Kenyon celebrated Founders’ Day on Oct. 13th. The ceremony was held in Rosse Hall Auditorium for the first time in three years. It featured a faculty address entitled “Palimpsest” by Professor of Women and Gender Studies Laurie Finke, who spoke about the history of Founders’ Day and the College.
“Palimpsest” is defined as “writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased.” Finke connected this idea to the reading rooms in Ascension Hall, which have had multiple uses over the years. More broadly, she meditated on ideas of tradition, repetition and returns. At the end of her speech, she said, “The Founders’ Day ritual is a ritual in palimpsest, a pause in our day to day business to investigate some of them, to forge a connection to the past … but even more importantly, to mark the past’s strangeness.”
Awards presented included the Bishop Philander Chase Medal, which was given to Acting President Jeff Bowman, Professor of Mathematics Judy Holdener and Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama and Film Jonathan Tazewell. The medal celebrates 25 years of distinguished service to the College. In an email to the Collegian, Tazewell wrote that he was honored to receive the award. “It is especially gratifying to share receiving the award with the members of my ‘class,’ those hired in the same year as me,” he said. Bowman echoed Tazewell’s sentiments, writing in an email to the Collegian, “I feel deeply fortunate to work at a place with such wonderful students and employees — and with such a powerful mission.”
Tazewell reflected further on how Kenyon has changed in the past 25 years. “It has mostly gotten better over time. It is more diverse. It is more socially conscious and ethical about how it treats people and the environment. It has become better about how it invests in our society. And most importantly, it is a stronger academic institution than ever,” he said. “My hope for the future is that we will continue to strive to be a positive, diverse, ethical, and thoughtful institution into the future.”
Middle Path Medals were awarded to Carmen King, the College’s former fine arts librarian, and Julie Miller, recently retired Knox County Health Commissioner, for their outstanding contributions to the community. The Faculty Advising Award, which recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated commitment and dedication to academic advising at the College, was given to Professor of Chemistry John Hofferberth. Bowman praised Hofferberth, saying, “The distinction is richly deserved,” he said. “It is recognition of qualities we all admire in Professor Hofferberth — his imagination, his rigor, his energy, and his attention to individual students”.
After the ceremony, the class of 2026 planted their tree, named “Rutherford Tree Hayes” after Kenyon alumnus and U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes, in front of Samuel Mather Hall. Students of the Class of 2026 can also sign the Matriculation Book until Oct. 20, joining the almost 24,000 students who have signed since 1841.