Kenyon Seal

Kenyon College Administration

Dean of Students, Tom Edwards

Kenyon Seal

Serving as Dean of Students from 1957 - 1990, Tom Edwards had a great deal of interaction with all students, and offers his views on Kenyon's Black Students, and the formation of the Black Student Union.

Born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Thomas J. Edwards arrived at Kenyon in 1954 as the men's swimming coach and assistant director of physical education. Edwards would later go on to become the Dean of Students in 1957. In this capacity, he had a great deal of interaction with students, and oversaw a great deal of . After serving as both Dean and Associate Director of Athletics for nine years, he gave up coaching after leading the Swim team to to their eleventh consecutive OAC (Ohio Athletic Conference) championship.

Dean Edwards 1967

Dean Edwards 1990

"He [Edwards] had enough credibility with the trustees and faculty that gave him the latitude necessary to work with us...If people had been aware of what he was doing, I believe there may have been more action to impede him."

-Ulysses Hammond K73

When Black students in the the 1960s began to voice their unrest and dissatisfaction with Kenyon, Edwards was there to listen and serve as a buffer between students, administration and faculty. Edwards was instrumental in helping the Black Student Union locate a room to serve as their office, lounge and haven.

Speaking on reactions of faculty and students at the time, Edwards believes that there was indeed some concern and apprehension about the Union being formed, and there was also some support, but mostly, there was apathy.

Student Reactions  

"Nationally, BSU's were viewed as threatening...Students and administrators were not sure how to react. The question at the time was 'Are the Panthers?' Even our parents were telling us not to get involved in it."

-Ulysses Hammond K'73

All of a sudden the two minorities [women and black] were forming there own groups. It wasn't a statement about how we felt about the majority, but about how they felt about ourselves...There was a wide array of reactions. BSU's in other places had been taking over administration buildings, so there was a fear that that could happen here [Kenyon]. But there were also people who just didn't understand why they were forming at all.

-Liz Forman K73

Liz Forman K73

Speaking on the Formation of BSU and 1st year of Coeducation

Tom Stamp K73

There was support and understanding, but there was also fear and suspicion about whether it would become a separatist group.

-Tom Stamp K73

Black Student Union