Kenyon has new philanthropic support for its goal to provide each student with two high-impact experiences — internships, off-campus study, research or community-engaged learning.
Christopher Toft ’89 and Nicole Dunn Toft ’92 have created the Scott A. Layson Endowed Fund to honor the innovative director of Kenyon’s Career Development Office (CDO), who passed away in 2016.
“The Tofts’ visionary gift affords more students the chance to engage in quality internships and externships around the globe and across the nation,” said Dean of Career Development Holly McCormack. “These opportunities tie theory to practice and further hone liberal arts habits of mind. Students return to the classroom with an even wider breadth of experience and depth of knowledge.”
The Our Path Forward comprehensive campaign seeks to raise $60 million in support for hands-on learning and curricular innovation that will equip students from all backgrounds to thrive in an increasingly complex world.
“When Nicole and I thought about how we could advance the campaign, we singled out this area because of the way these high-impact experiences can transform students’ sense of their own potential,” said Chris Toft, who works as the vice president of development for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Hands-on endeavors, where the stakes are real and the outcomes are not predetermined, can be decisive in helping undergraduates imagine the path ahead.”
Toft’s own college internship, with a theater company in Dublin, Ireland, gave him “wonderful experience, a priceless sense of confidence and an understanding of my own versatility,” he said.
The Tofts’ $100,000 gift will generate approximately $4,500 a year for high-impact support. “With hiring employers noting internships as one of the most important credentials for new graduates to have, building this Layson endowment also means more students will be positioned to succeed not only while at Kenyon but also upon graduating,” McCormack said.
Half of all internships nationwide are unpaid, yet graduates with internship experience have much greater success in quickly finding a job. Kenyon spends about $100,000 a year to award summer internship stipends that range from $750 to $5,000, depending on a student’s need.
The College is making progress on its high-impact practice goal first outlined in the Kenyon 2020 strategic plan: 32 percent of the Class of 2015 reported having two high-impact experiences, and that rose to 38 percent of the Class of 2017.
Layson was committed to making these experiences available to Kenyon students. He first joined Kenyon as associate director of the CDO in 2001. He left the College to become director of the internship program at The Ohio State University but returned to Kenyon in 2010 as director of the CDO.
“Scott was dedicated to helping students discern their career paths, and he understood the importance of meaningful work experiences in that process,” said Maureen Tobin P’20, senior associate director for graduate school and career advising in the CDO. “To that end, he worked tirelessly to equip students with the skills to secure internships and externships. And Scott took particular pride when this advising gave him the opportunity to connect students with alumni.”