Rite of BelongingGAMBIER, Ohio (October 30, 2006) First-year students officially join the Kenyon generations this week in a ceremony that celebrates community and offers a glimpse of history. The occasion is a ritual called Founders' Day, and for many students, the highlight comes when they sign the Matriculation Book and leaf through its pages, where they can find the signatures of such Kenyon luminaries as President Rutherford B. Hayes (Class of 1842), actors Paul Newman (1949) and Allison Janney (1982), poet Robert Lowell (1940), novelist E.L. Doctorow (1952), and Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson (1980).
The Founders' Day convocation takes place on Thursday, November 2, at 11:10 a.m. in the elegant Rosse Hall auditorium. The centerpiece of the ceremony, which dates to 1841, is the Matriculation Oath, in which first-year students--having settled into their lives as Kenyon community members--promise to obey the College's rules and promote its welfare. Every year, a faculty member delivers an address with a theme related to Kenyon history; this year's talk is by Professor of English Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky, an award-winning teacher and a novelist.
The ceremony also includes the announcement of new Phi Beta Kappa inductees and the reading of the Founders' Memorial, which evokes the contributions of the College's past leaders and pays tribute to Kenyon community members who passed away during the previous year.
Following the convocation, students in the first-year class can go to the College archives, in the library, to sign their names in the Matriculation Book. The staff marks the pages where they can find some of the famous signatures. The class also plants a tree, this year a scarlet oak.