College's Curricular Review Committee continues its deliberations

Should Kenyon students be required to take interdisciplinary courses? Should the College's curriculum include a mathematics or foreign-language requirement? Should every Kenyon graduate have some experience in studying non-Western cultures? How well do the College's very flexible distribution requirements serve the goal of giving students a liberal education?

These are the kinds of questions the College community has begun to explore as part of a curriculum-review effort started last year. The undertaking, which should culminate with a set of proposals next fall, is being led by a Curricular Review Committee including ten faculty members, five administrators, and three students.

This year will be an active one for the committee, which plans to issue "working papers" for campus-wide discussion in three areas on which the group has chosen to focus, according to committee chair E. Raymond Heithaus '68, the Jordan Professor of Environmental Science and Biology. Those areas are: interdisciplinary study, multicultural issues, and general education (the requirements and guidelines for course selection outside of students' majors).

The first paper, on interdisciplinary study, was distributed earlier this fall. It affirms that interdisciplinary approaches are valuable within a liberal-arts curriculum because they promote breadth as well as the integration of knowledge, encourage "intellectual inventiveness unconstrained by existing boundaries," and can foster "a synthesis of methodological perspectives and a flexible approach to complex issues."

The paper notes that Kenyon's curriculum has shifted in recent years by incorporating a "proliferation of synoptic majors and interdisciplinary courses, concentrations, and majors." Interdisciplinary work "enriches and complicates, but should not replace, the existing discipline-based curricular structure" of the College," the paper asserts.

Four models for how Kenyon might integrate interdisciplinary study into the curriculum are set forth. They range from the flexible ("change nothing about our current laissez-faire system," but encourage students to take advantage of the interdisciplinary choices available) to the more rigid (require all students to complete interdisciplinary course work or even one of the interdisciplinary concentrations).

Heithaus stresses that the models are not actual proposals but only examples and tentative suggestions, offered to encourage discussion. "This is intended to be a very open process," he says. "We're not heading toward a prespecified goal. We want to have the widest participation possible before any specific proposals are drafted."

He notes that before writing the first working paper, the committee consulted with all of the academic departments and held an open meeting for the entire College community. In preparing the other working papers, the committee will also send questions to students via the Student Council and Senate.

The committee plans to have all three working papers completed and available for discussion by the end of the spring semester, according to Heithaus. Then the group will turn to the question of priorities and actual proposals. It is likely that the whole faculty will help set priorities, perhaps meeting in a retreat or in special symposia.

A final document with specific proposals should appear in the fall of 1999. The last comprehensive review of the Kenyon curriculum was conducted in 1978.

Alumni Council issues a query

Kenyon's Alumni Council is interested in receiving alumni input with regard to the question of the College's liberal-arts tradition in a technologically changing world. If you would like to respond to the following question, please do so, in writing, to the Alumni Council, in care of Lisa Dowd Schott '80, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations and Annual Funds, College Relations Center, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 43022-9623, or via e-mail to

What intellectual capacities or skills do you wish Kenyon had nurtured or taught better? What capacities or skills do you believe will be most critical in the next twenty years?

Kenyon's Alston Society created for minority alumni

A t its May 1998 meeting, the Alumni Council voted to support the formation of the William J. Alston Society. Named for Kenyon's first recorded alumnus of color, William J. Alston, who graduated from Bexley Hall in 1859, the Alston Society seeks to increase the participation of historically under-represented alumni in the life of the College.

Proposed by Kenyon Director of Multicultural Affairs Jamele Adams and C. Craig Jackson III '99, and shepherded through the approval process by former Alumni Council member Edward E. Curtis IV '93, the plan was supported by more than twenty alumni from a wide range of class years.

"The Alston Society's main purpose is to get alumni of color more involved in every aspect of College life, from alumni activities, to admissions, to the lives of current students of color," says Curtis. "Kenyon has done much in the last several years to make itself a more diverse place, but it has not yet made a push to make the Alumni Association more diverse." However, he stresses that the society welcomes the participation of all alumni who support the College's goal of increasing the representation of people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds in its student body and on its faculty.

Some specific objectives of the group will be to organize a mentoring program focused on the academic, professional, and social development of current under-represented students; to help recruit larger numbers of under-represented populations to the administration, faculty, staff, and student body; and to encourage increased participation of under-represented alumni in the Alumni Association and its regional associations. The Alston Society will also serve as a network for Kenyon's alumni of color.

"The Alston Society is not about dividing people," says Curtis, "but about bringing people together."

For more information, please contact Curtis via e-mail at

Call issued for 1999 Trustee Teaching Award nominations

M embers of the College community are invited to make nominations for this year's Trustee Awards for Distinguished Teaching. Each year, two members of the faculty are chosen as recipients of the Trustee Awards--one as a junior faculty member (with ten or fewer years of service) and one as a senior faculty member (with more than ten years).

The awards were established by the Board of Trustees eleven years ago to honor excellence in teaching. This year's award recipients will be announced at the Honors Day Convocation on Thursday, April 15, 1999, where each honoree will receive a stipend of $1,000.

Nominations will be placed before the selection committee in January. The committee includes alumni, faculty members, students, and trustees. A letter of nomination need not be lengthy, but it should provide enough relevant detail in the form of anecdotes, data, examples, and testimony to allow the selection committee to make a judgment about the qualifications and strengths of the candidate. The committee looks for evidence of the capacity of a nominee's teaching to make a difference in students' lives. Letters may be submitted by alumni, faculty members, and students. Once a letter of nomination is received, the Office of the Provost will compile an evaluation file composed of the letter of nomination, one faculty letter of support, and three student letters.

Please send letters of nomination to the attention of Margaret Main, Secretary to the Provost, Office of the Provost, Ransom Hall, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 43022-9623. E-mail responses should be addressed to

The deadline for nominations is Friday, January 1, 1999.

It's been a busy year
by Lisa Dowd Schott '80
Director of Alumni and Parent Relations and Annual Funds

The Kenyon party of the century. My reputation for approximating attendance at an event was forever ruined in May when I guessed that we would have at most 350 people for the Campaign Kickoff Gala reception and dinner during Reunion Weekend 1998. In the end, we had to begin turning people away two weeks before the event because we had reached 700 guests--a crowd even for the Tomsich Arena in the Ernst Center! I've never experienced anything like it.

The final weeks prior to the celebration were the most frantic I've participated in here at Kenyon. But we were more than compensated for our frazzled nerves by the rewards of the evening. I can safely say that, for most of us who attended, it will be remembered as the College's celebration event of the century. It was an evening to be proud of all Kenyon has accomplished and to be excited about its future. We celebrated in style with a completely transformed Ernst Center, a premier of the campaign video, "Claiming Our Place," and fireworks (both inside and outside).

Coming soon to a region near you. The excitement and momentum of the Campaign Kickoff Gala continues through the 1998-99 year as the show goes on the road to Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Research Triangle, Seattle, Tampa/Sarasota, and Washington, D.C. Special celebrations were held in Chicago on November 4 and in New York City on November 19. Another is scheduled for San Francisco on February 25, 1999.

For a complete listing of event dates, call the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and Annual Funds (APRAF) at 740-427-5147 or visit the "APRAF Events" section on the College's homepage at

A new look for the APRAF World Wide Web pages. Check out new web pages on the Kenyon homepage. Thanks to the efforts of the Alumni Council, the APRAF staff, and Monique Jones (assistant director of publications for electronic media in the Office of Public Affairs), you can learn just about anything you want to know concerning alumni and parent relations and annual-funds matters. That includes an alumni e-mail directory, annual-fund goals, the dates of regional and campus events, the dates for Reunion Weekend 1999 and 2000, volunteer opportunities--the list goes on and on.

A number of new services have recently been added or are being added to the APRAF pages, including:

A personal-homepages directory. Alumni will be able to list their personal homepages on the College's page. The homepages will not be carried on Kenyon's server, but they will be linked from the College's page.
Class and regional-association homepages. We will offer server space to any class or regional association that wishes to host a page on the APRAF pages or link an approved page.
A "What's New" section. The welcome page will change monthly and include announcements such as Alumni Council and alumni-trustee nominations, campus and regional events, Kenyon Fund and Reunion Weekend deadlines, new electronic services available, and more.
Virtual events. We will post photographs of major campus events such as Family and Reunion weekends during or immediately following the events. Look for announcements of postings in "What's New."
Photography bulletin board. Submit scans or digital-camera photos of babies, minireunions, weddings, or any College-related event.
Electronic change-of-address form. Keep us updated on your home, office, e-mail, and home page addresses and your telephone and fax numbers by submitting the information on the form under "Electronic Services."

We are considering a number of ideas for the future, including accepting Kenyon Fund gifts on-line and offering chat rooms, live video feeds from major campus events, and suggested reading lists from professors.

Landmark goals for annual funds in 1998-99--and a big thank you. It's a simple phrase, but the best one I know for thanking all the alumni, parents, and friends who took the College's annual funds to yet another record-breaking height last year with gifts of $1,913,515 to the Kenyon Fund and $482,195 to the Kenyon Parents Fund. Thank you very, very much.

I wish it were possible to thank each of you personally. One of my greatest pleasures comes from knowing that your generosity truly pays off in many ways. I'm proud of the way the College manages its finances and proud to know that the funds raised are spent well. We couldn't raise those funds without the help of all the volunteers who have the challenging job of personally asking peers for gifts. The Campaign Executive Committee, class agents, the Kenyon Fund Executive Committee and regional major gift chairs, the Parents Advisory Council, phonathon volunteers, reunion committees--all play a key role in supporting the College by working with the annual-fund campaigns.

So thank you again. We'll be counting on everyone again this year to break truly landmark goals of $2 million for the Kenyon Fund and $525,000 for the Kenyon Parents Fund!

Back to Top