On Monday, Oct. 18, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Celestino Limas announced that after seven years, Dean of Campus Life Laura Kane will vacate her position on Oct. 27. Kane notified the administration of her resignation late last week.
“Laura came to Kenyon in 2014 and has always taken pride and joy in creating robust student experiences. We are grateful for her collegiality and dedication to students and wish her well in her next opportunity,” Limas wrote in the announcement.
For seven years, Kane has been a central figure in student life. She heads the Department of Campus Life, which comprises the Offices of Student Engagement, Student Rights & Responsibilities, First-Year Experience and Residential Life. She also assisted the College with its reaccreditation process, and represented the Division of Student Affairs on strategic facilities projects.
Kane also served as the Student Council advisor for the majority of her tenure at Kenyon. According to Delaney Gallagher ’23, Kane was crucial in assisting members of Student Council achieve their goals.
“Her time spent on the body also led her to be our de facto history book, providing not just facts but logic and environmental pressures to previous issues and how decisions were made across the college,” Gallagher wrote in an email to the Collegian. “She worked to help the policy and procedure committee with our work last year, advised on every actionable item taken from the body in the last year and a half, and promoted including student voices in every subcommittee the college made to make covid-19 policy decisions.”
Kane’s departure is the latest in a string of resignations and increased administrative turnover throughout the last year: Director of Student Engagement Sam Filkins left Kenyon last August, Associate Director of the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) Meghan Mason left in March and, most notably, Meredith Harper Bonham ’92, Kenyon’s former vice president for student affairs, departed from Kenyon in May.
In an email to the Collegian, Kane expressed her desire to find new opportunities. “I feel ready for a new challenge, and decided that the time was right for me to step down from my role at Kenyon,” she said.
She also acknowledged the difficulties that the pandemic has brought. “It has been an eventful 20 months in particular, but I am immensely proud of what my team and I accomplished with and for students,” she said.
Student Council President Micah Smith ’22 also acknowledged Kane’s accomplishments. “It was great to work with her, and I appreciate what she has done for Student Council over the past few years. We wish her well in all future endeavors,” Smith wrote in a message to the Collegian.
Kane has been notably supportive of Greek Life on campus, and some leaders of Greek organizations were dismayed by the news of her departure. In the fall of 2020, Kane aided Kenyon’s chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) throughout their petition for reinstatement.
Leaders of Kenyon’s chapter of Delta Tau Delta (DTD), Eddie Weber ’22 and Bradley Berklich ’22, president and vice president, respectively, were particularly upset by her departure.
“Laura was an ally to Greek life and always pushed for organizations to be active and inclusive members of the Kenyon community. She took great strides to help Greek life become better,” Berklich wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Weber also expressed fear about what the future of Greek life at Kenyon without Kane will look like. In the spring of 2020, the College imposed restrictions that banned the creation of new local Greek organizations and, in the last 18 months, one Greek organization, Delta Phi (D-Phi), has disbanded and another, the PEEPS, were suspended and currently have no official presence on campus.
“[Kane] was an ally of Greek Life during my time on the Hill and I hope that her successor is an advocate for all students and student organizations on campus,” Weber said.
The question regarding who will replace Kane remains open. When asked, Limas was unable to provide any information about who would fill Kane’s role in the interim. He also explained that the administration did not yet have a plan for filling Kane’s role and that there is no timeline for replacing her in the long term.
“I am exploring different short and long-term options and will share them in the near future with our community,” Limas said. “If we conduct a full search for the role moving forward, absolutely students will be involved, both on the committee and the interview process.”
For now, the College will remain without a Dean of Campus Life, and it is unclear how the College plans to direct student life moving forward.