Every Founders’ Day, first-year and transfer students take part in a series of traditions celebrating the foundation of Kenyon College. Students recite the Matriculation Oath and sign their names in the Matriculation Book, a traditional act of commitment to Kenyon that dates back to the 1840s.
“Each year on Founders’ Day, we look to the past for inspiration. We commemorate the deeds of those who have gone before us. We reflect upon Kenyon’s history and honor the bishops, lords, ladies, doctors, students, professors who created our college and who have sustained it for nearly two centuries,” said Jeffrey Bowman, professor of history, who gave this year's traditional address, titled “Book Magic and Heathenish Rites.”
The College also honors select faculty members with the Bishop Philander Chase Medal for Distinguished Service as well as individuals who have made significant contributions to the Kenyon community with the inaugural Middle Path Medal. The ceremony traditionally closes with the singing of "Kokosing Farewell" and the planting of the class tree.
In honor of this Kenyon holiday, College Historian Tom Stamp ’73 shares a list of Kenyon’s longest-standing traditions and oldest pieces of history.
Old Kenyon was the first permanent structure built at the College, but due to a catastrophic fire in 1949, it isn’t the oldest building still in its original condition. That honor goes to Bexley Hall, which was constructed in 1839 and has served many roles as a seminary, a residence hall, a home to the studio art department and an administrative building, among other purposes.
Bill McCulloh, professor emeritus of classics, has been teaching at Kenyon since 1961. Though he has retired from a full-time courseload, he continues to offer tutorials in Sanskrit and Modern Greek.
The Lambda chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon formed at Kenyon in 1852. The DKEs built the first fraternity lodge in America, and its Kokosing Drive site is marked with a plaque noting its historical significance. The famed comedian Jonathan Winters ’50 is among the many DKE alumni of Kenyon.
The Kenyon Collegian, Kenyon’s student newspaper, has been published and distributed around Gambier since 1856. Notable former staff members include cartoonists Bill Watterson ’80 and Jim Borgman ’76 as well as Matthew Winkler ’77, the editor in chief of Bloomberg News.
The Chasers, named after Kenyon’s founder and first president, Philander Chase, formed in 1964, kicking off the start of a popular musical pastime at Kenyon College. The internationally known group goes on tour every winter break and performs on campus at least twice a year.