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 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 eight thousand 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.
Kenyon's English department first gained 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.
Aside from English, other majors Kenyon offers are: Art (Studio), Art History, Dance, Drama, Film, Music, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Classics, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Physics, Psychology, Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology, American Studies, International Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies.
Kenyon offers concentrations, which are interdisciplinary minors. They are: African and African-American Studies, Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, Integrated Program in Humane Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Cultures, Law and Society, Neuroscience, Public Policy, and Scientific Computing. Kenyon also offers opportunities for synoptic majors based on a process of academic approval by the College administration.
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, Modern Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Religious Studies); Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology); and Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, History, 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.
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 NCAADivision III, for winning, from 1980 through 2010, an NCAA record 31 consecutive national championships. 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 (24,434 m², 6 acre) 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.
In the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings, Kenyon is the No. 32 liberal arts college in the United States overall. Forbes magazine ranked Kenyon 69th overall, and 11th in the Midwest, out of the 650 colleges and universities on its list of America's Best Colleges 2013. 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. It was also listed in Greene's list of Hidden Ivies in 2000.
Ransom Hall, home of the Admissions Department
For the Class of 2016 (enrolled fall 2012), Kenyon received 3,947 applications and accepted 1,421 (36.0%). The number enrolling was 446; the yield rate (the percentage of accepted students who enroll) was 31.4%. In terms of class rank, 52% of enrolled freshmen were in the top 10% of their high school classes; 86% ranked in the top quarter. 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. 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.
56% (Kenyon's Women's Interest magazine), published by the Crozier Center for Women
MESA Journal, published by the Middle East Student Association at Kenyon
Persimmons, a literary magazine published once a semester
Kenyon College Ice Hockey
Kenyon College Equestrian
Kenyon College Men's Rugby
Kenyon College Women's Rugby
Kenyon College Ultimate Frisbee (founded in 1976)
Kenyon College Squash
Kenyon College Sailing
Ascension Hall of Kenyon College
The Chamber Singers, under the direction of Professor Benjamin Locke, is a select mixed choir consisting each year of approximately fifty undergraduate musicians who regard singing as an integral part of a liberal arts education. The group rehearses daily in order to prepare programs of a cappella music for Kenyon concerts as well as their annual Spring Tour.
The Kokosingers are Kenyon's all-male a cappella group. Founded in 1965 by four freshmen, the Kokosingers are the second-oldest student-run singing group on campus, and the oldest original a cappella group on campus. The group performs a wide range of music from various artists. They also tour New England for two weeks in the wintertime, singing at high schools, colleges, and various Kenyon-affiliated events.
The Chasers are Kenyon's co-ed collegiate a cappella group. Founded in 1964, the group is the oldest student singing group at the college, and the second oldest a cappella group on campus. Originally a folk-oriented vocal group accompanied by guitars, the Chasers switched to an a cappella-only format in the late 1960s, and continue this tradition today. They have recorded several albums over the course of the last 40 years, perform several times per year on campus, and tour throughout the country during January.
The Owl Creek Singers is an all-female ensemble at Kenyon. Founded in 1975, the Owl Creeks perform regularly throughout campus, and tour over winter break. Their repertoire ranges from modern pop, to oldies. The Owl Creeks winter concert is typically the first Friday in December, and their spring concert is typically the Friday of Easter weekend.
Take Five is Kenyon's jazz a cappella group, formed in 2002. In addition to bi-annual concerts, Take Five performs regularly at campus events and, as of 2007, tours nationally during winter break.
The Cornerstones are Kenyon's only Christian a cappella group. Since organizing in 1998, they have supplied the campus with contemporary, classical, gospel, and Christian-inspired pop songs on a semiyearly basis. In addition, they have participated in several tours across various parts of the nation, and have performed at numerous churches and events around the Ohio area. They were the first a cappella group on campus to introduce beat-boxing.
The Company is Kenyon's premiere musical theater student group. Students present full productions and musical revues every semester, specializing in Disney classics, musical theater, and unexpected contemporary songs from TV and film.
Colla Voce is a treble-voice ensemble dedicated to the classical and folk traditions. Kenyon's second newest a cappella group, Colla Voce formed in the fall of 2009 and performs on campus once a semester, as well as at additional events in the surrounding community as needed.
Renegade Theatre, founded in 2002, is a theatre company designed for the promotion of first-year students in the theatre community at Kenyon. Students are able to write, act in leading roles, direct and design, as well as serve as a production board designing an entire season of shows.
The Stairwells are Kenyon College's only folk group, made up of a variety of musicians and vocalists. Originally a smaller ensemble of four to five people with one guitar, the group has expanded to include as many as ten members, playing a variety of instruments.
Kenyon College Dance and Drama Club Student-run organization producing theatrical productions with the direct support of the dance and drama departments. Former members include the founders of the Cripple Creek Theatre Company in New Orleans, LA.
Kenyon College Dance Team is a student-run organization that performs original hip-hop choreography at half-time at various sporting events and other campus activities throughout the year.
Beyond Therapy is a student-run sketch comedy group. Founded in 1994, the group puts up two shows each year.
Fools on the Hill is a student-run long form improv comedy group founded in 1986.
Two Drink Minimum is a student-run stand-up comedy group.
Brave Potato Productions, formerly Flashmob Theatre, is a student-run theatrical and filmmaking group that was founded in 2007.
Stage Femmes is a theatrical group focusing on the work of women in the theater. It was reformed in 2012 after a period of absence.
The Church of the Holy Spirit
Kenyon is home to twelve Greek organizations, consisting of six international/national Fraternities, four local sororities and two local societies (co-ed groups). 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 a Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Tau) colony. The Sororities are: Theta Delta Phi (Thetas); Kappa Sigma Alpha (Kappas); Zeta Alpha Pi (Zetas); Epsilon Delta Mu (EDMs). The Societies are: Archon Society (Archons); Peeps O'Kenyon (Peeps).
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, some students remained in line for as long as 13 hours to place their votes. The incident received attention in mainstream national news outlets such as The New York Times.
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.
Kenyon College was one of a number of liberal arts colleges to drop from the US News and World Report college rankings in June 2007. Kenyon College President Georgia S. Nugent likened the Report's self-evaluation materials as similar to a customer satisfaction survey from "a Howard Johnson's Hotel."