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Development and Alumni Relations

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DEVELOPMENT_AND_ALUMNI_RELATIONS

Grinnell Welcomes Alumni to 2016 Reunion

More than 1,100 Grinnell College alumni, friends, and family will return to campus for the College’s 137th Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Four reunion attendees pose for a seflie photoAlumni from from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 foreign countries including South Africa, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Hong Kong, India, and Costa Rica will return to Grinnell from June 3 to June 5.  

Reunion is one of the College’s biggest social events with parties, dances, dinners, and family activities.

Other weekend highlights include:

  • an all-Reunion picnic,
  • a special Honor G reception highlighting Grinnell athletics,
  • a 5K fun run,
  • class dinners,
  • bike and walking tours of the campus and community,
  • and a "Music in the Park" community concert by "The Loggia Patrol," composed of alumni from the class of 1976.

Silver, gold, and copper colored tag, focus on the gold which say 50th ReunionThe 50th reunion class of 1966 has organized a series of “Grinnell Talks” with themes that range from flying upside down in aerial aerobatic competitions to coping with mid-life career changes.

Ten alumni will receive awards for service to their professions, the College, and community.

A number of special presentations are planned for the weekend including a College President’s Panel, which will discuss the opportunities and challenges Grinnell College faces in the changing world of higher education. The panel will feature:

  • Former Drake University President David Maxwell ’66 (moderator),
  • President Raynard Kington,
  • Michael Latham, V.P. of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College,
  • Dan Davis ’16, SGA President, 2015-16,
  • Joe Bagnoli, V.P. for Enrollment, Dean of Admission & Financial Aid,
  • Mark Peltz,  Daniel and Patricia Jipp Finkelman Dean for Careers, Life, and Service, and
  • Lakesia Johnson, Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer

The Alumni College will hold courses on the theme of "Food for Thought" starting June 1. This year, participants will have the option of choosing an excursion to either the Meskwaki reservation or the Kolona Amish settlement to learn more about the food and food systems of the region. The annual alumni lecture will be presented by David Ten Eyck ’76 on “My Grinnell Experience: From Classrooms in the Cornfields to Courtrooms on the Frozen Tundra.”

 

Scarlet & Give Back Day - Success!

Scarlet & Give Back Day, April 7, 2016, was an opportunity for alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends of Grinnell to show pride in the College as a leader in providing a world-class liberal arts education.

As a bonus, an anonymous donor issued a philanthropic challenge: if 2,000 people gave to Grinnell before 11:59 p.m., CDT, the donor would give the College $1 million!

By 5:08 p.m. 2,000 donors had made gifts, and the $1 million challenge gift was unlocked.

But our anonymous donor was so impressed with the generosity of the Grinnell community, they offered a new challenge to continue this exciting event through the evening. For the "bonus" challenge, if 500 additional donors who had not given yet to Grinnell, gave by 11:59 p.m. CDT, the College would receive an additional $100,000.

Both Donor Challenges Met

At 10:15 p.m., the College announced that 500 additional donors had made gifts to unlock the $100,000 bonus challenge. By the end of the day, more than 3,000 donors made gifts unlocking the challenge matches totaling $1,100,000. 

Total donors: 3,376

Donor gifts: $ 284,533.48

Matching gift: $1,100,000

Scarlet & Give Back Day TOTAL: $1,384,553.48

Thanks-a-Million

Thank you to the alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends who made a gift in support of Scarlet & Give Back Day. We are proud of the extraordinary generosity displayed by Grinnellians worldwide. The event’s donor total set a new one-day record for donors to the College.

Because of the tremendous number of donors, we successfully met two donor challenges and unlocked $1.1 million in matching gifts.  

While this was structured as a participation challenge, please join us in taking a moment to recognize how important this day was for campus. Every day, we are grateful for donors who, through their gifts, invest in the future of the people and programs that make Grinnell such a distinctive and wonderful place.

Make a Gift

 

Fundraising and Engagement Continue Upward

New philanthropic commitments to Grinnell College from alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff, students, and foundation and corporation partners broke the $20 million mark in fiscal year 2015.

Total commitments reached $23,352,051, compared with $12,521,188 in the same period a year ago — an increase of 86.5 percent in new gifts, new pledges, and new bequests documented during the year.

Total receipts for fiscal year 2015 reached $14.1 million, up from $11.2 million a year ago and representing an increase of 26.6 percent. Included in total receipts are one-time gifts, payments on pledges, and realized bequests.

“A strong culture of philanthropy at Grinnell is directly connected to our vision for the future,” says President Raynard S. Kington. “As we celebrate a banner year of donor generosity and alumni engagement, I am grateful for every partnership that helps the College define educational excellence.” 

Alumni giving was up 8.8 percent over fiscal year 2014, with 6,828 alumni making gifts to the College in FY 2015. Alumni participation in giving for 2015 represented 38.3 percent of the College’s alumni base, as measured for annual U.S. News & World Report rankings. It is the highest level of alumni participation in more than five years.

In all, 10,458 individuals — including alumni, friends of the College, parents of current students, and others — were donors to the College in fiscal year 2015. Among these, the largest number of donors (7,304) made unrestricted contributions. Among alumni donors, 262 alums made their first-ever gifts to the College.

The power of donor participation was apparent in March, when a one-day giving record of $853,586 was set during the College’s inaugural Scarlet & Give Back Day. A matching gift challenge from Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80 and Daniel Finkelman ’77 spurred participation by 1,922 donors, also a one-day record.

Alumni and donor engagement take many forms at Grinnell. Here are some highlights from fiscal year 2015 annual giving:

  • Private support from parents and other family members totaled $409,590 in annual gifts, a 22 percent increase over 2014.
  • The class of 1965 achieved 62 percent participation in giving to its 50th Reunion fund.
  • Totaling $2,583, the senior class gift was the second-largest amount by any senior class in Grinnell College history.
  • In 2015, the Grinnell externship program provided experiences to 73 students, a 46 percent increase from last year.
  • Through the Grinnell Regional Admission Support Program (GRASP), 308 alumni across the country interviewed 562 prospective students, a 22.7 percent increase from 2014.
  • The inaugural Global Day of Service, co-sponsored by the Alumni Council, engaged more than 400 alumni, family, and friends who volunteered in 12 countries to celebrate Founders’ Day and Grinnell’s tradition of service.
  • Student Alumni Council hosted its first National Philanthropy Week, during which more than 500 Grinnell students celebrated ways to give time, talent, treasure, and ties to the College.

“It is gratifying to have the support and confidence of donors who understand the power of giving, who choose things in life they care about, and who make giving a habit,” says Shane Jacobson, vice president for development and alumni relations. “As we strive to grow a new culture of philanthropy, it is an example that serves to inspire younger and new philanthropists and ensures we achieve our mission at Grinnell College.”

Grinnell Welcomes Alumni to Reunion

More than 1,100 Grinnell College alumni, friends, and family will return to campus for the College’s 136th Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Crowd dining in Quad's wood paneled dining hall, colorful banners hung from raftersAlums from as far as Germany, Costa Rica, and Taiwan will return to Grinnell from May 27 to May 31.  

Reunion is one of the College’s biggest social events with parties, dances, dinners, and Wonderland Family Fun!

Other weekend highlights include:

  • an all-Reunion picnic,
  • a special Honor G reception highlighting Grinnell athletics,
  • a 5K fun run,
  • class dinners,
  • tours of the campus and community,
  • a special exhibition of lath art by the late John Pfitsch,
  • and a special student performance of a series of vignettes on “The Grinnell Experience: Life in the ‘60s,” by Murry Nelson ’69.

Alums will look back at the impact they have had on the world, from the founding of the student organization Concerned Black Students in the late ‘60s, to the films alumni have made and the books they’ve written.

Silver, gold, and copper colored tag, focus on the gold which say 50th ReunionThe 50th reunion class of 1965 has organized two series of “Grinnell Talks” featuring classmates who will discuss their life’s work including American involvements in Southeast Asia to the science of the aging brain.

Ten alumni will receive awards for service to their professions, the College, and community.

A number of special presentations are planned for the weekend including a College President’s Panel, which will discuss the future of higher education. The panel will feature:

  • Grinnell’s President Raynard Kington,
  • Mary Sue Coleman ’65 (University of Michigan),
  • David Maxwell ’66 (Drake University),
  • J. Fritz Schwaller ’69 (SUNY-Potsdam), and
  • moderator George Drake ’56 (President Emeritus, Grinnell College).

The Alumni College will hold courses on the theme of preservation starting the 27th, and Gertrude B. Austin Professor of Economics William Ferguson ’75 will partner with David Calvert ’75 to offer the annual alumni lecture on “Community and Responsive Governance: Academic and Practical Perspectives.”

 

It’s Scarlet & Give Back Day

It’s here! Scarlet & Give Back Day. Today, March 31, 2015, is a huge opportunity for alums and friends of Grinnell everywhere to show pride in the College as a leader in national and international liberal arts education. Your gift today will positively help strengthen our commitment to financial accessibility, academic excellence, and student success after Grinnell

Here’s how to help make it a success! Go to our online gift form or call 866-850-1846 and give any amount to the area of campus that’s important to YOU. Please take this opportunity to step up and make a real, tangible difference.

Together, we can do it! We have 24 hours to show our stuff! By midnight tonight, we intend to amaze the entire Grinnell community! We’ll keep you updated throughout the day so together we can celebrate the power of Grinnell pride!

Let’s do this, and thank you!

Update: The Finkelman Challenge!

At 11:30 a.m., Daniel '77 and Patricia Jipp Finkelman '80 announced a challenge! For every new donor today, March 31, 2015, between the time of their announcement and 11:59 tonight, the Finkelmans will give $250! The Finkelmans chose to support the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS). They encourage you to support students and their preparation and aspiration for life after Grinnell! If CLS is not your area of interest, there are a number of other ways you can support the student experience. Meet their challenge and give to support your Grinnell passion! To make your gift, go to the online gift form or call the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (866) 850-1846.

Grinnell Welcomes Alumni

More than 1,400 Grinnell College alumni, friends, and family will return to campus for the College’s 135th Alumni Reunion Weekend. Alums from as far as India, Thailand, and New Zealand will return to Grinnell from May 28 to June 1.

Reunion is one of the College’s biggest social events. It combines parties, dances, dinners, and Ultimate Frisbee. Other weekend highlights include an all-Reunion picnic, a 5K fun run, class dinners, tours of the campus and community, and a traditional bakery run at 2 a.m. on Saturday.

Alums will look back at the impact they have had on the world, from the Grinnell 14’s trip to Washington, D.C., which helped start the student peace movement in 1961, to the films alumni have made and the books they’ve written. Nine alumni will receive awards for service to their professions, the College, and community.

Presentations are planned on how the College has changed in the last 40 years, the success of the Liberal Arts in Prison Program, and the first postgraduate steps taken by the Class of 2013. The Alumni College will hold courses on the theme of revolution starting the 28th, and Rosenfield Professor of Political Science H. Wayne Moyer will lead a discussion on climate change.

On Becoming an Excellent Teacher

 

Bryan Lake ’02 received a 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for his work as a kindergarten teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Urbana, Ill.

He’ll receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and a paid trip for two to the recognition ceremony and professional development events in Washington, D.C., in the spring. The award was announced Dec. 20.

When Lake came to Grinnell College, his original goal was pre-med. In high school, he thrived in chemistry and biology courses.

It was his first-year tutorial, “Peacemaking,” with Martha Voyles, an associate professor of education, that got Lake thinking about a change in direction. An American Studies course cemented that impulse, and in his junior year, he “decided to change everything.”

That led him to majoring in American Studies and earning his certification in elementary education.

Lake started his career as a fourth-grade teacher, which hooked him on science again. He used active learning to help students get their hands dirty — literally. He says his students’ “eyes got wider.”

When he moved into teaching second grade, Lake taught science as heavily activity based. Students investigated simple machines and discovered how basic circuits work. Their sense of wonder convinced Lake that he was on the right track.

While Lake pursued National Board Certification, he began making connections across subject areas. He developed an integrated math and science unit to foster students’ sense of wonder across disciplines.

When he moved into his kindergarten classroom, Lake’s biggest goal was to tie everything together — math, social studies, physical education, and health, for example. He eagerly embraced science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching and learning, which led to the work for which he won the presidential award.

“It’s a huge honor,” Lake says, but “it says more about what kindergarteners can do.” He adds that those young students are capable of higher-level thinking than people think.

Now, in his 11th year of teaching, Lake is working with teachers as one of three elementary instructional coaches for the Urbana, Ill., school district. While he supports all teachers in all subject-areas in his two schools, he’s starting to break back into science.

He’s also helping teachers flesh out their own inquiry projects as they work with the new science standards. For example, some second- through fourth-grade teachers will collaborate with the music teacher to use a variety of instruments and recording devices to capture sound waves. 

The job presented an opportunity to inspire more scientific inquiry-based learning and teaching on a larger scale, Lake says. He also saw it as a chance to learn from colleagues.

Lake misses the kids, though, and hopes to teach kindergarten again someday.

Bumper Crop in Food Desert

In a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, Grinnell alumni Justin Booz ’10 and Monica Wizgird ’08 have transformed a long-vacant lot into a thriving urban garden. The Pullman neighborhood is one of Chicago’s “food deserts,” areas without ready access to grocery stores. The Cooperation Operation — founded earlier this year by Booz, Wizgird, and several other social and food justice activists from the area — works to curb hunger, promote nutritional education, and create a positive social center for Pullman residents.

The 23,000-square-foot lot where the Coop Op now grows foods such as corn, beets, cucumbers, and lettuce once was home to a paintmixing factory. The edible crops are grown in raised planters constructed of anything from cinder blocks found at the site to old boats donated from the local harbor. Many of the plants are heirlooms, and everything the garden produces is organic. The gaps in the concrete slabs were sown with wildflowers and sunflowers, which absorb toxins from the soil and beautify the space.

“This entire lot is two-and-a-half acres. On one acre, we can feed this entire neighborhood,” Booz says. “On a half-acre you can feed hundreds of people.” Residents are offered free plots and produce, but the garden does more than feed Pullman. People from the community can learn to grow their own food in the garden, becoming more self-sufficient. Using a social and ecological landscape that already existed in Pullman, Booz, Wizgird, and volunteers from their community built an empty space into a positive, sustainable center to engage and inform local residents.

Looking to the future, the Coop Op plans to keep transforming vacant areas into green spaces for educational and economic empowerment. “We’re also looking forward to becoming an official 501(c)3 within the next few months,” Wizgird says. The Pullman garden was clearly just the beginning. They’ve already raised $10,000 on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. Now it’s a matter of fostering further growth in their garden and their neighborhood.

Alum Invents $10 Microscope

Kenji Yoshino ’11, a Science Learning Center post-baccalaureate fellow at Grinnell College, has created a digital microscope made from a smartphone, a cheap laser pointer lens, and a few things from the hardware store. It’s a contraption that anyone can construct with $10 worth of parts, in 20 minutes.

Get step-by-step instructions.

In fact, Yoshino shows you how on YouTube, in a video shot and edited by Luke Saunders ’12, who works as an editorial fellow in Grinnell’s Communications Department.

 In its first three weeks on the Web, viewers watched the video 937,000 times.

The microscope is made of Plexiglas, plywood, bolts, nuts, washers and the laser-pointer lens. The smartphone sits on top, using its camera lens to help the process.  The wingnuts allow the user to change the focus by shifting the height of the platform holding the specimen. And, of course, it’s easy to take photos.

This scope has an optical zoom of 40x, which is great for macro photos, but using the phone’s digital zoom allows for a combined zoom of 175x. It is possible to view plant cells, see and record video of nematodes, and even perform biology lab work.

Kenji had read online about someone using laser pointer lenses to turn a smartphone into a macro camera. Yoshino decided to play with the design, hoping to improve stability and focus, and ended up discovering that stabilizing the phone and adding a light source would make the apparatus capable of subbing for a microscope.

It worked so well, Yoshino talked to Saunders — a friend from theatre productions at Grinnell — about making the video. Then the two of them presented the model at the iExplore STEM Festival, at Drake University on Oct. 29.

The primary goal of this innovation is not to make money.

“I am a major proponent of making home science more accessible,” Yoshino explains on the video.  “My goal in designing and building this phone-to-microscope conversion stand is to provide an alternative to expensive microscopes.”

“This setup is a viable option for underfunded science classrooms that would not otherwise be able to perform experiments requiring a microscope. But more than that, this device will allow people to rediscover the world around them.”

Bethany Brookshire at Student Science talks about her experience building the microscope. Learn "what happens when a foolish scientist screws stuff up. It’s the story of a DIY microscope, and how it all went terribly wrong."