To prepare for the 50th anniversary, focus groups of alumnae met with the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement to help Kenyon chart the way forward. Based on these discussions, the year-long celebration will include events and programs designed to engage the campus community in discussions of issues related to the anniversary. Alumnae from the Class of 1973 through the Class of 2017 also helped create themes to aid the Kenyon community in honoring this transformative moment.
Kenyon's first tenured female professor arrived on the Hill at the same time as the first full class of women. Along with recognizing these pioneers, Kenyon's anniversary event will honor the College's first sorority, its first female coaches, its first female chair of the Board of Trustees and its first woman president.
The first women on campus were, on paper, admitted to a “coordinate college,” not Kenyon itself, and they were not allowed to sign the Matriculation Book. Residences were not ready for them, and some College buildings lacked restrooms for women. Some men were allies of the first women, but other men actively resisted the change.
Just a few years after women were admitted to Kenyon, the federal Title IX act required equality in collegiate athletics, and women began running for political office in greater numbers. The dialogue surrounding Kenyon's 50th anniversary aims to include the larger historical perspective without generalizing. Multiple viewpoints of feminism will be heard and celebrated.
Kenyon is increasing its efforts to create pathways to professional success for its alumnae — especially in easing the post-graduation transition to new cities. Julia Tidona ’14 and other energized volunteers in New York City, in coordination with Dean for Career Development Holly McCormack, began work on this network last year and efforts are now expanding to Washington, D.C., and Chicago. A formal online group is now part of the Kenyon Career Network.
The 50th anniversary of coeducation is a chance to plan Kenyon's next era of expanding inclusion and equality. For instance, the focus groups asked that women be further integrated into volunteer roles within the College and that sororities and other groups without legacy membership get more assistance from the College.