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103 College Rd, Gambier, OH 43022

(740) 427-5000 

Kenyon College

Kenyon College

Kenyon is one of the nation's finest liberal arts colleges, a small school where academic excellence goes hand in hand with a strong sense of community.

An Undergraduate Experience Like No Other

We set high academic standards and look for talented students who love learning. Small classes, dedicated teachers, and friendly give-and-take set the tone. Kenyon welcomes curiosity, creativity, intellectual ambition, and an openness to new ideas. We see learning as a challenging, deeply rewarding, and profoundly important activity, to be shared in a spirit of collaboration.

Our greatest strength is our faculty, outstanding scholars who place the highest value on teaching. Close interaction with students is the rule here: professors become mentors and friends. Requirements are flexible enough to allow for a good deal of exploration. Other notable strengths include our distinguished literary tradition, many opportunities for research in the sciences, and programs connecting students to our rural surroundings. The Kenyon experience fosters connections of all kinds - to classmates and teachers and friends, to the life of the mind, to global perspectives, to our own unique traditions and history, and to a place of inspiration.


Over the 185 years of its life, Kenyon College has developed a distinctive identity and has sought a special purpose among institutions of higher learning. Kenyon is an academic institution. The virtue of the academic mode is that it deals not with private and particular truths, but with the general and the universal. It enables one to escape the limits of private experience and the tyranny of the present moment. But to assert the primacy of the academic is not to deny the value of experience or of other ways of knowing. Kenyon's academic purpose will permeate all that the College does, but the definition of the academic will be open to recurrent questioning.

Kenyon's larger purposes as a liberal arts institution derive from those expressed centuries ago in Plato's academy, although our disciplines and modes of inquiry differ from those of that first "liberal arts college." We have altered our curriculum deliberately in answer to changes in the world, as an organism responds to its environment without losing its identity. Kenyon's founder gave a special American character to his academy by joining its life to the wilderness frontier. His Kenyon was to afford its students a higher sense of their own humanity and to inspire them to work with others to make a society that would nourish a better humankind. To that end, and as an important educational value in itself, Kenyon maintains a deep commitment to diversity. Kenyon today strives to persuade its students to those same purposes.

As a private and independent college, Kenyon has been free to provide its own mode of education and special quality of life for its members. Its historic relationship with the Episcopal Church has marked its commitment to the values celebrated in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, but without dogmatism, without proselytizing. Because its faculty and students are supported by neither church nor state, the College must charge fees and seek support from donors. While this preserves Kenyon's independence, it sets unfortunate limits. The College's ambitions must be tempered by a sense of what is economically feasible.

As an undergraduate institution, Kenyon focuses upon those studies that are essential to the intellectual and moral development of its students. The curriculum is not defined by the interests of graduate or professional schools, but by the faculty's understanding of what contributes to liberal education. The faculty's first investment is in Kenyon's students. The College continues to think of its students as partners in inquiry, and seeks those who are earnestly committed to learning. In the future, Kenyon will continue to test its academic program and modes of teaching and learning against the needs of its students, seeking to bring each person to full realization of individual educational potential.

To be a residential college means more than that the College provides dormitory and dining space for its students. It argues a relationship between students and professors that goes beyond the classroom. It emphasizes that students learn and develop, intellectually and socially, from their fellows and from their own responses to corporate living.

Kenyon remains a small college and exemplifies deliberate limitation. What is included here is special, what is excluded is not necessary to our purposes. Focus is blurred when there is dispersion over large numbers or over a large body of interests. Kenyon remains comprehensible. Its dimensions are humane and not overpowering. Professors, knowing students over years, measure their growth. Students, knowing professors intimately, discover the harmony or conflict between what a teacher professes and his or her behavior.

To enable its graduates to deal effectively with problems as yet uncalculated, Kenyon seeks to develop capacities, skills, and talents which time has shown to be most valuable: to be able to speak and write clearly so as to advance thoughts and arguments cogently; to be able to discriminate between the essential and the trivial; to arrive at well-informed value judgments; to be able to work independently and with others; to be able to comprehend our culture as well as other cultures. Kenyon has prized those processes of education which shape students by engaging them simultaneously with the claims of different philosophies, of contrasting modes, of many liberal arts.

The success of Kenyon alumni attests to the fact that ours is the best kind of career preparation, for it develops qualities that are prized in any profession. Far beyond immediate career concerns, however, a liberal education forms the foundation of a fulfilling and valuable life. To that purpose Kenyon College is devoted.


FIRST-YEAR SING: It sounds hokey, but it's a great bonding experience. It's also an initiation into Kenyon vocabulary, where you discover words like Kokosing and asphodel.

OPENING CONVOCATION: This is your first official march down Middle Path, between rows of gown-clad professors. Four years later, you do it again at Commencement.

THE MATRICULATION BOOK: Future president Rutherford B. Hayes signed it. So did future novelist E.L. Doctorow and future film star Paul Newman. Every October, after the Founders' Day Convocation, the newly settled first-years page through this remarkable book, then add their own names.

HONORS DAY: In April, the whole Kenyon community gathers to celebrate academic achievement, community service, and leadership, with the awarding of departmental and College-wide prizes. A time to cheer for hard work and good works.

FRIDAY CAFE: Every week closes with this lunchtime gathering, open to all. Ingredients: friendly conversation, a mingling of faculty, students, and village residents, a gourmet entree, an exquisite dessert.

SENIOR SOIREE: A long-standing celebration of what has been and what is to come. Each year, the members of the Senior Class invite the faculty and administrators who have been such an important part of their time at Kenyon to a semi-formal reception marking 100 days until Commencement. Typically falling on the second Friday in February, the Soiree is a bright spot on the calendar during a dreary time of the year and the first of many celebrations for the Senior Class.

SENIOR SING: You haven't graduated until you've sung the songs again - yes, the same ones you sang as a first-year student, four short years ago. Warning: Your parents will cry. You might, too.

Student Life:

A fully residential college, Kenyon houses all students on campus in a variety of housing options ranging from traditional residence halls to College-owned apartments and houses. Most first-year students live in residence halls grouped together at the northern end of campus, making it easy to get to know the members of your class and form friendships.

Nearly one-third of the student body participates in intercollegiate athletics (NCAA Division III), and many more take part in intramural sports. Kenyon's swimming and diving teams have won 34 men's national championships and 23 women's national titles.

Student life is active and multifaceted. There are more than 120 student organizations, including sororities and fraternities; a range of performing-arts groups, including the Kenyon College Dramatics Club and five a cappella ensembles for male, female, and mixed voices; and a range of community service opportunities.



While Kenyon College has no mascot, the men's athletic team is referred to as "Lords" and the women's athletic team is referred to as "Ladies."

The founder and first president of Kenyon College was Philander Chase, the first Episcopal bishop of Ohio. Chase's campaign to raise money to begin the College was mainly funded by two English noblemen, Lord Kenyon and Lord Gambier. Chase named the College after one of the lords and named the town after the other. Although archivists cannot find any documented use of the nickname ‘Lords’ before the 1950s, it is clear the name evolved in honor of the generous noblemen. Shortly after the College became coed in 1969, the women’s athletics teams took on ‘Ladies’ as their moniker.

Kenyon College today:

There are 33 majors leading to a bachelor's degree. In addition, the College offers 13 concentrations; pre-professional advising for graduate or professional school in business, education, engineering, law, and medicine; and a number of cooperative programs involving other institutions.


Kenyon brings together 1,600 young men and women to study with nearly 200 professors on an exceptionally beautiful hilltop campus in central Ohio.

Famous graduates:

John Green (born August 24, 1977) is The New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars, which rose to number one in 2012. Though his genre is young adult, his writing has won acclaim among critics who recommend his books for readers of all ages.

Bill Watterson (born July 5, 1958) honed his wit at Kenyon where, as a political science major, he encountered philosophers John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, inspiring the characters of his legendary cartoon strip. At the height of its popularity, Calvin and Hobbes was featured in more than 2,400 newspapers worldwide.

Interesting facts about Kenyon College:

A whopping 99% of Kenyon College's tenure-track faculty hold a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their fields.

Over 85% of Kenyon College students participate in an intercultural, international, and meaningful experience, such as home stays or cultural research projects, in durations of three to nine months. There are 59 programs in 25 countries on six continents.