Kenyon College

Kenyon College

The Kenyon College Coat of Arms
Motto Magnanimiter Crucem Sustine (Latin)
Motto in English
Valiantly bear the cross
Type Private liberal arts college
Established 1824
Affiliation Episcopal Church[1]
Endowment $218.6 million (2015)[2]
President Sean M. Decatur
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 1,676[3]
Location Gambier, OH, US
Campus Rural, 1,000 acres (400 ha) including a 380 acres (150 ha) nature preserve
Colors Purple and White          
Nickname Lords (men's teams) and Ladies (women's teams)
Kenyon College
Location Gambier, Ohio
Coordinates 40°22′35″N 82°23′45″W / 40.37639°N 82.39583°W / 40.37639; -82.39583Coordinates: 40°22′35″N 82°23′45″W / 40.37639°N 82.39583°W / 40.37639; -82.39583
Built 1824
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Gothic Revival, Greek Revival
NRHP Reference # 75001447[4]
Added to NRHP December 6, 1975

Kenyon College is a private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio, United States, founded in 1824 by Philander Chase.[5] It is the oldest private college in Ohio and is affiliated with the Episcopal Church.[5] The campus is noted for its Collegiate Gothic architecture and rural setting.[6][7] Kenyon College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.[8] The acceptance rate for the Class of 2019 was 23.8%, the most selective year to date.[9]



Philander Chase was the founder and first president of Bexley Hall and Kenyon College, and later became Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

After becoming the first Episcopal Bishop of Ohio in 1818, Philander Chase found a severe lack of trained clergy on the Ohio frontier. He planned to create a seminary to rectify this problem, but could find little support. Undeterred, he sailed to England and solicited donations from Lord Kenyon, Lord Gambier, and the writer and philanthropist Hannah More, and the College was incorporated in December, 1824. Dissatisfied with the original location of the College in Worthington, Chase purchased 8,000 acres (32 km2) of land in Knox County (with the Mount Vernon lawyer Henry Curtis), and reached what he would name Gambier Hill on July 24, 1825. There is a legend that Bishop Chase exclaimed, "Well, this will do" upon reaching the crest of the hill.[10][11]

The Kenyon Review

Kenyon's English department gained national recognition with the arrival of the poet and critic John Crowe Ransom in 1937 as Professor of Poetry and first editor of The Kenyon Review, a literary journal.


Kenyon requires students to take classes in each of the four academic divisions: Fine Arts (encompassing the departments of Art, Dance and Drama, and Music); Humanities (Classics, English, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Religious Studies); Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology); and Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology). In addition, students must show a basic competence in a foreign language, and also undertake a comprehensive senior exercise for their major during their senior year.

The Gund Gallery, a 31,000 square feet (2,900 m2) visual arts center and exhibition space, was founded in 2011. It hosts lectures, public programming and temporary exhibitions that are free and open to both the campus community and the wider public.[12]

Kenyon is also home to the Beta of Ohio Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.


Kenyon's sports teams, which compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC), are referred to as the Lords and Ladies, and their colors are purple, white, and black with gold often added as an accent.

The college's men's swimming team is notable in NCAA Division III, for winning, from 1980 through 2010—an NCAA record 31 consecutive national championships—and then again from 2012 through 2015. The women's swimming team is also considered among the best, winning 23 titles of its own (not consecutively) since 1984. Former Swim Coach Jim Steen has coached the most conference titles in any sport in NCAA history. During the 1980s and 90s, Diving Coach Fletcher Gilders led his athletes to fourteen consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference championships and eight individual NCAA Division III titles; Gilders would also earn NCAA D3 Coach of the Year honors on three separate occasions. In 2013, under Head Coach Jess Book, the men's team won the national title and the women's team took second. Book was voted the 2013 NCAA Men’s Coach of the Year and the 2013 NCAA Women’s Coach of the Year, and Head Diving Coach Andy Scott was voted the 2013 NCAA Division III Women's Diving Coach of the Year.

In 2006, Kenyon opened the $70 million Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC), a 263,000-square-foot (24,400 m2) building that houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool, two basketball courts, eight squash courts, a weight room, a 200m track, four tennis courts and other facilities. Field hockey, football and men's lacrosse are played at McBride Field which has a seating capacity of 1,762.[13]


University rankings
Forbes[14] 48
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[15] 27
Washington Monthly[16] 107

In the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings, Kenyon is the No. 27 liberal arts college in the United States.[17] Forbes magazine in 2016 ranked Kenyon 48th overall, and 7th in the Midwest, out of the 650 colleges and universities on its list of America's Best Colleges.[18] In 2006 Newsweek selected Kenyon College as one of twenty-five "New Ivies" on the basis of admissions statistics as well as interviews with administrators, students, faculty and alumni.[19] It was also listed in Greene's list of Hidden Ivies in 2000.

Kenyon's campus also garners acclaim for its beauty; for example, it ranked 2nd on The Best College's "50 Most Amazing College Campuses for 2014".[20]


Ransom Hall, home of the Admissions Department

For the class of 2019 (enrolled fall 2015), Kenyon received 7,077 applications and accepted 1,689 (23.8%).[21] The number enrolling for the class of 2018 was 452 making the yield rate (the percentage of accepted students who enroll) 27.2%.[21] In terms of class rank, 62% of enrolled freshmen were in the top 10% of their high school classes.[21] The mean SAT scores for the Class of 2016 were 679 for critical reading, 650 for math, and 672 for writing, while the middle 50% range of SAT scores were 630-730 for critical reading, 610-680 for math, and 630-720 for writing.[21] The mean ACT Composite score was 30.1; the middle 50% range was 28-32.


As Ohio's oldest private college, Kenyon has upheld some traditions for more than 180 years. All students in each entering class are expected to take the Matriculation Oath and sign a Matriculation Book that dates back at least a century.

Another tradition is the "First-Year Sing." Each year, entering first-years gather on the steps of Rosse Hall to sing Kenyon songs before they are officially part of the Kenyon community. On the day before Commencement, seniors gather on the steps of Rosse Hall to sing the same songs again.

Whenever a new president begins a term at the college, candles are lit in every window of Old Kenyon, as a sign of welcome. Kenyon has had twenty-five presidents; former president S. Georgia Nugent was Kenyon's first female president, and current president Sean Decatur is Kenyon's first African-American president.[22]

Student organizations

"Old Kenyon" (1827-29), a dormitory known for its Gothic revival architecture, has a steeple designed by architect Charles Bullfinch.[23]


Non-varsity sports



Ascension Hall of Kenyon College

Greek life

The Church of the Holy Spirit

Kenyon is home to twelve Greek organizations, consisting of seven international/national fraternities, one national sorority, three local sororities, and one local society (co-ed group). One local sorority, Kappa Sigma Alpha, recently became colonized by a national sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau. This is Kenyon College's only national sorority. The fraternities are: Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (Dekes), The Kenyon Chapter of The Alpha Delta Phi (ADs), Chi of Delta Tau Delta (Delts), Beta Alpha of Beta Theta Pi (Betas), Phi of Delta Phi (DPhis), Theta of Phi Kappa Sigma (Phi Kaps), and Zeta Kappa of Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Tau). The national sorority is: Epsilon Tau chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau (Alpha Taus). The local sororities are: Theta Delta Phi (Thetas), Zeta Alpha Pi (Zetas), and Epsilon Delta Mu (EDMs). The society is: Archon Society (Archons). A second society, the Peeps O' Kenyon (PEEPS), decided to formally split from the College's Greek Council in 2014, but remains an active group on campus.[24] Fraternity and sorority members live in campus housing.[25]

2004 presidential election

Kenyon College attracted national attention after the 2004 presidential election during which, because of a shortage of voting machines and possibly a large number of new voter registrations,[26] some students remained in line for as long as 13 hours to place their votes.[27] The incident received attention in mainstream national news outlets such as The New York Times.[28][29]

In spring 2006, John Kerry delivered the commencement address at Kenyon College, stating that he was "honored" by the students who waited in line during the election.[30] During the 2008 presidential election campaign, the events at Kenyon in the 2004 election were remembered and recounted in discussions of voting rights.[31]


Kenyon College has undertaken a number of sustainability initiatives, including a recycling system upgrade, a biodiesel project, a computer lab conversion to double-sided printing, the distribution of green living guides, as well as the creation of a dining hall composting system that diverts 6,000 pounds of waste from the landfill per week. Students partnered with administrators and/or professors to complete a campus energy audit for the past three years, as well as a carbon footprint calculation. Kenyon Green Alumni was founded to connect graduates "with a professional interest in the environment." The college recently received a "C" grade on the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card, compiled by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.[32]

Ivy, which once covered some buildings on the Kenyon campus, but damages stonework, has been eradicated.[33]


US President Rutherford B. Hayes, class of 1842

Notable alumni of Kenyon College include:

US President Rutherford B. Hayes (class of 1842); U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton (1834); U.S. Supreme Court Justices David Davis (1832) and Stanley Matthews (1840); Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (1948); Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman (1949); comedian Jonathan Winters (1950); author E. L. Doctorow (1952); Emmy Award-winning actress Allison Janney (1982); National Book Award-winning novelist William H. Gass (1947); The New York Times bestselling author and AFC Wimbledon sponsor John Green (2000); cartoonist and Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson (1980); actor and filmmaker Josh Radnor of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother (1996); The New York Times bestselling author Jenna Blum; and singer and musician Nicholas Petricca of the band Walk the Moon (2009).



  1. "Americas". Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  2. As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2014 to FY 2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2016.
  3. "Enrollments and Class Size". Kenyon College. 2014.
  4. National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. 1 2 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia. Merriam-Webster. 2000. p. 878. ISBN 9780877790174. Kenyon College: Private liberal-arts college in Gambier, Ohio. Founded in 1824, it is affiliated with the Episcopal church.
  6. le Draoulec, Pascale (1 March 2010). "The World's Most Beautiful College Campuses". Forbes. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  7. Pramis, Joshua (2011-09-30). "Swarthmore College: Swarthmore, PA - America's Most Beautiful College Campuses | Travel + Leisure". Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  8. "Higher Learning Commission". Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  9. Kenyon News. "Admission Accomplished". Kenyon College. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  10. "Well, this will do! explained". Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  11. "A Biography of Philander Chase". Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  12. "About Us." Gund Gallery website.
  13. "McBride Field". Kenyon College. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  14. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. July 5, 2016.
  15. "Best Colleges 2017: National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. September 12, 2016.
  16. "2016 Rankings - National Universities - Liberal Arts". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  17. "Best Colleges – National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 2016.
  18. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. 2016-07-05.
  19. "America's 25 New Elite 'Ivies'". Newsweek. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  20. "The 50 Most Amazing College Campuses for 2014". The Best College. 2014.
  21. 1 2 3 4 "Incoming Class Profile". Kenyon College. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  22. Lorin, Janet (18 March 2013). "Kenyon College Picks Sean Decatur as its New President". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  23. Rev. Norman Nash designed the building. Architect Charles Bullfinch was asked to review the plans, and designed the steeple. Marjorie Warvelle Harbaugh, "Charles Bullfinch," The First Forty Years of Washington DC Architecture, (Lulu, 2013), p. 362.
  24. English, Victoria UngvarskyVictoria Ungvarsky is one of the Editor-in-Chiefs She is a senior; Columbus, American Studies double major from; Ohio. (11 December 2014). "PEEPS out, ФKT in". Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  25. "At Kenyon...fraternities don’t own their own residences: they occupy college housing." Kluge, P.F. (2013-03-16). Alma Mater: A College Homecoming (Kindle Locations 1243-1244). Crossroad Press. Kindle Edition.
  26. Powell, Michael; Slevin, Peter (15 December 2004). "Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Voters in Ohio". The Washington Post.
  27. Wang, Tova Andrea (2005-01-01). "Election 2004: A Report Card". The Century Foundation. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  28. Fessenden, Ford; Dao, James (2004-11-03). "Rain, Lines, and Litigation Slow Smooth Effort in Ohio". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  29. Lombardi, Kate Stone (2004-11-14). "She Cast a Ballot, and Won a Vote from her Mother". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  30. Leavey, Pamela (20 May 2006). "John Kerry Delivers Kenyon College Commencement Address". The Democratic Daily.
  31. Cohen, Adam (2008-08-25). "No One Should Have to Stand in Line for 10 Hours to Vote". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  32. "Kenyon College - Green Report Card 2010". 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  33. "All Kenyon’s ivy is gone: they said it was destroying the stonework." Kluge, P.F. (2013-03-16). Alma Mater: A College Homecoming (Kindle Location 995). Crossroad Press. Kindle Edition.
  34. Finder, Alan (2007-06-20). "Some Colleges to Drop Out of U.S. News Rankings". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  35. "Presidents' Letter". Education Conservancy. 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  36. "Welcome to the City of Kenyon...A Great Place to Grow - History". City of Kenyon. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  37. "David Foster Wallace, Kenyon, 2005 - Top 10 Commencement Speeches - TIME". 16 May 2009. Retrieved 2014-08-16.

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