by Nathaniel Shahan

As Kenyon students check off their last days of classes and enjoy Summer Sendoff, today and tomorrow, the College administration is hosting the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees. The trustees will be discussing items that have been met with great interest and some controversy by students and staff this semester. According to President Sean Decatur, the main topics of discussion will  include the newly purchased Buckeye Candy Building in Mount Vernon, -with trustees being taken on a tour of the facility, the new sexual misconduct policy recently passed by Campus Senate and the 2020 Plan. Decatur is hoping to receive the Board’s endorsement for his 2020 plan, though he claims that “at this stage, there isn’t anything really I’m anticipating being controversial.” Also on the docket is the College’s upcoming capital campaign, which will enter a soft launch this summer as the College begins reaching out to big donors, and Decatur plans on emphasizing his commitment to increasing the College’s endowment. According to Decatur, the Board will not be discussing the recent controversy surrounding student artwork at the Gund Gallery, which has its own board of trustees appointed by the College’s board.

BRACKETT B. DENNISTON III ’69 // “Continuity” — it’s how Denniston describes what he sees on his visits to campus. “Kenyon has, I think, gotten better, in so many respects,” Denniston said. For example, he believes the College is more diverse and the faculty are better, and Kenyon has “adapted, but it’s kept its core.” Kenyon has maintained the same spirit while the world on and off the Hill has changed. Denniston’s graduation year was the first year women were admitted. And now, looking to 2020 and the master plan, Denniston is glad to see Kenyon planning for the future. He is especially impressed with the master plan: “The plan is quite good, and as good as any institution has; we’re lucky that we have Graham Gund [’63] as an alum and have his creativity and his attention to detail, and style and tradition,” Denniston said.

DONALD A. FISCHMAN ’57 // A lot has changed at Kenyon since Fischman graduated magna cum laude with a biology degree from Kenyon. Among the largest changes he noted were the building of the science quad –– which he appreciates, but would like to see developed further –– and the admission of women. He values his experience as an alumni trustee, saying, “Being an alumnus trustee did give me a better appreciation of the impact of women at the College and how it’s changed Kenyon.” In the future, Fischman would like to see an increase in racial and economic diversity, but understands the constraints posed by the College’s financial state.

ROSE BRINTLINGER FEALY ’84 // Fealy is struck by how the campus has shifted left politically since her years on the Hill. However, right or left, Fealy still enjoys hearing students “having deep philosophical discussion about their coursework” around campus. A concern for her is the rising cost of education, at Kenyon and across the country. “We really need to think about how to make college affordable to anyone who wants to go,” Fealy said, noting that it is also important to “make sure people are getting a good value for their money.” Fealy believes Kenyon offers this “good value” by providing such a high-quality education.

JENNIFER RUDOLPH WALSH ’89 // Walsh used her Kenyon English major to enter the literary department of the William Morris Agency, and she hopes future Kenyon students will have the same opportunities she had. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t make a career out of what you love,” Walsh said, explaining her enthusiasm for the 2020 plan’s emphasis on career development increasing student resources, such as the recent purchase of the Buckeye Candy Building in Mount Vernon that will partially be used by the film department. She believes in the importance of a strategy, like the 2020 plan, though she does believe it is possible that the plan will have to change and adapt during its implementation. 

LARRY JAMES // Not every trustee who serves on Kenyon’s board is actually a graduate of the College. James is a lawyer who lives in Columbus. A Wittenberg University grad, he has served on Kenyon’s board since 2011. “I think what you need [on a college board] … is just people who are committed, who are bright, who are curious, who listen, who work hard, who are driven by the right thing and who have their egos in check,” James said. He has certainly made an impact at Kenyon, leading the contract negotiation with Kenyon’s maintenance staff during the Sodexo protests when students, faculty, staff and community members petitioned and protested against the administration’s secretive plan to outsource dining and maintenance staff to the multinational corporation Sodexo. He also chaired the committee that selected the new dean of admissions, Diane Anci. The latter has allowed him to work closely with admissions and he is complimentary of Kenyon’s process. “It’s a stronger applicant pool and a more diverse applicant pool,” James said, referring to the post Common App classes.

MATTHEW A. WINKLER ’77, P’13 // A Beach Boys song helped bring Winkler to his current position on the board. Winkler was a founding member of the Kenyon Review Board of Trustees in 1994 when the Review was on the verge of bankrupcy. Later he was asked to be the board’s president and when he hesitated, he was reminded to “Be True to Your School,” as the Beach Boys song is titled. He now sits on the College Board of Trustees said that he is excited about the future of Kenyon.“I am a complete enthusiast of President Decatur,” Winkler said. “The best is yet to come.” Winkler believes Decatur is doing an excellent job connecting with the Kenyon community, both on campus and among the alumni.

VICTORIA SMITH McKENZIE ’82, P’14 // Most trustees are Kenyon alumni, some are Kenyon parents, and some, like McKenzie, are both. “I was very glad that I had a son that went to [Kenyon],” McKenzie said. “I think that I was a voice [on the board] certainly of students.” As a Kenyon parent, trustee-student relationships are important to McKenzie and she believes today’s board emphasizes this dialogue more than ever before. “It just was something that wasn’t thought about [in the past] and I think that maybe a combination of the student body and this current administration understands that this is a really good thing,” McKenzie said.


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