Our Path Forward surpasses $300 million goal

Nearly 18,000 in the Kenyon community gave to support scholarships, the student experience and more.

Coming during one of the most challenging times in memory, the generosity of 17,947 alumni, parents and friends has propelled the Our Path Forward campaign past its $300 million goal five months ahead of schedule.

To harness this extraordinary momentum, combined with a history-making $100 million gift to build three South Campus residence halls, the campaign will continue to June 30, 2024, as Our Path Forward to the Bicentennial with an increased goal of $500 million and renewed emphasis on scholarships and financial aid.

“It is remarkable, but not at all surprising, that the Kenyon community has responded so enthusiastically to the goals of this campaign, namely increasing access and opportunities for students while continuing to enhance the spaces where they live and learn. We are grateful to each person who has risen to this challenge for Kenyon’s students,” said President Sean Decatur.

Launched to the public in October 2018, the Our Path Forward campaign focused on growing the endowment for scholarships and financial aid as well as support for high-impact practices. It also led to the creation of the West Quad, featuring the new Chalmers Library, as well as academic and admissions buildings. Additionally, the campaign saw the revitalization of the village of Gambier, with a new Bookstore, Farr Apartments and more.

Our Path Forward included a $35 million cumulative goal for Kenyon’s annual funds — vital funding which makes up the difference in the operating budget each year after tuition revenue and endowment payout. That goal will be raised to $55 million over the life of the continued campaign. These funds have been especially critical as the College navigates the ongoing pandemic, providing emergency relief grants to students, ensuring that students continued to receive work-study funds even when they could not work remotely, sending laptops and other classroom supplies to students and more.

During the campaign, 1,145 alumni made their first gift to Kenyon, including more than 1,000 young alumni. Of particular note was the more than $1 million given during the 36-hour giving challenge, Kenyon Together, which included designations for causes such as diversity, equity and inclusion and the Black Student Union. In all, giving to Our Path Forward as of January 22 was $304,163,812, before the $100 million gift.

Maraleen Shields ’00, chair of the Kenyon Fund Executive Committee, extended her appreciation to her fellow alumni. “As volunteers, we spend a lot of time trying to convey to our classmates just how much every gift to Kenyon really matters. We simply would not have hit our $300 million goal — and, more importantly, been able to support Kenyon students — without each and every one of you. Thank you,” she said. 

The campaign included the creation of several new initiatives to better align donors with their interests as well as celebrate their giving. “We see each day just how much Kenyon alumni love the experiences they had with their friends and classmates on the Hill. We are constantly striving for better ways to align their love of Kenyon and their interest in lending support with College priorities to benefit students today and in the future,” said Colleen Garland, vice president for advancement.

Among the initiatives:

Henry J. Abraham Society

Henry J. Abraham ’48 H’72 P’79,’84 made a gift to the College’s annual fund every year from 1955 until his death at age 98 in February 2020. This society recognizes loyal and consecutive donors to the Kenyon Fund who make a contribution for three successive years.

Fifty Under 50

Designed in the previous campaign to help identify and encourage the next generation of alumni leaders, this encourages commitments to the Kenyon Fund of $50,000 or more. 

President’s Fund

Forty-five additional donors have committed more than $6.5 million to this endowed scholarship, launched with a lead gift from Barry F. Schwartz ’70 H’15, former chair of the Board of Trustees, for students from diverse backgrounds able to meet the intellectual demands of a Kenyon education but not the financial ones.

Women & Philanthropy

This initiative was introduced to celebrate and elevate the role women play in guiding and supporting the priorities of Kenyon. It includes new endowed (for major gifts) and companion annual fund (for gifts at any level) scholarships for Kenyon women. In its first year in FY 2019-20, 121 donors — mostly women — combined to give $134,127 to the annual scholarship.