Reflections from President Kornfeld

President Julie Kornfeld reflects on the warm welcome she has received during her first days in Gambier and the comfort we can find in our community during devastating world events.


Dear Kenyon students, faculty and staff,

Over the past two weeks, the Kenyon community has extended the warmest of welcomes to me and my entire family. Fred and I have enjoyed meeting so many of you and seeing campus through your eyes. Our initial sense that we landed in the right place and at the right moment has only strengthened. I am deeply grateful to all of you for taking the time to say hello and to share your intellectual passion and deep commitment to Kenyon. I am inspired and ready to work with you.

And yet the start of my tenure as Kenyon’s 20th president falls at a time when so many around the world are suffering unexpected loss. Over the past several days, I have watched with horror the events unfolding in Israel and Gaza, and I have grieved the devastating loss of life and scale of human tragedy. I know that I am not alone in struggling to grasp the ongoing violence and its grave impact.

My thoughts are especially with those in the Kenyon community who have ties to the region. The concern for loved ones can be overwhelming and traumatic, and I am grateful to the Kenyon staff and faculty who have been working to ensure that students and colleagues feel as safe and supported as possible. Please remember that the Chaplains, the Cox Health and Counseling Center and the Employee Assistance Program are available at any time. 

In difficult times, I believe that one of the most important roles a liberal arts college can play is helping our community understand the complexities of conflict and making space for dialogue. Though we may be frightened, angered or confused by the events of the past several days, we can find comfort in our community and our shared commitment to peaceful discourse and learning. In my very short time as president, I have already observed that these are among Kenyon’s greatest strengths.

Please rest assured that, together with colleagues across campus, I will continue to work to make sure our community is safe and supported and that we will continue to check in with students, staff and faculty over the coming days, weeks and months. As this crisis unfolds, I know that our community remains resolute in our support of peace and that our special Kenyon mix of purpose and place will provide needed support and opportunities for discussion and dialogue. This gives me hope at a difficult time.


Julie Kornfeld