Thank you, President Sean “D-Cat” Decatur.
We want to thank Decatur for over nine years of service to Kenyon College and to the thousands of students who have come and gone during that time. Through the vitriol of shifting national politics and the perils of the COVID-19 pandemic, Decatur guided the Kenyon community to unprecedented economic and academic success with resolve. While his presidency was far from perfect, Decatur’s efforts to increase diversity and strengthen the Kenyon community deserve commendation.
Since Decatur took office, he has had the opportunity to lead students, faculty and staff through an array of challenges. Within the first few years of his tenure, Donald Trump was elected president, worrying many in the campus community. Decatur stood strong in this moment and fought through to protect those vulnerable to Trump’s policies. Decatur also urged constructive political discourse during this time, arguing that success in college is exhibited by effective citizenship and a passion toward continued learning. More recently, Decatur has initiated work towards making Kenyon an anti-racist institution.
Decatur’s legacy may most prominently be embodied in the $500 million capital drive he has led. Under his oversight, the Our Path Forward campaign achieved its initial goal of $300 million, and after an anonymous donor provided another $100 million for housing investments, the project was expanded. Beyond infrastructure, the campaign will support scholarships and financial aid to make the College accessible to students from a wider array of backgrounds.
For nearly a decade, Decatur met with the Collegian executive staff on a weekly basis to discuss pertinent matters relating to our stories and the campus itself. Those conversations were instrumental to the integrity of our publication, as he provided invaluable insights that brought both nuance and depth to the Collegian — for which we are immensely thankful.
This is not to say, of course, that Decatur’s tenure has been without its controversies. Years of resisting student workers’ efforts to unionize and a lack of response to students who last year demanded the College take actions that concretely support the trans community (after a delayed statement of support for Rhea Debussy), are contrary to the spirit of community that Kenyon embodies at its best.
If the contentions of the past several years are any indication, Kenyon still has a long way to go in its pursuit of social justice. While Decatur mishandled some situations (which the College’s next leader will need to address), we hope that his successor will build on his legacy of working toward a more diverse campus and being transparent with the Kenyon community.
Salvatore, Amelia and Reid
The staff editorial is written weekly by Editors-in-Chief Amelia Carnell ’23 and Salvatore Macchione ’23 and Executive Director Reid Stautberg ’23. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.