History & Traditions
Founded in 1824, Kenyon is the oldest private college in Ohio. The small, all-male college originally educated clergymen for frontier America. But it soon became a highly regarded seat of classical education, whose graduates included statesmen such as U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes. The College's literary prominence dates to 1939, when poet and critic John Crowe Ransom founded the Kenyon Review. Since then, Kenyon has grown in size—welcoming women in 1969—and has expanded intellectually, earning national recognition in many fields. Well-known alumni include not only a host of eminent writers but also actors, scientists, educators, artists, and leaders in business and the professions.
Kenyon history continues to touch students' lives in the form of annual traditions—some serious, some fun. Here are just a few:
It sounds hokey, but it's a great bonding experience. It's also an initiation into Kenyon vocabulary, where you discover words like Kokosing and asphodel.
This is your first official march down Middle Path, between rows of gown-clad professors. Four years later, you do it again at Commencement.
The Matriculation Book
Future president Rutherford B. Hayes signed it. So did future novelist E.L. Doctorow and future film star Paul Newman. Every October, after the Founders' Day Convocation, the newly settled first-years page through this remarkable book, then add their own names.
In April, the whole Kenyon community gathers to celebrate academic achievement, community service, and leadership, with the awarding of departmental and College-wide prizes. A time to cheer for hard work and good works.
Every week closes with this lunchtime gathering, open to all. Ingredients: friendly conversation, a mingling of faculty, students, and village residents, a gourmet entree, an exquisite dessert.
A long-standing celebration of what has been and what is to come! Each year, the members of the Senior Class invite the faculty and administrators who have been such an important part of their time here at Kenyon to a semi-formal reception marking 100 days until Commencement. Typically falling on the second Friday in February, the Soiree is a bright spot on the calendar during a dreary time of the year and the first of many celebrations for the Senior Class.
You haven't graduated until you've sung the songs again—yes, the same ones you sang as a first-year, four short years ago. Warning: Your parents will cry. You might, too.