Letters to the Editor

The Bulletin welcomes letters of three hundred or fewer words. Letters to the editor may be used for publication unless the author states the letter is not to be published. Letters may be edited for style, length, clarity, grammar, and relevance to Kenyon issues. Please address submissions to: Editor, Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, Office of Public Affairs, Gambier, Ohio 43022. Letters may also be submitted to alumni@kenyon.edu or through our online feedback form.

Remembering Owen York
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Owen York (Winter 2012 Bulletin). Dr. York was the best teacher that I ever encountered in many years of schooling, from high school to college, medical school, and residency training. He had a great gift for teaching in that he could lead his students into discovering the truths about organic chemistry, rather than just stating the facts. And I will always remember his infamous pop quizzes, when he would say, “Well, if you don't have any further questions for me, I have a few for you.”
Jock Morrison '66

I read with sadness the obituary for Professor York. I declared my chemistry major after getting a B+ in organic chemistry my first semester with test scores in the 64-68 percent range. Professor York once said, “I must be getting soft,” when someone scored 100. I remember him always carrying large models of molecules in to illustrate whatever topic he was lecturing on. However, until I read his obituary, I hadn't quite realized how much of an impact he had on Kenyon beyond the Chemistry Department.
Peter Whitcopf '90

Among the many teachers I had at Kenyon, Owen York stood out not only for his knowledge of the subject but in his superior ability to convey it to his students. Yes, organic chemistry was and is a complex and difficult class to master. But Professor York had this amazing talent to calmly draw you into the field and bridge the theoretical into reality of the world.
In the years since Kenyon, I have often been reminded of Professor York's influence as I answer questions from parents and my young patients about their health or illness. His classes made me a better thinker; he most certainly made me a better clinician. He will be missed.
Foster Phillips '78

Is Kenyon really worth the price?
Your recent story on college costs (“The Higher Cost of Higher Education,” Winter 2012) was too heavy on rationalization, skimped on comments from critics, and, at the end, fell back on an overly easy assertion that $53,000 a year represents good value.

When I attended in the early seventies, Kenyon charged the equivalent of $23,000 a year today. I'm extraordinarily grateful to Kenyon and my parents. But now, as the father of a high school junior, I have a crisis of faith. Kenyon is wonderful, but even if we can afford it, is it worth twice the price of Penn State's honors college?

In the past four decades, I've found most people unfamiliar with Kenyon's superb program. Kenyon thus cannot match the status of an Ivy League institution, despite charging just as much. And when Kenyon continues to cite Olof Palme and Paul Newman as its famous alumni—the same names invoked forty years ago—you have to wonder whether Kenyon graduates are as successful as they ought to be.
Rather than read your justification for today's sky-high charges, I'd like to hear Kenyon's idea for reversing this arms race. How about something radical: drop financial aid and use the savings to cut all students' prices by 20 percent? Too extreme? I suppose. So let's hear Kenyon offer something better.
—Jeffrey C. Brown '74

A pair of surprises
As a dyslexic artist, I still occasionally wonder how Kenyon and I ever fit together.

This issue, however (Winter 2012), induced two striking experiences. First: the incredible front cover. How could it be that this literary bastion of the elite could reach out to me with spatial complexity, color dynamics, and patterns to analyze? Did the editors realize that their cover selection would make this the first copy of the Bulletin ever to miss my trash can and land instead in my “art” pile, so that I could reevaluate the cover?

But then the update on tuition reset my compass back to the belief that Kenyon had never been a place for people like me. The article [on the cost of higher education] brought back the agonizing memory of the shaking sobs and tears running down my face as I received the senior tuition bill for $8,500. That was a massive amount of money for my parents to pay. Had the bill been for $50,000—twice my yearly tuition at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine—Kenyon would never have been an option for someone of my class or peculiarly awkward abilities.
Myrtle Wilhite '82

The first Phling
I was saddened to learn that Philander's Phebruary Phling was canceled this year, and a bit surprised that apparently the history and spirit of the event has been lost. On page 7 of the Winter 2012 Bulletin, you write that Philander's Phling was a winter formal started in 1996. As a member of the original planning committee of the first Phling in 1991, I wanted to bring this inaccuracy to your attention.

The first Philander's Phling was made possible by funds from a donor who wanted to support the fun and engagement of the student body. A committee including Ken Burgomaster '91, Jen Pryor '91, Jeff Skiby '91, myself, and a few other members of Social Board worked with Roseanne Hayes (I think she was director of student affairs) to envision a weekend experience that would break Kenyon students out of the doldrums of February in Gambier.

The original Philander's Phling was a weekend experience that included a Friday-night concert by Wynton Marsalis, hot tubs on the porch of Farr Hall, limousines taking students from the dorms to Peirce Hall for the surprise evening, and a casino night in the Great Hall, with faculty members and President Jordan serving as dealers at the tables.

That event transformed a dull February weekend into a weekend out of the ordinary for the students. I'm sad to learn that this great tradition was canceled this year.
—Andrew Keyt '91

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