By Nathaniel Shahan
After a year of construction, the Kenyon administration introduced the community to two new buildings last Friday: the Cox Health and Counseling Center and the Rothenberg Hillel House. While both buildings have been open to the public since August, official dedications were held last week, coinciding with the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees.
The Cox Health and Counseling Center dedication occurred on Thursday evening, Oct. 23. The centier is named for its primary donor, Dr. James Cox ’60 H ’97, a former trustee and a retired radiation oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The heath center staff said they were excited to meet Cox, whom Nurse Practitioner Karen Crane said had a “generosity of spirit.”
Graham Gund ’63 H ’81 designed the new health center, which is the second building to open on campus this academic year. The center cost $3.3 million, according to Kenyon’s website.
The open house and dedication ceremony for the Rothenberg Hillel House took place the following night, Oct. 24. The new Hillel center, which stands on the site of the old Hillel house, is named for trustee Alan E. Rothenberg ’67 P ’96 H ’10, who was the primary donor.
Rothenberg was in attendance with his wife and daughter. He expressed his excitement and said that Jewish life at Kenyon had “come a long way,” recalling his experience with mandatory chapel attendance previously required at Kenyon. However, he noted that the Hillel house “is meant to be a home to all students,” no matter their religion.
The Hillel House dedication ceremony began with words from President Sean Decatur, followed by Jewish Chaplain and Director of Kenyon College Hillel Marc Bragin. The crowd was comprised of many trustees, as well as students, professors and community members. Bert Hanson, a Gambier-area resident whose daughter used to attend events at the old Hillel center, called the new building “gorgeous.” Professor of Religious Studies Royal Rhodes said that he was pleased with Bragin’s efforts and that he believes that “Hillel is an important contributor … to the whole community.”
The Hillel dedication ceremony featured speeches from the building’s designer Peter Bloomfield ’73 of the architecture firm Bloomfield & Associates Inc. and Hillel student managers Julia Kaplan ’17 and Julia Hartman ’15.
“It’s really exciting to have this space and this building so we can build our community,” Kaplan said during the dedication. Hartman echoed the sentiment, expressing excitement over future events in her speech.
Rothenberg spoke briefly after Hartman, saying that he hopes the new Hillel will “be a home to all students.”
In regards to the trustees’ other duties on campus that weekend, Decatur said, “We spoke and heard a lot of suggestions and feedback from the board about a lot of the issues, [such as] internships and experiential learning, [and] … what their thoughts are on cost and accessibility and financial aid.” In addition to the opening of the health and counseling center and the Hillel house, the weekend was an opportunity for the trustees’ fall meeting with Decatur to solidify plans for the campus.