The Kenyon Ten: Sarah K. Murnen

Psychology Professor Sarah K. Murnen talks about her appreciation for great colleagues, community gatherings, yoga and much more.


Sarah K. Murnen, who serves as the Samuel B. Cummings II Professor of Psychology, has taught and conducted research on socially constructed gender roles since arriving at Kenyon in 1988. She enjoys teaching in both the psychology and gender and sexuality studies programs, bringing an expertise that also includes body image and sexuality. Murnen, who has a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a doctorate from the University at Albany-State University of New York, will chair Kenyon’s faculty development committee next year.

Besides Gambier, where is your favorite place in the world to be?

Anywhere near water. I grew up sailing on Lake Erie and now enjoy kayaking on the Kokosing. My favorite port city I have visited is Galway, Ireland.

Why did you come to Kenyon?

I value Kenyon's emphasis on good teaching and support for research. I did not have to give up a research program to come to Kenyon and have been able to work with many Kenyon students in the research process.

Fill in the blank: My experience at Kenyon would not be the same without ______.

I have great colleagues in both the psychology department and the gender and sexuality studies program. I like that Kenyon values interdisciplinarity.

What is your favorite Kenyon tradition?

I tend to favor less formal occasions so the community picnic (Community Feast) that starts the fall semester is a favorite as it brings many groups of people together.

What Kenyon class would you love to take — again or for the first time?

The gender and sexuality studies senior colloquium, which is student-directed.

If there was a soundtrack to your Kenyon experience, what song would be on repeat?

I always love to hear the sound of the chapel bells before the seniors walk to their graduation ceremony.

Where do you find satisfaction outside of your work?

The Gambier Dog Park, Hot Yoga Escape, and the Mount Vernon Zen Community Sangha.

What is something interesting that you have read recently?

I am enjoying Judith Butler's new book, "Who's Afraid of Gender?"

What new skill would you like to learn?

I enjoy learning new types of yoga.

What is the best piece of advice that you've ever been given?

I am not sure where I learned this, but I try to take a whole day off each week where I do no academic work, including not answering email. Although this might be difficult for undergraduate students to do, I was able to do this starting in graduate school. I value having a life outside of work. It helps that I am not a perfectionist, though, and can let some things be just "good enough" and not perfect.

The Kenyon Ten is an occasional question-and-answer feature that highlights students, faculty and staff.