An English teacher and mother of five is the namesake of Kenyon’s new English classroom building. On Saturday, Oct. 13, Keithley House will be dedicated in honor of Kenyon parent Marilee Keithley Roche.
“My mom was a wonderful role model,” said Daniel Matthew Voorhees ’95, a member of Kenyon’s Board of Trustees. “She is much of the reason that I came to Kenyon, because she instilled in me the importance of the written word in my life.”
The dedication ceremony will be part of the public launch of the Our Path Forward comprehensive campaign, which aims to raise $300 million for financial aid, academic programming and more, in addition to making possible a new West Quadrangle on campus.
Keithley House and an English office building next to it are the first completed spaces in the West Quad project. Kenyon is constructing a hub of interdisciplinary and innovative spaces that will include the Kenyon Commons library, an academic building for the social sciences, and an admissions and financial aid center that will welcome visitors to campus.
“It’s important that we have a modern space for the people who do the important work of a liberal arts education,” Voorhees said. “We in the business world sit in fancy offices and forget that the facilities in higher education are often not so nice. These spaces matter to the work of great professors and students, and they matter to the attracting of great talent. These new English buildings are part of that.”
Voorhees is CEO and cofounder of Anybill Financial Services, a Washington, D.C.-based provider of tax payment services. He majored in English at Kenyon.
“My parents believed in the importance of a liberal arts education,” Voorhees said. “They encouraged me to go to Kenyon and said, ‘This institution is going to open your mind so that you can posit how to think about the world and then communicate your ideas to people.’ Kenyon put me on a track to feel comfortable in expressing my thoughts, my beliefs and my values to people.”
The two seminar rooms in Keithley House should be available to host classes by November. The building also has three offices, and two are for the Kenyon Review Fellows, emerging authors who come to campus for two years to teach one Kenyon class per semester, assist with projects at the Review and work on their own writing project.
Keithley House mimics historic Sunset Cottage, built in 1856 and thus without modern infrastructure. English professors moved out of Sunset into the new, fully accessible English office building next to Lentz House at the end of August. The College plans to preserve Sunset for future use.
Kenyon’s renowned English program now has a concentrated footprint: the new buildings join Lentz on the south side of Wiggin Street and Finn House, the home of the Kenyon Review, sits just north of Wiggin. The English department has 26 faculty and graduates an average of 68 majors per year.
That Kenyon’s literary reputation continues to draw students in the 21st century is not surprising to Voorhees.
“It is ever more important that people can synthesize all the information that we receive and then get it out to the general public in a way that’s digestible and cogent,” he said. “The challenge of course is in making sure that kids from all walks of life can get this advantage of being instructed in how to apply such a clear framework to the page.”