Lowry at CommencementGAMBIER, Ohio (March 11, 2010) The 2010 Commencement speaker will be Kenyon alumnus and long-time trustee William E. Lowry Jr., a student leader and star athlete at the College who went on to a notable career in business, philanthropy, and community service.
Lowry, who has served on the Board of Trustees since 1988, is the retired senior advisor to the president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A Chicago native, he graduated from Kenyon in 1956 when he one of the few African-American students on campus.
He captained three varsity teams—baseball, basketball, and football—and served as student body president. He was also the first black student initiated into Beta Theta Pi, despite objections from the fraternity's national chapter.
Lowry earned a master's in industrial relations from Loyola University and worked for a number of years at Inland Steel Industries in Chicago, where, as director of personnel and recruiting, he helped increase minority employment and fostered minority business development.
He also hosted two groundbreaking television shows, Project: Diploma and Opportunity Line. The latter was designed to connect jobless Chicagoans to career opportunities. Lowry, praised as a straight-talking, on-air natural, described jobs, invited viewers to call counselors, and interviewed those who succeeded.
He joined the MacArthur Foundation in 1994 as vice president for human resources and administration. In addition to serving in leadership roles for a number of charitable groups, Lowry chaired Chicago's City/County Task Force on Welfare Reform.
As a trustee, Lowry has been closely involved with Kenyon affairs for more than two decades. He was among those who promoted the idea of doing more to recognize faculty excellence—discussions that led to the creation of the Trustee Teaching Excellence Awards.
The College has honored him with some of its most prestigious awards. In 1994, he was inducted into the Kenyon Athletic Association's (KAA) Hall of Fame. In 1999, he received both an honorary doctorate and the KAA Don May Award. Two years later, he won the Gregg Cup, the College's highest alumni award.
Kenyon's 182nd Commencement is on May 22.