Bright Spots in a Pandemic

A look back at what made an unprecedented year at Kenyon extraordinary in so many ways.


How do you measure, measure a year?

The pandemic has sure felt like all of its 525,600 minutes and then some, but we also learned to count our successes along the way. And there were many. From creating and operating a testing, quarantine and isolation system to keep the campus community healthy, to introducing new ways to connect with alumni through virtual events, to a record-breaking year for major gifts, we look at how Kenyon weathered COVID-19 and other challenges this year.

“This is a year that was incredibly challenging, but a year that really just made me proud about all of the best things about Kenyon.”

Sean Decatur
President of Kenyon College
  • 21,545total COVID-19 tests administered in the 2020-21 academic year.

    With a total of 76 positive results among students and employees, that’s a positivity rate of 0.353%.

  • >90%of students on campus were vaccinated by the end of spring semester.

    Plus, over 80% of employees have reported being vaccinated against COVID-19 thus far. 

  • 199daily COVID-19 update emails.

    Throughout the fall and spring semesters, Kenyon’s COVID-19 dashboard was updated each weekday, with daily emails distributed to students, employees and parents interested in the data.

  • 16reasons Kenyon alumni are optimistic about the future.

    Alumni working in a variety of fields, from healthcare to green energy, told the Kenyon Alumni Magazine why they’re feeling hopeful as the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic required the College to completely reimagine how to deliver events to the community. We evaluated the core elements of every event to determine what was true ‘Kenyon’ and then tried to strike a balance between tradition and practicality in creating virtual programs, unexpectedly creating room for innovation that we might not have explored under normal circumstances.”

Howard Grier
Director of Campus Events
  • 130+
    virtual events hosted by the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement.
    Thousands of people took part in summer welcome receptions for incoming families, CSAD Hill-to-Hill panels, family programming and faculty lectures, among other events.
  • 1,014
    alumni who attended virtual reunion events.
    Instead of one weekend of Reunion, this year’s online version stretched over two weeks, featuring 31 distinct events. (The Class of 1991 recorded the highest attendance.)
  • 50+
    countries in which viewers tuned in to Theater of War Productions’ yearlong virtual residency at Kenyon.
    A total of 7,549 audience members tuned in to watch the series, presented by Bryan Doerries ’98 and featuring acclaimed actors including Bill Murray.
  • 2,093
    total views of the fall and spring dance concerts.
    The Department of Dance, Drama and Film innovated ways to bring their traditional in-person productions online in COVID-safe ways.
  • 36
    guest speakers as part of CSAD’s new Course Enhancement Grant program.
    In 26 courses across seven departments — dance, English, history, modern languages and literatures, philosophy, political science and studio art — courses that explored democracy-related themes welcomed outside speakers directly into the classroom via video link. The program will be expanded for future years.

“Cheers, y’all! You did it! We came, we zoomed, we reuned!”  

Alisoun Bertsch
Class of 1997
  • $100 millionThe largest gift to Kenyon ever recorded.

    Announced in January, the anonymous gift will allow for the construction of three new South Campus residence halls to revitalize the on-campus living experience. Despite a largely virtual year, Kenyon is recommitting to the core in-person experience in Gambier. 

  • 1,312donors to the 36-hour Kenyon Together giving challenge.

    These alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students raised over $665,000 for Kenyon’s annual funds. It’s not too late to join in: make a gift before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

  • 17,947donors to the “Our Path Forward” campaign, so far.

    Alumni, parents and friends propelled Our Path Forward past its $300 million goal five months ahead of schedule. The College decided to capture this incredible momentum and continue the campaign to 2024 with a goal of $500 million as Our Path Forward to the Bicentennial.

  • 270combined years of service among eight retiring faculty.

    These esteemed professors were awarded honorary degrees at Kenyon’s 193rd Commencement.

  • 4,362total views of Kenyon’s 193rd Commencement livestream.

    Did you miss it? Watch the ceremony here

  • 3valedictorians in the Class of 2021.

    Seniors Isaac Lipkowitz, Meredith Sauer and Katerina Tang shared the honor this year.