Kenyon College

Kenyon College is a private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio. It was founded in 1824 by Philander Chase.[5][6][7] Kenyon College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.[8]

Kenyon College
Kenyon College seal.svg
MottoMagnanimiter Crucem Sustine (Latin)
Motto in English
Valiantly bear the cross
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1824; 197 years ago (1824)
Endowment$419.1 million (2020)[2]
PresidentSean M. Decatur
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusRural, 1,000 acres (400 ha) including a 380-acre (150 ha) nature preserve
ColorsPurple and White    
NicknameLords (men's teams) and Ladies (women's teams)
Kenyon College wordmark.svg
Kenyon College
Kenyon College is located in Ohio
Kenyon College
Kenyon College is located in the United States
Kenyon College
LocationGambier, Ohio
Coordinates40°22′35″N 82°23′45″W / 40.37639°N 82.39583°W / 40.37639; -82.39583Coordinates: 40°22′35″N 82°23′45″W / 40.37639°N 82.39583°W / 40.37639; -82.39583
Architectural styleGothic Revival, Greek Revival
NRHP reference No.75001447[4]
Added to NRHPDecember 6, 1975

Kenyon has 1,708 undergraduates enrolled. Its 1,000-acre campus is set in a rural setting and uses a semester-based academic calendar. The campus is home to the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC), which has over 380 acres and hosts seven different ecosystems. The BFEC also provides academic opportunities including the Summer Science Scholars program. There are more than 120 student clubs and organizations on campus, including 12 fraternities and sororities. Kenyon athletes are called Lords and Ladies which compete in the NCAA Division III North Coast Athletic Conference.[9]

Notable alumni include six Rhodes Scholars,[10] 10 Marshall Scholarship winners, 12 Truman Scholarship winners, and numerous Watson Fellowship holders and Fulbright scholarship recipients.[11] Famous graduates include U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Davis, actors Josh Radnor, Paul Newman, and Allison Janney, Marquette University basketball coach Shaka Smart, cartoonist Bill Watterson, and writers John Green, Robert Lowell, and E. L. Doctorow.



Philander Chase (1775–1852) was the founder and first president of Bexley Hall and Kenyon College, and later became Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

After becoming the first Episcopal Bishop of Ohio in 1818, Philander Chase found a severe lack of trained clergy on the Ohio frontier. He planned to create a seminary to rectify this problem, but could find little support. Undeterred, he sailed to England and solicited donations from: George Kenyon, 2nd Baron Kenyon; Lord Gambier; and the writer and philanthropist Hannah More. The college was incorporated in December, 1824. Dissatisfied with the original location of the college in Worthington, Chase purchased 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) of land in Knox County (with the Mount Vernon lawyer Henry Curtis), and reached what he would name Gambier Hill on July 24, 1825. There is a legend that Bishop Chase exclaimed, "Well, this will do" upon reaching the crest of the hill.[12][13]

The Kenyon ReviewEdit

Kenyon's English department gained national recognition with the arrival of the poet and critic John Crowe Ransom in 1937 as Professor of Poetry and first editor of The Kenyon Review, a literary journal. During his 21-year tenure, Ransom published such internationally known writers as Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, William Empson, Mark Van Doren, Kenneth Burke, and Delmore Schwartz, as well as younger writers: Flannery O'Connor, Robert Lowell, and Peter Taylor, to name a few. It was perhaps[weasel words] the best known and most influential literary magazine in the English-speaking world during the 1940s and 1950s.[14]

The Kenyon Review also hosts a two-week summer writing workshop for high school students at the Kenyon College campus called the Young Writers Workshop. Participants live in Kenyon dorms and take classes in Kenyon classrooms.[15]

2004 presidential electionEdit

Kenyon College attracted national attention after the 2004 presidential election during which, because of a shortage of voting machines and possibly a large number of new voter registrations,[16] some students remained in line for as long as 13 hours to place their votes.[17] The incident received attention in mainstream national news outlets such as The New York Times.[18][19]

In spring 2006, John Kerry delivered the commencement address at Kenyon College, stating that he was "honored" by the students who waited in line during the election.[20] During the 2008 presidential election campaign, the events at Kenyon in the 2004 election were remembered and recounted in discussions of voting rights.[21]


Kenyon requires students to take classes in each of the four academic divisions: Fine Arts (encompassing the departments of Art and Art History; Dance, Drama, and Film; Music); Humanities (Classics, English, Modern Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Religious Studies); Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology); and Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology). In addition, students must take the equivalent of a year's worth of courses in a foreign language, unless they place out, and undertake a comprehensive senior exercise for their major, the specifications of which vary by department.

The Gund Gallery, a 31,000 square feet (2,900 m2) visual arts center and exhibition space, was founded in 2011. It hosts lectures, public programming and temporary exhibitions that are free and open to both the campus community and the wider public.[22]

Traditionally, Kenyon is considered one of the Ohio Big Three, or more commonly known as the DOK group; another two members are Denison and Oberlin. The DOK group often draws comparisons to football games of the Big Three of the Ivy League, with Kenyon often drawing the connection to Yale, Oberlin to Princeton, and Denison to Harvard.


Ransom Hall (1910–1912), home of the Admissions Department

Admission to Kenyon is considered "most selective" by U.S. News & World Report.[23]

For the Class of 2022 (enrolling fall 2018), Kenyon received 6,152 applications, accepted 2,204 (35.8%), and enrolled 539.[24] For enrolled first-year students the middle 50% range of SAT scores was 640-730 for critical reading and 640-740 for math, while the ACT Composite range was 29–33; the average GPA was 3.94.[24]


Academic rankings
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[25] 27
Washington Monthly[26] 47
Forbes[27] 71
THE/WSJ[28] 91

In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings, Kenyon is tied for the No. 27 liberal arts college in the United States. In the 2019 Forbes rankings, Kenyon is 30th among liberal arts colleges and 71st among 650 colleges and universities in the U.S.[29] In 2006 Newsweek selected Kenyon College as one of twenty-five "New Ivies" on the basis of admissions statistics as well as interviews with administrators, students, faculty and alumni.[30] It was also listed in Greene's list of Hidden Ivies in 2000.

Although Kenyon is often ranked favorably, some methods that rank colleges based on their calculated return on investment (ROI) have been critical of Kenyon's value. The 2018 Payscale College ROI Report ranked Kenyon as the 983rd best value college in the country[31] and Time's 2018-2019 "Best Colleges in America" report ranked Kenyon as the 214th best college in the country.[32][33]


Kenyon's sports teams, which compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC), are referred to as the Lords and Ladies, and their colors are purple, white, and black with gold often added as an accent.

The men's swim team is notable in NCAA Division III, for having won, from 1980 through 2010, a record 31 consecutive NCAA national championships as well as consecutive titles between 2012 and 2015. The women's swim team is also considered among the best, having won 23 non-consecutive titles of their own since 1984. Former Swim Coach Jim Steen has coached the most conference titles in any sport in NCAA history. During the 1980s and 90s, Diving Coach Fletcher Gilders led his athletes to fourteen consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference championships and eight individual NCAA Division III titles; Gilders would also earn NCAA D3 Coach of the Year honors on three separate occasions. In 2013, under Head Coach Jess Book, the men's team won the national title and the women's team took second. Book was voted the 2013 NCAA Men's Coach of the Year and the 2013 NCAA Women's Coach of the Year, and Head Diving Coach Andy Scott was voted the 2013 NCAA Division III Women's Diving Coach of the Year.

In 2006, Kenyon opened the $70 million Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC), a 263,000-square-foot (24,400 m2) building that houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool, two basketball courts, eight squash courts, a weight room, a 200m track, four tennis courts and other facilities. Field hockey, football and men's lacrosse are played at McBride Field which has a seating capacity of 1,762.[34]


As Ohio's oldest private college, Kenyon has upheld some traditions for more than 190 years. All students in each entering class are expected to take the Matriculation Oath and sign a Matriculation Book that dates back at least a century.

Another tradition is the "First-Year Sing." Each year, entering first-years gather on the steps of Rosse Hall to sing Kenyon songs before they are officially part of the Kenyon community. On the day before Commencement, seniors gather on the steps of Rosse Hall to sing the same songs again.

Kenyon students avoid stepping on the college seal in the entrance hall of Peirce Dining Hall. Tradition holds that if someone steps on the seal, they will not graduate from the college.[35]

Whenever a new president begins their time at the college, candles are lit in every window of Old Kenyon, as a sign of welcome. Additionally, a bell hangs in the steeple of Old Kenyon and is only rung when a new president is inaugurated, as well as having been rung when the United States is no longer engaged in war and when the Kenyon football team wins a home game. However, the only occasion the bell has been rung in recent years has been the arrival of a new president. Kenyon has had twenty-five presidents; former president S. Georgia Nugent was Kenyon's first female president, and current president Sean Decatur is Kenyon's first African-American president.[36] The president's academic regalia is a purple gown with four velvet chevrons on each sleeve signifying the office of the president, a college seal medallion with the names of each Kenyon president on the chain links, and a purple beefeater cap.[37] The purple beefeaters cap is also worn by college trustee's at ceremonies.

The college's official alma mater is "The Thrill", however the "Kokosing Farewell" is more often sung at ceremonies and is often referred to as Kenyon's "spiritual" alma mater. Kokosing Farewell is the traditional closer of the Kenyon College Chamber Singers, the student choir. The current versions of both songs used by the college were arranged by Kenyon's current music department chair, Dr. Benjamin Locke. A different arrangement of the Kokosing Farewell is used as the traditional closing song of the Kokosingers, a student a cappella group.

The college has maintained a tradition of formality at ceremonies. During the annual commencement ceremony, the conferring of degrees to the class and announcement of each individual student's degree of Bachelor of Arts is done entirely in Latin, spoken by the president and faulty secretary. Kenyon's diplomas are also written entirely in Latin.[38]

Shield and SealEdit

The first Kenyon seal was designed no later than 1842 and contained a book, a cross, a scroll, a telescope, and a scientific apparatus surrounded by the words "Sigillum Collegi Kenyonensis" and "Ohio Resp". Carvings of the first seal exist on the outer stone walls of Hannah and Ransom Halls in Gambier. Since the second and current seal was introduced, the first seal has rarely been used.

Kenyon's second and current shield is derived from the coat of arms of Lord Kenyon, one of the college's first and most prominent benefactors. The college's board of trustees ordered a committee to create a new shield on July 22, 1908, and the its first recorded use was in 1909. However, it wasn't until 1937 that the seal was formally adopted by the trustees. The shield consists of a chevron, three crosses, a book inscribed with the college's motto (as well as the Kenyon family's motto) “Magnanimiter Crucem Sustine” (Valiantly Bear the Cross), resting upon a Bishop's staff, representing the college's founder, Bishop Philander Chase. The shield has become a widely used symbol for the college and an “athletic shield”, which replaces the book and staff with "Kenyon" in block letters while the chevron and crosses remain, has become the symbol for the college's athletic teams.[39]

The college seal consists of the shield at the center, encircled by the Latin phrase "Sigillum Collegi Kenyonensis" (translated to "Seal of Kenyon College") as well as the college's founding year in Roman numerals across the bottom.

In 2011, American clothier Ralph Lauren discontinued production of a necktie depicting the Kenyon shield after it was found they did not license the rights from the college.[40]

The Bexley Seminary, until its dissociation from the college in 1968, had its own shield. While it contained the book, motto, and bishop's staff of the Kenyon shield, an eagle and ermine pattern blazoned the lower portion of the shield.[41]


Kenyon College has undertaken a number of sustainability initiatives, including a recycling system upgrade, a biodiesel project, a computer lab conversion to double-sided printing, the distribution of green living guides, as well as the creation of a dining hall composting system that diverts 6,000 pounds of waste from the landfill per week. Additionally Kenyon's cafeteria is committed to serving local food and has become a leader among college cafeterias in the country.[42] Students partnered with administrators and/or professors to complete a campus energy audit for the past three years, as well as a carbon footprint calculation. Kenyon Green Alumni was founded to connect graduates "with a professional interest in the environment." The college recently received a "C" grade on the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card, compiled by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.[43]

The Kenyon Farm is a student run 10+ acre mixed crop-livestock operation providing sustainably raised produce to local markets and giving students the opportunity to gain the practical skills and knowledge for small-scale farming operations.[44]

Ivy, which once covered some buildings on the Kenyon campus, but damages stonework, has been eradicated.[45]


US President Rutherford B. Hayes, class of 1842
Actor Paul Newman, class of 1949
Actress Allison Janney, class of 1982

Notable alumni of Kenyon College include:


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit