Kenyon’s Board of Trustees voted Monday to put the school on the hook for a staggering $15.3 million to keep it afloat, a sum that the college is asking for in exchange for an emergency bailout from the state of Mississippi.
The school, which began in 1868, has been struggling for years.
Its enrollment has dwindled to about 3,500 students, its enrollment base has shrunk to just over 500, and it is not even allowed to operate on campus, with the exception of the dorms, for the school’s incoming freshman class.
The board voted to approve the emergency bailout at a meeting in the school building on Tuesday.
Kenyon has been the subject of a state investigation into alleged misconduct at its administrative office, and the state’s attorney general has said he is examining the school for possible civil rights violations.
While Kenyon, which has struggled to attract enrollment, is not allowed to hold football games or other major events on campus and cannot hold an alumni event, Kenyon officials say they are still in negotiations with the state to play a bowl game.
“We want to be able to compete with other universities for people’s time,” said Kenyon senior Ryan Lillie.
Lillie said Kenyons enrollment has decreased from about 3 to about 500 since the school started, and he said it is a concern that Kenyon is not able to hold games on campus.
He said the school needs to play football and other sports on campus to stay afloat.
“We have a lot of money to spend on football, basketball, men’s basketball, basketball and lacrosse, and we need to be spending our money on the things that make Kenyon great,” Lillies said.
Kenyon is located in the town of Kenyon in the Mississippi Delta.
The college was founded by William R. Fales, a former Mississippi governor and president of the University of Mississippi, who died in January.
Kenyon is also in a difficult financial position because the school is not permitted to operate as an independent school, and its annual operating budget is only about $2.5 million.
But the school board said the emergency loan, which would come from the Kenyon administration, is necessary to help the college survive.
The state is seeking $15 million in aid to cover its costs.
Kenys board said it did not receive a formal request for funding for the loan, but that Kenytons financial woes were not caused by the administration, but by financial problems within the university.
The Kenyys budget was about $5 million in FY 2015, but was only about half that when the school was created in 1866, the board said.