scholarship providers.
On April 24, the board honored Schwartz as well as Jennifer Delahunty at a dinner in Gund Commons. Trustees praised the outstanding work of Delahunty, who served as vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid from 2003-2014 and is now associate dean of admissions with a West Coast concentration. Trustees noted the significant increase in applications to Kenyon as a top destination school under Delahunty’s leadership while continuing a strong emphasis on attracting the finest students for admission.
A number of trustees participated in a “Meet the Collegian” interview session with student journalists on the Collegian staff on April 23 in the Olin Auditorium.
In addition to supporting the Kenyon 2020 strategic plan, the board: