Last Friday at Fandango, Senior Class President Jodi-Ann Wang ’20 announced that Assistant Professor of Sociology Austin Johnson will deliver the Baccalaureate speech to the graduating senior class. Recent Baccalaureate speakers have included Professor of Mathematics Judy Holdener and Associate Professor of English Sarah Heidt ’97.
With Kenyon’s roots in the Episcopal Church, the Baccalaureate is historically a worship service and sermon for the graduating class. Recently, the College has made efforts to make the ceremony more inclusive, with readings from a variety of academic and spiritual texts by students of various faith communities at Kenyon.
“In recent years, the College’s custom has been to expand this venerable ceremony in ways that highlight Kenyon’s academic mission and make the occasion accessible to the broader College community,” the Kenyon website states. “The invocation and benediction, which call to mind the historic purpose of Baccalaureate, are carefully framed by the participating religious leaders to reflect Kenyon’s commitment to being an open and inclusive community.”
The main sermon has now been replaced by an address from a representative of the College. Johnson was chosen to deliver this address after a nomination and a vote from the senior class. He came to Kenyon in 2017 and his courses and research have focused primarily on the sociology of sexualities and queer theory. He is the first openly transgender faculty member to be chosen as the Baccalaurete speaker.
The 2020 Baccalaureate ceremony will take place on Friday, May 15 at 1:30 p.m.