On Oct. 14, Kenyon held its annual Founders’ Day celebration outside of Samuel Mather Hall — the first time the event had taken place since Oct. 2019. The program featured a faculty address from Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies Ric Sheffield, Rite of Matriculation, presentation of awards and opening and closing remarks by President Sean Decatur.
Though Founders’ Day is usually celebrated inside Rosse Hall, the program was held outdoors for the first time in years to take proper COVID-19 precautions. Students gathered on Samuel Mather Lawn to observe the ceremony and take the Matriculation Oath.
Every fall, Founders’ Day celebrates the official matriculation of the first-year class at the College and recognizes the people who paved the way for Kenyon as an institution. The event was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheffield presented this year’s faculty address, “An Acknowledgement of Kenyon’s Diverse Founders and Trailblazers,” in which he acknowledged the lesser-known pioneers of the College and urged students to focus not only on the distant past, but towards possibilities of a “greater, more inclusive institution.”
“The founding of Kenyon was never a static moment, frozen in time,” Sheffield said in his speech. “The founding isn’t now, nor will it ever be, complete.”
President Decatur commented on the current relevance of Sheffield’s address. “Professor Sheffield’s comments were really terrific and set a great tone for where the College is now, but also where our aspirations should be,” he said.
The annual Faculty Advising Award, intended to honor superior commitment to academic advising, was given to Professor of Mathematics Carol Schumacher. Schumacher was selected from a number of student nominations to receive the award, which came with a check for $1,500. She was recognized in particular for her approachable and caring personality in her interactions with her students and advisees, and her dedication to student growth and independence.
Schumacher expressed her surprise at being chosen as the recipient. “I am surrounded by fantastic colleagues who are fabulous mentors and advisors to their students, in and out of the classroom,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. Despite her surprise, she was excited to have received the award. “I am so honored to teach and advise my curious and hardworking Kenyon students,” she wrote. “I was touched and humbled by what they had to say.”
Other awards presented at the ceremony included the Bishop Philander Chase Medal for Distinguished Service, awarded to Professor of Political Science Timothy Spiekerman in recognition of 25 years of teaching, and the Middle Path Medals for Distinguished Service, awarded to former Associate Director of Case Management and Substance Abuse Services Michael Durham and CEO of Knox Community Hospital Bruce White.
Following the ceremony, the Class of 2025 planted their class tree — named “General Treevous” — on Ascension Lawn, and signed their names in the Matriculation Book, both long-standing Kenyon traditions. The book will be available to sign in the Special Collections and Archives of Chalmers Library until Oct. 22.