Development news

Bob Kirschner approaches his work with a song in his heart

When Robert P. Kirschner, Kenyon's assistant director of alumni and parent relations and annual funds (APRAF), entered Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, his goal was to become an opera singer. Beginning in the sixth grade, he had studied voice and performed regularly. But the road to a career in opera is long and often tortuous.

"A tenor's voice doesn't really mature until he is about thirty," he explains. "I decided a year and a half into the vocal-performance major that I just couldn't do it."

Kirschner switched to a major in organizational behavior, with a minor in arts management. At the same time, he worked for four years in residence life at Miami, first as a resident advisor and then as a hall director. "It was really that experience that launched me into consideration of higher education and college student personnel management as a career," says Kirschner.

Although Miami has a fine graduate program in academic administration, Kirschner elected to attend Ohio State University (OSU). "I saw that program as having two advantages," he says. "First, it gave me an entirely new perspective, which I felt I needed. Second, it included a summer of work and study in England."

Between his first and second years at OSU, Kirschner was at Lancaster University in Lancashire, an historic region of Northwest England on the Irish Sea. "I think about that experience every day," says Kirschner. "It was entirely wonderful. We worked four days a week and then traveled almost every weekend for three days. The Lake District, Scotland, Dublin, London, and Oxford were all destinations." He says he still dreams of living there one day.

After two years of study, Kirschner earned a master's degree in higher education and student affairs, with a concentration in administrative matters. The next chapter in his life and career has a serendipitous quality to it.

While at Miami, Kirschner met and fell in love with Claudine Grunenwald. An Ohio native and Baldwin-Wallace College graduate, she was a graduate student at Miami in student personnel services. Because of Grunenwald's Ohio roots and Kirschner's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the pair conducted their job searches in those areas. As fate would have it, both were hired by Kenyon, Kirschner in the APRAF office and Grunenwald as director of student activities. They were married on July 17, 1999.

Among Kirschner's primary responsibilities in APRAF is advising and guiding the Student-Alumni Association (SAA). "Interaction with the students is the best part of my job," he says. "It is easy to be enthusiastic about the SAA because it imparts so many benefits to the student participants--things like leadership development and skills in organizing major events such as the `Beyond Kenyon' programs and National Service Day. Employers are looking closely at those kinds of experiences in their hiring decisions," he adds. Another favorite part of his job is working with student volunteers on the 100% Senior program, which encourages students to start early on the path to regular alumni giving.

Kirschner has continued to indulge his love of music through singing in the Community Choir. Now that his first year in the APRAF office is behind him, he hopes to find time for some voice lessons as well.

"Another of my desires is to take a philosophy class at Kenyon," he says. "I've never taken any courses in that area, so I think it would be interesting." Black-and-white photography and music history are other interests waiting in the wings.

Kirschner and Grunenwald, who live in Mount Vernon, enjoy cribbage, golf, movies, and--a recent addition to the list--darts. Kirschner also loves to cook, especially desserts, and to explore the variety of restaurants in Columbus. "I'd like to go to cooking school someday," he confides.

Another dream, tied to his love of England and his hope to return there, involves the Guinness "Win Your Own Pub" contest. "I enter every year," he confesses. "I write a poem and send it in. If I ever win, it's goodbye, I'm gone."

Trustees approve funds for athletic facilities

The largest single expenditure approved by the College's Board of Trustees at its October meetings was for construction of new outdoor tennis facilities and relocation of the field-hockey field. The $375,000 project, which is expected to begin immediately, will address longstanding needs for the Kenyon athletic program.

"We appreciate the trustees' understanding of the urgent necessity of replacing the current tennis courts," said Jennifer Bruening, interim director of physical education and athletics, who noted that the rapidly deteriorating Baars Tennis Courts have become an increasingly problematic venue for the men's and women's tennis teams. "The whole athletic program and the entire College stand to benefit from the new facilities."

The eight new tennis courts will be built on the site currently occupied by Waite Field, which is used by the field-hockey team. The location was chosen in anticipation of the possible construction of indoor tennis facilities on an adjoining site.

The new Waite Field will be adjacent to, and just south of, the women's softball complex. A new practice field for the field-hockey program will also be constructed as part of the project.

Kenyon's men's and women's tennis programs are coached by Scott Thielke, who rejoined the College's staff in 1997 following a 1985 through 1989 stint as coach of the men's team. Both programs have been among Kenyon's most successful, with the women taking the national doubles championship in 1998.

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