By Eric Geller
In the next three months, Kenyon’s senior staff will finalize a plan to relocate the offices of key personnel so that incoming College president Sean M. Decatur can move into Ransom Hall. Provost Nayef Samhat told the Collegian that the moves, while not yet formally decided, were designed to “ensure that the new president is down here in the center of campus.” President S. Georgia Nugent said the move would require “some renovations” to the second floor of Ransom.
Samhat and his staff currently occupy the second floor of Ransom Hall, with the Admissions office on the first floor. Ransom’s location, especially its proximity to academic buildings and to Middle Path, makes it an ideal spot for Decatur. “I think he recognizes that being down here in the middle of campus is most important,” Samhat said, referring to Decatur. “From his perspective, Ransom Hall [and this office are] a logical choice.”
Samhat’s current office is a spacious room with several couches and tables, as well as windows facing Middle Path. Samhat said that his primary goal was ensuring the comfort and accessibility of President Decatur. “I know President Nugent moved up to the north end of campus in order to accommodate the Admissions folks here, but I think we’ll be able to develop a layout here that will serve the new president,” Samhat said.
President Nugent and her staff have resided and worked in Eaton Center, which is at the very north end of campus, for three years.
The staff moves that are set to be completed by June have been focused on south campus because, Samhat said, “We have limited options down at [the north] end of campus. Ransom Hall and Bailey House are the options that we have to look at for offices.”
Bailey House is still in the design stages. The College has hired Malcolm Kutner to draft a plan for the redesign and renovation of the building, which was last overhauled in 1976. The building has already been emptied of its academic furnishings, but Kutner is still finalizing the details of his plan.
The Collegian reached out to Kutner for an interview, but he said that he wanted to wait until “the finer points about the renovation” were confirmed, which he said would happen in the beginning of April.
Fred Linger, Kenyon’s manager of business services, told the Collegian that he was waiting for a phone call from Kutner with information about the furnishings needed for Bailey House. Linger, who handles large-scale furniture acquisitions, said he would probably know more about Bailey House, including its layout, in a month. He also said that he did not yet have a budget for the furnishings. “I assume it’ll be some sort of discretionary funds,” he said.
In order to accommodate President Decatur and his staff moving to Ransom Hall, Provost Samhat and his staff will move to Bailey House. The associate provosts and their assistants will also move to Bailey from Edelstein House, where they currently work.
“My sense is that we’d like to see the provost’s office and staff all together over there,” Samhat said. “One of the interesting things about our campus is we have many buildings and yet the structure of available offices sometimes isn’t conducive to naturally placing administrators or staff where they might logically be.”
Linger, who has been at Kenyon for 27 years, said that such a move would mark the first time that the provost and the associate provosts worked under the same roof.
He said the provost’s office has always been in Ransom Hall, while the associate provosts, a more recent kind of personnel on campus, have always worked in Edelstein.
The June deadline for implementing these moves reflects the need to weigh the options carefully and address the needs of various senior staff and administrators, Samhat said.
Eaton Center currently houses only a few staff members who work with the College president. If President Decatur moved to Ransom Hall and those individuals accompanied him, Eaton Center would have several open offices. Samhat speculated that employees of Business Services could move there from Bexley Hall.
“It’s not as though we’re creating large new spaces,” Samhat said. “We’re basically moving folks into what would be similar volumes of space.”
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