Board of Trustees votes to move swiftly toward 3-2 teaching expectation

At the recent fall meeting of Kenyon's Board of Trustees, members took the unusual step of approving, in advance of the traditional schedule, the part of the operating budget that will allow the College to move to a 3-2 teaching expectation (three courses in one semester, two in the other) during the 2001-02 academic year. The academic administration has thus been given the authorization to add five full-time equivalents (FTEs) to the faculty, in addition to the three FTEs approved at the April board meeting.

"Even in the context of new facilities constructed and planned, even in the context of the heartening growth in our endowment, these initiatives are the most important single contribution of the `Claiming Our Place' campaign," says President Robert A. Oden Jr. "They are so because they are designed to improve the quality of teaching at Kenyon, and this is and will remain our central aim."

"By providing more time for class preparation and scholarship, this historic move benefits faculty members and students alike," says Provost Ronald A. Sharp. "Building on the modest faculty growth in recent years, the trustees' approval of these new positions allows us to make the move to a 3-2 expectation responsibly, without reducing the number of classes offered or increasing class sizes."

The administration had asked for the authorization to begin recruiting new faculty members immediately. Oden and Sharp told the board's Curriculum and Faculty Committee, and the board as a whole, that they see this increase in the size of the College's teaching staff as also providing a key opportunity to further efforts to diversify the faculty.

"Though our progress has been encouraging, much more remains to be done, and Provost Ron Sharp and I are deeply committed to pursuing our goals for faculty diversity," notes Oden. "There are many steps in our march toward claiming our proper place among America's finest liberal-arts colleges, and this step is as important as any."

According to Sharp, the three additional faculty full-time equivalents (FTEs) approved last spring have been allotted as follows:

*Art history: New tenure-track position in Renaissance and Baroque art, currently being advertised.

*Mathematics: New tenure-track position, currently held by Keith Howard, a former Dissertation Fellow.

*Modern Languages and Literatures: Additional .5 FTE to move a .67 FTE adjunct position in Spanish to a full-time tenure-track position, currently being advertised, and to provide .17 FTE for extra courses to meet increased demand.

*Dance: Additional .33 FTE to move a .67 FTE adjunct position to a full-time tenure-track position, currently being advertised.

*Anthropology: Additional .17 FTE for an extra course to be taught by Professor Edward Schortman or Professor Patricia Urban.

The five additional faculty FTEs approved at this meeting will be allotted as follows:

*Chemistry: New tenure-track position, with a search to be conducted next year (a visitor will be hired to fill the slot for the 2001-02 academic year).

*Psychology: New tenure-track position, with a search to be conducted next year (a visitor will be hired to fill the slot for 2001-02).

*English: The Robert Hubbard Professorship in Poetry (funded by a gift from Robert Hubbard '53).

*Anthropology: Additional .5 FTE to bring both Schortman and Urban to full-time status (they have previously shared a position).

*Political Science: Additional .5 FTE.

*Music: Additional .33 FTE for a part-time music-theory specialist.

The remaining .67 FTE is currently unassigned to allow some flexibility in meeting any unforeseen demands occasioned by the move to the 3-2 teaching expectation or by the new curricular requirements in quantitative reasoning and proficiency in a foreign language.

Trustees address facilities needs

Although the October meeting of Kenyon's Board of Trustees will be recalled as the one at which the promise of a 3-2 teaching load began to be fulfilled, it will also be remembered as one at which the College took a giant step toward addressing Kenyon's needs in the area of athletic, fitness, and recreational facilities. The board signaled its concern by authorizing funds for the design of a new fieldhouse and a new indoor tennis facility, as well as funds for construction of the latter beginning next summer.

Graham Gund '63, architect of Storer Hall and the new natural-sciences facilities, has accepted the design commission on behalf of his firm, Graham Gund Architects. One fundamental decision with both design and construction implications has already been made: the fifty-two-year-old Wertheimer Fieldhouse will be demolished to make way for a new structure.

"In reviewing our original plans, trustees asked, wisely, how much our proposed renovations and additions would accomplish in view of the challenges we face with regard to our athletic facilities," says President Robert A. Oden Jr. "Because the answer was that these challenges would be but modestly accomplished through our original plans, the trustees decided to move forward with a more ambitious plan."

According to Oden, the members of the board's Buildings and Grounds Committee spent a good deal of time discussing an ambitious plan, which they later recommended that the entire board embrace, to accelerate design and construction. Both will be supported by funds from the bond-financing plan for the music and science facilities, which has performed better than initially anticipated.

In other actions, the board allocated funds for three large items: construction of the education center at the Brown Family Environmental Center ($600,000) and of the Eaton Center ($818,000) and a payment of $400,000 to the bond-match fund for the natural-sciences facilities.

This was the board's first meeting on its new annual schedule. The board as a whole will henceforth meet only two times per year, in October and April, over two full days (Thursday noon through Saturday noon). The former February board meeting will now be a gathering of the Executive Committee alone, marking a return to an earlier format.

Also new is an annual joint October meeting of the Executive and Budget committees to discuss priorities and long-range plans. Issues discussed at the inaugural joint meeting included the increase in the size of the College's faculty to accommodate the 3-2 teaching load and plans for stabilization of Kenyon's enrollment at 1,520 students. The group also undertook an initial examination of the College's key expense (chiefly, compensation) and revenue (chiefly, tuition and fees) variables.

Reaccreditation team completes visit

In early October, a team of consultant-evaluators from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools visited Kenyon as part of the College's decennial reaccreditation process.

"We are grateful to the North Central Association for their wisdom and care in appointing the consultant-evaluators who spent their time with us, and we are the more grateful to David Wee, Jane Jakoubek, Nelson Bingham, and Rik Warch for devoting so much time and expertise to helping Kenyon become an ever finer college," says President Robert A. Oden Jr. "Perhaps the greatest attribute of the reaccreditation process is that the visit and recommendations come from a team of our colleagues, and this group formed an exceptionally able team."

Wee, who serves as chair of the team, is a professor of English at St. Olaf College. Bingham is a psychology professor at Earlham College, Jakoubek is vice president and dean of academic affairs at Hanover College, and Warch is president of Lawrence University.

Oden notes that, as the remainder of the reaccreditation process unfolds, he will be able to release portions of, and perhaps all of, the formal report composed by the visiting team. Until then, the team's observations and recommendations remain confidential.

"I can and am proud to say, however, that the team was singularly impressed by the self-study undertaken by Kenyon," says Oden. "All of us at the College owe a deep and lasting debt of gratitude to Professor of Economics Bruce Gensemer, who led the self-study, and to all who served on the Self-Study Steering Committee. Over the course of two years, they devoted countless hours to their task; in the end, they produced much the finest self-study report I have read."

The consultant-evaluators will now produce a Team Report, assessing whether Kenyon meets the General Institutional Requirements and the Criteria for Accreditation of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The report, to which the College will have an opportunity to make a formal written response, will offer advice and suggestions for improvement and conclude with a recommendation for accreditation action.

Ransom thoughts

Higher yield, smaller entering classes will affect admissions selectivity

by John W. Anderson
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

Beginning with the Class of 2005, which will enter the College this coming fall, it is very likely that admission to Kenyon will become somewhat more competitive than it has been in the past several years. The reason is threefold: we expect an increase in the number of applications; we anticipate a higher yield on our offers of acceptance; and we plan to hold the entering class to no more than 430 students, a target that we have overreached in each of the last five years. We share this news with you now so that you can better counsel any high-school students you know who are interested in the College--and so that you can help them present the best possible application.

The admissions committee will continue to seek, first and foremost, those candidates for whom Kenyon seems a good academic fit. While the traditional tools--the transcript and test scores--will be the basis of this aspect of selection, the committee will place greater emphasis on indications of real passion for learning and intellectual curiosity. Recommendations, students' responses to our shorter-answer questions on the application, and students' essays will weigh heavily in our search for these qualities. If students have engaged in activities or programs that suggest passion and curiosity, they should make these obvious in their applications.

Of course, passion can be demonstrated outside the classroom. That, too, is important to us. For example, the College's reputation as a swimming powerhouse (twenty-one consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III national championships for the men and seventeen consecutive for the women) attracts many swimmers into our pool (pun intended). As a result, we read dozens of essays chronicling these students' arduous schedules and physical exertions. Some of them display that passion we are looking for, and those are the ones that the committee most actively pursues. But it is not just through swimming or sports in general that students can display their passion. We have had competitive cyclists, Flamenco dancers, jugglers, jump-ropers, knitters, poets, rocket builders, homelessness volunteers, and many others who have shown us a passion for something through their essays or in interviews.

Because we are looking for a good fit, and because we are seeking students who are passionate about something, passion for Kenyon will also enter into the selection process. Students who show strong interest in the College will have a decided advantage in the selection process. Visiting campus for an interview is the best way students can show their eagerness to attend Kenyon (and, even more importantly for them, learn whether it will be a good fit). We recommend that students have an interview on campus whenever possible. However, we do recognize that some students, because of distance, busy schedules, or financial circumstances are not able to come to Gambier. In those cases, we recommend attending presentations at their schools (if a representative from the College visits), attending information sessions or other local events (including alumni gatherings) if offered, and requesting an alumni interview.

If interest in Kenyon is considered in selection, will applying through one of the College's two early-decision plans (one with a December 1 deadline, the other with a January 15 deadline) help a student with good, but not outstanding, credentials for Kenyon gain admission? Often, the answer is yes. While colleges in Ohio and the Midwest have not experienced the dramatic increases in early-decision applications that have occurred in the East, numbers have slowly crept up. Over the past decade, we have planned to admit about 20 to 25 percent of the class through the early-decision system. It is certainly possible that we will increase that portion in the coming year. If students have done their homework on the College and believe it is a good fit, applying under one of the early-decision plans may very well work to their advantage.

With regard to applications from legacies--those candidates who have had one or more family members precede them to Kenyon--the new selectivity is likely to have little impact. The pre-exisiting connection to the College will remain an important positive factor for those in this group, whose applications tend to resemble the pool as a whole in reflecting strong academic preparation.

Working in admissions at Kenyon is particularly gratifying because of the variety of applicants we can and do admit. Some have grades, scores, and personal qualities that place them at the top of everyone's applicant pool (note our 28 percent yield on students who are also admitted to an Ivy League institution). But there are also other students for whom the College is a good fit who may not have that same level of qualifications. If those students show us their passion and curiosity, if they present a good case as to why Kenyon is a good fit, and if they show us their sincere interest, they may become successful applicants, even in these more selective, more competitive times.

Bookstore expands customer options for on-line shopping

You can now buy on line that Kenyon sweatshirt you've been wanting. The College's bookstore, which created an on-line book buying site in May 1999, has now added a clothing site.

Offering more than nineteen thousand titles, the book site receives orders from around the world. Now the bookstore staff hopes that alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and students will use the clothing site to purchase caps, glassware, pennants, sweatshirts, T-shirts, and other items. Purchases may be shipped to sites in the United States and around the world.

Jack Finefrock, bookstore manager, says that on-line orders are easier to fill than those placed by telephone. You can find the site at or by going to the Visitors' Center (from Kenyon's home page) and clicking on "Bookstore."

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