We are making important progress on the priorities set forth in our Kenyon 2020 strategic plan. The following highlights recent initiatives undertaken to advance these goals.
The Kenyon community is the College’s greatest asset and will be vital to the future of Kenyon as it moves into its third century. As part of this Kenyon 2020 priority, we have worked to support and sustain our faculty and staff; to create a diverse and inclusive community; to support a strong community among alumni and parents; and to strengthen our ties with our Knox County neighbors. This work has involved:
Kenyon is committed to recruiting and recognizing an outstanding faculty and staff. To support this work, Kenyon has over the past year piloted a new Employee Performance Program, which will provide professional development opportunities, a transparent and competitive compensation system, meaningful review processes and recognition of employee excellence. Faculty excellence also is recognized through the awarding of endowed professorships, and in recent years we have added two to our pool: in 2016, the Ashby E. Denoon Assistant Professorship in Neuroscience was created, and this year marks the addition of a distinguished professorship in diversity and inclusion.
Fostering a community where everyone feels valued is the work of all community members. But as an institution, we have a special obligation to cultivate structures to support this work. We have made progress toward this in recent years by creating the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; creating a position for a chief diversity officer, reporting directly to me; and creating the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, to support interfaith work on campus. We also developed a new discrimination harassment policy this year and a new Title IX policy in 2015 (now known as the Sexual Misconduct and Harassment: Title IX, VAWA, Title VII Policy) to more clearly and directly address instances of harassment and sexual misconduct. More visible efforts include relocating Unity House and the Snowden Multicultural Center closer to the center of campus, to boost their visibility and expand access to those critical resources. As the events of the past semester have illuminated, we have not yet reached our goal of cultivating a truly inclusive community. But through these efforts, as well as the ongoing work of the Community Planning Committee, we are making progress.
Recognizing the powerful potential of our locale in central Ohio, in 2015 we created the Office for Community Partnerships with support from an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Our goal with this office is to gain a greater understanding of our neighbors, and to increase opportunity for our students and faculty to connect their academic experiences to community concerns. This year, the OCP facilitated 16 community-engaged learning courses, collaborating with partners including the Knox County Health Department, Mount Vernon’s Columbia Elementary School, and the Immigrant Worker Project in nearby Canton, Ohio. Commitment to this work is visible; instead of housing the office on campus, it is located in the Wright Center, newly opened in downtown Mount Vernon in 2017.