Gambier summers have a life of their own as a host of visitors arrive on the Kenyon campus for conferences, seminars, and camps.
The new Kenyon Institute brings an advanced educational spark to the community. "No matter what the learners look like, we're creating a community of learners during the summer," said Barbara Kakiris '97, manager of sales and marketing for summer programs.
The Kenyon Institute takes its firsts steps this week and brings alumni, graduate students, and lifelong learners together to take advantage of educators and experts during week-long programs in art criticism, high school writing teaching, playwriting, and scientific writing. In addition, seminar classes, with subjects including "Molecules that Move Us" and "Dante's Divine Comedy," are taught by Kenyon professors. The popular Kenyon Playwrights Conference is based on a partnership with theater companies in Chicago, London and New York. Participants will develop scripts with commissioned playwrights and attend theater-related seminars. "We've gotten a lot of buzz around (the Kenyon Institute)," Kakiris said. "It's a blend of what Kenyon does best as far as education. The first year is always an experiment, and I think we're going to just grow on our success." About 100 participants from as far away as Jamaica will help launch the institute's inaugural season.
The fledgling Kenyon Institute can take a cue from the Kenyon Review that will host both aspiring and well-known writers for well-established summer workshops on everything from poetry to the book arts.
Kenyon students will be on hand for research as part of the Summer Science Scholars and John W. Adams Summer Scholars Program in Socio-legal Studies. They will be joined for the first time by the Democracy Scholar hosted by the Kenyon Center for the Study of American Democracy.
More than 50 groups will take advantage of Kenyon facilities during the summer months, including the American Red Cross, the Columbus Area Writing Project, and the youth community service organization Rainbow Girls. High school students will arrive in waves for various sports camps, including squash and lacrosse, and Total Performance Swim camps led in part by Jim Steen, the legendary former head coach of the Kenyon swimming program.
Attracted by the storied beauty of the place, weddings and private parties will take place as well. "I think that Kenyon has the opportunity to be more vibrant year-round," said Kakiris, who hopes to increase Kenyon's profile in event hosting. The unique combination of world-class facilities, a local-foods program, and gorgeous surroundings makes Kenyon a summer magnet, she said. "There's no reason that (people) wouldn't clamor to come use it as an event space."
In August, the long-distance Pelotonia bike ride to raise money for cancer research will start in Columbus and finish in Gambier for the second year. The non-profit organization has a goal this year to raise $50 million. The bikers will be in good company at Kenyon as high-achievers in all areas converge to meet goals of their own.