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Commencement 2016

It’s been a beautiful day for the 170th Commencement of Grinnell College, celebrating the class of 2016.

Commencement exercises began at 10 a.m. at the amphitheater on Central Campus, and are now complete.

The ceremony featured an address by internationally renowned novelist Zadie Smith and the awarding of honorary degrees.

Join us as we celebrate our newest graduates. You can:

  • See a copy of the live stream on YouTube. (Higher quality video will be available later.)
  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter: @GrinnellCollege #Grinnell2016
  • Share your photos on Instagram: #GrinnellCollege or #Grinnell2016
  • Follow us on Facebook and YouTube for highlights from the day.
  • Check out the story on Snapchat: username grinnellcollege

About Zadie Smith

Zadie SmithNovelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997. Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth, is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London. The book won many honors, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). Smith’s The Autograph Man, a story of loss, obsession, and the nature of celebrity, received the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction.

In 2003 and 2013 Smith was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 “Best of Young British Novelists.” Smith’s On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her most recent novel, NW, was named as one of the “10 Best Books of 2012” by The New York Times. A tenured professor of creative writing at New York University, Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. She published one collection of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, and is working on a book of essays titled Feel Free.

About Honorary Degree Recipients

Zadie Smith will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Grinnell’s Commencement exercises.

Grinnell also will confer honorary degrees upon two alumni and a renowned educator.

Thomas Cole ’71 will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. He is U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District, serving since 2002. Cole, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House. He is currently one of only two Native American serving in Congress and was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Fred Hersch ’77 will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A pianist, composer, and one of the world’s foremost jazz artists, Hersch was described as “one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation” by Downbeat magazine. His accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition and numerous Grammy nominations. He is a member of the Jazz Studies faculty at the New England Conservatory.

Claudia Swisher will receive an honorary Doctor of Social Studies. She was an English teacher for several decades at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla., where she was admired for going above and beyond in her efforts to connect with students. She saw education as something that should be formed around the children, and not that the children and their interests should be manipulated to conform to education.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Information on commencement ceremonies is available at Grinnell’s Commencement Web page. For any further information on commencement, please call 641-269-3178.

Photo of Zadie Smith by Dominique Nabokov

Thank You, Summerfest Attendees

Grinnell College would like to thank all who attended the 2016 Grinnell College Summerfest. 

Hundreds of visitors of all ages from around Iowa and other states visited the Grinnell College campus on Saturday, June 11, for a daylong celebration of learning and discovery that included performances, workshops, lectures, and food offerings. 

If you were one of the hundreds that visited, we hope that you enjoyed the festivities and welcome any feedback.  If you were unable to attend this year, please consider joining us next year. 

We invite you to enjoy a selection of photos of the day.

Grinnell College Summerfest: create, learn, discover

Summerfest 2016

Join Grinnell College from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 11, for Summerfest, a daylong celebration of learning and discovery for curious minds of all ages.

Girl Bending Backward on TightropeFeaturing Chicago's Aloft Circus Arts: original stories through movement, dance, and aerial performances.

Come early!

Enjoy live music as well as lectures and workshops by:

  • Grinnell College faculty
  • Science Center of Iowa
  • Blank Park Zoo
  • Neverland Players
  • The Plain Mosiac
  • Eulenspiegel Puppets

Food trucks will include Bahn Me, Dragon Wagon, 515 Pi, Kona Ice, Take the Cake Gourmet Cupcakery, Grinnell College Dining Services, and Uncle Bill's Kettle Corn.

View an up-to-the moment listing of the day's offerings. Check us out on Facebook.

Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa

Two students joke around while serving the long line of patrons at the Slavic coffee houseA longstanding tradition in the Russian department, our annual Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa this year was a tremendous success, thanks to the leadership of Russian House and our Russian majors, as well as all of our Slavic and Russian-speaking international students.

A huge crowd of students, faculty, staff, and community members enjoyed Russian favorites like bliny, borscht, and pirozhki, as well as Czech, Polish, Serb, and Uzbek dishes, all prepared by students.

Maslenitsa, a traditional Orthodox holiday, is Russia’s version of Mardi Gras, during which we customarily burn a chuchelo (scarecrow) of winter. This year’s fire was spectacular, with flames leaping high against a dark blue sky. Charlie Eddy ’16 treated us to a rendition of Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky’s “Он не вернулся из боя” [“He didn't return from battle”].

Woman licks finger while holding plateful of foodThe Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa were held in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts this year, where guests enjoyed the wonderful exhibit in Falconer Gallery, “Siberia: In the Eyes of Russian Photographers.”

This event was part of our exciting extracurricular programming in the department, which also included a visit by Eric Greene ‘85, director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and former Russian ambassador John Byerle, as well as a book talk by Anya Von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, a Memoir of Food and Longing

All photos courtesy of Michaela (Misha) Gelnarova ’18.

Film Screening: Called to Walls

Dave Loewenstein ’88 is returning to campus — along with co-directors Nick Ward and Amber Hansen — for a panel discussion and film screening of Called to Walls. The free, public event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, May 6, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.

Called to Walls is "part road-movie, part inspirational small town drama, and part art documentary" that chronicles the making of giant murals in the city cores of places like Newton and Joplin, Mo.

For Loewenstein, there’s more to creating a mural than just painting the side of a building. He designs political activism prints and specializes in community-based collaborative public art projects. He’s worked on murals all over the United States, including Grinnell, as well as in Korea, Northern Ireland, and Brazil. In his experience, making a piece of public art has encouraged conversations (and offers of help) from passers-by, resulting in what he calls an “improvised gathering space.”

The events are sponsored by Alumni in the Classroom and Artists@Grinnell.

Dave Loewenstein ’88

Dave LoewensteinDave Loewenstein is a muralist, writer, and printmaker based in Lawrence, Kansas. In addition to his more than twenty public works in Kansas, examples of his dynamic and richly colored community-based murals can be found across the United States in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York City, and in Northern Ireland and South Korea.

Loewenstein’s prints, which focus on current social and political issues, are exhibited nationally and are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Yale University,  and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. He is the co-author of Kansas Murals: A Traveler’s Guide, a 2007 Kansas Notable Book Award Winner, published by the University Press of Kansas; and the co-director of the documentary film Creating Counterparts which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Kansas Filmmakers Jubilee.

Loewenstein has been recognized widely for his work, including the 2001 Lighton Prize for Arts Educator of the Year from Kansas City Young Audiences, the 2004 Tom and Anne Moore Peace and Justice Award given by the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice, a 2006 Phoenix Award from the Lawrence Arts Commission, a 2007 Kansas Press Association 1st Place Columnist Award for his column “Blank Canvas,” and in 2014 he was named one of the founding Cultural Agents for the new U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. His most recent studio project is Give Take Give, funded by the Rocket Grants program.

Critical Narratives & Creative Forms

“Critical Narratives & Creative Forms: Fresh Perspectives from the Francophone World” activities run May 1–6, and include readings, lectures, a performance and opportunities to meet with those featured:

  • Linda Brindeau, assistant professor of French, Dickinson College
  • Pascale Julio, Haitian stage actor
  • Ivanka Hahnenberger, translator
  • Taylor Watts ’16, Anthropology/French major

Professor Kristina Kosnick, Department of French and Arabic, remarks, "This week of events highlights artistic, scholarly, and activist work that addresses important issues in the contemporary French-speaking world – notably related to post-colonialism and the ways it intersects with gender, race, class, and environment. Featured presenters and performers engage with these issues through various creative forms including dance, theater, teaching, and literary translation and criticism. Events will expand on topics explored in courses at the College, and also offer opportunities for students, faculty, and members of the Grinnell community to make meaningful transdisciplinary and interpersonal connections with each other, and with our guests."

"We are very excited about our collaboration with the Translation Collective during this week of events since all of the participants will help us broaden the scope of the way in which we conceptualize translation – as cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and/or artistic in nature, for example. We hope that this week’s discussion will enrich our pedagogical or scholarly approaches to our work," adds Professor Gwenola Caradec, Department of French and Arabic.

Events for faculty, students, and staff include a French table lunch with some of the presenters, and a Karaoke night with the French Student Educational Policy Committee.

The events are sponsored by the Center for the Humanities; Center for International Studies; Department of French and Arabic; Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; and the Translation Collective.

Public Events

Sunday, May 1

7–8:30 p.m., Rosenfield Center, Room 209
Drop-in Dessert/Cheese Reception with Brindeau, Julio, and Hahnenberger

Monday, May 2

7:30 p.m., Rosenfield Center, Room 101
Brindeau presents “Re-Presenting Haiti: Why We Need Counter-Narratives”

Tuesday, May 3

7:30 p.m., Flanagan Theater, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts
Watts performs “A Choreographic exploration of le commerce triangulaire”

Wednesday, May 4

7:30 p.m., Faulconer Gallery
Hahnenberger reads “Options and Selections: The Trials of a Translator”

Thursday, May 5

4 p.m., Kallaus Lecture Hall, ARH, Room 102
Julio performs dramatic reading of La Couleur de l’aube, by Yanick Lahens

Friday, May 6

Noon, Rosenfield Center, Room 209
Hahnenberger leads round-table discussion: "The Discreet Waiter—The Business of Translating"

Dutch Global Horizons and Phi Beta Kappa

Larry SilverLarry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, will present a Scholars' Convocation, "Dutch Global Horizons," at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 28, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The event is free and open to the public.

Silver's presentation is part of Grinnell's Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. New members of Phi Beta Kappa will be announced at the beginning of the convocation.

Silver describes his presentation as an exploration of the imagery of the seaborne empire of the Netherlands during the Golden Age of the 17th century, when Dutch ships plied the oceans and established commercial and political links with bold Old World Asia and New World Latin America. He also notes that images of India and East Asia, as well as the short-lived Dutch colony in Brazil, permitted armchair travelers in Amsterdam to experience the globe as never before.

Silver, who received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University, is a specialist in painting and graphics of Northern Europe. He focuses primarily on works produced in Germany and the Netherlands during the era of Renaissance and Reformation. He has served as president of the College Art Association and the Historians of Netherlandish Art. He recently was honored with the University of Pennsylvania’s Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence. 

His publications include Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain, Rembrandt’s Faith, Peasant Scenes and Landscapes, Hieronymus Bosch and a general survey, Art in History. He has organized a number of print exhibitions, among them Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Dürer and Titian and Graven Images, dealing with professional engravers of the 16th-century Netherlands.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Room 101 in the Rosenfield Center is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

The Great Disruption: China's 21st Century Reemergence

It is often said these days that whenever China sneezes, the world catches a cold. Indeed, some time within the next decade, China is likely to become the world’s largest economy. This paradigm shift has wide-ranging implications, in particular for a United States that dominated the 20th century.

A generation of Americans will age into a profoundly changed world in which the rise of China will affect many facets of their lives — economic, social, environmental, perhaps even philosophical — and thus a basic understanding of 20% of humanity can no longer be relegated to specialists and policymakers.

Damien Ma will present “The Great Disruption: China's 21st Century Reemergence” at 4 p.m. Friday, April 29, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302. In his talk, Ma aims to provide an overarching picture of the Chinese political economy, where it has been and where it may be headed. More broadly, Ma seeks to explain why the US-China relationship is so consequential to global economic and environmental prosperity and stability. 

Ma’s visit is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; East Asian Studies; and the Department of Chinese and Japanese.

Damien Ma

Damien Ma is a fellow and associate director of the Think Tank at the Paulson Institute. His work at the institute also focuses on investment and policy-related programs. He is the co-author of In Line Behind a Billion People: How Scarcity Will Define China’s Ascent in the Next Decade. He currently also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Previously, Ma was a lead China and Mongolia analyst at Eurasia Group, the political risk research and advisory firm. He specialized in analyzing the intersection between Chinese policies and markets, with a particular focus on energy and commodities, industrial policy, elite politics, US-China relations, and social policies. His advisory and analytical work served a range of clients from institutional investors and multinational corporations to the US government. Prior to joining Eurasia Group, he was a manager of publications at the US-China Business Council in Washington, DC. He also worked in public relations firm H-Line Ogilvy in Beijing, where he served major multinational clients.

In addition, Ma has published widely, including in The Atlantic online, New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Bloomberg, among others. He has also appeared in a range of broadcast media such as the Charlie Rose Show, BBC, NPR, and CNBC. He also served as an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC. Ma is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was named a “99under33” foreign policy leader in 2012 by the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.

 

Student Activism and the Role of Student Newspapers

“Student Activism and the Role of Student Newspapers, 1967-1970” is now on display in Burling Gallery on the lower level.

Using newspapers and photos from the Special Collections and Archives, this exhibit looks at the alternative and underground newspapers printed by Grinnell students between 1967 and 1970. The changing, and often tumultuous, cultural and political landscape of the 1960s and 1970s lent itself particularly well to the creation of alternative newspapers.

Alternative newspapers at Grinnell created a space to stage dialogues and demonstrations, and connect students to larger movements outside of Grinnell that related to both local and national issues.

These student publications also pushed the boundaries of the purpose of newspapers in fascinating ways. Among the newspapers included are the Pterodactyl, the High and Mighty, the Brotherhood, and a variety of single-issue publications.

Any items in the display and mentioned in the brochure are available for library patrons to examine at Special Collections, also located on the lower level of Burling.

This exhibit was curated by Hana Lord ’18, with poster design by Han Trinh ’17.

Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America

A panel of four Iowa-based writers, editors, thinkers, and environmentalists will discuss Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America, the country's first anthology of creative writing that explores hydraulic fracturing, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Debra Marquart, Carolyn Raffensperger, Frederick Kirschenmann, and Taylor Brorby will all read their work from the anthology and explore impacts of hydraulic fracking on Iowa.

The Center for Prairie Studies and the Environmental Studies Concentration are sponsoring the event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations and Events.

Debra Marquart

Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment. The author of a memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere and two poetry collections, she has received numerous honors for her work, including John Guyon Nonfiction Award, the Mid-American Review Nonfiction Award, a New York Times Editor's Choice commendation, and a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Prose Fellowship.

Carolyn Raffensperger

Raffensperger is an environmental lawyer specializing in the changes in law and policy necessary to address climate change and preserve public health and the environment. She is executive director of the Science and Environmental Health network, and has edited three comprehensive volumes on the precautionary principle of environmental law. Her work has been featured in Gourmet magazine, the Utne Reader, Yes! Magazine, the Sun, Whole Earth, and Scientific American.

Frederick Kirschenmann

A national expert in sustainable agriculture, Kirschenmann is a family farmer, writer, and scholar on ecology. He has held numerous appointments, including director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He also has served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. His farm has been featured in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon, and Gourmet magazine, for its diverse crop rotation and productivity without using synthetic inputs. His book, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, traces the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.

Taylor Brorby

The editor of Fracture, Taylor Brorby is an award-winning essayist, poet and environmentalist. He is currently pursuing his masters of fine arts in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. His work has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio and North Dakota Public Radio and in numerous newspapers. A talented writer himself, he is currently working on two poetry collections, one related to the Bakken oil boom and the other about the Adirondacks in upstate New York, as well as an essay collection about western North Dakota.