On Oct. 12, President Sean Decatur was officially inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass. He was one of 170 Fellows inducted this year to the Academy, which was founded in 1780 by John Hancock, John Adams and other members of the early republic to “advance learning in service to the public good.”
Decatur joins an exclusive club that includes luminaries from across the arts, the humanities, business and public service. Other 2019 Fellows include former First Lady Michelle Obama, federal judge and former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson.
For Decatur, the weekend was a chance to meet and to connect not only with his peers in higher education, but also with people he has admired, like Michel Martin, NPR’s weekend host of “All Things Considered,” and actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith.
Decatur had lunch with Bernard Tyson of Kaiser Permanente and Jose Ramon Cabañas, the Cuban ambassador to the United States. Cabañas was at the ceremony on behalf of Eusebio Leal Spingler, a Cuban intellectual who was elected as an international honorary member of the Academy. At the ceremony, Decatur sat across the isle from Merrick Garland.
“[Looking at] the range of folks from the scholarly community, from the arts world, from the business world and broader public service, it’s just really truly an honor to be a part of that group,” Decatur said.
For Thomas Stamp ’73, College historian and Keeper of Kenyoniana, Decatur’s election “reflects distinction on Kenyon to have a president who’s a member of such an august group,” as he wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 shared in Stamp’s excitement over Decatur’s election.
“I am immensely proud of my boss for achieving such well-deserved recognition, and just really thrilled for him to be inducted into such a prestigious group of individuals,” she said.
In addition to the honor of his induction, Decatur joins an even more exclusive club as the third person professionally affiliated with Kenyon to be elected to the Academy. The other two Fellows are the late Gordon Keith Chalmers, Kenyon’s 13th president, and John Crowe Ransom, a professor and the first editor of the Kenyon Review. Numerous Kenyon alumni have gone on to become Fellows, including famed author EL Doctorow ’52, Carl Djerassi ’43 and Jeffrey Henderson ’68.