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Kenyon 2020 Plan imagines a bright future for the College

While​ ​the​ ​Facebook​ ​page​ ​“Kenyon​ ​Confessions”​ isn’t always ​the​ ​place​ ​to​ ​go​ ​for​ intelligent and ​thought​-provoking​ ​conversation,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​still​ ​disappointed​ ​by​ ​a​ ​recent​ ​post.​ ​​​It insinuated​ ​that​ ​Kenyon​ ​is​ ​constructing​ ​too​ ​many​ ​buildings​ ​and​ ​the​ ​2020​ ​Plan​ ​was​ ​to​ ​blame.​ ​​I​ ​can​ ​sympathize ​with​ ​annoyance​ ​at​ ​a​ ​seemingly​ ​constant​ ​stream​ ​of​ ​construction,​ ​but​ ​this​ ​is​ ​not​ ​what the​ ​2020​ ​Plan​ ​seeks​ ​to​ ​do​ ​at​ ​Kenyon.​ ​

The​ ​2020​ ​Plan​ ​doesn’t ​mention​ ​construction or​ ​building​ ​once.​ ​​It is the Master Plan that deals with building plans for campus, but I do not want to get into a judgment of the Master Plan right now. However I will say that if the new buildings are accessible and replacing buildings that are not accessible in the slightest, then I support much of the new construction. 

At​ ​its​ ​core,​ ​the​ ​2020​ ​Plan​ ​is​ ​a necessary​ ​step​ ​forward​.​ Drawing​ ​straight​ ​from​ ​Kenyon’s​ ​website,​ ​the​ “Kenyon of 2020 will ​continue​ ​to​ ​attract​ ​a​ ​diverse​ ​group​ ​of​ ​academically​ ​talented​ ​students,​ ​regardless​ ​of demographic​ ​trends;​ ​prepare​ ​students​ ​for​ ​post-graduation​ ​success,​ ​equipping​ ​them​ ​with​ ​the skills​ ​to​ ​navigate​ ​a​ ​rapidly​ ​changing​ ​cultural​ ​and​ ​career​ ​environment;​ ​[and]​ ​encourage lifelong​ ​friendships​ ​and​ ​a​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​lifelong​ ​learning.”

Obviously,​ ​all​ of ​these​ ​are​ ​​good​ goals ​for​ the College to pursue ​in the​ ​next​ ​few​ ​years.​ ​​Most importantly, the College​ ​is​ ​following​ ​through​ ​with​ ​these​ ​initiatives,​ which​ ​​means​ ​that Kenyon’s​ ​administration​ ​is​ ​committed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​values​ it promotes.

Nobody​ ​at​ ​Kenyon​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​say​ ​that​ ​diversity​ ​is​ ​something​ ​for which we are well-known,​ ​but​ ​the College​ ​is​ ​making​ ​strides​.​ ​​​Over​ ​the​ ​summer,​ ​President Decatur​ ​announced​ ​the​ ​establishment​ ​of​ ​the​ ​new​ President’s Fund for academic excellence and diversity​. The 20 million dollars raised ​will​ ​go​ to ​financial​ ​aid​ ​to​ ​reach​ ​out​ ​to​ ​underprivileged​ ​students and​ give ​them the opportunity to come ​to​ ​Kenyon.​ ​​The​ ​current​ ​first​-​year​ ​class​ ​has​ ​a​ ​combined​ ​financial​ ​aid​ ​need​ ​of seven​ ​and​ ​a​ ​half​ ​million​ ​dollars,​ ​so​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​fantastic​ ​step​ ​forward​ ​and​ ​will​ ​bring​ ​access​ ​to​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of folks.

Just​ ​this​ ​past​ ​month,​ ​Dean for Career Development ​​Holly McCormack​ ​began​ ​her​ ​tenure​ ​at​ ​Kenyon.​ ​​In her​ ​first​ ​few weeks​ ​here,​ ​she​ ​came​ ​to​ ​Admissions training for tour guides and fellows.​ ​​​It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​great​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​student​ employees​ ​at​ ​the Admissions​ ​Office​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​a​ ​face​ ​with​ ​a​ ​name​ ​that​ we’d ​been​ ​hearing​ ​about​ ​in​ ​emails. Furthermore, Provost Joseph Klesner notes that when McCormack worked at Bennington College, the number of internships available for students increased. In the competitive job market ahead of us, having the experience of an internship will help students have success when they leave Kenyon.  The 2020 Plan wants students to have success post-Kenyon and I look forward to seeing what McCormack can do to facilitate this. 

As​ ​far​ ​as​ ​encouraging​ ​lifelong​ ​friendships​ ​and​ ​a​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​learning,​ ​I​ ​can​ ​only​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​how excited​ ​I​ ​am​ ​moving​ ​into​ ​my​ ​senior​ ​year.​ ​​Not​ ​only​ ​am​ ​I​ ​excited​ ​about​ ​the​ ​fantastic​ ​classes​ ​I’m taking,​ ​getting​ ​to​ ​write​ ​about​ one ​ ​of my​ ​passions — the migratory patterns of Irish Jews —​ ​for​ my senior exercise​ ​and​ ​living​ ​with​ ​all​ ​my​ ​friends​ ​in​ ​our North Campus Apartment,​ ​but​ ​I also​ look forward ​to​ ​see​ing ​where​ ​I’ll​ ​end​ ​up​ ​next​ ​year when I graduate from Kenyon. 

The​ ​values​ ​Kenyon​ ​has​ ​instilled​ ​in me​ ​are​ ​important​ ​ones​ ​that​ ​I​ ​will​ ​try​ ​to​ ​live​ ​up​ ​to​ ​— ​ones​ ​that​ ​the​ ​2020​ ​Plan​ ​reinforces​ ​for​ ​all​ ​of us, whether it be a celebration of diversity or a passion for learning.​ ​I​ ​encourage​ ​all​ ​of​ ​my​ ​peers​ ​not​ ​to​ ​blindly​ ​listen​ ​or​ ​follow​ ​Kenyon’s​ ​initiatives​ —​ it is important to be​ ​engaged and able to critique when necessary​ ​— ​but​ still appreciate the strides Kenyon is making toward increased diversity, openness and preparation for life after college. 

Nate Rosenberg ’18 is a religious studies major from Lancaster, Pa. You can contact him at rosenbergn@kenyon.edu.

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