By Sarah Lehr
Kenyon students will soon have the chance to party alongside President Sean Decatur to the tune of a Beatles cover band. Decatur’s inauguration will take place on Saturday, Oct. 26 when the Board of Trustees visits campus for its fall meeting.
“The inauguration is an event which formally invests the new president with his powers, which, of course, he’s already been exercising for several months,” said Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Laurie Finke, who serves as chair of the Inauguration Committee. The Committee, which includes seven subcommittees, formed over the summer.
“It is very odd, and I feel a little guilty about this gigantic party that’s being planned for me,” Decatur said. “I get consulted for major issues, but they hold weekly meetings without me.”
The official ceremony, on Oct. 26 at noon, will take place on the Toan Track of the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC).
“We’ve received strong recommendations to have the ceremony inside,” Ruth Woehr, the inauguration coordinator, said. “The last two inaugurations have been miserable in terms of weather, and we decided just to accept Ohio for what it is in October.”
Faculty, trustees, students and about 100 delegates will formally process into the track prior to the ceremony. The Committee hopes student groups will carry colorful banners.
“My goal is to have students as involved as possible,” Finke said. “Sometimes we tend to think about external audiences for this ﾗ the delegates, the visitors, the trustees ﾅ but I think the students and faculty need to own this event as well.”
Accompanying the ceremony, in a traditional Kenyon event known as the Illumination, people will gather to watch the entire north face of Old Kenyon be lit from within. Since open flames in every window of Old Kenyon present a safety hazard, the College used special stage lights for the inauguration of S. Georgia Nugent in 2003.
“We haven’t entirely decided how we’re going to do it, but we know when we’re going to do it,” Finke said of Decatur’s Illumination ceremony.
The real fun, however, will take place Saturday evening at a gala dinner in Peirce. Decatur, a Cleveland native, requested Cleveland-based cover band Revolution Pie. He also asked that the event be somewhat informal.
“It’s not being imagined, as Georgia’s was, as a ball,” Finke said. “It’s more of chance for people to let their hair down after a long and tiring week.”
In the week leading up to the ceremony at the KAC, the Illumination and the gala, Kenyon will host various symposia and events, including a panel on science research in the liberal arts called “The Bonds We Form.”
“We’re really trying to reflect Decatur’s interests along with everything Kenyon has to offer,” Finke said.
Going forward, the Inauguration Committee will continue to work closely with Maintenance, AVI, the KAC staff, Student Affairs and Executive Assistant to the President and Provost Pamela Faust. Finke declined to disclose the budget for the Inauguration.
“Our task for the next couple weeks will be realizing the plans that we have within our budget,” Woehr said. “It’s like planning a huge wedding.”
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