Pictured from left, A.J. Allen ’22, David Rose ’81, Gregor Bates ’22 and Kyle Laux ’03 at Davenport & Company’s office in Richmond, Virginia.

If you’re trying to find David Rose ’81 during Homecoming Weekend in Gambier, checking McBride Field is a safe bet. A former Kenyon football player himself and a longtime supporter of the team, Rose is too energetic and gregarious to simply sit in the stands — rather, he’ll be up and about at the top of the stadium, shaking hands and handing out cards, but with one eye always on the game.

Forging connections on campus has become something of a specialty for Rose, who has introduced 21 Kenyon grads to the financial industry in his capacity as senior vice president and manager of public finance at Richmond, Virginia-based Davenport & Company. (The total will rise to 22 this summer, when Cameron Williston ’25 plans to complete an internship.) Rose doesn’t play favorites — and Davenport also recruits from many other top universities and liberal arts colleges — but he does believe Kenyon graduates tend to make excellent employees.

“Kids that go here just have a certain mental mindset that sets them up for success,” Rose said. “They’re very diligent; they’re appreciative.” 

After the Homecoming game (at which the Owls took down the Hiram Terriers by 24 points), Rose sat down to meet with a junior economics major curious about summer internship opportunities. Then, over cups of hot apple cider outside Wiggin Street Coffee, he shared his own Kenyon story. 

Anyone who met Rose during his college days might not have pegged him as being destined for the cutthroat world of finance. Initially planning to follow a favorite uncle’s footsteps from Kenyon into the medical field, Rose majored in chemistry, but discovered passions for history and religious studies with professors Don Rogan and the newly arrived Royal Rhodes. Working in the admissions office meant Rose was often on campus during college break periods, so he became a frequent guest in faculty members’ homes, and was a sought-after babysitter for clients including President Philip Jordan and his wife, Sheila. 

After deciding not to attend medical school, Rose considered a career in academia, and was accepted to and attended Harvard Divinity School following the guidance of Rogan and Rhodes. But “that all got cut short because the economy was so bad” in the early 1980s, he said. With his parents tightening their belts during a business downturn and his younger brother still in school at Kenyon, Rose turned toward a more lucrative field. 

Kenyon networking led Rose to Wall Street, where he secured his first finance industry job after connecting with his uncle’s one-time Kenyon roommate. Rose married his wife, Linda, a Mount Vernon native, at Harcourt Parish’s Church of the Holy Spirit, in a ceremony officiated by Rogan. The couple had four children, and when they were still young, the family decided to relocate from New York City to a slower pace of life in Richmond, with Rose joining Davenport in 1998. (Among other clients across the country, his projects in Ohio over the years have ranged from helping nearby Knox Community Hospital with a refinancing plan to serving as financial advisor for the city of Cincinnati.) A few years later, he hired his first Kenyon alumnus, Kyle Laux ’03, who has stayed at the company for two decades and is now a senior vice president.

The Lifer

“If you had asked me at the time, I would have said ‘No way I’ll still be here 20 years later’,” Laux said. But a combination of strong mentorship from Rose, an attractive corporate culture and “a really nice business practice that fits super well with a Kenyon liberal arts education” inspired Laux to stick around. The swimmer and economics major counts Rose as one of three Kenyon figures who have been major inspirations to him, alongside retired coach Jim Steen and Jack Au ’73. “They’ve all taught me, in their own way, the value of really buying into your alma mater,” he said. “Not just when you’re there, but for the rest of your life, and how rewarding it can be to continue perpetuating that.” 

“I gave Kyle a life sentence and he’s taken it,” Rose joked. Indeed, one of Rose’s greatest assets might be his ability to retain top talent, which Laux credits to his leadership techniques. “As hard as you work in the office, he’s going to make sure that you’re taken care of outside of the office,” Laux said. Rose “engenders the support of everybody around him. … The majority of our senior people have been here for multiple decades. That is very rare in the world of business and finance.” 

The Swimmer

Rose’s next Kenyon hire was Gabe Rodrigues ’05, a friend of Laux’s from the swim team. Rodrigues, a native of Brazil, initially felt like a fish out of water in Richmond, but Rose “helped me learn and embrace Southern culture,” he said. “David treated me like a nephew. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, all those kinds of things at his house.”

But Rose didn’t let this hospitality get in the way of business. “He scared me a little bit,” Rodrigues recalled. “There was no ‘Kenyon crowd’ or anything like that. He treated everybody equally in the office: he was really tough with everybody.” Not one to hide his opinions, Rose is also a master of disagreeing with others with civility, according to Rodrigues. “He and I have pretty different ideologies, but he still respected and loved me, and he was very welcoming.”

After three years, Rodrigues moved on from Davenport — “He wrote this incredible referral letter for me and I ended up getting this really big job in New York; it’s like 99% because of David” — eventually landing in his current position as chief financial officer of Netflix’s Latin American operations. But Rodrigues is far from the last Kenyon student to start their career with Rose. 

The New Hires

“David has played a pivotal role in shaping my professional journey and personal growth,” said Gregor Bates ’22, who joined Davenport as a public finance analyst after double majoring in economics and mathematics at Kenyon. “It’s individuals like David who make me want to maintain a lasting connection with the College.” Originally hailing from the United Kingdom, Bates noted that Rose “navigated the complex process of hiring a foreign worker with diligence and empathy, which made me feel valued and welcomed in the team.”

Bates’ classmate, A.J. Allen ’22, a fellow economics major who served as captain of the football team while at Kenyon, undertook a summer internship at Davenport before joining the company as a full-time public finance analyst after graduation. But even before arriving on the Hill, Allen learned of Rose’s commitment to Kenyon grads at an information session for potential football recruits. “Davenport was a major reason why I decided to come to Kenyon,” Allen said. “It takes a certain amount of belief in a school to continually hire graduates from that school for 20-plus years. It was in that moment that I realized the profound experience David must have had at Kenyon.”

“What Kenyon is great about is turning out graduates who think critically and can draw on a broad knowledge base to solve difficult problems,” Allen added. “And that is where David is demanding. He wants us to think critically about everything, to go beyond the obvious and see what the underlying problem and solution may be.”

The Rose family maintains a foothold on campus, too, with daughter Abigail Rose serving as Kenyon’s assistant director of student and young alumni giving — a job she’s implicitly been training for ever since being born in the household of one of Kenyon’s biggest cheerleaders. “Anytime we would be out in public and someone would be wearing Kenyon gear, it didn’t matter where we were, (my dad) would stop them and strike up a conversation and ask them about Kenyon,” Abigail said. Although not a Kenyon graduate herself, she felt an immediate connection after her father forwarded her the job posting (and then recused himself from any further alma mater-boosting input). “It felt like something that made sense” Abigail said. “I knew these really great alumni; I knew the power of the Kenyon network in the world.”

Ultimately, Rose’s desire to give recent Kenyon graduates a leg up in the job market is about paying it forward. “My passion for Kenyon is its people,” he said. “I remember very well my first interviews and saying to myself, ‘I hope someone takes a chance on me.’ And so  I just didn’t forget that. And as a result, I want to try to give some Kenyon people chances.” 

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