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Institutional Planning

Institutional Planning develops and supports Grinnell’s strategic planning, budget planning, and campus planning processes. Institutional Planning serves to guide, and to serve as a resource for sustainable, collaborative institution-wide strategic, campus, and budget planning.

Tutorial: A Laughing Matter

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author: Ross Preston '10

Thinking back to the summer before I came to Grinnell, I recall an inordinate amount of anticipation for everything Grinnell-related that came my way. I would check my Grinnell e-mail account, only to find no new messages. I was constantly thinking of new things to bring to school. And I probably spent too much time on Facebook, discussing my excitement with future classmates.

One of the more interesting things we talked about was which section of the First- Year Tutorial we wanted to get. Tutorial is required for all first-year students — it teaches college-level research, writing, and presentation while examining some fascinating topic in depth.

Incoming first-year students receive information about all of the tutorials sometime over the summer; they send back their top five choices, rank-ordered, by a certain date to get a spot in one of those five. For my number one choice, I went with the simple title “Comedy,” mainly because I’ve always had an interest in the stand-up variety of comedy and because the course description said we would be watching Pulp Fiction, easily one of my favorite films. I actually had no idea what I was getting into, let alone that it would be perhaps the best class I ever took.

Taught by Erik Simpson, an English professor, the course had four units: theories of comedy/humor, fairy tales, Pride and Prejudice, and lastly, modern films. Each student would write a paper on something from each unit, and once during the semester, every person would receive a workshop-style critique of his/ her writing. Despite the wildly varying subject areas, the course was united by a constant attention to comedy, mostly as a literary genre.

Neither Erik nor anyone else could have anticipated the way the class turned out, which was as funny as the things we were supposed to be studying. Many different people said hilarious things throughout the semester, and the class managed to find ways to inject humor into serious and often thought-provoking discussions. We also worked hard at improving our individual reading and writing skills, which is the intent of any tutorial offered at Grinnell. But I have a hard time believing any other tutorial has had so much fun and so many laughs in doing so.

One of the ways Erik created this enjoyable experience was through the informal but serious atmosphere he established with the class. Early on, he divided the class into two groups: “talkers” and “non-talkers.” Placing the two groups in separate classrooms, he also distributed separate handouts for us to discuss with our group before we were to reconvene. The questions were about class participation, literally “talking” in class, which can be a big thing for new students and is something tutorial aims to help first-years work at as well. Sitting with a group of people who talked about as much as I did helped me discover that college isn’t any more intimidating than any class back in high school.

A great example of one of our open class sessions was the day when everyone had to bring a joke to class. Advised to avoid the “dirty” variety, someone would tell the joke and then the class would analyze how the joke did its work. There is always the danger of taking away all of the fun when performing this kind of exercise, but that never seemed to happen. We laughed at the jokes, and the analysis was never excessive or too basic. It was very instructive to realize how the set-up of a joke was structured.

Not every tutorial is as funny as ours — it’s hard to find comedy in plant genes or imperial regimes — but being able to learn and improve your writing skills while having fun is something I know you’ll experience no matter what tutorial you choose.

Ross Preston '10 is an English major from Ponte Vedra, Florida.


Choosing Grinnell's future

In July 2011, as he concluded his first year at Grinnell, President Raynard S. Kington charted a 31-city regional alumni event schedule — starting in London in July 2011 and concluding in late-May 2012 in Seoul, Korea. At each stop, Kington delivered his “Choosing Grinnell’s Future” message, plus current news from campus.

Grinnellians seemed to appreciate the outreach. “Please convey to Dr. Kington my thanks for his trip to Denver to meet with Colorado Grinnellians. Although I read his remarks in a recent issue of Grinnell Magazine, it stimulated more thought on my part regarding how (and why!) I support Grinnell,” wrote Nancy Gallagher Mendenhall ’64 from Denver.

“This was such an inspiring event. I think alums, overall, feel that President Kington is making an effort to reach out, and that in turn creates a desire for alums to give back,” Margaret Higginson ’01 said about the Seattle event.

“This was an excellent way to meet alums in the area; I had no idea there were so many! Dr. Kington’s speech also made me feel more connected to what’s going on at Grinnell currently,” said Laura Wilson ’10, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Most cities on the alumni event schedule bested both 10-year average attendance and historical event records.

Details of next year’s tour will be posted on the Loggia soon.

Choosing Grinnell’s Future

Listen to Kington's message on Choosing Grinnell's Future, recorded live in Iowa City, Iowa, or read the transcript of Choosing Grinnell's Future.

You can also read "Choosing Grinnell's Future," in The Grinnell Magazine, Fall 2010, pages 10–17.

Strategic Planning Update 9/30/2011

Thu, 2011-09-29 16:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


The Strategic Planning process, begun with a Board of Trustees retreat in June, is in full swing on campus with students, faculty, staff, and alumni involved in working groups on an aggressive timeline.  A 24-member Steering Committee, co-chaired by David Lopatto, chair of the faculty, and Angela Voos, special assistant to the President, leads the working groups which are focused on idea generation and data collection for five key topics:

  • Distinctiveness of Grinnell College
  • Teaching and learning
  • Enrollment
  • Post-Graduation Success
  • Alumni Engagement


Each working group will also consider how the specified topic can address eight cross-cutting themes important to the college community.  The one-year timeline anticipates that working groups will submit ideas by the end of fall semester for budget, market testing and analysis in the spring.

Grinnellians on campus will receive regular updates via email, the Laurel Leaf, town hall meetings, and Pioneer Web;  Grinnellians off-campus will receive periodic strategic planning updates via Grinnell News Online, the Loggia, and the Grinnell Magazine.  Comments are welcomed via the Strategic Planning website, email at sp[at]grinnell[dot]edu, or text to 612-STRATGY (612-787-2849).

A student delegate to the Atlantic Treaty Association

Mon, 2009-11-23 13:13 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Cy Mistry ’11 has learned much about political science in the classrooms of Grinnell College. His interest has carried him far from Iowa to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he recently had the opportunity to dive into the real world of international politics at the 55th General Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association. Student delegates discussed issues like the future of Afghanistan, as well as European dependency on Russian gas and oil, with international leaders and diplomats representing their countries at the conference.

With support from the Center for International Studies, Mistry traveled to the conference from Granada, Spain, where he is pursuing off-campus study. To prepare for the experience, Mistry studied the history and evolution of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), along with the issues of international relations to be discussed.

Mistry credits his liberal arts education at Grinnell for helping him contend with the wide range of topics discussed, as well as the intensity of the panels. “Though the conference was centered on issues pertaining to international relations, panel discussions often ended up covering a variety of subjects — including environmental sciences, religion, and economics — and it became evident that many of the students/delegates had a great understanding of political science, but were oftentimes unfamiliar with some of the concepts discussed, such as alternative energy in the Black Sea region,” Mistry says.

Because of the diversity of the delegates, he says, the opinions varied greatly over the role of the ATA and NATO, international relations issues, and even Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. However, the delegates displayed solidarity in their sympathy for the victims of the suicide bombing outside of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on October 8. This gesture of goodwill is an example of the overlying attitude of community pervasive throughout the conference, Mistry says. Though opinions differed, everyone was open to the opinions and ideas of all delegates, no matter their age or nationality. Respect was key in having the conference run smoothly, he adds.

Mistry recognizes the advantage of hearing so many differing opinions. “Often, information about these topics in the United States is limited by the fact that we only have one view on the issue at hand, and hearing participants from 30-odd countries fiercely discuss a topic such as NATO expansion has broadened my viewpoint tremendously.” The immersion of the students in a real political conference enabled them to experience the diplomatic process firsthand. Mistry cites “the importance of maintaining peace and security in the international community, as well as the importance of a functioning democracy” as two of the most important lessons he took away from the unforgettable experience.

For a more detailed look at his trip, check out Mistry’s blog.