Instead of gathering together in Gambier, Cleveland or Florida, the Kenyon Board of Trustees’ meeting on Friday took place over a video conference. At the heart of the discussion was the persistent topic of COVID-19, along with the related matter of the best plan for reopening school in the fall.
“There was agreement that, following state/local/federal guidance and best practices to keep the campus safe, we should prioritize an in-person, residential academic year,” President Sean Decatur wrote in an email to the Collegian.
There are many factors that need to be considered in any potential reopening plan. “I suspect that many of the features of life that have become commonplace in the world off-campus in the past six weeks will last far beyond the summer and even the fall, and perhaps until there is a vaccine,” Decatur said. He described wearing masks in public and having floor markings in shopping queues to continue social distancing as two such features. As the pandemic is an ever-changing issue, the Board will reconvene again on May 11 to continue its discussion on reopening.
The Board also handled the traditional end-of-the-year housekeeping in their annual spring meeting. The Board officially approved the class of 2020’s candidates for graduation, as well as the tenure promotions of Assistant Professor of Art Craig Hill, Assistant Professor of Political Science Jacqueline McAllister and Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing Ira Sukrungruang. The Board also officially selected board members to serve in the coming years, including Pam Hoehn-Saric ’80 P’10 P’14, Aileen Hefferren ’88, Liz Myers P’17 and Susan Tomasky P’17 to serve six-year terms as Trustees-at-Large. Keeping with the spirit of Kenyon’s 50 years of coeducation, this is the first class of exclusively female Trustees-at-Large in the history of the College.
Additionally, the External Affairs Committee officially postponed the 2020 Reunion Weekend to May 2021, and the Board heard from various committees detailing COVID-19’s effects on faculty performance reviews, the West Quad project and the admissions numbers for the class of 2024. The Board will reconvene in just under two weeks’ time to update the budget and planning for the 2020-21 academic year.