March 24, 2020
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The Thomas W. Smith Foundation has awarded a $740,000 grant to the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) at Kenyon College.
The three-year grant is for operating expenses for CSAD, which provides opportunities for civil discourse on topical issues of social and political significance through nonpartisan programming on campus and in Washington, D.C. The grant represents a renewal of a five-year, $750,000 grant from the foundation awarded in 2010.
“Thanks in large part to the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, CSAD has established a campus presence known for balanced debate and nimble programming,” said Thomas Karako, CSAD director and assistant professor of political science. “CSAD tackles the controversial issues of the day from all sides, in the spirit of this grant. We respect and admire Mr. Smith’s leadership and support for civil and sober discourse at Kenyon and around the country.”
The Smith foundation grant will support an expansion of the center’s speaker series and biennial conferences, as well as help to establish a CSAD presence in Washington.
President Sean Decatur said the grant promises the continued growth of CSAD programming under Karako’s leadership. “Kenyon appreciates the support of the Center for the Study of American Democracy by the Thomas W. Smith Foundation,” Decatur said. “This generous grant helps bring an invaluable diversity of political views to our campus.”
The grant provides more robust support for conferences, lectures and seminars organized by CSAD. The center’s major conferences have been programming highlights at Kenyon. In addition to the issue of economic inequality in 2014, conference topics have included the future of political parties in 2010 and the promotion of democracy abroad in 2012.
The center has hosted media, political and academic speakers from across the political spectrum; organized an on-campus debate between candidates for the U.S. Congress; and hosted a lecture series on a wide range of topics, including cultural and socioeconomic divisions in the U.S., issues of economic growth, and the constitutionality of national security surveillance.
The center also provides teaching and research opportunities for faculty and students, including the summer CSAD Democracy Scholars Program, and promotes student internships and programs in Washington.
Kenyon is committed to the CSAD mission, Decatur said, and the College intends to work toward increasing the center’s endowment.
The success of CSAD was first driven by a major startup grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The 2007 NEH We the People Challenge grant of $710,000 was matched in 2014, as required, by $2,130,000 in donations to Kenyon. The CSAD endowment stands at $2.8 million.