Section: News

Thomas Edwards, former Kenyon dean of students and onetime swim coach, died last week at the age of 90

by Rachel Mitchell

From swim coach, to dean, to dean emeritus, Thomas J. Edwards’ official tenure at Kenyon was 36 years, but his legacy persisted long after his retirement. Edwards, who died on December 13  at the Ohio Eastern Star Home in Mount Vernon, has been remembered by Kenyon faculty for his thoughtful and caring treatment of students.A memorial service is to be scheduled and held at a later date, according to a statement released by the College.


“Tom Edwards was the quintessential Dean of Students,” Dean of Students Hank Toutain wrote in an email to the Collegian. “As one of Dean Edwards’ successors, I’m a grateful beneficiary not only of his ongoing interest in Kenyon students and his generous advice and counsel to me, but for a legacy that includes the fondness and gratitude of countless alumni and a pervasive ethic of honesty, care and concern in support of students.”


Professor of American Studies Peter Rutkoff has been teaching at Kenyon for more than 40 years, also noted Edwards’ kindness, saying that the Dean treated each student individually. His approach, Rutkoff evaluated, was a humanist one, rather than a bureaucratic one.


Edwards, born on Nov. 15, 1925 was a native of York, Pennsylvania and graduated from Springfield College in 1948. He received his Master’s from University of Toledo, and arrived at Kenyon as Head Swim Coach in 1954, leading the Lords to 10 conference championships. He was named Dean of Students in 1957, and remained in that position for 33 years.


Upon his retirement in 1990, Edwards was presented an honorary doctorate of laws from Kenyon, and he was the first administrator inducted into Kenyon’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The impact he had on Kenyon was appreciated by many, and was so significant that it went recognized even by those beyond the community: in 1985 he was awarded the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Service as a Dean.


Edwards is survived by his wife, Gloria Reiss Edwards; his son, Thomas J. Edwards Jr.; his two daughters, Nancy E. Edwards and Dr. Anne L. Edwards; and a granddaughter, Laura Maruszczak.


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