Pulitzer poet Yusef Komunyakaa to deliver final Scholars' Convocation

Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

Writers@Grinnell will welcome three interdisciplinary and intercultural writers during April readings on the Grinnell College campus.

On Apr. 7, Russian poet Ilya Kaminsky and novelist Gary Shteyngart will read from their published works during interdisciplinary events in Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Kaminsky, who will read at 4:15 p.m., is the author of “Dancing In Odessa” which was recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Poetry and ForeWord magazines. Last year he published an anthology of 20th century poetry in translation, and in 2009, poems from his manuscript “Deaf Republic,” were awarded Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize.

Shteyngart, who will read at 8 p.m., was named one of The New Yorker magazine’s “20 under 40” luminary fiction writers in 2010. His novels, including “Absurdistan” and “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” have received high praise from The Guardian, New York Times Book Review, Time, and the Washington Post. Both events are co-sponsored by the Department of Russian.

Writers@Grinnell will sponsor an Apr. 28 Scholars’ Convocation by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, whose poetry first received attention in 1984 for use of colloquial speech with jazz influences. Komunyakaa earned a Bronze Star from service in Vietnam, and his writing about the war has been cited among the best of the genre. His convocation reading will be at 11 a.m. in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center on the Grinnell campus.

On May 12, Writers@Grinnell will also host a reading by student writers for The Grinnell Review, the college’s literary journal, at 8 p.m. in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Works by the authors are available from the Pioneer Bookshop in downtown Grinnell. The college welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. If accommodations are needed, please call 641-269-3235 as soon as possible to make a request.


Center for Prairie Studies analyzing "Iowa's Troubled Waters" Apr. 6-7

Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - Grinnell College’s Center for Prairie Studies will co-sponsor a two-day symposium analyzing “Iowa’s Troubled Waters: the Challenges of Quality and Quantity.” The Apr. 6-7 symposium, also hosted by the college’s Luce Program in Nations and the Global Environment, will explore Iowa’s water problems and possibilities

. “The global concerns for water—too much, too little, potable, polluted—are all right here in Iowa,” said Jon Andelson, director of the Center for Prairie Studies. “Iowa’s relationship with water has become increasingly troubled of late by growing groundwater contamination and unusually heavy rains. We’ve gathered Iowa experts to consider these challenges and potential solutions.”

The free, public symposium events include:

  •  Wed., Apr. 6, 4:15 p.m.: Keith Schilling, a research geologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will open the symposium with a challenge for the audience to consider options in “Water Quality in Iowa: It’s Our Choice.”
  •  Wed., Apr. 6, 7 p.m.: Representatives of Iowa’s public sector will discuss “Flooding: River Community Perspectives.” Panelists include Ann Hamilton Campbell, mayor of Ames and a 1962 Grinnell graduate; Des Moines Public Works Director Bill Stowe, a 1981 graduate; Steve Estenson, risk manager for Linn County; and Tim Schoon, a photojournalist for the University of Iowa and a 1991 graduate.
  •  Thurs., Apr. 7, 11 a.m.: Author and ecologist Connie Mutel will discuss “Water in Iowa: From Gift to Curse and Back Again.” Mutel is an archivist and historian of science and engineering at the University of Iowa's hydroscience and engineering institute, home of the Iowa Flood Center. She has written about Iowa’s natural history and environmental change issues, and her most recent books include “The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa” (2008) and “A Watershed Year: Anatomy of Iowa’s 2008 Floods” (2010).
  •  Thurs., Apr. 7, 4:30 p.m.: The Center for Prairie Studies will host a hands-on, “get wet” exploration of Arbor Lake in the town of Grinnell. Assistant Professor of Biology Elizabeth Queathem and Larissa Mottl, the college’s biological field station manager, will involve participants in water quality testing procedures and discuss the benefits of conservation practices at the lake. All participants should RSVP to and indicate transportation needs. The event will begin promptly at 4:30 at the lake’s Washington Ave. parking lot. Those needing transportation from campus to Arbor Lake should meet at the Rosenfield Center 8th Ave. dropoff no later than 4:15 p.m.
  •  Thurs., Apr. 7, 7:30 p.m.: Screening of “Big River,” co-sponsored by the college’s chapter of Free the Planet.

All symposium events will be held in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, unless otherwise noted. Questions about the symposium may be referred to Laureen Van Wyk at the Center for Prairie Studies,, 641-269-4720.


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anna Quindlen to address Class of 2011

Thursday, Mar. 17, 2011 12:00 am | Contact: *Editor's note: release distributed as "the college's 165th Exercises of Commencement;" should have read "Exercises of Commencement in the 165th year of the college."

Grinnell, IA - Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author Anna Quindlen will address the Grinnell College Class of 2011 at the Exercises of Commencement in the 165th year of Grinnell College, on Mon., May 23, at 10 a.m. on Central Campus.* Quindlen, the author of five best-selling novels and seven non-fiction books, has been a major contributor for more than 35 years to some of the country’s most influential newspapers and magazines. She won the Pulitzer in 1992 for her New York Times column “Public and Private,” and from 2000 to 2009, wrote the widely recognized “Last Word” column for Newsweek. As commencement speaker, Quindlen will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree from Grinnell. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Harvard genome scientist Pardis Sabeti (honorary doctor of science); “Imponderables” author and pop culture observer David Feldman, a 1971 Grinnell graduate (honorary doctor of letters); and Henry Wilhelm, an internationally recognized expert on long-term photographic preservation and a member of the Grinnell Class of 1968 (honorary doctor of science). Grinnell College, which annually confers B.A. degrees on more than 350 students, is a nationally recognized, private, four year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations, and pre-professional programs. In the event of inclement weather, the May 23 commencement ceremony will be held in the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center. The ceremony will also be livestreamed at For further information about Grinnell College commencement, go to -30-

Grinnell Singers in concert in South during spring break tour

Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

The Grinnell Singers, a 45-voice choral ensemble from Grinnell College, will present concerts, March 20-25, in churches in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Houston, Austin, and Dallas, as part of a spring break tour.

The Grinnell Singers’ concert repertoire will span six centuries, with selections from Renaissance England and 19th-century Russia to contemporary music from England and America, gospel-styled music, and folksongs. Directed by Professor of Music John Rommereim, the Singers’ tour schedule will include:

Mar. 20, 5 p.m.: Country Club United Methodist Church, 400 W. 57th St., Kansas City, Mo.

Mar. 21, 7:30 p.m.: Oklahoma City St. Paul’s Cathedral, 127 NW 7th (at Robinson), Oklahoma City, Okla.

Mar. 23, 7 p.m.: Brentwood Baptist Church, 13033 Landmark Dr., Houston, Tex.

Mar. 24, 7 p.m.: St. James Episcopal Church, 1941 Webberville Rd., Austin, Tex.

Mar. 25, 7 p.m.: Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, 14115 Hillcrest Rd., Dallas, Tex.

The singers will also perform a “home from tour” concert with guest conductor Simon Carrington on Sun., Apr. 17 at 2 p.m. in Sebring-Lewis Hall, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, on the Grinnell College campus.

The Grinnell Singers, known for their innovative and adventurous choral programming, have premiered more than 20 choral works in the past five years, under Rommereim’s direction. Rommereim is active as a composer, singer, and scholar whose work is centered in the areas of Russian choral music and early music performance. Each year the choir presents concerts across the U.S. and has traveled to Estonia, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. The group has also been invited to perform at two regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association.

Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations, and pre-professional programs.


Madres de Plaza de Mayo appearance on campus Mar. 17

Monday, Mar. 7, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

Human rights activists from the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, an Argentine organization fighting for justice for those who disappeared during the1976-1983 state terror, will discuss their efforts during a Grinnell College visit, Mar. 16-17. The activists, who have worked for more than three decades to be re-united with the disappeared, will discuss both the history of the movement and plans for the future.

On Wed., Mar. 16, 7:30 p.m.: Kris Thalhammer, professor of political science at St. Olaf College, will provide background on the Dirty War and the human rights movement in “Mobilizing for Human Rights: Lessons Learned from the Mothers of the Plaza and Other Nonviolent Activists.”

On Thurs., Mar. 17, 11 a.m.: Carmen Lapacó and Maria Adela Antokoletz, representing the Madres, will discuss “Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo Linea Fundadora: Thirty-Four Years in the Struggle for Truth, Justice and Memory in Argentina.” At 4:15 p.m., the activists will hold a Q&A session about plans for the future of the movement. Both sessions will be interpreted Spanish to English.

The Madres de Plaza de Mayo risked their lives to organize their first public protest in 1977 in Buenos Aires, the site of Argentina’s military rule. The group has continued to meet each Thursday in the Buenos Aires’ plaza and has been pivotal in international attempts to bring military rulers to justice. Their message of peace and political strife has spread over 30-plus years to the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Vatican and beyond as they have worked on behalf of the disappeared. Their work has also inspired similar movements in Latin American countries and contributed to efforts to stop forced disappearances throughout the world.

The events, which are co-sponsored with St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., will be held in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center on the Grinnell College campus. For more information, contact Sarah Purcell,, 641-269-3091.

New College Preschool Laboratory construction plans announced

Thursday, Mar. 3, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

The Grinnell College Preschool Laboratory, where many area preschoolers begin their worldly adventures, will have a new home on Park St., with construction to begin this spring. The popular laboratory program is currently housed in a 1970s-style building at 1207 Park St. that was intended to be temporary and now requires new construction to meet current and future educational needs.

The preschool, directed by Karen Veerhusen-Langerud, serves approximately 50 local children each year and holds a five-star rating from the Iowa Department of Human Services, The facility also serves as a real-time laboratory for approximately 100 Grinnell College psychology students who observe and interact with the preschoolers for introductory coursework. An additional 20-40 upper-level students conduct developmental psychology research projects there.

“Our high-quality preschool program has outgrown this aging facility that was only intended to be temporary when it was moved in 40 years ago,” said Marci Sortor, vice president for institutional planning. “Both the community children in attendance and the Grinnell students conducting research there need appropriate space and up-to-date facilities that match the quality of the educational program.”

The planned construction site for the new $1.75 million preschool laboratory is in the 1000 block of Park St., on the south perimeter of the campus, near Drake Community Library. The college will offer the two-story house at 1022 Park St. for sale for $1 with removal in April at owner expense. The current preschool structure will also be removed following construction of the new facility.

A community comment session about the construction plans is set for Thurs., Mar. 10 at 7 p.m. at Drake Community Library. Members of the community who are interested in learning more about the proposed construction plans are invited to attend. Questions about the house removal may be referred to Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community enhancement and engagement,


"The Rimers of Eldritch" on stage Mar. 10-13

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - The Grinnell College Department of Theatre and Dance will stage “The Rimers of Eldritch” by Lanford Wilson, Mar. 10-13, in Flanagan Arena Theatre in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts on the Grinnell campus.

The play, directed by Professor Emeritus of Theatre Sandy Moffett, focuses on the murder of an aging hermit by a woman who mistakenly thought he was committing rape when he was actually trying to prevent an assault from taking place. As the murder trial unfolds, presided over by a character who serves as both judge and preacher, the audience observes how the prejudice of locals against outsiders obscures truth and justice. The production’s subject matter is considered not suitable for children under the age of 16.

Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. for the Mar. 10, 11 and 12 performances and 2 p.m. for the Sun., Mar. 13 performance. Tickets are required for this free event and may be obtained at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts ticket office beginning Mar. 2 from 12-5 p.m. daily. The Bucksbaum Center for the Arts is located at 1108 Park St. on the Grinnell College campus. Box office and ticket information is available at or by calling 641-269-4444.


Expert in religious violence to deliver next Scholars' Convocation

Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA -  

Mark Juergensmeyer, director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, will deliver a Scholars’ Convocation lecture on “Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State,” Thurs., Mar. 3 at 11 a.m. in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center on the Grinnell College campus.

An expert on religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics, Juergensmeyer has, since 9/11, been a frequent guest on CNN, NBC, CBS, BBC, NPR, Fox News, ABC’s “Politically Incorrect,” and CNBC’s “Dennis Miller Show.” His acclaimed 2003 book, “Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence” is based on interviews with religious activists, including Hamas leaders and abortion clinic bombers. His Grinnell Scholars’ Convocation will be based on his widely-read 2008 book by the same title.

Juergensmeyer, a professor of sociology and affiliate professor of religious studies at UCSD, will also deliver Grinnell’s annual Gates Lecture on "Rethinking Religion in a Global World," Wed., Mar. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The Gates Lectures were established in memory of the college's second president, George Gates, and are intended “to bring to campus the very best of modern thought.”

Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. If accommodations are needed, please contact the event’s sponsoring organization as soon as possible to make a request.

"Utopias in Four Movements, a Live Documentary" to screen Sun., Feb. 13

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - The Grinnell College Cultural Films Committee will present a screening of “UTOPIA IN FOUR MOVEMENTS, a LIVE DOCUMENTARY!” on Sun., Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Green will be on site to narrate the documentary and cue a live soundtrack and score by Brooklyn-based band, The Quavers, of which Grinnell alumnus T. Griffin '93 is a part.

The documentary, currently offered at the Walker Center in Minneapolis, was considered “the most compelling screening” at the 2010 Sundance festival.

According to Terri Geller, assistant professor of English who worked to bring the film to Grinnell, “‘Utopia’ is the culmination of Green’s longstanding interest in the optimism of the early 20th century, and raises questions as to what impedes us in realizing so many of our collective hopes and ambitions.”

“This provocative live documentary explores the concept of utopia in the contemporary world by presenting four vignettes of experiments of the past century—from the construction of the language of Esperanto in order to promote peace through a shared language, and a “world’s largest” shopping mall in the remote city of Dongguan, China (now abandoned), to the tireless optimism of an American exile in Cuba (Tupac Shakur's aunt), and the desire to identify remains in mass graves from the Bosnian War via forensic anthropology—in a multimedia cinematic experience.”

The film was selected by Grinnell’s Cultural Films Committee for its significance in highlighting social change, internationalism and addressing broad interdisciplinary issues.


“The most compelling screening of the entire [2010 Sundance] festival. Utopia was not only utterly moving but a reminder that there is real power conjured through the irreplaceable and unreproducible experience of collectively watching cinema.” —Huffington Post

"This provocative ‘live documentary’ explores the concept of utopia in the contemporary world by presenting four vignettes on experiments of the past century— from the universal language of Esperanto to a “world’s largest” shopping mall in the remote city of Dongguan, China—in a multimedia cinematic experience. Academy Award–nominated director Sam Green offers live narration that cues a stirring pastiche of still and moving images as musician Dave Cerf mixes a live soundtrack of samples and loops. Brooklyn-based band the Quavers performs a lyrical score live. “Utopia represents a celebration of big dreams as well as an homage to cinema as collective experience and event... embodying hope, fashioning new possibilities from old dreams” San Francisco International Film Festival

Black History Month events feature author, Black Library on campus

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 12:00 am

Grinnell, IA - Author Danielle McGuire will deliver a Black History Month lecture titled “At the Dark End of the Street: Sexual Violence and the Civil Rights Movement—A New History,” at Grinnell College, Wed., Feb. 23, at 4:15 p.m. in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.

McGuire’s lecture is based on her first book, “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power,” published last year. In 2006, McGuire, who is assistant professor of history at Wayne State University, published the essay “It Was Like We Were All Raped: Sexualized Violence, Community Mobilization and the African American Freedom Struggle” in the “Best Essays in American History” anthology.

Burling Library will also host a Black History Month event featuring the college’s Black Library. The Feb. 9 event at 8 p.m. in Burling Library on Grinnell’s central campus will explore the 1970s student actions that led to the creation of the Black Library, a collection focused on African American culture and history.

The Black History Month events are co-sponsored by Concerned Black Students; the Departments of History and Sociology; the Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies Program; Grinnell College Libraries; Intercultural Student Affairs; and the Office of Diversity and Achievement. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. If accommodations are needed, please contact the event’s sponsoring organization as soon as possible to make a request.



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