A Strategic Plan for Kenyon’s Third Century


Dear members of the Kenyon College community,

When Kenyon rearticulated its mission in 2020, it captured in fewer than 50 words our enduring purpose, which has managed to stretch across generations of students, faculty, staff and alumni and centuries of global change. 

At Kenyon, we build strong foundations for lives of purpose and consequence. We harness the transformative power of a liberal arts education — engaging in spirited, informed and collaborative inquiry — to form a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the world and all who inhabit it.

For 197 years, Kenyon has embraced new ways of understanding the world and examined what constitutes purpose and consequence. In the 19th century, Kenyon students took up the cause for the abolition of slavery, organizing a company of volunteer soldiers to preserve the Union. In the mid-20th century, the College responded to a challenge from visiting poet Langston Hughes and admitted its first Black students. Twenty years later Kenyon took another step toward inclusion when it opened the campus to women and forever expanded its reach and influence. At the turn of the millennium, with the environment increasingly under threat, Kenyon founded the Brown Family Environmental Center and Philander Chase Conservancy, affirming that an understanding of the world requires an understanding of the human impact on the natural environment and the communities who depend on it.

The values associated with our mission — intellectual empowerment and creativity; embracing differences; kindness, respect and integrity; and enduring connections to people and place — have served as guideposts to our shared work and commitments. As Kenyon approaches its third century, these governing principles will be more valuable than ever. We face a world that requires neither intelligence, creativity nor technology alone, but the integration and ethical application of all three. It requires people who are experienced and committed to building communities that are equitable, sustainable and just. It requires resiliency, and will test our physical, mental and emotional capacity to weather uncertainty. 

Foundations for Kenyon’s Third Century, the strategic plan that will propel us through our bicentennial, lays out concrete steps to position Kenyon and its graduates to face these challenges — and to capitalize on emerging opportunities. Following a yearlong study by Kenyon faculty, students, staff and trustees undertaken last year, our plan focuses on three primary areas of work: strengthening our commitment to rigorous, dynamic learning in a contemporary context; building a thriving and diverse community united by a shared sense of belonging; and reinforcing a strong financial foundation for increased access and sustainability. Examples of the work over the coming years include:

  • Increasing access to a Kenyon education for students from a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds; 
  • Adding an academic program in computational studies; 
  • Making international experiences more integral to the education of all Kenyon students; 
  • Building on strengths in writing and adding strengths in environmental literacy;
  • Prioritizing health, wellness and emotional well-being for all members of the community;
  • Reaffirming the College’s commitment to residential education with improvements to both the physical and programmatic components of residential life;
  • Making substantial progress on the College's goal of carbon neutrality by 2040;
  • Restoring the College’s financial reserves and strengthening the College's endowment; 
  • Deepening the College’s commitment to inclusive excellence and generating a sense of belonging among all members of the community.

To make progress on these goals, Kenyon will embark on a set of strategic changes to support incremental growth of the student body (about 15% over the next 10 years), including building the infrastructure to keep pace with that growth; adjust our academic calendar to make space for high-impact experiences outside of the classroom; and expand our partnerships to support recruitment of students to Kenyon and to enrich opportunities off campus for our students and graduates.

The years leading to Kenyon’s bicentennial promise to be rich with challenge and opportunity. Working together to build on our shared commitment to Kenyon's mission and values, we will enter Kenyon’s third century with excitement, optimism and momentum.


Sean Decatur