To the Editors:
Regarding: Staff editorial, “On campus Gund dodges student concerns” and “Gund talk shows trustees are out of touch,” by Reagan Neviska ’17 (page 12, March 2).
The Collegian’s reporting and opinions about my Kenyon Unique Lecture Series conversation this past February with Graham Gund ’63 and H’81 prompted these additional thoughts.
At no point in the College’s history were there two decades when so much was done to address the needs of Kenyon students as the first 16 years of the new century. During this relatively brief period, the trustees committed unprecedented resources to financial aid; student scholarships; endowed professorships; new science, music, athletic, dining, art, health and film facilities; an international center; a farm-to-table outreach to surrounding rural communities and the renovation of Middle Path, so people with special needs can make their way freely for the first time.
Since 2000, when Storer Hall and the Science Quad — the first of Graham Gund’s buildings on campus — were about to open their doors to emerging musicians and scientists, the number of first-generation students, international students and students of color doubled. Kenyon today is more diverse in ways that were inconceivable when I edited the Collegian 43 years ago.
There is a correlation between the magnificent buildings conceived by Graham Gund — Yale University’s Vincent Scully said he is “a convinced preservationist’’ while comparing him to Charles Bulfinch, one of America’s first professional architects — and the record amount of money raised for Kenyon student needs. For every building proposed, considered and approved by the trustees, there was an existential initiative to restrain tuition fees and increase opportunity for students of exceptional potential. It is no coincidence that the yet unparalleled hundreds of millions of dollars raised in the past 16 years are a result of the new spaces Graham Gund created.
Graham Gund’s generosity inspired giving from many unforeseen constituents, which is another way of saying his buildings are vehicles for accomplishing by indirection what couldn’t be accomplished by direction.
Where there was little prospect of raising funds outside the Kenyon community, Graham Gund’s buildings proved to Kenyon that it can compete with better endowed peers and successfully solicit support from institutions and individuals with no connection to Kenyon. Having delivered essential science, music, art, dining and athletic facilities, Graham Gund now is poised to create a center for humanism with a library that perpetuates and enhances Kenyon’s legacy as a beacon for the written and spoken word.
The work of a Kenyon trustee is never done because, when we are not growing as an institution, we are dying. But make no mistake, there has never been a better time to be a Kenyon student. And Graham Gund, more than anyone, has everything to do with it.
Matthew Winkler ’77 H’00 P’13 and Member of Kenyon Board of Trustees