Scott A. Layson, director of Kenyon’s Career Development Office (CDO), died Tuesday evening, Sept. 20, 2016, at his home in Westerville, Ohio. He was 48.
“Scott was a tireless and effective supporter, advocate and networker for Kenyon students and alumni, dedicated to the art and hard work of helping students and graduates navigate internship and job markets,” President Sean Decatur said. “In recent years, as he battled cancer, his courage and good humor in the face of great personal challenge provided a role model for us all.”
“Quiet, self-effacing and always genuine, Scott was an extraordinarily effective leader of the CDO,” recalled Henry “Hank” Toutain, the College’s recently retired dean of students. “His quick and dry wit was informed by keen insight and great talent, and he was an invaluable ‘go-to’ person for countless students, alumni, colleagues and employers. For me, he was a daily and unpretentious model of care, kindness and capability.”
“Scott Layson turned around the CDO in his six years as director,” Provost Joseph Klesner said. “Student and alumni engagement grew dramatically after he took the helm. Scott also assembled an excellent staff that now counsels students about internships, provides broad career education, recruits major businesses to campus to interview Kenyon students and supports our students in their placements.
“Like many others, I was deeply impressed with Scott's courage in the face of his illness,” Klesner continued. “He worked up until the time when he just couldn’t be here on campus any longer. His commitment to the College and his colleagues was profound.”
A native of California, where he was born on Sept. 14, 1968, Scott dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Air Force to make money for college. After mustering out, he earned a bachelor’s degree in counseling and human services in 1994 and then a master’s degree in adult and continuing education administration in 1995 from Western Washington University.
Scott first joined the Kenyon staff as associate director of the CDO in May 2001. Two-and-a-half years later, in December 2003, he left the College to accept the position of director of the co-op and internship program at The Ohio State University. In 2005, he moved on to the Ohio Department of Aging, where he was the administrator of workforce development and the Statewide Senior Community Services Employment Program. He returned to Kenyon in October 2010 as director of the CDO.
Maureen Tobin P’20, senior associate director for graduate school and career advising in the CDO, hired Scott for his first job at the College in 2001. She worked with him again during his second stint at Kenyon.
“As a supervisor, Scott created an office environment based on trust,” she recalled. “He gave each of us great freedom to do our job in our own way; in so doing, he built a strong team that enjoyed coming to work each day. We knew that Scott cared about us, and we cared deeply and personally about him. And we laughed a lot with our friend, who fully endorsed the affectionately bestowed title of CDOgre.”
“Scott was an exceptional leader, an incredible mentor and an amazing person,” commented Christian Solorio ’18, who has been working as an assistant in the CDO. “The opportunities and guidance he gave to the College community helped so many of us to develop ourselves personally and professionally. He will be dearly missed.”
“During senior year, you are faced with the fact that instead of picking classes for next fall you will be embarking on your first step in life outside the Kenyon bubble,” remembered Brett Miller ’15, who now serves as communications coordinator at Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York City. “In the face of that daunting reality, Scott was there with a friendly face, reassuring smile and incredibly corny joke. He really cared about the students he worked with, and he often sent email messages to check in and see how your summer internship was going or if you liked your new job. Scott was a real pillar of the Kenyon community, and he will be sorely missed.”
“Scott was an advocate, mentor and friend to every constituency in the Kenyon family,” said Scott Baker ’94, associate vice president for alumni and parent engagement. “He worked tirelessly with our volunteer groups, Alumni Council and Parents Advisory Council in particular, to create pathways to new opportunities. As a friend and colleague, I cannot express the magnitude of my appreciation for Scott.”
Baker pointed out that Scott’s ever-present sense of humor was on display even in his biography on the College’s website. “Scott occasionally works as a stunt double for Beldar Conehead, Uncle Fester and Shrek,” Scott wrote, referring to himself. “Just kidding; he's actually just bald.”
Scott is survived by his wife of 28 years, Catherine Weinert Layson; two daughters, Danielle Layson and Olivia Layson; and his mother and father, Frances D. Layson and Gregory C. Layson.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105. “Scott felt that a child should never have to go through cancer treatment,” said Catherine Layson, “and that any research to help prevent it was worthy.”
Scott’s sense of humor even survived his own cancer treatment. In fact, it made an appearance in his final “out of the office” auto-reply message on his email account: “Hi, all. Unfortunately, I’m going to be out of the office indefinitely. Well, until I kick the ole bucket. My doc has put me in hospice care. Please direct all questions to Maureen Tobin. She rocks, and I'm going to miss working with her, my incredible staff, and the amazing students and alumni I got to work with every day. Thank you for making my work a joy.” It was signed, “Scott (the CDOgre) Layson.”
A memorial service celebrating Scott’s life is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 1–3 p.m. at Xenos Church, 1340 Community Park Drive, Columbus, Ohio. The family welcomes friends and family to share a reminiscence of Scott. Scott’s children request that those attending wear colors other than black.
Family friends have created the Scott Layson Family Memorial Fund to benefit the Layson children.
By Tom Stamp ’73