On Thursday and Friday of last week, the Board of Trustees came together for their annual fall meeting.
Meredith Bonham ’92, vice president for student affairs, thought that the meeting was both productive and substantive. “I’m always impressed by how committed our trustees are to the health and well-being of the institution, but also to individual students and the student experience,” she said.
The meeting started with a review of the College’s revised mission statement, which is currently in its draft stage. From there, multiple board committees heard presentations from various committees and attended meetings, including a joint meeting between the Diversity and Student Affairs Committees in which they reviewed the College’s initiatives to promote the mental health of students. In addition, the committees presented the Board with data from the “Healthy Minds” study, an assessment of Kenyon students’ mental health that the College administered in the spring of 2019. The Board did not, however, discuss the controversial “Send Silence Packing” event.
According to President Sean Decatur, the most significant point to come out of the meeting was a proactive decision on resurfacing Middle Path.
“If I had to pick out the single biggest headline, which was maybe buried a little bit, it was that the Buildings and Grounds Committee asked the administration to come back with a plan for alternative surfaces for Middle Path,” Decatur said. The Buildings and Grounds Committee also gave the green light for an upcoming study on student housing.
According to a report from the Office of Communications, the Academic Affairs Committee promoted three faculty members to full professors: Associate Provost Sheryl Hemkin, Associate Professor of Sociology Jennifer Johnson and R. Todd Ruppert Associate Professor of International Studies Steve Van Holde.
The Board also discussed the College’s sustainability efforts, and students from the Environmental Campus Organization (ECO) met with the Buildings and Grounds Committee to express “their thoughts on investments in green initiatives,” according to Decatur. A faculty group that emerged from the Climate Change Teach-In also met with Board members to discuss ways to make the campus more ecologically friendly.
Students had a chance to interact with Board members during a voluntary luncheon on Friday, where they could spend an hour getting to know trustees and asking them questions. Bonham said she was glad that so many students signed up for the luncheon.
When reviewing the mission statement draft, Bonham said that feedback from the Board was helpful in many ways.
“I would say there were many aspects of the draft mission statement and values that the trustees responded very favorably to,” Bonham said, “and then there were a couple of points that they felt we either missed or that we should emphasize more strongly.”
The trustees suggested emphasizing aspects of teaching and learning, which they felt needed to be more clearly outlined. At the next Board meeting, scheduled for Feb. 6 and 7, the College will present the Board with a final draft of the updated mission statement. Student Council will also review the current draft at their next weekly meeting.