The Board of Trustees allocated $100 million of the money raised by the capital campaign for the financial aid endowment during its spring meeting this past weekend. They also named the capital campaign “Our Path Forward” and voted to bring it public in October. The capital campaign is a focused effort to meet specific fundraising goals that has been in the “quiet phase” since 2014.
About 25 trustees attended the meeting this past weekend, according to Brackett B. Denniston III ’69, who has chaired the Board since 2016. There are currently 42 members of the Board.
The Board discussed diversity, inclusion and the way the College markets itself via the Office of Admissions. They attended a panel on inclusion, which featured students, faculty and administrators.
“The panel began with each person giving a bit of their perspective on the dynamics of race and inclusion on campus, their perspective on what some of the challenges are to Kenyon becoming a more inclusive community,” President Sean Decatur said. The panel offered “a mix of voices that actually some folks on the Board hadn’t heard or met before … these are things that members of the Board, like members of the administration and members of the community, should all be thinking about.”
Denniston called the panel “exceptional,” citing its importance to the College’s capital campaign.
During its visit, the Board officially voted on the goal and priorities for the capital campaign and set “a goal of $100 million for financial aid endowment … The conversation on the panel was very much on the mind and carried over in that discussion,” Decatur said.
The campaign includes $80 million for capital projects, $50 million for endowment for faculty chairs, internships and student research with the remaining sum available for the annual fund, operational support, internships and other programs. The goal of the campaign is $300 million by June 2021 with $200 million already raised dating back to July 2015. “We’re a bit ahead of schedule,” Decatur said.
In addition to issues of diversity and inclusion, the board discussed a “$40,000 a year loss of silverware and dishes in the cafeteria” with student representatives, according to Denniston. There was “agreement on the Board that there’s a Peirce dish issue,” Decatur said, who added that Student Council suggested to “make it clear that new spaces and the new temporary library spaces will be Peirce dish-free zones.” Decatur added that dishes could possibly be added to apartment kitchens because dishes are allegedly stolen to furnish kitchens.
Another student issue the Board has discussed is the ongoing construction on campus, which is “expected and normal in the sense that that’s what we’ve all planned for,” according to Denniston. Yet the Board knows that the current situation is not perfect and that the construction around Middle Path and the library is intrusive.
“One of the things we’ve talked about in the past is having the students in the community help us with art and other things that would make those trailers a little less like trailers,” Denniston said. The art would be “anything you can imagine,” except for painting the modular units, “because at the end of the day you have to give the things back … We’ve got a great creative community, so let’s challenge the community to come up with some ideas,” he said.
The Board also held meetings to discuss “mental health support services,” had a report from the Philander Chase Conservancy on its progress with land preservation and had a presentation from a Kenyon Review board member on its emphasis on scholarships for diverse and first-generation students, according to Denniston.