Section: News

Here’s what you missed: Summer brings change on campus

While students were busy enjoying summer away from the Hill, Kenyon departments appointed new leadership, refurbished lounge spaces and reworked student health services in preparation for the fall semester. From building renovations to modified mental health resources, here are the latest developments that students and faculty may have missed.

After thirty years in the building across from the Cox Health and Counseling Center, the Office of Campus Safety is now located on the second floor of Gund Commons. According to Director of Campus Safety Michael Sweazey, the move across Middle Path aimed to ease constraints imposed on the department by the location and size of the former office. Specifically, Campus Safety officers wanted the new location to be in a high traffic area, to have room for students to privately provide statements and to be in close proximity to the Mount Vernon Fire Department for easy collaboration. The upgraded space includes two student interview rooms, a brightly-lit lobby and a monitoring console which streamlines the surveillance and officer dispatch process. The central location will also serve as shelter for students during future power outages, as Kenyon repurposed an old generator to ensure that the Office of Campus Safety is able to operate during emergencies. According to Sweazey, the building-change process required significant manpower and careful preparation from several Kenyon departments. “The department and I are incredibly grateful to Kenyon’s Senior Staff, Facilities, Maintenance, LBIS, Grounds, Custodial and Students Affairs for their support and help to facilitate our move,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian

Directly across the hall, the Gund Commons game room — a hub for studying, club meetings and socialization — underwent an extensive makeover. While the room previously featured classic board games such as Scrabble and Bananagrams, it now boasts a variety of digital and electronic game options as well. Among the new offerings are arcade machines, a Nintendo Switch available for students to check out and a gaming table equipped with classics such as Pacman. The redesigned space also includes a ping-pong table and two pool tables — one of which was previously located in Cromwell Cottage during President Decatur’s term as president. According to Director of First-Year Experience Don Miller, the renovations were spearheaded by the First-Year Class Committee (FYCC), which worked in conjunction with the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) to hold forums, poll students and ensure that all first-year students had an opportunity to voice their vision for the room. “All of this is a byproduct of student involvement and really empowering students. Student advocacy and voice really is huge,” Miller said. The FYCC will continue to consult with current first-years and OSE officials throughout this academic year to ensure that future renovations to common spaces are both relevant and engaging to the student body.  

Beyond the refurbishments in Gund Commons, virtual student resources also underwent summer updates. My Student Support Program (My SSP), the mental health service that replaced ProtoCall in November of last year, was recently acquired by TELUS Health. Consequently, the TELUS Health Student Support app has replaced My SSP as the 24/7 mental health resource available to Kenyon students. According to Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas, the app resembles My SSP by providing students with the ability to call or chat with a counselor at any time and supporting the work of the Health Center. The free, confidential app aims to address common stressors amongst college students, including feelings of isolation and difficulties balancing work and social commitments. In addition to offering anonymous chat support, TELUS features virtual fitness classes and informational podcasts promoting holistic wellbeing. Students interested in using the TELUS Health resources can download the app, visit the official TELUS Health website or call 740-427-5555 for emergency connection to a counselor. 

In addition to student resources, Kenyon saw turnover at an administrative level. Just weeks after the appointment of Julie Kornfeld as the 20th president of Kenyon, the Board of Trustees welcomed Aileen Hefferren ’88 H’ 12 as the new chair — succeeding Brackett B. Denniston III ’69, who held the position for eight years prior to Hefferren’s appointment. Hefferren, the former chair of the Presidential Search Committee, has served as CEO and Director of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, as well as Director of Individual Gifts at New York University. Beyond her executive experience, Hefferren is well-versed in Kenyon life, having served as a Trustee in some capacity since 2003. Throughout her time on the Board, she has served on various committees, including as an Executive Committee Member. “I will always be grateful for the opportunities Kenyon gave me as a 17 year old and for shaping me into the person I am today. Liberal arts all the way!” she wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing her new position. 

From the student-driven updates within Gund Commons to the resources available in the TELUS app, the unifying undercurrent behind recent campus changes was the desire to more effectively serve the student body. With new office locations, leadership and programs present all around campus, Kenyon’s offices are readying themselves for whatever challenges and opportunities the new academic year will bring.


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