National Collegiate Honors Council


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Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


The Kokosing is a small river, barely a stream after a storm, which meanders its way through the gently undulating hills and farmland of central Ohio. The Kokosing takes its name from a Native American word meaning “place of owls.” Like an owl, Kenyon College is nestled among the trees atop a hill near the Kokosing. Kenyon is a private, selective, liberal arts college of about 1600 undergraduate students founded by an Episcopal bishop named Philander (yes, Philander) Chase in 1824. During the 2011–12 academic year, I had the good fortune to complete an American Council on Education Fellowship at Kenyon under the guidance of S. Georgia Nugent, president of the institution. During my year at Kenyon, I served in an anthropological role, observing the culture of the community and the leadership of Kenyon’s senior staff. From this vantage point, I immersed myself in the life of the college and became a participant observer able to compare Kenyon with my home institution, Middle Tennessee State University, where I served as associate dean of the Honors College from 2006 to 2014. One reason I chose Kenyon was that in honors we often say that we provide a liberal arts education but with the resources and price tag of a public institution. I wanted to test the veracity of this truism by living “abroad” for a year, examining not only Kenyon but also the bevy of other liberal arts institutions in Ohio.