The pressures in the external landscape affect Kenyon as well, and as a result there are specific vulnerabilities in Kenyon’s operations and programs that need to be addressed in the coming years.
About 80% of Kenyon’s annual revenue in its operating budget comes from tuition. Yet, some of the most important aspirations for Kenyon’s future — including expanding financial support for talented students from low- or middle-income families — directly reduce that revenue. How do we expand opportunity while maintaining stable sources of revenue?
Navigating the COVID-19 crisis required withdrawals from the College’s financial reserves and these must be restored in order to put the College on secure financial footing into the future. At the same time, the COVID-19 crisis significantly disrupted the sense of community on campus (which is so deeply rooted in the physical space and the residential experience) and placed pressure on the faculty and staff who were required to pivot often in response to the changing conditions of the pandemic. How do we reinvent and rebuild our sense of community on campus?
Kenyon has made progress on recruiting students, faculty and staff from diverse groups, but more work needs to be done. And an even larger challenge is the effort to ensure that all members of the community feel included. Moreover, while the College has become more diverse, self-reported data (for example in studies by the National Survey of Student Engagement) suggest that students are not strengthening their intercultural skills, including the ability to engage in conversations across points of difference. We must also increase our efforts at intentional community building among our increasingly diverse faculty and staff, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that inhibited face-to-face personal interaction for so long. How do we build a sense of community throughout the institution?
The broader global interests of Kenyon’s faculty have produced strength in global-related areas of study throughout the curriculum; in any given year about 50% of our juniors study abroad for at least a semester; and our numbers of international students on campus have risen to about 11% of the total population. But, it is still possible for students to navigate their Kenyon education without a meaningful engagement with material or topics from outside of the United States. In an environment where an understanding of (and facility with navigating) the global community is increasingly important, how do we provide opportunities for all of our students to have a substantive international experience before graduation?
In the last strategic plan, we made some progress in expanding opportunities for students to gain valuable learning experiences through internships, extended projects, undergraduate research or community-engaged learning. How do we continue to expand these opportunities? And how do we ensure that they are fully integrated into the academic experience of our students?
Kenyon has committed to attaining carbon neutrality in its operations by the year 2040. How do we not only make progress on reducing the carbon footprint of our physical infrastructure but also incorporate a culture of environmental responsibility throughout the community?