Let us now invoke the memory of the famous and the humble who have made a college in this place, who have bequeathed to us its heritage and traditions, and who have left to us the example of their lives.
Founders' Day celebrates the unbroken line of people who have formed the College's strong foundation, from Bishop Philander Chase and his benefactors, to professors, students and alumni of the distant and recent past, to the women who brought coeducation to Kenyon in 1969, to current alumni, to all the members of the present-day administration, faculty, staff and student body.
A short address is given by a member of the faculty relating to an aspect of the College's history or traditions that may be unfamiliar to the community. Following the ceremony, the incoming class plants a tree on the College grounds to symbolize not only growth and continuity but also, as the interests of the student body evolve to reflect current issues and global concerns, the importance of preserving the campus environment for future generations.
The Founders' Memorial, read by a member of the faculty, serves not only as an annual reminder of Kenyon's founders but also as a tribute to those who have contributed to the College's health and welfare down to the present day. The names of prominent alumni and members of the administration, faculty, staff, and student body who have died in the preceding year are read and remembered. The memorial closes with a call to all members of the Kenyon community to be voices for justice and peace in the world.
The College's Matriculation Oath was instituted in 1841 by Kenyon's third president, David Bates Douglass. In taking the oath, which is taken by all first-year and transfer students as part of the Founders' Day program, students vow to be obedient to College regulations, to serve as good examples to others, and to be loyal sons and daughters of Kenyon. Students who have taken the oath are then invited to sign the College's Matriculation Book, in which the signatures, dating back to 1841, include those of many illustrious alumni, among them U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, valedictorian of the Class of 1842.
As a mark of gratitude and respect, Kenyon recognizes each faculty member as they celebrate twenty-five years of teaching at the College. The presentation of Philander Chase Medals for Distinguished Service to these professors was added to the Founders' Day program in fall 2009.
Established in 2014 and intended to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the Kenyon, Gambier, or Knox County communities through volunteer or job-related activities. Those eligible to receive the medal include members of the administration and staff; parents; trustees; and community members not officially affiliated with the College.
The medal is awarded to people who have devoted large portions of their professional lives, and often their personal lives as well, to Kenyon, its programs, and, most importantly, its people.