New assistant directors in admissions office help select the Class of 2001I t's a cold, icy week in January, and Adolphus Clinton, Christine Deptula, Jed Hoyer, and Darnell Preaus have a good excuse to be a bit bleary-eyed. As assistant directors in the admissions office, they've been reading scores of applications from prospective members of the Class of 2001. If it were October, the four would likely be in the throes of jet lag after weeks of spreading the word about Kenyon at college fairs. And if it were March, they would probably be on edge, wondering whether their favorite recruits will be among those offered a spot in next year's class.
"Month to month, period to period, the job is aligned differently," explains Hoyer. "You never get in a rut. If you get tired of one thing, you switch to something else."
Hired last summer, Hoyer, Clinton, and Preaus are winding down their first academic year at the College. This is the second time through the cycle for Deptula, who was hired in September 1995, after working in the admissions office at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, for five years.
Deptula landed at Kenyon after her husband, William Deptula, was hired as an assistant director in the College's development office. "I've been able to go off and run with it," she says. "I didn't need a lot of training, I just needed to meet the people and learn about Kenyon. It's so easy to believe in the value of what the College has to offer. It's a great place, with wonderful people."
A graduate of the University of Vermont, Deptula coordinates the admissions office's on-campus recruiting programs, including the fall and spring Visit Days. She believes such programs are a key element in convincing prospective students, especially those from the East, that Kenyon is the right place for them.
"Once they discover us, they fall in love with the place," says Deptula. "It's just a matter of getting them out here."
As coordinator of the Multicultural Admissions Program, Clinton faces a similar challenge when convincing students of color of the opportunities afforded by the College. "I point out that we have a small but solid core of students of color," he says. "The campus is inviting, and it's not a place where you feel uncomfortable. You have a lot of allies here. I stress the great education that is offered and how people really care about you and want you to do well."
Clinton's own experience has made him a firm believer in the value of an education. One of seven children of working-class parents in Providence, Rhode Island, he is the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college, earning a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College last May. At Gettysburg, he was a resident advisor for four years and director of an outreach program for minority youth for two years.
It was a way of giving back for Clinton, who benefited fromprograms that made it possible for him to attend a private middle school for inner-city youths in Providence and to spend his high-school years at the Pomfret School in Connecticut. "I was really lucky and blessed to go to those schools," says Clinton. "That started me on my way. It seems lie God has smiled on me. Some of my teachers did so much for me, and I think about doing similar things for others."
Hoyer also was educated in the East, graduating from the Holderness School in New Hampshire and earning a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University last May. His parents are alumni of Oberlin College, so Hoyer knew about the high quality of education offered by select colleges in the Midwest.
"The thing I like most about Kenyon is its size," he says. "The town and the College are synonymous. Most of the professors live in town, and that's an advantage for the students. The degree of faculty contact here is something you don't see at most schools. Kenyon fosters that atmosphere."
While a student at Wesleyan, Hoyer worked in the admissions office for two years. After graduation, he coordinated his alma mater's alumni off-campus interview program before accepting the job at Kenyon. Hoyer sees the position as a good fit as he decides whether to go to law school or pursue a career in higher education. "This is a good office," he says, "a place where people enjoy their work."
Preaus, a 1994 Kenyon graduate, has a long-range goal of becoming a headmistress at a secondary school. For now, however, she enjoys having the opportunity to help high-school students discover the joys of a Kenyon education.
"I know how much they will benefit from the faculty attention they will receive here," says Preaus, who majored in English at the College. "They will feel like they had a complete college experience. It certainly worked for me."
A New Orleans native who cooks a mean jambalaya, Preaus learned about Kenyon from her guidance counselor at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. A former tour guide for the College's admissions office, she headed to New York City after graduation, first working for a public-relations firm and later as a special-events and catering coordinator. Last spring, Preaus returned to Kenyon for the graduation of her sister, Virginia Preaus '96. While on campus, she talked with Professor of History William Scott and Associate Professor of History Wendy Singer, and they encouraged her to apply for the admissions job. Preaus was hired a few weeks later.
"I really get attached to +my' students," she says. "I can feel their passion about coming to Kenyon because of the wonderful environment here."
Curricular Review Committee setS everal months after the Kenyon faculty voted to conduct a thorough review of the College's curriculum, President Robert A. Oden Jr. and Provost Katherine Haley Will have announced themembership of the group that will manage much of the work, the Curricular Review Committee. The committee comprises eleven faculty members, four administrators (two of them in consulting positions), and three students.
Serving as chair of the Curricular Review Committee, whose tasks will be completed over a three-year period, will be John Crowe Ransom Professor of English Ronald A. Sharp. Other faculty members on the roster--all of whom were nominated by their colleagues or self-nominated and chosen, in Will's words, for their "collegiate view"--will be Associate Professor of Humane Studies Michael E. Brint, Associate Professor of French M. Jane Cowles, Associate Professor of Biology Haruhiko "Harry" Itagaki, Professor of Political Science Pamela K. Jensen, Professor of Anthropology Rita S. Kipp, Associate Professor of Music Benjamin R. Locke, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Rosemary A. Marusak, Associate Professor of English Kim McMullen, Associate Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies Ric S. Sheffield, and Professor of Drama Thomas S. Turgeon. Administrators on the committee will be Will, the dean for academic advising (to be named), and, in consulting positions, Registrar Richard L. Switzer and Vice President for Library and Information Services Daniel B. Temple. Student members will be Rea A. Oberwetter '99 of Dallas, Texas, Mark H. Rich '98 of Canvas, West Virginia, and William S. Sugden '99 (son of Samuel S. Sugden '63) of Tuxedo Park, New York.
"I'm grateful to all those who expressed interest in being a part of this important initiative," said Will. "While it was necessary that the group be kept to a manageable size, faculty members, students, and others in the community can be assured that their input will be essential to the Curricular Review Committee as its work progresses."
The most recent comprehensive review of the Kenyon curriculum was conducted in 1978, Will noted, adding that the current effort is also a review, not necessarily a revision. "One of the things that defines Kenyon, that gives the College its distinctiveness, is its curriculum," she said. "That means curricular review is an important--and should be a regular--event in the life of the College."
Will said she expects the committee to begin its work this spring. The review will proceed in three phases, beginning with information gathering from on- and off-campus constituencies as well as other colleges and universities. That will be followed by a phase in which proposals will be drafted for any suggested curricular changes. The final phase will consist of planning for implementation of any approved changes.
Current plans call for the group to report on its endeavors periodically and often for community discussion.
The scholarships they meritD id you know that Kenyon ranks in the top five liberal-arts institutions in the country for the number of National Merit Scholars it enrolls? The Class of 2000 included thirty-four National Merit scholarship winners, placing us in a tie with Grinnell College and ranking us behind only four other liberal-arts colleges: Carleton (seventy-nine), Macalester (fifty), Oberlin (thirty-six), and Wheaton of Illinois (thirty-five). Some of the liberal-arts colleges with which we compete for the best students enroll significantly lower numbers of merit scholars, among them Williams (thirty), Swarthmore (twenty-seven), Pomona (nineteen), Amherst (seventeen), Haverford (eight), Bowdoin (four), Colgate (two), and Middlebury (one).
by John W. Anderson
Dean of Admissions
Begun in 1955, the National Merit Scholarship Program was created to recognize the brightest college-bound students in the nation. According to the program's most recent annual report, its goals, then as now, are
- to promote wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally able individuals in particular;
- to focus a spotlight on scholastically talented students and encourage the pursuit of excellence at all levels of education; and
- to stimulate increased support for outstanding students and for educational institutions.
The program uses a multistep selection process, the first element of which is the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test (PSAT), administered in the fall of students' junior year in secondary school. Approximately 1.5 million students sit for the PSAT each year. Those who score in the top 1 percent of the test-takers in their state are designated as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. Those who score in the top 2 or 3 percent are designated "Commended Scholars."
To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, semifinalists must first move to the finalist stage. To do this, they complete an application that includes a brief essay, a recommendation from their secondary school, and a transcript of their courses and grades. These materials are reviewed by the staff of the National Merit Corporation, which then designates the students who become finalists and, therefore, eligible to be named National Merit Scholars. Approximately 90 percent of the semifinalists are designated finalists.
Most of the National Merit Scholarships awarded are done so using funds supplied by the institutions in which the finalists enroll. For example, of the thirty-four scholars in the College's Class of 2000, twenty-seven received Kenyon-funded National Merit Scholarships. Other scholarships are supported by corporations; these are often designated for the children of employees.
Some students receive a $2,000 Merit Scholarship directlyfrom the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. These are considered to be the very best and brightest of all National Merit Scholars, chosen by a selection committee with sixteen members, ten of whom are college-admission officers and six of whom are secondary-school guidance counselors.
I recently had the privilege of serving on the National Merit Selection Committee for a three-year term. The committee meets for a week in late January at National Merit Scholarship Corporation headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. During that time, the selection committee reads the applications of all fourteen thousand finalists and then chooses the two thousand most outstanding students. By the end of each of those weeks, we on the committee would be bleary-eyed and hoarse from reading and discussing the applications, but we would be in agreement that we had accomplished a rewarding task.
Now, the College has a new connection with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Last year, President Robert A. Oden Jr. was asked to serve on the corporation's Board of Trustees, a request that reflects favorably on both his and Kenyon's stature in the higher-education community.
The College has attracted its share of National Merit Scholars since the program's inception. In recent years, though, the number of scholars choosing Kenyon has increased significantly. We have moved from enrolling about a dozen scholars per class, which was common in the 1970s and 1980s, to more than twenty or thirty in the 1990s. While there are many bright and talented students--at this college and elsewhere--who are not National Merit Scholars, we can point with great pride to the fact that, within the community of the best liberal-arts colleges, the College does attract one of the largest groups of these nationally recognized scholars.
When you are asked, "What is distinctive about Kenyon?" to the list of answers that might include a remarkable literary heritage, one of the top fifty science programs in the nation, the seemingly unbeatable Lords and Ladies of swimming and diving, a faculty that boasts three of the last six Carnegie Foundation "Ohio Professor of the Year" award recipients, and the most beautiful campus in the land, you can add the fact that Kenyon enrolls the fifth highest number of National Merit Scholars among all liberal-arts colleges.
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