GAMBIER — Kenyon College held its 181st commencement on Saturday. Held in the Kenyon Athletic Center, the threat of a thunderstorm forced the ceremony to be moved indoors for the first time in recent memory.
Among the 329 graduates in the class of 2009 were four local residents: Aileen Claire Caldwell, Gambier; Hannah Halpin Markley, Gambier; Victoria Anne Baumann, Mount Vernon; and Chester R. Liwosz, Centerburg.
The commencement address was delivered this year by Roger Rosenblatt, a prolific essayist whose literary efforts also embrace fiction, drama and memoir. In addition to presenting diplomas to the graduating seniors, the college conferred an honorary doctor of letters degree on Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt’s career has included stints as the literary editor and a columnist for the New Republic, as well as a columnist for the Washington Post. He is perhaps best known for his television essays on the PBS “NewsHour” program. His television essays earned him an Emmy and a Peabody award.
Rosenblatt has also written for Time magazine, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and Esquire.
He spoke about being a writer and began his presentation with a story about moving to New England and asking a local man with a backhoe to build a basketball court for his son.
“I went out every day to watch him work,” Rosenblatt recounted. “One day he came up to me and said ‘There’s another fellow down the road just like you.’ How’s that? I asked. ‘He don’t work neither.’”
Kenyon College honored the retirement of three faculty members at the ceremony, with each faculty member receiving an honorary doctorate in his or her particular discipline.
Those honored were Michael J. Evans, professor of history and humanities; Perry C. Lentz, Charles P. McIlvaine Professor of English; and Linda M. Smolak, Samuel B. Cummings Jr. Professor of Psychology. John Kazuo Lutton, professor of chemistry, was awarded a degree posthumously. Lutton died suddenly on May 9. His degree was accepted by his son, J. Michael Lutton.