Provost Joseph L. Klesner will step down as Kenyon’s chief academic officer on June 30, 2020, after a decade of leadership in the Provost’s Office. An internal search for his replacement will launch this fall.
“It is a rare gift to have a provost as deliberate and discerning as Joe Klesner,” said President Sean Decatur. “It is rarer still to have someone with his blend of academic and administrative acumen serve in such a crucial position for so long. He’s been a generous colleague to many, and a trusted advisor to me personally.”
“Leading the Kenyon faculty has been the most rewarding professional responsibility I have ever had,” said Klesner. “This is an enormously talented and unusually dedicated group of colleagues who everyday present some new accomplishment that makes me proud to be their provost. And I cannot say enough about the team that works with me in Bailey House — both now and in past years — who have contributed so much to our success in the academic division and who make working at Kenyon a delight.”
Klesner joined the Kenyon faculty in 1985 and has chaired both the political science department and the international studies program. He was appointed associate provost in 2010 and provost in 2013. Before returning to teaching full time, Klesner will lead Kenyon’s next strategic planning process, which will unfold over the 2020-21 academic year.
“We can attribute much of the progress made on the Kenyon 2020 plan to Joe’s leadership,” said Decatur. “I can think of no one better equipped to steer the process that will propel the College into its third century.”
“It has been my honor to work with Sean Decatur as his chief academic officer,” Klesner said. “His support, advice and friendship have made this job gratifying, stimulating and invariably edifying. I look forward to continuing to work with Sean on the strategic planning process.”
In his tenure as provost, Klesner has championed pioneering initiatives in undergraduate teaching, including the Natural Science Division’s attention to inclusive pedagogy, which garnered four major institutional grants. He has supported the expansion of computer science offerings and the creation of the environmental studies major. Klesner has helped steer the vision for the West Quad, including bringing the Career Development Office into the academic heart of campus and promoting meaningful linkages between learning in the classroom and beyond it. An advocate for community-engaged learning, Klesner oversaw the establishment of the Office of Community Partnerships as well as the Office of Green Initiatives. Finally, under his leadership, the faculty reviewed and adjusted the criteria for evaluation and introduced the post-tenure review.
“Joe has been invaluable to Kenyon in so many ways,” said Brackett B. Denniston III ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees. “I have been privileged to work with him many times over the years, including in his key role during the presidential search and as provost. We on the board are grateful for his wisdom, integrity and high standards, and we are delighted he will continue to play a critical role for the College.”
The search committee for Kenyon’s next provost will be chaired by Himmelright Professor in Economics Kathy Krynski. Other members of the committee and additional details on the search process are forthcoming.