Securing our future: 2023 and beyond
Looking forward, the progress we’ve made in 2023 ensures a strong future for Denison.
Generous support doubled need-based financial aid, putting Denison in the top two percent of colleges nationwide to meet the full, demonstrated need of all students.
Donors funded Denison Seminars, team-taught classes that combine in-classroom learning with study abroad, offering students and faculty the opportunity to explore the liberal arts in a nontraditional way.
Completed in the fall of 2020, Silverstein Hall is named for benefactor Jonathan Silverstein ’89 and offers apartment-style units and a dynamic, engaging living space for Denison seniors.
Kirsten Edwards ’77 was an attorney and small business owner, an avid reader, a hater of anything plastic, and a lover of all animals. Greg Waitley ’89 was a user experience expert, a beloved dad and husband, and an ardent sports fan whose tongue-in-cheek description of himself included “hack drummer and washed-up hockey player.” While their paths never crossed at Denison, they had something else in common — each passed away far too soon. Yet, both were surrounded by loving friends and family who wanted to see that future Denisonians would benefit in their name.
The Greg Waitley ’89 Endowed Scholarship Fund targets committed students from Chicago and environs, students who display the characteristics that best describe Greg himself — hard-working, kind, respectful, caring, and optimistic. Kris Edwards, who went back to school for an MFA, is honored through an endowed scholarship fund that commemorates her love for creative writing. By supporting students whose traits and passions are reminiscent of two cherished alums, those who love them honor their memories in perpetuity, while at the same time, creating opportunity for the next generation.
“I chose Denison for the close knit community and personalized learning experience. Without this support, I would not have been able to attend Denison,” says Lillian Ruiz, a Denison student from the northeast side of Chicago.
“Because of you, I can attend an incredible school and find a new home here on The Hill. I am able to be a figure that the other women of color in my life look up to. Thank you.”
Lillian Ruiz, recipient of the Greg Waitley ’89 Endowed Scholarship
David Baker, English professor emeritus, is a teacher, award-winning poet, and composer. John Jackson, associate professor emeritus of Black studies and religion, arrived from Harvard Divinity School to begin Denison’s Black studies program 49 years ago, bringing a strong moral compass and a passion for social justice. In recognition of their accomplishments and character, donors have endowed lasting tributes in their names.
The Dr. David Baker Research and Scholarship Excellence Award, inspired by poet Page Hill Starzinger and supported by David’s former students and colleagues, annually recognizes an exemplary Denison faculty member. The inaugural award recipient was Professor of Music Ching-chu Hu, director of Denison’s Vail Arts Series, which brings performing arts to the entire campus — an endeavor vital to a liberal arts education.
With support from current students, alums, and friends, the Dr. John L. Jackson Social Movement Leadership Endowed Fund furthers the social justice movement through internships, training, and networking opportunities that build future leaders.
By recognizing these extraordinary men, donors illuminate Denison’s faculty more broadly.
A gift from Jeff Forbes ’87 helps geopolitics, diplomacy, and global challenges come to life for 16 to 20 Denisonians annually who spend nearly two summer weeks in the nation’s capital. The Denison D.C. Experience affords them the opportunity to learn the business of Washington, both public and private, through the lens of change-makers themselves. Students keep a journal of their travels, interactions, and reflections as they absorb how officials shape security policy and how policy, in turn, shapes American responses in a dynamic and complicated world.
The program upholds Denison’s mission, educating and inspiring students to be the autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents, and active citizens of a democratic society needed in our world. The imperatives of today’s domestic and international environment require young leaders who not only solve problems but who can anticipate new challenges while thinking and working across disciplinary boundaries.
“The experience was better than I could’ve imagined. I don’t say that lightly. Having the opportunity to talk to the brightest minds in several different areas of U.S. international affairs and foreign policy opened my eyes to two things: how impactful the U.S. is on the world stage and how so many people can have so many differing viewpoints on the same complex issues. Despite the differing opinions, one message was clear: public servants are in short supply and needed to make the government work as well as it can.”
Jack Helms ’26
Denison’s lacrosse and soccer teams will have a state-of-the-art home next year, thanks to the generosity of Rick ʼ85 and Cindy Kienzle and Paul ʼ66 and Katharine Hylbert. With varsity sports legacies of their own, the families will be recognized by an enhanced stadium that bears their names and marks a new chapter in the story of Big Red athletics.
The Kienzle family made a leadership gift earlier this year and hoped to motivate other Denisonians to do the same. “I want to invest in world-class facilities for our world-class students,” said Rick Kienzle, who played on Denison’s nationally ranked 1985 lacrosse team. “Denison is on a winning streak, and I want to build on that trajectory.”
Recognizing a transformational opportunity, the Hylberts committed to a leadership gift. “Students learn in the classroom, on stage, through campus leadership opportunities, and as they train and compete on the field. Coming from a sports-loving and competitive family and having played for Denison myself, this gift is a meaningful investment for us,” said Paul Hylbert.
With support from Denison alums, parents, and families, Kienzle-Hylbert Stadium will ensure that future Big Red athletes flourish on the field. It will feature a new multi-use synthetic turf field, a press box, permanent bleachers, lighting, and a new scoreboard that will help bring athletic events to life. Thanks to the families’ philanthropy, the stadium will open for the 2024 lacrosse season. The new facility will help win recruits, better serve current student athletes, and provide spectators with a more enjoyable experience.
A school known for creating lasting relationships, Denison is now strengthening one of our most important partnerships — the one between the college and our alums. Bolstering alumni engagement over a lifetime is a critical part of Denison’s future, and with good reason. Our alums are our ambassadors to the world, and their success is the best proof of the efficacy of a Denison education. Sustaining an ongoing relationship will bring value to both graduates and their alma mater.
Thanks to the support of Denison life trustee Dana Hart ’76, we are a step closer to reimagining meaningful alumni engagement. Her leadership gift will spark growth in five targeted areas, each informed by audience research. Extending Denison’s successful career launch initiatives to alums five years out is a top priority, as is instituting a robust course of lifelong learning for all alums. Denison also plans to expand the alumni network through virtual, regional, affinity and on-campus experiences. Finally, we will shape volunteer opportunities, such as professional mentoring, that encourage alums to give of their talent as well as their treasure and communicate and listen with greater frequency.
A gift to the Annual Fund is the most flexible way to support Denison. Annual Fund giving lets us capitalize on opportunity and pivot to meet challenges. We are grateful for gifts of all sizes. In 2023, Denison’s Annual Fund benefitted every student and programs on every corner of campus.
For example, your gifts funded:
As stewards of the natural world, Denison recently purchased our first electric vehicle and added living landscapes using native plants essential to maintaining the local ecosystem.
Denisonians took to the stage for 112 performances, and more than 100 academic classes engaged with the Denison Museum’s collections and exhibitions this past year.
A nationally prominent aquatics facility helped Denison’s Big Red women’s swimming and diving team become NCAA Division III national champions, and Big Red athletics combined for 11 total conference championships.
The new Spiritual Life Center at Gilpatrick House, which welcomes students of all faiths, hosted 350 events on campus last year.
Ensuring every student receives a quality liberal arts education, Denison meets 100% of demonstrated student financial need, with 97% of students receiving merit scholarships or need-based aid.
A consistent top producer of Fulbright students, Denison is a leader in securing prestigious fellowships, while many students also take advantage of the 16 career coaches who provide 3,800 consultations yearly.
“This summer, I am doing an internship for a renewable gas company called Opal Fuels. Without Denison and the connections I have been gifted with here, I do not think I would be able to do such an awesome internship. My goal after graduation is to move into a full time position in the renewable energy industry and hopefully get an MBA. I am so excited for the future and feel so well equipped because of my time at Denison.”
Myles Beale ’24