Anony­mous donor gives $75M to Kenyon Col­lege

Dayton Daily News - - LOCAL & STATE | OBITUARIES -

Kenyon Col­lege has re­ceived a whop­ping $75 mil­lion gift, the largest in the school’s nearly 200-year his­tory.

The gift, from an anony­mous donor, will sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of a new li­brary and aca­demic quad at the lib­eral arts col­lege of about 1,600 stu­dents in Knox County, the school an­nounced Fri­day.

The do­na­tion triples Kenyon’s for­mer largest sin­gle do­na­tion of $25 mil­lion, which the school re­ceived in 2002. The $75 mil­lion gift also is the largest-ever sin­gle gift to any pri­vate lib­eral arts col­lege in Ohio, ac­cord­ing to Kenyon’s an­nounce­ment.

“Th­ese are gifts that hap­pen rarely on the higher ed­u­ca­tion land­scape and cer­tainly rarely for col­leges of Kenyon’s size, so it is an ex­cit­ing mo­ment for the in­sti­tu­tion to have a gift that is truly trans­for­ma­tional for the work that lies ahead,” Kenyon Pres­i­dent Sean De­catur said.

The new quad, to be lo­cated on the west side of the Gam­bier cam­pus, will have three new build­ings: a li­brary and aca­demic com­mons with state-of-the art tech­nol­ogy, an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary aca­demic build­ing for the so­cial sciences and a new build­ing for ad­mis­sions and key stu­dent ser­vices. The quad will con­tain un­der­ground park­ing to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity and gain green space.

“For a small col­lege like Kenyon to have a gift like this, it is trans­for­ma­tive in many ways,” said Kenyon Board of Trus­tees Chair­man Brack­ett B. Den­nis­ton, adding that putting the do­na­tion to­ward fa­cil­i­ties al­lows the col­lege to fo­cus on other im­por­tant needs such as schol­ar­ships and af­ford­abil­ity.

Stu­dents at the col­lege, lo­cated about 50 miles north­east of Colum­bus, were in­vited to Rosse Hall Fri­day for a con­vo­ca­tion-like gath­er­ing for the spe­cial an­nounce­ment. The an­nounce­ment also was be­ing streamed live on Face­book.

“This is a spe­cial event for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion,” De­catur said.

As for the donor, he or she has asked to re­main anony­mous — not an un­com­mon re­quest in higher ed­u­ca­tion. But univer­sity lead­ers know who it is.

“It is a per­son who has a great deal of pride and con­fi­dence in Kenyon as an in­sti­tu­tion,” De­catur said. “It’s both re­as­sur­ing and I think also grat­i­fy­ing that there’s some­one that has the level of con­fi­dence in the work that we’re do­ing and the con­fi­dence in the work of the in­sti­tu­tion mov­ing for­ward.”

“What we were sur­prised at was the mag­ni­tude of the gen­eros­ity,” Den­nis­ton said. “That’s the most heart­en­ing el­e­ment of it, this vote of con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of Kenyon.”

By com­par­i­son, the largest gift to Ohio’s largest univer­sity, Ohio State, was a $100 mil­lion com­mit­ment in 2011 from Les­lie H. Wexner, his wife, Abi­gail, and the Lim­ited Brands Foun­da­tion.

Kenyon’s cas­tle-like As­cen­sion Hall also will be ren­o­vated, and fa­cil­i­ties for the English Depart­ment will be ex­panded. Those and other projects an­nounced Fri­day were in line with goals al­ready es­tab­lished by Kenyon through its mas­ter and strate­gic plan­ning pro­cesses.

The do­na­tion, Den­nis­ton said, sends an im­por­tant mes­sage about in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion.

“This is an ex­am­ple of why Amer­i­can ed­u­ca­tion re­mains the best in the world,” he said. “Be­cause of in­vest­ments like this.”

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