While the Facebook page “Kenyon Confessions” isn’t always the place to go for intelligent and thought-provoking conversation, I was still disappointed by a recent post. It insinuated that Kenyon is constructing too many buildings and the 2020 Plan was to blame. I can sympathize with annoyance at a seemingly constant stream of construction, but this is not what the 2020 Plan seeks to do at Kenyon.
The 2020 Plan doesn’t mention construction or building once. It is the Master Plan that deals with building plans for campus, but I do not want to get into a judgment of the Master Plan right now. However I will say that if the new buildings are accessible and replacing buildings that are not accessible in the slightest, then I support much of the new construction.
At its core, the 2020 Plan is a necessary step forward. Drawing straight from Kenyon’s website, the “Kenyon of 2020 will continue to attract a diverse group of academically talented students, regardless of demographic trends; prepare students for post-graduation success, equipping them with the skills to navigate a rapidly changing cultural and career environment; [and] encourage lifelong friendships and a passion for lifelong learning.”
Obviously, all of these are good goals for the College to pursue in the next few years. Most importantly, the College is following through with these initiatives, which means that Kenyon’s administration is committed to the values it promotes.
Nobody at Kenyon is going to say that diversity is something for which we are well-known, but the College is making strides. Over the summer, President Decatur announced the establishment of the new President’s Fund for academic excellence and diversity. The 20 million dollars raised will go to financial aid to reach out to underprivileged students and give them the opportunity to come to Kenyon. The current first-year class has a combined financial aid need of seven and a half million dollars, so this is a fantastic step forward and will bring access to a lot of folks.
Just this past month, Dean for Career Development Holly McCormack began her tenure at Kenyon. In her first few weeks here, she came to Admissions training for tour guides and fellows. It was a great opportunity for student employees at the Admissions Office to connect a face with a name that we’d been hearing about in emails. Furthermore, Provost Joseph Klesner notes that when McCormack worked at Bennington College, the number of internships available for students increased. In the competitive job market ahead of us, having the experience of an internship will help students have success when they leave Kenyon. The 2020 Plan wants students to have success post-Kenyon and I look forward to seeing what McCormack can do to facilitate this.
As far as encouraging lifelong friendships and a passion for learning, I can only talk about how excited I am moving into my senior year. Not only am I excited about the fantastic classes I’m taking, getting to write about one of my passions — the migratory patterns of Irish Jews — for my senior exercise and living with all my friends in our North Campus Apartment, but I also look forward to seeing where I’ll end up next year when I graduate from Kenyon.
The values Kenyon has instilled in me are important ones that I will try to live up to — ones that the 2020 Plan reinforces for all of us, whether it be a celebration of diversity or a passion for learning. I encourage all of my peers not to blindly listen or follow Kenyon’s initiatives — it is important to be engaged and able to critique when necessary — but still appreciate the strides Kenyon is making toward increased diversity, openness and preparation for life after college.
Nate Rosenberg ’18 is a religious studies major from Lancaster, Pa. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.