Kenyon’s pool of investment funds is not an all-purpose checking account but a series of specific commitments for the long-term support of faculty, programs or scholarships. Half of all gifts to Kenyon’s “Our Path Forward” campaign will go to such perpetually invested funds. Only with a larger endowment can Kenyon remain competitive with our peer colleges, most of which have endowments larger than Kenyon’s when measured on a per-student basis.

The importance of the endowment is easy to see when discussing financial aid: the pool of students for America’s colleges is growing more diverse and in greater financial need. We also seek to create endowed funds that will enhance how we prepare students for post-graduate success — for example, by improving our career development office or financially supporting students to take unpaid internships that lead to career success.

We have made great progress with our endowment over the past 20 years. Our annualized return on our endowment for the decade ending June 30, 2017, was 4.5 percent (after manager fees and expenses), and that period includes the 2008-09 downturn. However, the needs of a 21st-century liberal arts education demand that we bolster our endowment. Our pool of invested funds was about $400 million in the summer of 2018, and in recent years a little over 5 percent of that value has contributed to the College’s expenses — but that covers far less of our annual operating budget than is the case at most of our peer institutions.

That’s the gap we need to shrink.