By David McCabe
Kenyon’s Board of Trustees approved a budget last weekend that will allow the College to raise faculty salaries, offer more financial aid and renovate residence halls, according to President S. Georgia Nugent. The budget was presented at a meeting in New York. “I think of [the major initiatives in the budget] as the three Fs: faculty salaries, financial aid and facilities,” Nugent said.
The trustees have been discussing the changes in faculty compensation for several years in response to worries that Kenyon is becoming less competitive when recruiting new faculty members. Starting next year, all tenured and tenure-track faculty members will receive a flat dollar raise in addition to a standard raise calculated as a percentage of their salaries.
“It won’t solve the problem immediately, but we think it … will help us solve it in the long run,” Nugent said.
College staff members, such as custodians and administrative assistants, will also receive a raise, although it will be slightly smaller, she said.
The raises come after a period wherein the College had to remain frugal with compensation packages, Nugent said. “For several years, we had to hold everything flat and this will be pretty small, but at least it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.
Chair of the Faculty and Professor of History Jeffrey Bowman praised the changes and noted that this budget will make Kenyon more competitive as it seeks to hire new faculty. “That the Trustees are willing to do this is a sign they are committed to the educational program, to teaching at its core and to liberal arts at Kenyon,” he said.
The budget also provides funds for the Office of Admissions to hire a new admissions officer who will focus entirely on recruiting international students. Currently, responsibility for international recruitment is divided between multiple admissions officers, including Director of Admissions Darryl Uy and Dean of Admissions Jennifer Delahunty.
“International recruitment is something a lot of colleges have been doing, and we have had admissions officers go abroad, but it’s also someone doing it as a small part of their job, maybe making one trip,” Nugent said. “This will be someone who is always on the road, basically.”
In addition to the new hire, the College will be able to institute a nominal increase to the financial aid budget and double the size of the Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP). The program works with specially selected incoming first-year students from diverse backgrounds to prepare them for Kenyon, both through a six-week long summer program and ongoing workshops throughout their four years at the College. The new budget will enable KEEP to take 24 students rather than the 12 they have selected in previous years.
“It really brings people together,” Nugent said. “It leads to almost 100 percent retention.”
The Board also approved an allocation that will allow the College to renovate several residence halls on campus. “Over the last decade, we built a lot of new buildings and we also have a lot of buildings that will need renovation,” Nugent said. “So, we tried to make a pretty substantial increase in that budget just so that … the campus will be kept in good shape.”
The first dorms to be renovated will be McBride, Mather and Caples Halls, all of which were built to accommodate students of the Gambier Coordinate College, which was founded in 1969 to allow women access to a Kenyon education.
Dorm renovations may begin as soon as construction is finished on the current phase of the North Campus Apartments, Nugent said.
The visit to the Big Apple wasn’t all numbers and votes for Nugent, however. She hosted an event for alumni in the financial services industry at the New York Athletic Club. “These are people who are analysts at Goldman Sachs, people doing quantitative things that you would not necessarily expect, and a lot of folks said the ability to write, the ability to think differently about a problem is just invaluable,” she said.
Nugent also convened the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Fellows, a group of dedicated Kenyon supporters who meet to discuss issues of importance to the College. Last week, Nugent said, they discussed the rising cost of higher education.
The whirlwind trip ended with a reception for New York Kenyon parents held at the home of Jennifer Christman and Jay Cohen, who chair the Parents Advisory Council. “There were a number of parents of alumni – students who graduated years ago – and they come to this, and there were freshmen parents, so it’s just a really nice way to create community,” Nugent said. “That was it, and then I collapsed.”
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