New Student Orientation - many students together in front of Gates Tower

Messages to the Community

2024

An archive of messages from President Harris to the Grinnell College community.

May 20, 2024

May 20, 2024

Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris congratulates the Class of 2024 at the closing of their commencement ceremony and leads graduates as they turn their tassels and toss their caps in celebration.

Charge to the Graduating Class of 2024

In the powerful words you have heard today and over the past two days, my fervent hope is that you have felt the deep respect and high regard in which all of us gathered here hold you. And how much we will continue to hold you and champion you and love you as you strive and persevere and press on in your brilliance, your work, all that you believe in, and all that you will make possible.

It is now my honor to present my charge to you, the graduating class of 2024, through three experiences of the human condition that strive to speak to yours.

Living in the unbearable stillness of an exploded diagram. If you’ve ever put together a piece of furniture from Ikea [first of all, bless you], or studied a diagram of a car engine, or one of animal anatomy, you’ve seen an exploded diagram – all of the parts of the whole suspended in animation; existing in relationships but not in motion. In the year 2020, you came to Grinnell in the unbearable stillness of a world held in the suspension of an exploded diagram by the Covid-19 pandemic coursing through an immuno-naïve global population, and by the wrenching tragedy of the murder of George Floyd and its violation of Black life and Black joy. There was stillness and isolation and working so hard to find each other. And when we did come together, when the diagram of parts became a community of the whole, we each brought something wonderful and we each carried something weighty. You have lived in the unbearable stillness of an exploded diagram, and you have gathered into the vibrant possibility of a community. Through your hard-earned experience, you know how to do this.

Living in the “and” of simultaneity. You learned to know – and you taught us to understand – that realities are simultaneous. That Grinnell is a rural town in Iowa and a place that exists within the global reach and thrill of more than 70 countries and languages. That there is war and suffering raging in too many parts of the world and that there is the hard, sustained work of seeing each other’s full humanity right here. That we can be visited and weighed down by grief and that there is a poem or an idea or a friend that has given us comfort in the past that is waiting within reach right now. That Mrs. Edith Renfrow Smith, the first Black alumna of Grinnell in 1937 whom we honor in the new Renfrow Hall, experienced both the community and the barriers of Grinnell and said “yes and you will always be my home.” That Grinnell will forever be available to you as a deep wellspring, to revisit and be refreshed by as you become alumni and that it is an open field to the new Grinnellians who will walk on campus for the first time this fall.

Finding each other in this age of pareidolia. This marvel of a word gives expression to “the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.” Pareidolia is a word of cognitive perception (seeing a famous figure in a piece of toast (Elvis shows up a lot in toast), or an animal in a cloud, or a person’s silhouette in the sand); pareidolia is a word of cognitive perception that speaks to finding meaning in randomness and maybe even wonder in ambiguity. But it also speaks to the experience of these past four years; to searching for meaning, and for each other, in the midst of global-scale ambiguity and (remember this word?) “unprecedented” randomness. In the magnificent 2018 novel, The Overstory, by Richard Powers, pareidolia is described as “the adaptation that makes people see people in all things” – we are adapted to find each other in the random, in the absurd, in the ambiguous, in the complex; we seek each other out in what confounds us. And so may you strive, may you always try, to find each other in what is most confounding and bewildering in our world and in our human condition; may you find each other in this age of pareidolia.

May 15, 2024

Dear Grinnellians,

It is my pleasure to share with you the following news release, which will be distributed to media outlets later today.

Anne F. Harris

President

Grinnell College Plugs into 16th Avenue Solar Array, Marking Historic Environmental Milestone

College now home to the largest private solar installation in Iowa

GRINNELL, Iowa — A large solar array north of the Grinnell College Golf Course is live, providing the College with four megawatts of power — approximately one third of the campus’ total energy needs. It is the largest private solar installation in Iowa.

The Grinnell College Board of Trustees are thrilled to announce the completion of the solar array, celebrating this significant stride towards a more responsibly and sustainably operated campus, and affirming its commitment to fostering a greener and more sustainable future for generations to come.  

The Board of Trustees first appointed the Fossil Fuels and Climate Impact Task Force in April 2017 to examine ways in which Grinnell College can have a positive impact on the critical global issue of climate change. This task force was created in response to students bringing forth concerns about fossil fuels. The task force presented recommendations to the full board the following year, prompting the creation of a standing campus Sustainability Committee, the application of environmental and social criteria in the management of the College’s endowment, and significant actions on campus to reduce our institutional carbon footprint.

The College adopted its formal Sustainability Plan in 2018 as a living blueprint to increase our environmental sustainability and move toward our goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Board of Trustees Chair Michael Kahn ’74, shares, “The solar array is a true milestone in Grinnell’s progress toward net-zero emissions.  Addressing the College’s energy needs through renewable sources is an ongoing process, but this notable progress is one we can be proud of.”

Grinnell College is home to six smaller solar installations, says Chris Bair ‘96, Grinnell College environmental and safety manager, but nothing that nears the scale of this new array. A single megawatt is enough energy to power 750 houses at once. The array will provide four times that power, radically decreasing the College’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The powering on of the 16th Avenue solar array coincides with the announcement of an exciting city-wide solar project. Alliant Energy has partnered with several community partners to build a second large solar array west of town. When completed, the array will provide the College with two additional megawatts of power, bringing campus energy consumption to over 50% renewably sourced. This collaborative effort underscores Grinnell's pivotal role in fostering regional sustainability initiatives.

The latest Grinnell College Strategic Plan, Knowledge into Action, emphasizes a deepened commitment to environmental stewardship. The ongoing transition to solar energy is a robust step forward in the direction of this stewardship and is the product of years of effort by the College’s Sustainability Committee.  

Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris shared, "Shared Goals and Common Ground are a central pillar of the Strategic Plan. As we continue to foster a culture of collaboration and partnership, Grinnell College is recognized as a trusted partner and a place for coalition building. Our commitment to sustainability is demonstrated through our campus planning, institutional policies, and external partnerships, reflecting a deepened stewardship of our environment and a dedication to the common good." 

Not only does the solar project embody Grinnell’s ongoing commitment to mitigating social and environmental harm, for the time being it will also result in energy cost savings. “Sustainability is our ultimate goal with this array. The fact that we're also saving is a welcome bonus,” says Bair.

Constructed several years ago, the array consists of single axis tracker solar panels which rotate East to West to follow the sun’s movement across the sky and maximize their energy absorption. The panels not only collect sunlight on their upper faces, but they can also absorb light reflected off the ground by snow and water — thereby taking advantage of heavy Iowa snowfall. 

The array is owned by Sunlight General Capital LLC, a third-party developer. Per a twenty-year contract with up to ten years of extensions, Grinnell College purchases all the energy produced by the array. 

Acknowledgements

The college extends gratitude to the dedicated individuals who contributed their time and expertise to these important initiatives:

Our sincere thanks for the leadership demonstrated by the 2017 Board of Trustees Chair Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80. It was her action, after thoughtful consultation with the board’s Executive Committee, that led to the establishment of a task force during the April 2018 board meeting. Chairing this task force was Michael Kahn ’74, supported by now retired trustees Kathryn Jagow Mohrman ’67 and Ed Senn ’79. 

Our appreciation goes to Liz Queathem and Chris Bair ’96, co-chairs of the Grinnell College Sustainability Planning Committee. We acknowledge the numerous individuals who have served on this committee since 2018, each playing a vital role in shaping our sustainability initiatives.

Thank you to the Advisory Committee members: Chair Wayne Moyer, Sayles Kasten ’19, Lucia Nelson ’20, Zach Steckel ’18, Summer White ’18, Kent Messer ’94, Jessica Roff ’93, Jim Swartz, and Sarah Smith. And thank you to Rick Whitney, and Corey Hammond for their significant contributions in Facilities Management.

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

I am pleased to share the following announcement, which will also be posted on Grinnell.edu. 

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris
President

Grinnell College appoints JC Lopez Vice President of Student Affairs

Following an extensive national search, JC Lopez has been appointed vice president of student affairs at Grinnell College. 

Lopez was selected for this leadership position from a pool of finalists after dedicated and sustained engagement by a search committee and the campus community over the 2023-2024 academic year. Co-chaired by Myrna Hernández, vice president of administration and chief of staff, and Vrinda Varia, associate chief diversity officer for intercultural student life, the search committee included Mark Peltz (Career Life and Service), Dennis Perkins (Residence Life), Holly Roepke (Athletics), Andi Tracy (Academic Affairs), Sarah Smith (Community Partnerships, Planning, and Engagement), and student representatives Alyson Won, ‘24 (Student Government Association Vice President of Student Affairs), and Hayden Davis, ‘25 (Concerts Chair). Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Marc Reed, served as the equity advocate for the search.

In this role, Lopez is charged with demonstrating purposeful leadership motivated by a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student engagement to advance the strategic vision of Grinnell as one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. Working in close partnership with students, faculty, staff, and leadership, he will cultivate a vibrant student life program and partner with academic affairs to cultivate academic well-being. “I am humbled by my selection and grateful for the relationships I have built with students, faculty, staff, and alumni over the past year.  Grinnellians have a passion for the College and the student body, and care deeply about students’ experience and success,” he said.

Search committee members praised Lopez’s selection.

JC has demonstrated, across campus, that he is an astute listener, problem-solver, and relationship-builder. His student-centeredness, positivity, and overt optimism about the compelling opportunities at Grinnell set him apart from the other very qualified finalists,” said Peltz.

Throughout the interview process, JC demonstrated the qualities of the student affairs leaders you want to have.  He is mindful of the needs of the contemporary college student, and keenly aware of best practices across the division’s broad portfolio. As an authentic, humble, and kind leader, JC naturally fosters a sense of belonging with students and colleagues that celebrates value, inspires development, and invites partnership,” said Varia. 

Lopez explains his approach, saying, “This generation of students has encountered a lot of change during their lifetimes. Understanding their challenges and world view is essential to supporting their development.  I look forward to more opportunities to listen carefully to their experiences and continue to innovate so that all Grinnellians go forth with the skills and confidence they need to succeed,” said Lopez.

Lopez’s career includes experiences ranging from director of campus living and community development to dean of student success, working collaboratively with multiple student affairs and campus professionals. Throughout his tenure, he has demonstrated a commitment to creating inclusive environments within multiple departments, enhancing the first-year experience, and developing strong collaborations with campus and off-campus offices and organizations. Lopez’s ability to connect with students, faculty, staff, and alumni has been instrumental in creating opportunities to build community and in supporting the holistic development of students.  

Originally from Pittsburgh, Penn., Lopez spent time in Aguadilla and San Juan, Puerto Rico as well as Boston, Mass., during his childhood. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Applied Media Arts/Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in Student Affairs and Higher Education at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. He worked as an Educational Leadership Consultant for Kappa Delta Rho National Fraternity and had experiences at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA.), University of South Florida (Tampa, FL.) and DePauw University (Greencastle, IN.)

“I am grateful to the search committee for their thoughtful and thorough conduct of this search, and to campus community members for participating in multiple stages of the search. JC’s integrity, work ethic, and willingness to partner with students, faculty, and staff were repeatedly cited by all who participated in the interviews as key attributes for the permanent vice president.  Please join me in welcoming JC to this exciting next chapter of his leadership. We all look forward to all that is possible for student life at Grinnell College,” said President Anne F. Harris.

April 4, 2024

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff, 

I write to announce that, after years of dedicated and transformative work at Grinnell, Chinyere Ukabiala, our esteemed Ombuds will be retiring on June 30, marking the conclusion of an illustrious tenure that began in February 2013 when she became Grinnell College's first Ombudsperson.

To celebrate her remarkable career and express our gratitude for her enduring advocacy for and within our community, I invite you to join us for a retirement reception on Tuesday, April 30, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the 2nd-floor lobby of the Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center.

Throughout her tenure, Chinyere has exemplified expertise and effectiveness. With a Juris Doctor degree from Drake University Law School, coupled with her extensive background in civil law practice and mediation in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and Iowa, Chinyere brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role. She is a Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner (CO-OP), a member of the International Ombudsman Association, as well as several prestigious legal associations, including the Bar of England and Wales.

Among her many accomplishments, Chinyere takes particular pride in building trust in the Office of the Ombuds and fostering a common understanding of its role within our community. She has tirelessly educated faculty, staff, and students about the office's functions and how it collaborates with other parts of the College. Chinyere's dedication has significantly contributed to enhancing communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution across our campus.

As the College bids farewell to Chinyere, we will reflect on the invaluable services provided by the Office of the Ombuds under her leadership. The Ombudsperson serves as a neutral resource, offering confidential advice and assistance to resolve conflicts informally, and raise awareness of systemic concerns in the institution. Chinyere's office has been instrumental in providing a non-confrontational, impartial, and confidential avenue for addressing issues within our community Chinyere's legacy extends beyond her individual achievements to the lasting impact she has had on our campus culture. Her commitment to constructive problem-solving, effective communication, and conflict resolution has left an indelible mark on all those she has served.  

As we honor Chinyere's contributions, we will also turn our attention to the future. The search for her replacement will commence in the coming weeks, ensuring the continuation of the vital services provided by the Office of the Ombuds. To read further appreciations of Chinyere’s contributions, please find our web news story dedicated to this announcement.

Please join me in expressing our deepest appreciation to Chinyere for her years of dedicated service and wishing her a fulfilling and joyous retirement.

With gratitude,

Anne F. Harris
President

March 12, 2024

Dear Grinnell Students, Faculty, and Staff,

With great enthusiasm and anticipation, we proudly introduce Monica Sanders as the esteemed recipient of the inaugural Social Innovator in Residence Program at Grinnell. The Social Innovator in Residence Program enables students to engage with inspiring leaders who are making an enduring difference in the world, fostering interdisciplinary creativity, and promoting civic engagement and social change.

As the visionary founder and CEO of The Undivide Project, Ms. Sanders has dedicated her life to addressing the pressing issues of climate change and digital access, particularly in rural communities across the United States and beyond. Her effective advocacy for transparency and equity in disaster response serves as a guiding light for us all, inspiring hope and igniting change.

Ms. Sanders’ unique blend of professional expertise and lived experience positions her as a transformative force in social innovation and community empowerment. Her selection as the inaugural winner of the Social Innovator in Residence Program underscores Grinnell College’s commitment to fostering equity-minded collaboration, promoting civic agency, and amplifying the voices of marginalized communities.

During her residency at Grinnell College, Ms. Sanders will engage with students, faculty, staff, and community partners in a vibrant offering of collaborative initiatives. Her presence on campus promises to catalyze a new era of leadership and social innovation, fostering deep connections and meaningful dialogue at the nexus of social justice, digital access, and environmental sustainability. We eagerly anticipate the transformative impact of her residency and the opportunities for co-learning and collaboration it will bring to our campus and beyond.

Ms. Sanders’ work shines a timely light on the intersecting challenges of climate change and digital connectivity, issues that resonate deeply with rural communities worldwide. Her expertise in navigating complex government channels offers a unique perspective for our students, empowering them to understand and confront systemic barriers with insight and co-creative resilience. This integration not only underscores the multifaceted approach that Ms. Sanders brings to systemic change, but also highlights the transformative potential of her residency at Grinnell.

We extend many thanks to the Social Innovator in Residence Selection Committee, the student researchers, and the Office of Civic Education and Innovation staff (Cadance Hawk ’26, Ellen Hengesbach ’24, Rocio Hernandez ’24, Sethu Mnguni ’26, Autumn Wilke, Mfon Nwabuoku, Leslie Bleichner ’07, Tony Perman, Lexy Determan, Yesenia Ayala ’18, Luz Alfaro ’22, Joshua Tibatemwa ’17, Wadzanai Motsi ’12, Alexander McLean, Vicki Nolton, and Susan Sanning) for their invaluable contributions, dedication, and thoughtful consideration throughout the selection process. These individuals have been instrumental in shaping the future of our program and reflecting the College’s vision for learning from and supporting social innovators.

Ms. Sanders will visit campus this spring to engage with campus leaders and partners in planning for her five-week fall residency. For questions or further information, please contact Vicki Noltonassistant director for social innovation partnerships and education.

As Ms. Sanders embarks on her journey at Grinnell College this fall, let us join together in celebration of her well-deserved honor and in anticipation of the transformative impact she will bring to our campus and beyond. Together, we can embrace and embody the spirit of co-creation and community engagement as we forge a path toward a more just and equitable future for all.

With gratitude and admiration,

Anne F. Harris
President

Mark Peltz
Daniel and Patricia Jipp Finkelman Dean of Careers, Life, and Service

March 1, 2024

Dear Grinnellians,

We are delighted to share the news that the newly created endowed chair for African Diaspora Studies will be named in honor of Dr. Kesho Scott DSS '21. During her 38 years at Grinnell College, generations of students have benefited through engagement with her considerable intellect, passion, and skills honed as an eminent scholar, award-winning writer, and internationally known diversity trainer.

It is truly meaningful that this chair be named in honor of the first African American woman to receive tenure at Grinnell College and whose scholarly contributions have had an impact far beyond our campus. We invite you to read more about Dr. Scott and this honor. Please join us in congratulating and honoring Dr. Scott for her significant and meaningful contributions to the College.

With gratitude,

Anne F. Harris 
President 

Beronda Montgomery
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College

 

Jan. 29, 2024

Dear Grinnellians,

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated each year at Grinnell and in the world on January 27. This is a day to remember the lives lost in the Holocaust: the six million Jews who were murdered, as well as individuals of many marginalized groups, including, but not limited to, members of the Roma community, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people with disabilities, resistance activists and more.

A core component of how the Jewish community marks moments of mourning is through the act of remembering. As we remember, we give honor to what was lost; human life, culture, wisdom, and the possibility of future impact that was cut short. We know that these losses cannot be fully encapsulated, they are enormous. 

On this day each year, we remember the lives lost and the suffering of survivors. We also thank our fellow Grinnellians who continue to work for peace and justice. One inspiring example is Harold Kasimow, the George Drake Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Just four years old in 1942, when his father took his family into hiding in a shallow pit beneath a farmer’s cattle barn, his teaching and scholarship on interfaith dialogue are known around the world. A mentor to generations of Grinnellians, his advocacy for seeing the humanity in every individual is a source of hope.

In addition to today’s observance, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Jewish calendar creates time and space for remembering and honoring victims of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), which falls on May 6, 2024. We encourage you to watch for an invitation to a community-wide event marking this additional observance. 

In Remembrance,

Anne F. Harris
President

Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay Interim Dean of Religious Life, Chaplain and Rabbi
Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice

Jan. 22, 2024

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

Happy New Year! As we embark upon the Spring 2024 semester, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to campus. It may be cold outside, but the warmth of your presence, your intellect, and your ambition is heartening! I write with updates on matters that shape our shared endeavors at the College, with my thanks for your energies to them.

Our strategic plan, Knowledge into Action, is moving into implementation. Seven actions from the strategic plan will be a focus for the upcoming semester. These are:

Catalyst for Educational Excellence:

  • Research ways to integrate High-impact Practices with college-wide learning outcomes to assist with student developmental planning, advising, and institutional accountability for equity.
  • Focus on the Higher Learning Commission Quality Initiative for advising as a first step in evaluating our institutional understanding of rigor.
  • Move forward with the College’s response to the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action with the goal of recruiting and retaining a diverse, well-qualified student body.

Belonging and Connection

  • Reinvent a residential experience and student programming that provide tools and opportunities to build community, develop self-understanding, and establish collaborative relationships across difference.

Collective Equity

  • The Reduce Endowment Dependency (RED) initiative to identify long-term ways to reduce Grinnell’s dependence on the endowment for funding of the operating budget.
  • Build a shared understanding among campus constituents and leadership regarding compatibility of data and cybersecurity and the academic mission of the College.

Shared Goals and Common Ground

  • Support community building programs and community dialogue, with Renfrow Hall as a focus and inspiration, and the Civic Innovation Pavilion as a place to gather.

Details regarding the membership of and charge to each working group are forthcoming: with thanks to senior leadership members and their campus partners, I will be excited to share more about how Knowledge into Action is being implemented and about how you can participate in its actions. Strengthening collaboration and discovery for positive change is meaningful work for the college that we can continue to create together.

Now, to gratitude. First, I want to thank the group of staff and faculty who have shared their expertise to create diverse opportunities for our community to learn about the histories, conflicts, and identities that are part of the war and crisis in Israel and Gaza. They are finalizing a set of events that will model ways to be in dialogue even within tense issues, help build trust across different identities and opinions, and facilitate hard conversations. Announcements for these events will come in the Campus Memo and will continue throughout the semester.

I am also grateful to the College’s outstanding emergency response team as its members kept us informed and prepared to adapt to hourly changes in the weather as we’ve faced Iowa’s winter storms. I speak to our collective thanks for the intrepid and hard-working team from facilities management, campus safety, and dining services. They came to work in challenging conditions to take care of the students who stayed on campus over winter break and those who returned early.

As we enter this election year, I invite your engagement with the Rosenfield Program and its many partners at Grinnell who help students differentiate politics from policy, address important issues, and bring the world to Grinnell in the form of distinguished scholars, public servants, and commentators. I hope that you will be able to attend Friday’s event to hear from Alan Page, retired Minnesota State Supreme Court Judge and former professional football player, on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our community is mourning the death of Professor Emerita Johanna Meehan on Monday, Jan. 8. Professor Meehan, who had been at Grinnell College since 1990, was the McCay-Casady Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy for many years and served on the advisory board for the Center for Humanities. She had transitioned to senior faculty status last year. Professor Meehan was an eminent philosopher and beloved teacher whose loss will be deeply felt. I ask that you keep Johanna and her family and friends in your thoughts. We will share further information about plans for the College and Professor Meehan’s colleagues and students to honor her and commemorate her work as these emerge.

Now that we are back together as a community, my wish for you is that you may all connect with people and activities that inspire, fortify, and replenish you. I hope that you both experience and provide empathy as a member of the Grinnell College community. Take care of yourselves, take care of your friends, and have a great semester.

Sincerely,
Anne

Anne F. Harris
President

Jan. 18, 2024

Dear alumni, parents and families,

As we anticipate students’ return, our campus has been digging out after two major winter storms, while also facing sub-zero temperatures for several days in a row. It’s enough to make you miss Iowa! I want to thank the College’s outstanding emergency response team that kept us informed and prepared to respond to hourly changes in the forecast. I am also grateful for the intrepid and hard-working team from facilities management, campus safety, and dining services. They came to work in challenging conditions to take care of the approximately 50 students who stayed on campus over winter break.

As I will be announcing to campus next week in my welcome message for the spring semester, a group of staff and faculty have gathered to share their expertise to create diverse opportunities for our community to learn about the histories, conflicts, and identities that are part of the war and crisis in Israel and Gaza. They are finalizing a set of events that will model ways to be in dialogue even within tense issues, help build trust across different identities and opinions, and facilitate hard conversations.

Finally, it is with great sadness that I share news of the death of Professor Emeritus Johanna Meehan on Monday, Jan. 8. Professor Meehan, who had been at Grinnell College since 1990, was the McCay-Casady Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy for many years and served on the advisory board for the Center for Humanities. She had transitioned to senior faculty status last year. Professor Meehan was an eminent philosopher and beloved teacher whose loss will be deeply felt. I ask that you keep Johanna and her family and friends in your thoughts. Please know that further information about how the College and Professor Meehan’s colleagues and students will honor her and commemorate her work and presence will be forthcoming as these emerge.

I wish every Grinnellian a happy new year as we go forth into 2024.

Sincerely,

Anne

Anne F. Harris
President

2023

Dec. 02, 2023

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

Early this morning, Campus Safety received a report of graffiti portraying a star of David on a pillar between Clark and Dibble Halls on the Mac Field side of the building.

We do not know the intent of this act. Someone may have intended to signal support for Israel or Jewish students on campus. However, the impact of this action has been harmful in its associations with an antisemitic act: for centuries and during the Holocaust, antisemitic governments and civil authorities required people of Jewish descent to display the star of David on their residences, businesses, and on their persons as a method of coercion and control. Its forced use as an identifying mark has historically made Jews the target of libel, harassment, and violence.

During this time, when some students, faculty, and staff feel that their identity could make them a target, graffiti that involves important symbols can have a powerful impact on wellbeing. As President Harris has noted in campus messages and meetings with students, staff, and faculty, every action and interaction with each other is significant for its impact. We condemn the harm that this vandalism and its associated antisemitism have caused, as well as any actions targeting identity. Grinnell will continue to educate against antisemitism and every form of discrimination or harassment.

The symbol has been removed. Campus safety is working to identify the individual(s) responsible for the vandalism and will carry out extra patrols throughout campus. The College and law enforcement authorities continue to investigate an anonymous YikYak post made in early October calling for violence against Jews and Israel. We ask that anyone with information about either incident notify campus safety at (641) 269-4600, campussafety@grinnell.edu or the Grinnell Police Department at (641) 236-2670. Any member of the Grinnell campus community found responsible for threats or vandalism will be subject to the appropriate disciplinary process.

We appreciate the individuals who reported this incident and want to remind the community to report any Bias Incident to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As a reminder, Grinnell offers a robust set of support resources and we encourage you to take advantage of them as needed.

Please do not hesitate to contact VP Marc Reed or AVP Ben Newhouse with concerns at reedmarc@grinnell.edu or newhouse@grinnell.edu.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris
President

Marc Reed
Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion
and Chief Diversity Officer

Ben Newhouse
Assoc. Vice President of Student
Affairs and Dean of Students

Nov. 20, 2023

Dear Grinnell alumni and families,

We write in community with you as Grinnellians with the hope that you are in community where you are, with mourning for the anguish that all impacted by the Israel-Hamas war are enduring, and with sorrow for the grief and losses we hold in its wake. We would like to provide you with insights and updates on community at Grinnell College as it has been marked these past several weeks like most campuses in the United States. The multiple identities and experiences present in our College far exceed what a letter can encompass, but we are committed to communicating the efforts and resources that are in place and in development, especially for our students, as we all continue to live and grieve during this awful time.   

We advocate for our community, members of which are hurting. Our students have already lived through more upheaval and loss than we would ever want young people to endure and the stress associated with social media gives our students no grace.  The messages shared with campus on Oct. 9, Oct. 15, and Nov. 1 have been to support efforts at maintaining community, to connect people to each other – including students to resources – and to assert the principles of human dignity and collective responsibility that are fundamental to a college long-steeped in social justice and activism. These principles guide our response. [Please know that messages to campus are all posted on the Grinnell news site for easy reference].   

In maintaining community and supporting our students, we have made statements that mourn the loss of human life, that acknowledge grief, that denounce antisemitism and Islamophobia, and that seek to affirm community and provide support as everyone endures the wrenching tragedy of this time. We maintain that the community and the education that take place at Grinnell – and are vibrant among Grinnell alumni and families – are among the vital hopes for easing pain and bringing peace to all those impacted by this war and its inter-generational trauma.  

Efforts and Resources

The call to community exists to honor and safeguard our multiplicity: Grinnell is a diverse and global community. Grinnellians have families in Israel, others in Gaza. Some have lost family members or are suffering the pain of missing relatives who have not been located. Others are in distress over rising antisemitism and Islamophobia. We focus on those community members most deeply affected by a global crisis. We continue to work with all of campus and further communities.  

Our campus has been the site of both vigils and demonstrations and is now moving towards dialogue. This is a process that calls for an intentional transition, as entering into these experiences prematurely can itself provoke harm and conflict.  

The Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice, which includes both Grinnell’s campus rabbi and campus imam, organized a vigil on campus to mourn the human lives lost and the ongoing violence. With music, and poems from the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and the late Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai read aloud, the vigil provided respite for Grinnell students and community members, many of whom feel this conflict personally and deeply.    

Like many other colleges and universities, Grinnell College has a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a national organization that has garnered media attention. Throughout the three demonstrations and a vigil held thus far by this group, we have been emphasizing with students their responsibilities at the intersection of free speech and collective responsibility. Statements that can cause harm to the identities of fellow students or community members, whether intended as harm or not, have no place at Grinnell. We affirm this foundational value of the College and work to uphold it within educational and conduct processes, as well as within the challenges of social media and misinformation. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights affirmed responsibilities to multicultural and multiracial communities at the institutional level in a letter to colleges and universities. The language in this letter to U.S. colleges and universities is precise:   

“Every student has the right to a learning environment that is free from discrimination. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) stands ready to support schools in fulfilling this promise and to ensure every student’s right to learn without discrimination. All students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, as well as students who come from, or are perceived to come from, all regions of the world, are entitled to a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.”   

Grinnell will continue to uphold these rights and to educate against antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and every kind of discrimination and harassment. You can read more about the College's Nondiscrimination Policy and Bias Incident Reporting process – both provide recourse to students with a variety of options for support and we encourage you to refer students to them.  

All students on campus have recourse through the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT). We publicize this resource and remind students that they have the option of reporting anonymously or receiving support. Upon receiving a report, members of the BIRT team will work with the appropriate College officials and, when necessary, will refer incidents to appropriate law enforcement agencies. The team’s focus is on meeting with and ensuring that affected individuals and others have access to appropriate resources. In collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the BIRT takes steps to educate community members. Incidents that require restorative or corrective processes or disciplinary action are referred to the appropriate process (e.g. student conduct, human resources, etc.).   

Meetings with small groups of students in affinity and other groups continue to provide insights and support, and we are grateful to the dedicated faculty and staff who are in their offices and office hours and other campus spaces with students, always seeking to support them and connect them to resources. We are emphasizing resources because each student is processing and experiencing this tragedy differently, and we are deeply committed to working with students to provide what they need as individuals within our community and within our broken world.   

Moving Forward

As the community has continued to process events and reactions, the campus is moving toward creating educational opportunities where individuals can explore the broader context of this heartbreaking conflict, including opportunities for students to understand the history and harm related to antisemitism and Islamophobia. A group of staff and faculty members is in the process of coordinating with students and other campus partners to create a variety of opportunities and spaces of education, reflection, mourning, and action. We are also committed to an increased focus on antisemitism and Islamophobia through the work of our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We are committed to deepening programming for current and future students that addresses discrimination and harassment in all its forms and to making Grinnell a place where all identities can thrive.  

If you are wondering if there’s anything you can do, here is what we are striving to do here at Grinnell: take care of yourselves and each other; hold your grief within the love and support of people who care about you; practice compassion and prioritize the humanity in yourself and others; create community and promote peace. In addition to the resources cited above, if you reach out to students or if they reach out to you, please connect them to the Division of Student Affairs, where the Campus Care Team can provide on-site guidance and refer students to appropriate and immediate support resources. Please know that the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice provides faith-based support for students of all religions. We invite you to refer fellow alumni with questions to Alumni Relations.  

The world is convulsing again for a generation of students that has already been through so much – please keep them in your hearts.  

With gratitude for your support and hope for your well-being,  

Anne F. Harris
President

Michael Kahn ’74
Chair of the Board

Nov. 8, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

I am writing to you to invite you to join in a special celebration of students, faculty, and staff who are first-generation students or graduates. 

We observe First-Generation College Celebration Day on Nov. 8, to commemorate the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which expanded federal financial aid for students and created programs, like TRIO, to increase access and retention and completion rates for first-generation and limited-income students. The Pell Grant, which provides higher education funding to students with high financial need, was established in the 1972 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Grinnell College has a long history of graduating first-generation students, and about 15% of our student body this year are first-generation. The College’s First-Generation and Low-Income (FGLI) Student Program currently works with approximately 245 students who identify as first-generation.

Among the highlights of First-Generation College Celebration Day will be an address by Yesenia Ayala ’18, who will speak virtually via video link to in-person attendees at 7 p.m., on Nov. 8, in HSSC A1231. Yesenia will talk about what first-generation means to her, her time at Grinnell, and the work she has done to advance first-generation students. Her remarks will be followed by a Q&A and light refreshments will be provided. The College will also be sharing profiles of our outstanding first-generation faculty, staff, and students via our social media channels that day. First-generation faculty and staff have been invited to hang door tags on their office doors to increase their visibility on campus. 

Each month, the FGLI Student Program hosts a mentoring lunch. The program also maintains a listserv for first-generation faculty, staff, and students. Any faculty or staff who identify as first-generation and would like to join the lunches or listserv can contact Maggie Bell, associate director of the program, to get connected to first-generation programming on campus. Since becoming Associate Director of FGLI Programs at Grinnell last year, Maggie has created programming and awareness for FGLI experiences. My thanks to her for connecting the growing community of FGLI students, faculty, staff, and alums.

First-Generation College Celebration Day is a meaningful way to raise awareness of the first-generation experience. We celebrate and uplift the many contributions these outstanding scholars make to Grinnell as students and to the world as alumni. I ask that you join me in taking time to thank our first-generation students, alumni, faculty, and staff for all that they do to continue to shape Grinnell and to make our College a more vibrant community.

With heartfelt gratitude for all Grinnell first-generation community members,

Anne

Anne F. Harris 

President, Grinnell College 

Nov. 01, 2023

Dear campus community,

I write to you within the context of these very challenging times to provide recourse and resources for your well-being and to recall our stewardship of our community and of each other. I write especially to Grinnell students, wanting you to know how very much your faculty and staff care about you, as they live in these times with you. Below are four core practices for our important work ahead as a community.

Look out for each other. The challenges before us call on us more than ever to safeguard our community: to look out for one another, to care for one another, to center the dignity and well-being of each and every person at Grinnell. We must build and maintain a sense of safety for each other, with support from the College that answers specific needs. A range of campus partners are here for you, from Student Health and Wellness and Campus Safety to the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and beyond. Think both of what you need for your sense of safety and of what you can do to build a sense of safety for others.

Be aware of discrimination and report harassment. College and university campuses have been the sites of growing antisemitic and Islamophobic harassment. The College denounces antisemitism and Islamophobia and we – all of us – are the College. As an interconnected community we can – and must – respond to such and any harassment or discrimination. We must be aware of and denounce antisemitism and Islamophobia and harassment of members of our community. Our collective responsibility and accountability to one another depend on anyone who witnesses or experiences antisemitic or Islamophobic or otherwise discriminatory or harassing behavior to make a report through our BIRT process.  A BIRT report may be made anonymously, or you may choose for someone to contact you. Please look through a BIRT report form to familiarize yourselves with this recourse.

Reach out. I am so very grateful to the staff and faculty who gathered many of us in community on Monday afternoon for a vigil for lives lost in Israel and Gaza. Music, poetry, and words of remembrance created a space for mourning and processing. These spaces matter very much to the needed respite that can sustain us. Reach out to your friends, to your mentors, to whomever replenishes you. Spend time on self-reflection or in reflection with others to take care of yourself. Know that there are dozens of resources and multiple campus partners who are at the ready to support you, to be a resource to you, and to champion you.

Learn more. There are multiple sources of information about the Israel-Gaza war. Consider these sources; discuss them with trusted mentors; question and corroborate them. The tragedy of the war in Israel-Gaza is compounded by layers of history and inter-generational trauma. Before you use slogans or phrases, learn their history and think of their impact on others in our community; some create associations that are harmful and frightening. The complexity and grief of this war call for further education and we will need to bring more resources to bear to our shared understanding of what is happening in this war and of its impact on community members here in Grinnell.

We are here, now, at Grinnell College — all of us doing the very best we can to comprehend world events and to contribute to relief from suffering, and to the hope for peace. That vital work begins among us and radiates outwards.

Wishing you well, 

Anne F. Harris  
President  

Oct. 25, 2023

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff, 

Grinnell College is a global institution, one where events happening thousands of miles away are likely to personally impact students, staff, and faculty.  We are a community where more than 60 languages are spoken, which represents more than 40 nationalities, and which includes a broad diversity of ethnicities and religious affiliations. Over the past 24 hours, multiple messages have been sent through college platforms. The College does not endorse the content of these communications. It is with this context in mind that I am writing to remind you of our rights and responsibilities regarding free speech and protest as members of the Grinnell College community. 

Free speech and protest are critical rights within a democracy. As an institution, we affirm the right to assembly and support free speech and expression in the form of protest and demonstration. Consistent with the College’s educational mission, which requires free inquiry and an open exchange of ideas, we believe that a liberal arts education requires exposure to diverse perspectives and respectful engagement in debate, discussion, and dialogue.   

As members of this community, we simultaneously have responsibilities to each other.  We have a responsibility to sustain an environment free from harassment and discrimination.  We have a responsibility not to impede access to the educational experience, disrupt classes and learning, when they are so very needed, or otherwise create an environment that infringes on others’ rights or causes damage to people or property. We have a responsibility to respect others by being thoughtful and mindful of using campus resources and platforms – including email and BlackBoard – and spaces in ways that may infringe on both College policies and their intent, which is to secure each student’s right to pursue academic work without disruption and feel that they have equitable access to spaces and resources.  

Global events affect each of us differently, based on lived experience.  Loss of human life, conflict, and war elicit intense opinions and responses.  As we express our points of view, our anger, heartbreak, and the other complex responses that these events elicit, we must remember that those who see things differently are also human beings. They, too, are entitled to their responses and opinions and deserving of our respect. 

I am grateful to those in our community who are doing the work necessary to ensure that these values and principles continue to be upheld, so that we can come together as Grinnellians in all of our diverse opinions and ideas. 

Sincerely,  

Anne F. Harris 
President 

Oct. 17, 2023

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

I am pleased to share that Jonathan Colby, Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of Core services in ITS, has agreed to serve as interim CIO.  His appointment is effective as of Monday, October 16, 2023.

Jonathan joined Grinnell College in 2017. As deputy CIO, he has chaired Grinnell’s Cyber Risk, Governance Committee and leads reviews of institutional technology contracts for cybersecurity and – partnering with the Office of Disability Resources – accessibility.  As Director of Core Services, Jonathan manages both the operations and project budgets for ITS and oversees business operations, the ITS project management office, communications, training, and software contracts and renewals for the College.  He has partnered with others to lead technology selection and integration for the Humanities and Social Science Center and currently leads this function for the construction of Renfrow Hall.

Jonathan is not new to the CIO role, having served in equivalent roles in both higher education and industry.  Prior to joining the College, he served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer for OpenArc, LLC, a fast-growing consulting and software engineering firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.  He also served as the Network Engineering Director at the University of Pittsburgh, supporting the needs of 40,000 users on and off campus. As Interim CIO, he will collaborate with Dave Robinson on the transition and continue many of the initiatives begun under Dave’s leadership.

I hope that you will join me in thanking Dave for his generous and thoughtful transition, and Jonathan for the spirit of collaboration and partnership that he brings to the important work ahead. I have asked Jonathan to head up a working group dedicated to the coordination of academic mission and data security with attention to service, policy, and governance. More information will be forthcoming about the group following fall break, along with consultation with Executive Council, Staff Council, SGA, and senior leadership.  

Please join me in both thanks and the work ahead,

Anne 

Oct. 09, 2023

Dear Grinnell campus community,

On behalf of Professor Tony Perman (Music), a group of Grinnell College faculty and staff members, and some of our neighbors from the Meskwaki Settlement, I write to invite you all to an Intertribal Powwow on Grinnell’s campus to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day today, Monday, October 9, 2023. The Eagle Feather drum group and several competitive powwow dancers will be on Kington Plaza (or the neighboring lawn) from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. Writes professor Perman, “We hope that you will come to watch, celebrate, and dance along!”

Following the event, Kayella’s Food Truck and Big Açai Food Truck will be serving in downtown Grinnell. You are also invited to attend a talk by Stephanie BadSoldier Snow '03 at the Drake Community Library at 5:30 p.m. entitled “Growing Up Native in Iowa.” 

Many thanks are to be extended to community members for the events of today, as well as to the following campus partners for providing funding and other support:

The Center for Humanities
Grinnell College Public Events
The Music Department
The Prairie Studies Center
The President’s Office
The Rosenfield Program
The Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies Department
The Wilson Center

In honor of Indigenous People’s Day,

Anne F. Harris

Oct. 09, 2023

Dear Grinnellians, 

The events and images that news services are sharing from Israel-Palestine are stark and heartbreaking.  Some of our students, faculty, and staff may have loved ones who have been harmed or are in danger. We recognize that there are many people on this campus who have strong ties and connections to the land of Israel-Palestine, making this an overwhelming and painful time.

Together, we mourn the loss of so many lives and feel the grief of our community members who have lost friends and loved ones.  As Grinnellians, we work for human rights and human dignity – values that are torn asunder by violence and war in all of its forms.

Please know that the staff of the CRSSJ (Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice) will be offering space for group and individual processing onTuesday October 10 from 4-5pm at the CRSSJ: 913 8th Ave. This event is for anyone needing to be in community in this time of increased intensity in Israel-Palestine. This is a space for individual/group processing, not a teach-in on the political situation. All backgrounds are welcome. Please come with a spirit of being listened to and listening to others.  

With hope for peace, 

Anne F. Harris
President

Resources for Students:

  • Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) 641-269-3230
  • Virtual Care Group
  • NEED TO TALK (24hr counseling) 641-269-4404  
  • Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ -913 8th Ave), 641-269-4981, crssj@grinnell.edu
  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu 

Resources for Faculty and Staff:

  • Counseling support is available through Employee and Family Resources.   
  • University of Iowa Telepsychology Training Clinic (TPTC) is open to employees Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counseling appointments can be scheduled by calling and leaving a voicemail at 319-535-0437 or email scheduling@uitptc.com
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu   

  

Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris welcomed families to We Are Family Weekend 2023 on Saturday, Sept. 30, and shared updates and news from the College.

President Anne F. Harris addresses audience from the podium

Transcript for President’ Welcome, We Are Family Weekend 2023

Aug. 24, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

It is wonderful to see campus come to life and to welcome you back into community!

Thank you to everyone who attended the first annual Grinnell College Colloquium yesterday: for your questions and presence; and many thanks to our presenters! This will become an annual tradition to engage with topics of importance to the College. If you were not able to attend in person, you can view the videos of yesterday’s sessions on the Grinnell Colloquium 2023 site, where you will also find the PowerPoint presentations. Elsewhere on the Senior Leadership GrinnellShare SharePoint site you can find agendas, meeting summaries, and other information about the work of the senior leadership team with the campus community.

I want to extend an enthusiastic welcome and welcome back, starting with the class of 2027. It was an honor to shake your hands at the welcome ceremony last week. We are so glad that you are here. I am also grateful to our amazing student leaders, faculty and staff who provided a wonderful orientation experience – they have done amazing work. To our new faculty and staff members, thank you for being here – your expertise and dedication to the mission of liberal arts education is a wonderful addition to the vital work of the College.

As we settle in to the work of the fall semester, I want to welcome JC Lopez, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, who joined us on August 14. He joined Bernadine Douglas, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, who began her appointment on August 7. I am also grateful that Marc Reed, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, assumed the position on a permanent basis on July 1, after serving in an interim capacity for the previous ten months. Last year, to join faculty representation, I added two elected positions representing students and staff to the senior leadership team. I am grateful to Clark Lindgren, who is in his second year as chair of the faculty, and pleased to welcome Alexis Steele, representing staff council, and Gabby Hernández, in her role as SGA President.

This year, together, we will embark on the implementation of, “Knowledge into Action: A Strategic Plan for Grinnell College, 2023-30”. At Scholars’ Convocation on August 31, I will present the themes and objectives of the strategic plan, as these have been framed by the priority of constituents’ experiences of the institution and the principle of collective impact. Due to repairs to the floors in JRC101, convocation will be held from 11 a.m. to noon in HSSC A1231 (the multi-purpose room). We will also share a link to the video of the event for those who are unable to attend.

So, as we celebrate our return and our renewed practice of research, deliberation, and collaboration: Bemvindo! Velkommen! Nĭhǎo! Karibu! Bienvenidas! Здравствуйте! Yokoso! Hoan nghenh! Svaagat! Bienvenue! Baruch aba! Xush Kelibsiz! Vanakkam! In dozens of languages from close to home and around the world: welcome to Grinnell College!

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris 

President

Aug. 1, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

I write to invite you to save the date for the inaugural Grinnell Colloquium: a set of sessions held on August 23, as we gather into our community of inquiry, exploring consequential topics for our experiences of the College as these connect to higher education and our global, multi-cultural society at large.

All sessions will be available in person as well as virtually; all sessions will be recorded.

The time and location of this year’s three topics are:

  • College Finances: FY24 Budget, New Endowment Formula, Philanthropy
    • 11 a.m.-12 p.m. HSSC Auditorium
       
  • Responding to the SCOTUS Decision on Affirmative Action
    • 1-1:45 p.m. HSSC Auditorium
       
  • Renfrow Hall, Civic Innovation, and Student Housing
    • 2-2:45 p.m. HSSC Auditorium

More information, including session descriptions and links, will be forthcoming in mid-August.

With good wishes for your continuing summers,

Anne F. Harris
President

July 26, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

I write to announce the appointment of JC Lopez as the interim vice president for the Division of Student Affairs at Grinnell College, beginning August 14, 2023. JC joins us as an esteemed and trusted partner with a demonstrated dedication to student success.

JC brings extensive experience in higher education administration to our campus. At DePauw University, JC has held positions ranging from director of campus living and community development to dean of student success, working collaboratively with multiple student affairs professionals. Throughout his tenure, he has demonstrated a commitment to creating inclusive environments within multiple departments, enhancing the first-year experience, and developing strong collaborations with campus and off-campus offices and organizations. His ability to connect with students, faculty, staff, and alumni has been instrumental in fostering a sense of belonging and in supporting the holistic development of students.

JC's educational background includes a Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Applied Media Arts, Graphic Design, from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

This appointment comes as we embark on a national search for a vice president of student affairs in the coming fall. JC's interim role will allow us to maintain stability andcontinuity while we work together throughout the year to discern the next leader of the Division of Student Affairs.

Please join me in welcoming JC Lopez to the Grinnell College community. His expertise, dedication, and passion for student success will contribute meaningfully to our mission of fostering an exceptional student experience.

I look forward to the productive partnerships JC will engage in his role as interim vice president for the Division of Student Affairs. In those partnerships, we will continue to foster a vibrant and inclusive campus environment that supports the growth and success of our students.

All the best,

Anne F. Harris
President

July 17, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Bernadine Douglas as Grinnell College’s next Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations. Bernadine brings a wealth of experience and expertise in all areas of leadership, with a particular focus on fundraising and operational objectives within higher education.

Throughout her distinguished career, Bernadine has consistently demonstrated her exceptional leadership and a deep commitment to advancing the missions of the institutions she has served. As Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Barry University, she successfully rebuilt the fundraising operation, resulting in significant growth from $2 million in 2019 to over $5 million in 2022. Bernadine’s efforts included establishing a phonathon, implementing direct marketing strategies, and developing a mid-level donor program. Under her leadership, Barry University experienced tremendous success in board governance, philanthropy, and planned giving.

Prior to her role at Barry University, she served as Vice President for Alumni and College Relations at Berea College, where she led a team of professionals and oversaw an annual operating budget of $4 million. During her tenure, Berea College achieved consecutive years of fundraising growth, raising over $41 million in 2018, at that time the most in the College’s history. Bernadine’s strategic initiatives included executing a successful campaign for a $72 million science building, implementing a multichannel marketing plan, and expanding the College’s planned giving program.

Before joining Berea College, Bernadine served as Vice President of External Relations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and as Director of Major Gifts at the University of Central Florida. Her accomplishments in these roles include securing substantial gifts, establishing corporate and foundation relations programs, and engaging with various stakeholders to advance the institutions’ missions.

Bernadine’s educational background includes a Master of Business Administration from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Florida. Furthermore, she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), demonstrating her commitment to professional excellence in the field of fundraising.

In addition to her impressive professional achievements, Bernadine possesses a deep understanding of the transformative power of a liberal arts education and the importance of creating a more just and equitable society. Her experiences at Barry University and Berea College have reinforced her belief that education is not merely a commodity, but also a force for real change.

I have full confidence that Bernadine’s leadership, strategic vision, and extensive experience will greatly contribute to the continued success of our development and alumni relations efforts at Grinnell. Her appointment marks an exciting chapter for Grinnell as we shape and secure our position as a distinguished global leader in liberal arts education, dedicated to fostering a dynamic and inclusive future for our entire community.

Bernadine will start in her new role on Monday, August 7, 2023. Please join me in welcoming her to Grinnell College! I look forward to working closely with her and witnessing the profound impact she will undoubtedly have on strengthening our relationships with alumni and supporters. Together, we will continue to cultivate a vibrant and engaged network, fostering strong connections that support the success of our students and the mission of Grinnell College.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris
President

May 22, 2023

Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris congratulates the Class of 2023 at the closing of their commencement ceremony.

Charge to the Graduating Class of 2023

It is now my honor to give the charge to the graduating class.

I do so through three enduring ideas of human striving.

First: Knowledge is both rational and revelatory.

This idea takes us back to a 7th-century Byzantine theological debate as to how knowledge was gained, how it came into being: was it to be gained through the rationality of language or through the revelation of illumination? The argument that knowledge came through revelation rather than rationality, through illumination rather than study, was articulated by the late 5th-century theologian, Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite. Not only is his name fun to say, but Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite can speak to us today because his ideas give voice to the experience of knowledge through a flash of realization, a quickening, an immediacy and certitude that defy logic – the joy of life’s intellectual passions.

I invite you to think on your moments of realization these past four years, and to trust yourself when those moments come in years to come. These moments give us a way to understand and admire how you came to know a tilting, transformed world and how you navigated and created and shared knowledge through both revelation and rationality. How you held fast to what was being revealed in that world, how you used that knowledge to indelibly reshape Grinnell and will use that knowledge to now inevitably reshape your worlds. You are a revelatory class.

Second: Change takes place across thresholds.

A voice that was often quoted in our community during the pandemic was that of Indian author and political activist Arundhati Roy, who published an essay entitled “The Pandemic is a Portal” in April of 2020. “Whatever it is,” she wrote, “coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could... Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” 

That portal turns out to have a long threshold, one that you have been walking throughout the pandemic, in the liminality betwixt and between worlds. It will be my enduring honor that we, dear class of 2023, came to Grinnell at the same time – and that we walked that long threshold together. Not with the same steps, not in the same ways, for several months not in the same time zones – but gathered around the principles and experiences and changes of Grinnell. You have known and walked and co-created Grinnell across the gateways of multiple worlds.

Third: I had to make up a word for this last idea.

Words such as leadership and partnership (as real and plentiful as both of those were during your time here) are not able to speak fully to how I have witnessed and been changed by your responses to the ceaselessly complex circumstances of your college years. So instead, I propose to celebrate your actionship: your ability to meet and mobilize, your capacity to gather and galvanize, your resolve to move ideas into action.

In the etymology of English words, the “-ship” of leadership, partnership, friendship, hardship, and (now) actionship signals the “quality, power, skill, state or condition of being” of a leader, a partner, a friend, a hard thing, or an action. You have lifted up the “quality, power, skill, state or condition of being” of action in your reaching out to each other, in your building of coalitions, in your creativity and courage. In events both intensely local and ever-expansively regional, national and global, you gathered and protested not only for impact (and the crucial role protest plays in a democratic society) but also to gather and map out courses of action and change. You sat down with campus and community partners and, through deliberation and problem-solving, saw and enacted better ways for this College and the multi-racial and multi-ethnic society that it strives to further and nurture to commit to human thriving and joy in a sustainable world. You are a testament to the power of action.

Feb. 14, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

Our thoughts are with the students, faculty, staff, and alumni at Michigan State University as they face the aftermath of last night’s fatal shootings.

As MSU faces the trauma of this senseless and horrific event and as we learn more about what happened, our community members may feel stress, anxiety, and fear. We write today to remind you of support and mental health resources available on our campus and beyond.

We know that Grinnellians will turn to each other with compassion and that each of us face this tragedy in the context of our own experiences. We ask that we hold space for each other to do so in the way that is best for each individual.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris, President

Beronda Montgomery, Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic Affairs


Resources for Students:

  • Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) 641-269-3230
  • Virtual Care Group
  • NEED TO TALK (24hr counseling) 641-269-4404
  • Rev. Deanna Shorb, Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay, and Imam Kamal Hammouda (24hrs via Campus Safety) 641-269-4981 or shorb@grinnell.edu, brammershlay@grinnell.edu, 
  • hammouda@grinnell.edu  at the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ -913 8th Ave).
  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu

Resources for Faculty and Staff:

  • Counseling support is available through Employee and Family Resources.
  • University of Iowa Telepsychology Training Clinic (TPTC) is open to employees Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counseling appointments can be scheduled by calling and leaving a voicemail at 319-535-0437 or email scheduling@uitptc.com.
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu

Feb. 7 2023

Dear faculty, staff, and students of Grinnell College,

On Monday a reported 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, with catastrophic damage to homes and infrastructure.  More than 4,000 lives are confirmed lost and rescuers continue to search for victims buried in collapsed buildings.

I write today to affirm our community’s support for the students, faculty and staff whose homes, families and communities have been impacted by this significant natural disaster. The College has reached out to students from the region, several of whom are spearheading efforts to raise awareness and funds for relief efforts.  I am grateful for their critical work and the support they have received from the International Student Organization and others in our community.

It is tremendously difficult for our classmates and colleagues who are concerned for their homes and families, particularly when communications have been cut off as a result of the earthquake.  I ask that all of us be aware that our classmates and colleagues are experiencing a range of worries and emotions and to be present and care for each other.

As a reminder, the following resources are available on campus and virtually through the Division of Student Affairs:

Faculty and staff have access to counseling support through Employee and Family Resources.

I am grateful for the caring and thoughtfulness of the Grinnell College community and the speed with which our students have mobilized to address the devastating impact of the earthquake.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris
President

Jan. 27, 2023

Dear Grinnellians,

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated on January 27 each year as a day to remember the lives lost in the Holocaust. Six million Jews were murdered during this horrendous period of genocide, as well as many other marginalized groups, including, but not limited to, members of the Roma community, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, resistance activists and more.

A core component of how the Jewish community marks moments of mourning is through the act of remembering. As we remember, we give honor to what was lost. The acts of the Holocaust not only murdered individuals, but also wiped out so much of the culture, wisdom, and beauty each individual and community held. The magnitude of the loss is difficult to fully encapsulate.

On this day, we remember the lives lost and we also commit to opposing Nazism and genocide, hate, discrimination, and violence as they arise in our current time. We also thank alumni like Sam Harris ’58, one of the youngest survivors of the concentration camps during the Holocaust. Sam was an instrumental force in the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, of which he is President Emeritus. His life and work are a beautiful embodiment of how Grinnellians contribute to the common good.
In addition to today’s observance, International Holocaust Remembrance day, the Jewish calendar creates time and space for remembering and honoring victims of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial), which falls on April 18, 2023. We encourage you to watch for an invitation to a community-wide event marking this additional observance.

In Remembrance,

Anne F. Harris
President

Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay Associate Chaplain and Rabbi
Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice

Jan. 23, 2023

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As we come back together for the first day of classes, I am reminded that Grinnell is truly a microcosm of the world.  That means that we experience events in different ways and with different impact.  I am writing today to ask that, in light of violence toward a predominantly Asian American community in California on the lunar new year, we begin this semester with an attitude of compassion and community toward our fellow Grinnellians.

Our lived experiences shape how we react to current events, how we feel about belonging on campus, and how we bring those feelings into our campus community.  Some of us may feel that meaningful work is the best place for us to be, others may want to take time to be in community and find support differently.  We have experienced racism here in Grinnell and hear frequently about the impact of violence on communities both near and far.  As we navigate this semester, I ask that we all hold our community close and approach each other with compassion and support.

As we do so, we want to provide you with some updates on security measures from the fall semester and as we move forward, including:

  • Findings regarding the false alarm in the HSSC building;
  • InformaCast app reminder;
  • Outdoor lighting;
  • Cameras;
  • Mental health resources;
  • Transportation;
  • Community partnerships and trainings.

These are part of the on-going work we must do to continue to provide resources for personal safety and well-being. Thank you for your use of the information below for yourselves and your fellow Grinnellians.

HSSC False Alarm

Emergency Management, Campus Safety and Facilities Management conducted an incident review of the false alarm on Monday, Nov. 28.  Working together, the team has determined that the root cause of the alarm was an electrical impulse triggering the fire alarm panel as a new back-up battery was attached to the system.  According to FM staff, this is an error that should occur very rarely – once in 1000 incidents.  The “armed intruder” alarm feature is not one that the College sought to have activated and is not utilized in any other building on campus. Based on conversation with faculty and staff in the building, this alarm feature will be permanently removed from the HSSC alarm panel to prevent a recurrence.  Faculty, staff, and students should rely on the InformaCast alert system to receive official information from the College.

In the future, all Facilities Management staff will immediately notify Campus Safety of any accidental alarms during troubleshooting or maintenance events so that appropriate follow-up notifications can be issued.  In addition, additional personnel have been trained as administrators for the InformaCast system to better support Campus Safety when responding to an emergency and enable faster notifications.

All faculty, staff and students should ensure that you can receive InformaCast alerts by verifying that your contact information is up-to-date and designated to receive alert texts in Colleague Self-Service.  You can read more about what to do in an emergency in the recent Q&A on Grinnell College’s News Page.  The Director of Emergency Management is partnering with Campus Safety and the Grinnell Police Department to develop and deliver emergency response training to the campus both online and in-person during the upcoming semester. 

InformaCast App

A mobile safety app that features a Grinnell Campus Alert Button is now available for campus community members to download and use anywhere on College property. This optional mobile app complements the campus-wide emergency alert system, InformaCast.

The alert button can immediately notify a Campus Safety dispatcher of the need for assistance or other issues of concern. The alert button does not replace or supplement 911 and will not notify the police when activated.

Download the free InformaCast app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. For more information and complete instructions on using the app visit the InformaCast Mobile Safety App documentation on GrinnellShare.

Personal Safety Training

The College is partnering with Zendou Martial Arts to provide two-hour personal safety workshops throughout February for students and employees. Zendou Martial Arts is based in Evanston, Illinois and is operated by Grinnell alums Otis Velma ‘84 and Anne (Stein) Velma ‘84. Classes will include dialogue with participants on personal safety at Grinnell for people of color, strategies to address incidents of harassment, verbal response skills, physical response skills, and skills for dealing with armed offenders. A full schedule and sign-up instructions will be provided once sessions are finalized.

Outdoor Lighting

The Campus Lighting Committee has reconvened and is reviewing additional lighting needs along with the feasibility of replacing current “acorn” style lights with brighter fixtures.  Lights and poles have been ordered for Park Street, with an estimated delivery date of Spring 2024.  Additionally, the lighting committee is looking at crosswalk lighting and signage as well as potential traffic calming measures for high-traffic areas, which will be discussed with the City of Grinnell.

Cameras

Cameras were ordered on October 31 and have been delivered to the College’s vendor, but installation was delayed while waiting for an important component to protect outdoor cameras and our building networks and switches from lightning strikes.  Installation will take place over the next few weeks, weather permitting.   The camera policy, including amnesty and data retention policies, is currently under review and will be communicated to the campus community as cameras are installed.

Mental Health Resources

Academic Affairs provided an extended deadline for decision making on course withdrawals and S/D/F options in the fall semester.  Additional measures are being discussed by the Executive Council.  Additional trauma-informed response training for College staff is in development.  SHAW and ODEI continue to seek out mental health resources tailored to the needs of students with minoritized identities.

Transportation

As of November 7, weekend shuttles are being provided at no charge to students.  Expanded hours for call-a-ride services from Campus Safety continue.

Community Partnerships

Regular campus and community meetings have been held throughout the fall semester. On November 29, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion hosted a community dialogue with students, faculty, staff, and community members in attendance.  The ideas generated by this workshop are being compiled and next steps will be communicated in the spring.

Training Opportunities

Additionally, the College is developing ongoing learning and development opportunities for next semester including active bystander training, tools for inclusive conversations, and more regular community circle practices.

We are grateful to everyone whose efforts have moved these initiatives forward and for the compassion and care that the Grinnell community has offered and will continue to express toward each other.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris                                                   

President        

Jan. 6, 2023

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I write today to share that I have accepted Jaci Thiede’s resignation as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations (DAR). Her last day will be February 1. While I am happy for her as she makes time and space to pursue new opportunities and projects, I am sad for Grinnell. Since her arrival in 2018, her leadership of the dedicated and talented Development and Alumni Relations team has strengthened the College’s relationship with alumni and friends, inspired philanthropy in support of our mission, and built an organization that is prepared to reach new heights.

Under Jaci’s leadership, the DAR team closed out the most successful campaign in the history of Grinnell College in June 2021. Building on an original goal of $150 million, Jaci led the team in raising the goal to $175 million in 2018 and closing the campaign with $189 million raised in support of Grinnell’s mission. The DAR team then went on to achieve the best single fundraising year in history of the College, closing the books in June 2022 with $33.9 million in new gifts and commitments.

These accomplishments took place against the background of a global pandemic, where Jaci worked with DAR leadership to develop a robust slate of virtual alumni engagement programs. These opportunities are now a permanent part of our effort to keep alumni connected to Grinnell College. In addition, the DAR team has partnered with the Alumni Council to develop a Code of Leadership, which articulates a set of standards and expectations for key volunteers and staff. The Code has been endorsed and signed by all members of the Board of Trustees, Alumni Council, Senior Leadership Team, and DAR staff, representing a best practice in higher education advancement.

Jaci has further strengthened the talented, expert, and professional DAR staff, including collaborating with them to realign DAR’s mission and core values to make sure they accurately reflect the team’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has also consciously managed the timing of her resignation to have minimal impact on the College’s philanthropic planning and future initiatives. While her departure is bittersweet, she leaves a DAR team in place that is exceptionally prepared to continue building a culture of philanthropy and engagement with our alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, and other friends of the College.

The College will engage a search firm to conduct a national search for our next Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations. In the meantime, I am pleased to share that Adam Laug, Director of Development, and Jayn Bailey Chaney ’05, Director of Alumni and Donor Relations, have agreed to co-lead the DAR team while we search for new leadership.

Please join me in thanking Jaci for all that she has done for Grinnell College and wishing her the best in her future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris

President

2022

 

 

Nov. 21, 2022

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

On a day meant to remember and honor those murdered because of anti-transgender hate, this nation once again woke up to the news of a mass shooting, this time at an LGBTQ club in Colorado. While the motive of the shooter has not been determined, the timing of this horrific act of violence recalls other acts meant to kill, injure, and terrorize LGBTQ individuals.

Violence that seeks to deny the humanity of our classmates, colleagues, and friends harms all of us. Our thanks to staff members who worked closely with students on Sunday, and to all Grinnellians reaching out to each other. Support is available for community members to mourn, reflect, or address the anxiety and fear that may be triggered by this tragedy.

Our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of the people who lost their lives as a result of this senseless violence.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris
President                                          

Marc Reed
Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Resources for Students:

  • Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) 641-269-3230
  • Virtual Care Group
  • NEED TO TALK (24hr counseling) 641-269-4404  
  • Vrinda Varia, Assistant Chief Diversity Office for Intercultural Student Life, Intercultural Affairs, ica@grinnell.edu, 641-269-3700
  • Deanna Shorb, Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain (24hrs via Campus Safety) 641-269-4981 or shorb@grinnell.edu  at the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ -913 8th Ave)
  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu 

Resources for Faculty and Staff:

  • Counseling support is available through Employee and Family Resources.   
  • University of Iowa Telepsychology Training Clinic (TPTC) is open to employees Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counseling appointments can be scheduled by calling and leaving a voicemail at 319-535-0437 or email scheduling@uitptc.com.  
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu

Nov. 3, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I am writing to inform you that Grinnell College is partnering with the City of Grinnell and the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office to offer a $2,000 reward for information leading to charges being filed against those responsible for acts of racially-based harassment and vandalism in Poweshiek County.  This specifically includes two incidents of harassment on the Grinnell College campus. You can read the full press release on the Grinnell Police Department website.

We are working closely with the City and County, as well as other community organizations, to publicize the reward broadly and we are grateful for their partnership.  Holding individuals accountable for their actions is an important component of a holistic approach to change at Grinnell College and in the broader community that also includes safety, education, and dialogue across difference.

To provide a tip, contact the Grinnell Police Department at 641-623-5602.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris, President

Nov. 1, 2022

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

It is with deep sadness that we write to inform you that we have learned of the tragic death of Davis Cooper ’26.  Davis was from Pasadena, CA, and graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA. He was a member of the Grinnell College football team.

Our profound sympathy is with his parents, Beverly and Darin Cooper and his younger brother, Elliott, his teammates and friends.

Grief can be experienced in many different ways. For some, engaging in classes and work will provide comfort and meaning; for others, it will be impossible to do so. Please take the time and space you need for yourself and with each other.

Campus partners are here for you, and students are invited to come for drop-in counseling support throughout the day at Student Health and Wellness (SHAW), the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice, and in the Laurel Leaf Lounge located on the first floor of the JRC. The national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Additional support resources are listed at the end of this message.

The community is invited to gather at 4:00 PM in JRC 101 to provide a space for grief and support. As we begin to face the loss of a valued community member, please support your friends and colleagues with understanding, kindness, listening, and compassion.

With sadness,

Anne F. Harris
President 

Sarah Moschenross
Vice President of Student Affairs                                 

Resources for Students:

  • Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) 641-269-3230
  • Virtual Care Group
  • NEED TO TALK (24hr counseling) 641-269-4404  
  • Deanna Shorb, Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain (24hrs via Campus Safety) 641-269-4981 or shorb@grinnell.edu at the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ -913 8th Ave)
  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu 

Resources for Faculty and Staff:

  • Counseling support is available through Employee and Family Resources.   
  • University of Iowa Telepsychology Training Clinic (TPTC) is open to employees Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counseling appointments can be scheduled by calling and leaving a voicemail at 319-535-0437 or email scheduling@uitptc.com.  
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu 

Oct. 28, 2022

Dear Grinnell students, faculty, staff and families,

Today will be the last of these campus updates, but our work has only begun. The past three weeks have sought to build up security measures in response to the racist harassment and racist vandalism directed at Black community members. They have also made systemic issues on campus and in the community salient with work needed to build up responsiveness to racial trauma; to increase campus-wide and community-wide accountability for creating conditions of possibility in which anyone would think racist harassment and racist vandalism could be done and done with impunity; and to sustainably center Black experience through spaces, actions, and acknowledgement of the foundational role of Black intellectual and social movements at Grinnell. The 10-point call to action demands put forth by the Black Student Union continue to shape actions and discussions and I am thankful to BSU leadership for the channel of communication between us that has been established.

We are fortifying structures and expertise to do needed anti-racist work: in our administrative and academic departments, in the research and past actions that have been taken at the institution, in initiatives and ideas that are being worked out now. To continue the work, I will not be creating a new task force, but instead will be gathering a coalition of existing groups at the College who can mutually reinforce needed changes and sustain them in our campus and community through our existing governance and administrative groups. We will work out communication between groups, and to the campus and community, and continue to mobilize both so that there are clear paths for every student, faculty, and staff to make their own contributions to the work of an equitable community. We are not an equitable community in the disparate experiences that are linked to different racial identities at Grinnell. Our values and our history as an institution of social justice and social responsibility can both inspire us and hold us accountable to the work of an equitable community and to the work of social justice at Grinnell.

We have been fortunate to have Jodie Geddes on campus this week. Her work reminds us that the process of restorative justice and healing is not linear, but iterative. Grinnellians have been called to the table over and over to heal injustice and transform systems that create or condone inequity. In her book, Geddes says, “Coming to the table is the easy part. Staying at the table is the hard part; make the commitment to stay when things get hard.” Our work builds on the efforts of those who come before us, but our work for this moment in time has just begun. We must stay at the table when things get hard – as they will.

Below are updates on current actions; the long-term work remains to be done.

  • Counseling and Support Resources
  • Academic Accommodations
  • Campus Safety Patrols
  • Transportation
  • InformaCast Safety App
  • Cameras and Lighting
  • Cooperation with the City of Grinnell

Counseling and Support Resources

In addition to the services available through the Virtual Care Group and the Collective facilitated space for cultural memory, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and SHAW are working quickly to expand access to mental health services. More information will be shared when available.

Academic Accommodations

Students who need academic accommodations should reach out to Joyce Stern, Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising.

Campus Safety Patrols

Campus safety patrols will continue with the assistance of RLCs and Deans on call, supported by shuttle drivers and Campus Safety. Stepped up patrolling of public streets will continue.

Transportation

The Local Shuttle will continue to stop at the Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a part of its regular route. The local shuttle runs from 4 to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Safe Rides may be accessed by calling Campus Safety dispatch (4600 on campus or 641-269-4600). Students have the option to request a dean on call or Campus Safety. A transportation voucher program for the weekend shuttle program is in development and will be available for the weekend of November 5th and 6th. Students will receive details next week.

InformaCast Safety App

The team continues to work on the technical aspects of the InformaCast app. The Office of Emergency Management seeks end users to test the app. If you are interested in participating, please email emergmgmt@grinnell.edu.

Cameras and Lighting

The installation of permanent cameras and lighting is a top priority for the College. At the same time, the electrical supply industry continues to experience supply chain challenges. The good news is that the vendor has met with College staff to get details on the proposed locations and the parts necessary to install cameras on a short timeline. That order is being finalized and placed and we will update the community when a confirmed timeline is available.

The Lighting Committee is meeting to move forward with the plan to increase the lighting on Park Street between 6th and 10th Streets and in other places that students have indicated are dark. The committee is also looking at upgrading older lighting on campus to more powerful LED technology. The committee will be seeking additional input from students, faculty, and staff – watch your email and the Campus Memo for those opportunities.

Cooperation with the City of Grinnell and Reporting

College leadership continues our recurring meetings with the City of Grinnell, with the next one on Monday afternoon. The focus of these meetings has been to enhance coordination in the investigation of racist vandalism and harassment and find those responsible. One outcome of these conversations is a shared understanding of the role that reporting plays in the ability to hold individuals accountable.

Creating a trustworthy and coordinated reporting system is key to accountability. The Bias Incident Reporting Team continues to work on the reporting process and has added new fields to the reporting form that will enable enhanced coordination for greater effectiveness. Anyone reporting a Bias Incident now has the option to choose to be contacted by one or more of the following offices:

  • Division of Student Affairs
  • Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Campus Safety (to further investigate for campus purposes)
  • Grinnell Police Department (to further investigate for a crime)
  • None of the above

Thank you for your readership and your actions, your expertise, and your resolve.

Respectfully,

Anne

President, Anne F. Harris

Oct. 28, 2022

Dear Members of the Grinnell community, 

I write to share that a celebration of the life of George Drake ‘56 will be held on Saturday November 19 at 2 p.m. in Herrick Chapel and livestreamed at www.grinnell.edu/livestream.  If you would like to leave remembrances that the College will share with George’s family, please visit this page.

I also write to share the obituary for George prepared by his family, with my thanks to them for sharing it with the Grinnell community.  


On the afternoon of Saturday, October 15, 2022, in the culmination of a rich and impactful life, George Albert Drake, 88, died peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family. His memory lives on through his wife of 62 years, Sue; son Chris and spouse Kay, and their children, Nick and spouse Jenny, Elizabeth, and Hannah; daughter Cindy and partner Louie Vencato, and Cindy’s children, Danielle, Lila, and Samantha Drake-Flam; daughter Melanie and spouse Tom Wickersham; and the countless other lives he touched. 

A celebration of George’s life will be held on Saturday, November 19 at 2 pm in Herrick Chapel, at Grinnell College. A reception will follow at the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) Atrium.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be donated to the Grinnell College Liberal Arts in Prison Program, the Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium - JPK, or an organization of your choice, in memory of George Drake.  

Spanning from February 25, 1934 to a beautiful autumn afternoon in October 2022, George’s life was many things. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find a piece of writing about George, before or after his passing, that does not highlight his numerous facets: husband, father, grandfather, athlete, historian, musician, president, two-time pastor, volunteer, mentor, and so much more. 

When not speaking confidently and knowledgeably on a seemingly endless number of subjects, informed by his voracious reading and boundless curiosity, he was quietly observing and asking questions; always learning. Though to hear him tell it, this was not always the case. “I was a pretty obstreperous young man,” he claimed when describing family dinners of his youth, particularly those involving Roy Smalley, friend of the family and shortstop for George’s beloved Chicago Cubs.  

George excelled at the college of his choice, Grinnell, winning the Archibald Prize for the highest grades in his 1956 graduating class. He also led the cross country team to its first conference championship and personally qualified for the national championships, where he placed 49th. George was inducted into the Grinnell College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. He remained active throughout his life: just weeks before his passing, still riding a recumbent bicycle. 

Upon graduation from Grinnell, George embarked on a Fulbright Scholarship in Paris, followed immediately by a Rhodes Scholarship that took him to Merton College at Oxford from 1957-1959. After Oxford, George returned stateside, where he initially pursued his seminary degree through the Chicago Theological Seminary and eventually completed his Ph.D. in Church History at the University of Chicago. It was during this time that he reconnected with a fellow Grinnell alum, Sue Ratcliff, and, after a whirlwind courtship, the two were engaged and soon married.  

Less than a year later, the couple found themselves in the mountain town of Marble, Colorado when George took a summer job as the pastor of the small church there. George and Sue fell in love with the beautiful Crystal River Valley and together built a cabin they would return to frequently for the rest of his life. George taught at Colorado College from 1964 to 1979, teaching history and eventually becoming Dean. During this time, he and Sue grew their family by three: Chris, Cindy, and Melanie.  

Eventually, George found his way back to Grinnell, first as a trustee in 1970 and then in 1979 as the first alumnus to serve as president. In his memoir he writes of his surprise when his fellow trustees found him qualified to serve as Grinnell’s president, and yet, George served that role with distinction for twelve years. The changes he made during his presidency helped put Grinnell on the path to becoming the top tier liberal arts institution that it is today.  

In 1991, after stepping down from the presidency, George and Sue joined the Peace Corps in Lesotho where George taught English to high schoolers, while Sue trained local elementary school teachers. Upon their return to Grinnell in 1993, George taught history full-time for the next ten years, which he recalled as “among the most satisfactory of my life. I loved being back in the classroom, and I loved the students.” Although he retired at age 70, George continued teaching a tutorial at Grinnell and in Grinnell’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program at Newton Correctional Facility, a cause to which he remained deeply devoted.  

In 2020, in the face of the remote instruction necessitated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, George reluctantly elected to stop teaching. Despite the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer that came soon afterward, he remained deeply involved and connected to the College. To the very end, he was, in his words, “a Grinnell College junkie.”  

George also gave his time and talents widely to the Grinnell, Iowa community including through the library, their UCC Church, the hospital, and the Mayflower Home, to name just a few. He had a lifelong love of singing, and many fondly remember him on stage as a member of Shults & Co., performing songs as well as dance routines, much to the audience’s delight.  

When concluding his 2019 biography of Joe Rosenfield, Mentor, George wrote that he wished to remind his readers of “the richness of the man.” It seems fitting, then, to do the same for him, although it will no doubt be unnecessary for those who knew, loved, and were forever changed by George Albert Drake, a good man who lived richly and well. 


Words cannot express the indelible impact George on had Grinnell College, his students, the community and on all who had the good fortune of spending time with him.  I am forever grateful for the time he shared with the many Grinnellians whose lives he transformed through his teaching, leadership, and service.

In gratitude,

Anne

Anne F. Harris 
President

Oct. 25, 2022

Dear Grinnell students, faculty, staff, and families,

We have seen increasing use of the bias incident reporting mechanism and thank you for reporting.  The information you share is helpful in our ongoing work with community partners for accountability.

Today’s campus update provides new information on the following topics:

  • Reporting
  • Cooperation with the City of Grinnell
  • Cameras
  • InformaCast safety app
  • Transportation

Reporting

Creating a trustworthy and coordinated reporting system is key to accountability. The Bias Incident Reporting Team continues to work on the reporting process and has added new fields to the reporting form that will enable enhanced coordination for greater effectiveness. Anyone reporting a Bias Incident now has the option to choose to be contacted by one or more of the following offices: 

  • Division of Student Affairs 
  • Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 
  • Campus Safety (to further investigate for campus purposes) 
  • Grinnell Police Department (to further investigate for a crime) 
  • None of the above 

Cooperation with the City of Grinnell

College leadership continues to meet with city officials including City Manager, Russ Behrens, and Police Chief Michael McClelland. The focus of these meetings has been to enhance coordination in the investigation of racist vandalism and harassment and find those responsible.

Earlier today local philanthropic organizations issued a message of support.  The Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation and the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation sent a message asking citizens to help report and identify those responsible for racist harassment and vandalism and to participate in bystander training.

Cameras

Last week, representatives from the College met with a selected vendor regarding the purchase and placement of cameras.  Phase I of the project will include installation of ten cameras on 8th and 10th Streets between Park Street and East Street.  A timeline will be communicated when finalized.

InformaCast Safety App

Technical development and testing are in progress.  Instructions and training will be provided once the app is available. Anyone interested in participating in end-user testing may contact emergmgmt@grinnell.edu.

Transportation 

The Local Shuttle will continue to stop at the Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a part of its regular route. The local shuttle runs from 4 to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. 

Safe Rides are available for on-call transportation anywhere on campus, to off campus residences or from off campus residences to campus, and to Kum and Go.  Safe Rides can be contacted through Campus Safety dispatch (4600 on campus or 641-269-4600). As a reminder, the Safe Rides service is available 24/7 and will be supplemented by the Dean on-call from 8 p.m. to midnight should a student prefer an alternative to Campus Safety.

The next update will be on Friday, October 28.

Respectfully,

Anne F. Harris, President

Oct. 21, 2022

Dear students, faculty, and staff: 

As we prepare to return to classes on Monday, we are writing to provide the latest updates on campus safety and actions we are taking to mobilize our campus and community against racist harassment and vandalism.  

Today’s update includes the following topics: 

  • Academic Work 
  • Transportation 
  • Lighting and Neighborhood Watch 
  • Personal Safety Tools 
  • Educational Opportunities 
  • Community Partnerships

Academic Work

As we noted before fall break, Dean Beronda Montgomery and Chair of the Faculty Clark Lindberg sent a message to faculty calling for consideration and understanding of impact for Black students during this time, which was subsequently shared with staff and students. Students are invited to reach out to Joyce Stern, Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising, for support and planning. Discussions of academic responsiveness will continue with Executive Council after fall break. 

Transportation 

The Local Shuttle will continue to stop at the Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a part of its regular route. The shuttle is available for on-call transportation anywhere on campus, to off campus residences or from off campus residences to campus, and to Kum and Go and can be contacted through Campus Safety dispatch (4600 on campus or 641-269-4600). The shuttle driver will provide further support for neighborhood watch. As a reminder, Campus Safety need-a-ride service is available 24/7 and will be supplemented by the Dean on-call. Rides can be requested by calling Campus Safety.  

Lighting and Neighborhood Watch 

The Campus Lighting Committee meetings are being scheduled and the temporary lights will remain in place through the end of the semester. Placement of temporary lighting is being evaluated on an ongoing basis and may be adjusted to ensure driver and pedestrian safety. 

The volunteer neighborhood watch is being maintained by RLCs and Deans on Call and supported by shuttle drivers and Campus Safety; it will be evaluated at the end of the month. Stepped up patrolling of public streets will continue.  

  1. Anyone who witnesses an incident is asked to take one or more of the following actions: 
  2. Report racist harassment and vandalism to Grinnell Police at 641-623-5602 or 911  
  3. Call the Grinnell Police department at the same number if you know the individual(s) involved  
  4. Photograph license plate numbers of vehicles harassing citizens to give to police  

Any Grinnell College student, staff, or faculty who has knowledge of or has experienced a bias incident, on or off campus, can report it to the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT). The reporting person has the option to remain anonymous.  Reports may come from the person experiencing racist or discriminatory behavior, bystanders, witnesses, or someone who has heard about the incident from another member of the campus community. 

Personal Safety App and Tools 

The InformaCast alert button app is in development. Details will be shared next week, including a call for test users. Students, faculty, and staff may pick up safety kits, including whistles and flashlights, at the BCC (students only), Campus Safety, the Division of Student Affairs and the JRC information desk.   

Educational Opportunities 

Bystander intervention training will be implemented in November. To be notified when training is scheduled, please leave your contact information at 641-269-3407.  

Community Partnerships 

Raised awareness and mobilization in the community are resulting in the following actions: 

  • A call to action and reporting from the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce.  
  • Frequent meetings between College and City leadership to coordinate response. 
  • Letter of support from Alumni Council leadership to the alumni community. 
  • Full-page ad reprint of the call-to-action joint statement from College and City leadership in the Grinnell Herald-Register Newspaper.  

We will continue to provide updates on Tuesdays and Fridays through at least the end of October.  

Respectfully, 

Anne F. Harris, President 

Oct. 18, 2022

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

We are writing today to provide updates on Grinnell College’s actions to increase security and mobilize our campus and community against racist vandalism and harassment.  These updates will continue each Tuesday and Friday, at least through the end of October.

Campus partners and teams are working hard to make progress on immediate steps.  Longer-term actions will need more lead time, consultation, and collaboration.  We will keep the community informed as the work continues.

This message covers:

  • Reporting an Incident
  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Outdoor Security Cameras and Amnesty Policy
  • Security app
  • Self-defense and Emergency Kits
  • Evening Transportation and Monitoring
  • Availability of Black Counselors

Reporting an Incident

As announced yesterday in the public statement issued by the City of Grinnell and the College we are working with local law enforcement to hold those responsible accountable. Timely reporting can contribute effectively to holding the individuals responsible for racist harassment and vandalism accountable.

Here are actions you can take: 

  1. Report racist harassment and vandalism to Grinnell Police at 641-623-5602 or 911. 
  2. Call the Grinnell Police department at the same number if you know the individual(s) involved.
  3. Photograph license plate numbers of vehicles harassing citizens to give to police.
  4. Enroll in bystander intervention training by leaving your contact information at 641-269-3407.  Bystander information training provides resources for intervening when you witness casual racism or racist harassment.
  5. Report any incidents to the Bias Incident Response Team (reports may be anonymous).

Outdoor Lighting

The lighting committee will reconvene prior to the end of October, with a charge to assess lighting needs on campus. The committee will focus on areas along Park Street that were already underway for improvements. Temporary supplemental lighting will remain in place through the end of the semester, at a minimum.

Outdoor Security Cameras and Amnesty Policy

Outdoor camera locations are being assessed and purchase estimates are being obtained for camera placement.  The Division of Student Affairs will work with the Student Government Association to put an amnesty policy in place for immediate implementation when cameras are installed.  The policy will be reviewed and revised as necessary.

Security app

The college continues to partner with InformaCast to launch the mobile panic button feature. A technical meeting took place today to understand how to set up the mobile access for users, the geo-fencing and data privacy/opt-out policies.  Campus Safety, the Division of Student Affairs, and the director of emergency management and risk mitigation are developing the panic button protocols.

Self-defense and Emergency Kits

Whistles and flashlights have been purchased and may be picked up at the JRC Information Desk, from the Division of Student Affairs, or from Campus Safety in Mears College.

Evening Transportation and Monitoring

On call staff in Student Affairs are out and about on campus in the evenings, to assist Campus Safety with providing rides for students and being alert to campus activity. Campus Safety officers are positioned in areas where harassment has occurred.

Availability of Black Counselors

The Virtual Care Group enables 24/7 access to counseling services.  Students may select providers based on identity and area of specialty (e.g., trauma-informed).

We will continue to keep the College community apprised of new developments and the next update will be provided on Friday, October 21.

Respectfully,
Anne F. Harris, President
Marc Reed, Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion 

Oct. 17, 2022

Dear students, alumni, faculty, and staff,

I write today to share the sad news of the passing on Saturday of one of our College’s most remarkable members: President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus George Drake ’56. For the great many Grinnellians who knew George Drake, this news will bring great sadness.

Professor Drake held many titles at Grinnell College: student, athlete, intern, sabbatical replacement, soccer coach, trustee, president, historian, and professor. He filled each role with great warmth, joy, grace, faith, and a humbleness that belied his remarkable intellect.

His unofficial titles give a fuller measure of Professor Drake’s life: Husband, devoted family man, friend, mentor, colleague, adviser, author, volunteer, inspiration, and Grinnell College icon.

Professor Drake was a wonderful friend to so many, and was tremendously kind to me as I assumed my responsibilities at the College. What he did for me, he did for countless others. I will be forever grateful for his support, insights, and mentorship.

We mourn his passing along with his family. Please keep George’s wife, Sue Ratcliff Drake ’58, and their family in your thoughts. George and Sue had three children, Christopher (daughter-in-law Kay), Cindy (her partner, Lou), and Melanie Drake ’92 (son-in-law Tom Wickersham ’90); and six grandchildren, Nicholas (his wife, Jenny), Elizabeth, Hannah Drake ’18, Danielle, Lila, and Samantha Drake-Flam ’25. Among other family members who are Grinnell alumni, George also was the uncle of Mitch Erickson ’72; and great-uncle of Emma L. Drake ’02, Susanna Drake ‘00 and Carl J. Erickson ’11.

Most sincere condolences are extended to George Drake’s family and friends, and to all who were touched by his life. The void left by his passing is exceeded only by his legacy and the lasting impact that his life had — and will continue to have.

Information about memorial plans, and ways to share tributes to his legacy as a beloved Grinnell icon and special member of our community, will be shared when available.

The world is an immeasurably better place because of George Drake’s 88 remarkable years of life.

With gratitude,

Anne

Anne F. Harris

President

Oct. 16, 2022

We call on the citizens of Grinnell to mobilize against the acts of racist harassment that continue to happen in the city of Grinnell and the campus of Grinnell College. Black citizens, students, and community members are being harassed, and we need your help; we need our community to step up and make this harassment stop. The city and the College are working with local law enforcement to hold those responsible accountable. We must act as a community, as a united whole, and not be complacent to racism in our community.

Here are actions you can take: 

  1. Report racist harassment and vandalism to Grinnell Police at 641-623-5602 or 911 
  2. Call the Grinnell Police department at the same number if you know the individual(s) involved 
  3. Photograph license plate numbers of vehicles harassing citizens to give to police 
  4. Enroll in bystander intervention training by leaving your contact information at 641-269-3407 

There is more, longer-term work to be done. To make a difference, we must all act together. We ask you to think of what motivates you – human dignity, neighborliness, what it means to live in Grinnell – and to act on that for the good of this community and its citizens. Join us to stop racist harassment and vandalism in Grinnell, Iowa.  

Dan F. Agnew, Mayor of Grinnell, Iowa 
Anne F. Harris, President of Grinnell College

Aerial view of Grinnell, Iowa

Oct. 14, 2022

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

We are writing today to provide additional updates on the action steps we are taking to address anti-Black racism and harassment and campus safety.

We continue to review and communicate about security in our community. Last night, neighborhood watch volunteers witnessed an unknown individual who drove up to the traffic barrier at 8th and Park Street, exited the vehicle, picked up the barricade and threw it. The individual then made obscene gestures toward the volunteers and drove off. No slurs or verbal communication took place. Campus Safety and Grinnell Police Department have followed up. The volunteers were able to remain at a safe distance, made a report to Campus Safety and the Bias Incident Response Team, and have been offered support.

In response to a 10-point call to action posted by the Black Student Union, we will be reaching out to BSU leadership to discuss demands and our progress.  We will provide an update next week via an all-campus email and will continue to work with the BSU, SGA and other stakeholders to ensure that our actions are centered on the experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff.

Updates for today:

  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Safety Resources
  • Transportation, Escorts, and Personal Safety
  • Cameras
  • Community Partnership
  • Opportunities for Learning and Action
  • Sustained Response
  • Future Communication

Outdoor Lighting

The College has been able to obtain additional lighting units, which will be placed at East Street and 10thAvenue and on South Campus across from Cleveland between parking lot T and 1128 East. The units will produce a significant amount of light and some generator noise. Lighting locations will be assessed daily.

Safety Resources

Whistles and flashlights have arrived and may be picked up at the JRC Information Desk or at Campus Safety in Mears Cottage.

The InformaCast Safety App will be rolled out as soon as possible. Please monitor your Grinnell College email for instructions for installing and using the app.

Transportation, Escorts, and Personal Safety

During Fall Break, the Neighborhood Watch Program will convert to Campus Safety Escort; students can also request an escort from the Dean on-call by calling Campus Safety dispatch at 641-269-4600. As a reminder, Campus Safety Escorts are also available for faculty and staff.

For students remaining on campus over Fall Break, Residence Life Coordinators and a Dean on-call will be doing regular campus drive-throughs between the hours of 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Cameras

An amnesty policy is being developed and will be shaped by consultation with students, faculty, and staff. The College will not actively monitor camera feeds and cameras may not be used for random surveillance. The goal of camera installation is to gain the ability to view footage in the event of reports of crime or harassment so that those responsible can be identified and held accountable. A proposal for orders is under review and vendor contacts will be made next week.

Community Partnership

Campus and Community members will meet next week and again on October 31. The goal of this effort is to enhance communication between the City of Grinnell and the College in the face of these racist acts, share information and witness accounts, and enact collective action to address racism.  Updates will be shared in the monthly Grinnell College Community Connections email newsletter and via campus updates.

Opportunities for Learning and Action

We are exploring additional opportunities for anti-racist training and pedagogy as well as trauma-informed response and for campus-wide conversations centered on anti-racism. We will collaborate with students, faculty, and staff regarding the timing and content of these opportunities. More information will be provided in future campus updates.

Sustained Response

Last week, Dean Montgomery and Chair of the Faculty Lindberg sent a message to faculty calling for consideration and understanding of impact for Black students during this time, which was subsequently shared with staff and students. Students are invited to reach out to Joyce Stern, Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising, for support and planning. Discussions of academic responsiveness will continue with Executive Council after Fall Break.

Future Communication

We plan to provide updates on actions the College is taking every Tuesday and Friday for, at a minimum, the remainder of October.

Additional resources are provided below.

Respectfully,
Anne F. Harris, President
Marc Reed, Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

 

Resources specifically for Students

Resources for All

  • Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusionodei@grinnell.edu
  • Deanna Shorb, Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain (24hrs via Campus Safety) 641-269-4981 or shorb@grinnell.edu  at the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ -913 8th Ave)
  • Grinnell College Title IX Coordinator: Bailey Asberry, titleix@grinnell.edu.
  • Grinnell Police (24 hrs), 911 or 641-236-2670 
  • Campus Safety (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue.) (24 hrs), 641-269-4600 
  • Grinnell College Ombuds (JRC)   
  • Chinyere Ukabiala 641-269-9399 or ukabiala@grinnell.edu 
  • Conduct  
  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu 
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu  
  • Associate Dean of the College (Nollen House) 641-269-3100  

Anonymous Reporting 

Resources specifically for Faculty and Staff 

Oct. 12, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This semester, campus signs and vehicles have been targeted with racist and white supremacist graffiti and community members have been harassed by unknown individuals screaming slurs from moving vehicles. We also know that additional incidents may not have been reported.  Staff from the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in partnership with SGA have reached out to known affected students.

Anti-Black speech and actions cause harm to Black students, faculty, and staff, and directly challenge Grinnell College’s values. They spread division, fear, and hate and damage the culture we strive to create on campus, one that supports, includes, and fosters a feeling of safety and belonging. Black students, faculty and staff are justifiably feeling and expressing anger, outrage, frustration, emotional exhaustion, disappointment, fear, and sadness.  Many are concerned about their personal safety. Others face daily challenges in the form of surveillance and microaggressions. 

As our campus community continues be a target of aggressive racism from unknown individuals, this update – with thanks to the many campus partners who have mobilized to put actions in place - provides an overview of initial steps to address the harm that is being caused to Black colleagues, friends, and students.  These include:

  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Transportation, Escorts, and Personal Safety
  • Increased Outdoor Lighting
  • Safety Resources
  • Installing Cameras
  • Community Partnership
  • Report Bias Incidents
  • Opportunities for Learning and Action

Neighborhood Watch

The Division of Student Affairs is seeking faculty, staff, and student volunteers to enhance campus safety in a Neighborhood Watch program. Volunteers (teams of 2) are asked to check in at Campus Safety located at Mears Cottage prior to their shift for instructions. Golf carts will be available for each of 6 locations and should be returned to Campus Safety at the conclusion of each shift. Please sign up to participate using this form. Shifts begin tonight at 8:00 p.m. 

Transportation, Escorts and Personal Safety

Effective immediately, the Local Shuttle is adding the Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a regular stop. Until the beginning of fall break and starting at 10:00 p.m., the shuttle will be stationed at the BCC until 2:00 a.m.  The shuttle is available for on-call transportation anywhere on campus, to off campus residences or from off campus residences to campus, and to Kum and Go and can be contacted through Campus Safety dispatch (4600 on campus or 641-269-4600). The shuttle driver will serve as another set of eyes to monitor activity on campus. As a reminder, Campus Safety escorts are available 24/7 and can also be requested by calling Campus Safety.

The City of Grinnell has approved the temporary closure of 8th Ave. between Park and East St. effective Thursday, October 13th at 8:00 p.m.  Through traffic will be limited and barricades will be moved during the day for deliveries only. The road will be closed in the evening and overnight to all traffic.

Increased Outdoor Lighting

The College is working to immediately install additional temporary lighting in locations where many of these incidents have occurred.  Two large construction lighting units have been procured and Facilities Management is working to obtain additional units. The lighting units will produce a significant amount of light and some generator noise.

Lighting locations will be assessed daily. Temporary lighting will be located at:

  • Park and 10th between BCC and Norris Parking lot
  • East and 8th outside of Lazier Hall

The College will also accelerate the 2022 Proposed Outdoor Lighting Project, based on the Safety and Outdoor Lighting Committee’s previous recommendation. This work has been delayed by long lead times for the purchase of electrical supplies and lighting projects due to supply chain disruption.  We have asked Facilities Management to make this work a top priority.  In addition, the Outdoor Safety and Lighting Committee is reconvening and will continue to review and recommend additional outdoor lighting to improve areas that the community has identified as a source of safety concerns.

Safety Resources

The College is taking immediate steps to roll out the Informacast Safety App. When installed on a phone, the app provides a “panic button” feature that immediately calls for assistance. When this feature is available, we will be sending out instructions for access.

If you have changed your phone number or are not enrolled in Informacast Alerts from the College, please take action to ensure that you are receiving alerts.

The Division of Student Affairs and The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have ordered flashlights and whistles. They will be here and available after fall break. Distribution instructions will be forthcoming upon return from break. Student staying on campus for fall break can pick them up from the Student Affairs Office during business hours in JRC 310 or Campus Safety beginning Monday, October 17th.

Installing Cameras

We are working to install outdoor security cameras.  When a timeline is available, we will communicate the details.  With the input of students, faculty, and staff, a policy will be created to outline parameters for the use of camera footage that complies with legal and regulatory parameters.  Camera feeds will not be actively monitored or used for random surveillance and will be used only in cases where harassment or a crime has been reported.

Community Partnership

Campus and community leaders met earlier this semester and have again connected to continue regular dialogue.  The goal of this effort is to enhance communication between the City of Grinnell and the College in the face of these racist acts, share information and witness accounts, and enact collective action to address racism.  Updates will be shared in the monthly Grinnell College Community Connections email newsletter.

Report Bias Incidents

Any Grinnell College student, staff, or faculty who has knowledge of, or has experienced a bias incident, on or off campus, can report it to the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT). The reporting person has the option to remain anonymous.  Reports may come from the target of racist or discriminatory behavior, bystanders, witnesses, or someone who has heard about the incident from another member of the campus community.

BIRT members will work with the College officials and other individuals, groups, or organizations as appropriate to provide care, outreach and/or investigations associated with a given occurrence. Incidents that may be considered criminal will be investigated by the City of Grinnell Police Department or other appropriate law enforcement agencies. 

Opportunities for Learning and Action

The College offers multiple opportunities each semester to learn about issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion, racial justice, anti-racist interventions, and restorative practices. It is the responsibility of the entire Grinnell community, not only individuals affected, to engage in these opportunities to learn and act.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, international speaker, author and advocate for racial healing and justice, Jodie Geddes, will present a Scholars Convocation 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. in JRC 101.  Geddes, author of The Little Book of Racial Healing:  Coming to the Table for Truth-Telling, Liberation and Transformation, will also give a book talk at 3 p.m. Registered participants who are experienced in the topic or are just beginning are welcome to join and will receive a copy of the book.  RSVP is required by Oct. 21.

As new information is available, we will communicate with the entire campus community.

Respectfully,
Anne Harris, President
Marc Reed, Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Resources specifically for Students

Cultural and trauma informed support: 

Resources for All

Cultural and trauma informed support:
Anonymous Reporting 
Grinnell College Title IX Coordinator
  • Grinnell Police (24 hrs), 911 or 641-236-2670 
  • Campus Safety (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue.) (24 hrs), 641-269-4600
Grinnell College Ombuds (JRC)  
Conduct 
  • Dean of Students (JRC) Ben Newhouse, 641-269-3702 or newhouse@grinnell.edu 
  • Vice President for Human Resources (Mears Cottage, 1213 6th Avenue) Jana Grimes, 641-269-4818 or grimesjana@grinnell.edu  
  • Associate Dean of the College (Nollen House) 641-269-3100  

Resources specifically for Faculty and Staff 

Oct. 6, 2022

Dear Grinnellians,  

I write today with great excitement to share that the Civic Engagement Quad (CEQ) Core project was approved by the Board of Trustees on October 1, 2022, at the conclusion of the fall board meeting. The CEQ presents a distinctive model for student residential living, education, and development. Opening in the fall of 2024, the building will sit at 6th and Broad Street and will offer an apartment-style living option at the intersection of campus and downtown for students. In its civic innovation pavilion, it will provide a space where members of the college and town community can gather for dialogue, exchange, and collaborative brainstorming on community engagement work, which has a long tradition at the College.  

We present our deep thanks and admiration to globally renowned architect Sir David Adjaye and Adjaye Associates, especially Russell Crader and the team that he led in partnerships with staff, students, and faculty throughout the past three years of planning. In the coming weeks, a public presentation will share further details and information about this transformative project including views of the apartments and communal living spaces. We will also share models of the biophilic green spaces designed for well-being throughout the building, including a two-story green wall. This presentation will also recap the community-based design process of the past three years involving students, staff, faculty, and community members. Information will be shared about the project’s financing structure, which underwent a rigorous vetting process, is designed to distribute costs, and is separate from the operating budget. While there is much to share about the planning process of the past three years, there are still many decisions to be made about the CEQ. 

In anticipation of the planning to come, I invite students, staff, and faculty who are interested in shaping the residential experience and programming of the CEQ to join the CEQ Experiences Working Group. Please contact Myrna Hernandez, chief of staff and vice president of administration, with your interest by Monday, October 10. The group will meet monthly over the next two years, but the commitment to serve will be semester by semester. This further opportunity to shape the next chapter of living and learning in Grinnell is open to all. 

Civic Benefits 

The CEQ is poised to expand architectural, educational and community discourse beyond Des Moines and the capital cities of the Midwest to Grinnell, Iowa. The project is an opportunity to invest in the values that have endured and defined Grinnell College and the city of Grinnell:  intellectual engagement, individual and community empowerment, creating and advancing knowledge, and enacting institutional and societal change. It is an investment in the power of place and an enduring commitment to the common good. 

Like many of Adjaye’s past projects, including the Smithsonian Museum of African American History in Washington, DC, the CEQ will become a destination. In doing so, it can support local businesses and entrepreneurs in achieving their goals. It can bring visitors and new investment to downtown Grinnell.  

Educational Benefits 

The CEQ is consciously designed to foster collaboration and promote civic trust between campus and community members. The space can contribute to the existing relationships between the College and community and supports students in their civic engagement work and learning. Students and their faculty, staff, and community partners can engage in consensus-building and collaboration to discern how to pilot and establish new ways of addressing challenges held in common.  

The mission of the College has remained at the forefront of this project since its conception. And an essential and distinctive part of Grinnell College’s core mission is preparing students to address current and future challenges. To do this effectively requires structures and places to create trust and to co-imagine with our community. I am honored to be a part of this esteemed community of people who continue to inspire coalition building – I look forward to the enduring work ahead as we build towards the future. 

With anticipation and gratitude,  

Anne  

Anne F. Harris  
President 

Sept. 12, 2022

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

I am writing today to share the exciting news that Marc Reed, Associate Chief Diversity Officer for Staff Equity, has accepted the position of interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Marc’s past role with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will ensure continuity and further development in the College’s critical work. I have great confidence in the exceptional abilities of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s accomplished professional staff and am grateful for their daily work and strategic planning to mobilize and implement the diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives of the College with multiple campus partners. 

Marc joined the College in 2018 as a diversity recruiting manager in human resources and was appointed associate chief diversity officer for staff equity in January 2021. A highly collaborative leader, he has a proven track record as a diversity professional who works to create transformational change within institutions and organizations by listening, learning, and implementing strategies that authentically represent the care and concerns of all the members of the institution’s present and future community. He often speaks of diversity as a transcultural tapestry that reflects the complexity of the many cross-cultural, inter-cultural and intersectional relationships that make up Grinnell College.

Marc has supported and led the pursuit of equity and social justice through the development and implementation of DEI strategic plans resulting in increased representation and engagement of individuals from marginalized identities within several organizations. Marc holds a Master’s degree in Management-Organizational Diversity and Inclusion Leadership from the University of Dubuque. He is a licensed Qualified Administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory and has earned a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate from the University of South Florida. 

When he is not working to impact DEI, Marc can be found spending time and traveling with his wife Nicole, sons Marc and Cevin, and daughter Carmen. 

Please join me in welcoming Marc to the interim role. I am grateful for his leadership, his collaboration with expert colleagues in the Office of Diversity, and Inclusion, and his many partnerships present and future throughout our campus and community.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris 

President

Sept. 9, 2022

Dear faculty, staff, and students of Grinnell College,

Over the past weeks, the news has provided images of the devastating floods in Pakistan and the resulting humanitarian crisis affecting nearly 20 million people. I write today to affirm our community’s support for the students, faculty and staff whose homes, families and communities in Pakistan have been impacted by this humanitarian catastrophe. Like many recent natural disasters resulting from extreme weather, the floods affecting Pakistan paint a vivid picture of the urgency of addressing global climate change. Many in our community are working on these issues through curricular and activist efforts, and I want extend my gratitude and admiration for that critical work.  Please continue to support efforts to combat the climate change that has made extreme weather and its aftermath more frequent and damaging.

I turn to each of you to ask all of us to be aware that our classmates and colleagues will be concerned about their homes and families, and I acknowledge that it is distressing to be far away from loved ones during a crisis, particularly when communications may be disrupted. As Grinnellians do, I know that each of us will continue to be present for and care for one another.

As a reminder, the following resources are available on campus and virtually through the Division of Student Affairs:

  • Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain, Rev. Deanna Shorb (CRSSJ – 913 8th Ave.)  641 269-4981 or shorb@grinnell.edu. (24 hrs. via Campus Safety X4600)
  • Student assistance (academic and personal) and emergency fund support
  • Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) 641-269-3230. 
  • 24-hour counseling is available at NEED TO TALK 641-269-4404.
  • 24/7 access to tele-health and tele-mental health through Virtual Care Group
  • The Office of International Student Affairs 641-269-3703 or email oisa@grinnell.edu

Faculty and staff have access to counseling support through Employee and Family Resources.

I am grateful for the caring and thoughtfulness of the Grinnell College community.

Sincerely,

Anne F. Harris
President

Aug. 23, 2022

Dear Grinnellians,

How wonderful it is to welcome you into community! As we come back together with friends after an absence and begin to forge friendships with new students, faculty, and staff, I invite you to take a moment to feel the energy and excitement of our community of inquiry re-engaging in our common work of teaching, learning, creativity, and discovery.

I want to extend a warm welcome to all Grinnellians, starting with the newest members of our community, the class of 2026. Whether you are familiar with the rolling prairies and wide-open Iowa skies or you are seeing campus for the first time — you belong here. I am so grateful for the wonderful students, faculty, and staff who have collaborated to provide you with a rich orientation experience. To our new faculty and staff members, thank you for bringing your distinctive expertise and passion to the rich tradition and complex tapestry of Grinnell. Thank you to the many individuals who have come together to provide an introduction to our community.

We also welcomed four new members to Grinnell’s senior leadership team over the summer. Beronda Montgomery began her appointment as vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College on July 1. She joined Myrna Hernández, chief of staff and vice president of administration, and Germaine Gross, who serves as vice president of finance and chief financial officer. Additionally, Ellen de Graffenreid joined the College in June as vice president of communications and marketing. It is my honor to work with them and the outstanding team of colleagues on the senior leadership team, which now includes three elected positions representing students, faculty, and staff. I invite you to visit the website to come to know the members of the team.

Over the course of this year, we will continue to envision the Grinnell College of the future by asking students, faculty, and staff to think together as we co-create a strategic plan that advances the College’s mission. This process will require us to build trust and to model and foster civic trust. You will hear much more about this as the academic year progresses, but this shared work will build on the need to nurture and sustain trust between individuals, individuals and institutions, and between institutions.

So, as we celebrate our return and our renewed practice of research, deliberation, and collaboration: Bemvindo! Velkommen! Nĭhǎo! Karibu! Bienvenidas! Здравствуйте! Yokoso! Hoan nghenh! Bonjour! Shalom! Namaste! Vanakkam! Welcome to Grinnell College!

See you at the all-campus picnic tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 24) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on 8th avenue in front of the JRC — and enjoy the Welcome Festival starting at 3 p.m. on Mac Field and in Kington Plaza!

In the spirit of welcome and inquiry, Dean Beronda Montgomery, SGA President Loyal Terry, and I all look forward to sharing our ideas with you on “Being (at) Grinnell College Now” at the Scholars’ Convocation on Thursday, Aug. 25, from 11 a.m. to noon in JRC 101.

Gratefully,

Anne

Anne F. Harris

President

June 28, 2022

Dear Grinnellians,

Last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade almost 50 years ago. In my conversations with community members, I am hearing how the decision elicits a spectrum of responses and seeing how Grinnellians are reaching out to each other as we process the impact of this news.

It is important to know that the ruling does not have an immediate effect in Iowa. The state’s next legislative session is scheduled to begin in January 2023. This means that the College has time to assess what this ruling and potential changes to Iowa law will mean for our students and employees. You can expect further updates as we learn more.

What I can tell you today is that Grinnell College’s response to the Dobbs decision will be consistent with our strong tradition of social responsibility and action and our unwavering commitment to free speech, inclusion, and community. Grinnell will continue to offer students no-cost emergency contraception and access to testing for sexually transmitted infections through Student Health and Wellness. Faculty and staff who participate in the College’s medical insurance plan will have continued access to reproductive health services through Wellmark. A list of counseling and support services is included below my signature.

I am continually proud of the way that Grinnellians energetically engage in debate, protest, and advocacy at critical moments. I have no doubt that you will continue to do so now, and I am grateful for all the ways that you continue to uphold our ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and academic freedom.

With gratitude,

Anne

Anne F. Harris
President

Resources for Students and Employees

  • Grinnell Advocates (student victim advocates) (CALL/TEXT/CHAT) (24 hours) 641-260-1615;
  • Campus Chaplain (CRSSJ – 913 8th Ave) Deanna Shorb (24 hours via Campus Safety) 641-269-4981 or shorb@Grinnell.edu 
  • Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) 641-269-3230. 
  • 24-hour counseling is available at NEED TO TALK 641-269-4404 
  • Employee and Family Resources (Faculty and Staff)

May 23, 2022

Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris congratulates the Class of 2022 at the closing of their commencement ceremony.

Charge to the Graduating Class of 2022

It is my honor to present my charge to you through three enduring and sustaining statements:

First, for community

  • “Democracy depends on trustful talk between strangers”
    • Political theorist Danielle Allen wrote these words in her 2004 book Talking to Strangers; Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. Board of Education, and in them I hear a call to all of us to start the conversation, to build trust (through both words and actions), to foster and nurture multiracial, multicultural, and diverse communities of thinkers and learners to continue to build a multiracial and multicultural democracy.

Second, for relationships

  • “We lead by taking care of each other”
    • In her artwork, artist, organizer, and social justice activist Favianna Rodriguez proclaims the strength of care and the power of rejoicing in each other. In her work, I see the call to build coalitions through care, to nurture the ability among ourselves to work together to change structures and practices that diminish or threaten human dignity. 

Third, for self

  • “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”
    • The 14th-century mystic Julian of Norwich wrote these words after a prolonged illness in the midst of plague. And even though we are separated from her time by over 600 years, we might recognize in her experience a post-pandemic emergence. There is a lyrical absurdity to the repetition [“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”], but somewhere in the excess of her words is a resolution to see a future, where one is not apparent. I feel, in her words, a call to hold fast to the future, and in her assuring repetition, a call to compassion for ourselves, for each other, and for our world about our uncertain future, as well as an anticipation for the futures we can make together.

March 3, 2022

Dear Grinnellians,

Earlier today, Governor Kim Reynolds signed House File 2416, which prohibits female transgender athletic participation. This law extends to all public and private colleges and universities.

This legislation contradicts our Grinnellian values. Our nondiscrimination policy explicitly states that we will not discriminate based on sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression in access to and participation in our educational programs, services, and activities. This policy complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Being affirmed and supported in our identities and living without fear of discrimination is a fundamental human right that is crucial to living a healthy, safe, and fulfilling life. Grinnell College exists for the thriving of each and every one of its community members. It believes in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

We will continue to monitor likely legal challenges to this legislation, as well as actions that might be taken by the NCAA and our athletics conferences. Below I share some resources you might wish to use as we process this legislation. Most importantly, this community will continue to support LGBTQIA+ community members and their right to live out their identity to the fullest.

With deep gratitude,

Anne

Anne F. Harris

President


Support Resources

The College’s Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) is a confidential, safe space serving Grinnell’s LGBTQIA+ communities and allies. Staffed by a student management team, the center offers support for individuals, educational programming, and LGBTQIA+ activities on campus.

The National Center for Transgender Equality website has an excellent page about “Supporting the Transgender People in Your Life: A Guide to Being a Good Ally,” which you might want to check out and share.

Resources for students:

  • Dedicated staff colleagues at the Stonewall Resource Center <srcenter@grinnell.edu>, CRSSJ <crssj@grinnell.edu>, and Intercultural Affairs <ica@grinnell.edu> are available.
  • If you Need to Talk (emergency counseling support) you can call 641-269-4404 and reach a counselor all hours of the day and night.
  • You can access virtual counseling through HealthiestYou (College insurance) or Virtual Care (non-College insurance).
  • Access our SHAW counselors by calling 641-269-3230.
  • Call 641-269-4600 to reach Campus Safety for on-call staff support.

Resources for faculty and staff:

  • You may access counseling support through Employee and Family Resources.
  • Contact University of Iowa counseling support at 319-535-0437 (leave a voicemail)
  • University of Iowa Telepsychology Training Clinic (TPTC)

Feb. 24, 2022

Audience at lecture in the Joe Rosenfield Center

Dear Grinnellians,

I write today about the rapidly escalating situation in Ukraine. It seems unfathomable that less than a week ago the world came together to celebrate in a spirit of oneness at the Winter Olympics. Now, we are learning of reports that the Russian military is attacking Ukraine with airstrikes, missiles, and troops.

The costs of war are brutal and far-reaching. On a global campus such as ours the toll of war can be very close and deeply personal, especially for those with ties to Ukraine, Russia, and neighboring countries. We are all interconnected and we care about each other as Grinnellians — as people. Please reach out to each other, learn from each other, and help connect each other to the support that is available at the College and among us.

Faculty members from the departments of political science, history, and Russian are working to offer a Faculty Panel Teach-In on “Conflict in Ukraine” at 4 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 25) in HSSC S1325. In addition, the College stands at the ready to provide resources for emotional and mental health support, which are listed below.

I ask that all of us take time to focus on the humanitarian aspects of this world crisis and how it may affect our students, faculty, and staff — and their families and loved ones here and abroad. As Grinnellians do, I know that each of us will continue to be present for and care for one another.

With gratitude,

Anne

Anne F. Harris

President

**********

Support Resources

Resources for students:

  • Dedicated staff colleagues at International Student Affairs <oisa@grinnell.edu>, CRSSJ <crssj@grinnell.edu>, and Intercultural Affairs <ica@grinnell.edu> are available.
  • If you Need to Talk (emergency counseling support) you can call 641-269-4404 and reach a counselor all hours of the day and night.
  • You can access virtual counseling through HealthiestYou (College insurance) or Virtual Care (non-College insurance).
  • Access our SHAW counselors by calling 641-269-3230.
  • Call 641-269-4600 to reach Campus Safety for on-call staff support.

Resources for faculty and staff:

  • You may access counseling support through Employee and Family Resources.
  • Contact University of Iowa counseling support at 319-535-0437 (leave a voicemail) or email uitptc.com.

2021

Edith Renfrow Smith '37 and President Anne Harris

Thursday, October 28, 2021

It is my honor this afternoon to welcome you to the re-dedication of the Edith Renfrow Smith ’37 Student Art Gallery, brought forward through the research and dedication of Feven Getachew (’24) and professor Tamara Beauboeuf, and heralded by the return of our honored guest, the “True Grinnellian,” Mrs. Renfrow Smith [Applause]. Mrs. Renfrow Smith, we are so deeply honored to be in your presence on this day, and so enduringly fortunate to learn from your light.

We are gathered today to re-dedicate the Edith Renfrow Smith ’37 Student Art Gallery. The word “dedication” is related in language to ideas of “devotion” and “consecration” and I invite us all today, to dedicate ourselves to remembering and realizing, to come together in this space to recollect and discover through communal memory and personal history, and, each time, to take up the responsibility to begin again to understand, to feel, and to honor the impact of Mrs. Renfrow Smith’s legacy, and the centrality of Black student experience, in the history of Grinnell.

The Edith Renfrow Smith ’37 Student Art Gallery is a room in the heart of a building that is in the heart of campus. It is a room that acts as a frame and gateway both for gathering and remembering – two fundamental acts that art has fostered in human communities since we began to gather materials and ideas to create and share wonder. As you walk through the gallery this afternoon, and in future visits to this cherished space, I invite you to think upon the 15 years that Mrs. Renfrow Smith greeted visitors at the Art Institute of Chicago, welcoming them into a space of wonder and respite and, depending on that Chicago wind and snow, shelter.

In an interview with Feven and professor Beauboeuf that is quoted on the rich website dedicated to her, Mrs. Renfrow Smith remembered her time at the Art Institute as an opportunity to “meet different people every day …. The people come from all over the world and it’s interesting to hear about … the things that they have seen and what things that they have found important.” Mrs. Renfrow Smith’s words are a beautiful description of the experience of Grinnell College as well as of the spaces of the Art Institute. I especially prize her statement that it is interesting to hear about the things that people have found important.

I do so because in the powerful exhibition that Feven has researched and curated and the website that I mentioned, you will see and learn many things that “people have found important.” I invite your engagement with the many realizations that both bring forward.

That, for example, during her four years at Grinnell College (1933-1937), Mrs. Smith was the only Black student on campus. That in June 1937, almost a century (91 years) after Grinnell College was founded, Mrs. Renfrow Smith became the 11th Black alumnus and the first Black alumna.

That when she did so, Professor Wittler in the Education department wrote a letter in the NAACP’s publication, The Crisis, stating “she earned her entire way through college, stood well above average in scholarship, and overcame a prejudice as common and widespread as our country itself” - expressing his understanding of the betrayals of the pledges of an equitable society, of a persistently white institution.

That her early years after Grinnell College were spent at the University of Chicago and that her daughters attended the Laboratory School founded by John Dewey in 1896. [I will pick up on that thread momentarily]

That in 1954, a year of constitutional change in higher education with the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education, she began a 22-year career as a public school teacher in Chicago. That she shared wise, very wise, advice with her students: “That’s another thing I always tried to instill [in] them. Use your head, not theirs. Use yours. Think about what you’re going to do.” Words to live by.

That in 2009, Mrs. Renfrow Smith was inducted into the Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, and has been recognized by two Chicago mayors, Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, and has met President Barack Obama.

That in 2007, at the first dedication of the Edith Renfrow Smith ’37 Student Art Gallery, Trustee and alumnus, Henry Wingate ’69 (I’m quoting from the website here) “shared his own sense of understanding of the labor of being a first:

“Grinnell overall was kind to me, as I am sure overall it was to you. Yet, I know that when you ‘pioneer,’ you encounter islands of prejudice and pockets of resistance. Insensitive words or names without ownership are hurled your direction. Snarled glances may signify disdain, disapproval and miscreants may erect barriers to frustrate the pioneering purpose. Yet, the resilient ‘pioneer’ marches on, as you did, and creates a legacy for those to follow, as you so nobly did.”

The words “legacy” and “delegate” contain the same linguistic root meaning of “to send forth.” All of us gathered today, all of us who walk through this meaningful space, are delegates of the legacy of Mrs. Renfrow Smith. May that be an honored and cherished responsibility for all of us.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s fantastic book Begin Again; James Baldwin’s America and its urgent lessons for our own (2020) is titled after a passage from James Baldwin’s epilogue to No Name in the Street (1972): “An old world is dying,” he wrote, “and a new one, kicking in the belly of its mother, time, announces that it is ready to be born. This birth will not be easy, and many of us are doomed to discover that we are exceedingly clumsy midwives. No matter, so long as we accept that our responsibility is to the newborn: acceptance of responsibility contains the key.”

These words connect to those of John Dewey (of the Lab School at the University of Chicago) that I often cite as I think of the mission and purpose of education: “Democracy is reborn with each generation, and education is its midwife.” Baldwin’s words in the context of Dewey and Chicago and education, humble me to the clumsiness of education’s midwifery, as they simultaneously call forth its responsibility to the next generation, to a democracy and a society newly born. This is an awesome responsibility, one that Mrs. Renfrow Smith fulfilled in her long career, but one not yet met for all in education overall.

In 1979, in his final novel, Just Above My Head, Baldwin would write: “Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”

And that is what I invite us to do today, and every day, and every time that we visit this space of gathering and remembering: that we take up that responsibility to begin again. Because there is work to be done at Grinnell College: to remember, to recenter, to re-search…

Let us claim our responsibility when we gather in this space: to begin again. As president of Grinnell, I invite and will continue to invite students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents, visitors, community members, and all friends of the College to come to this space and engage with the art that students have brought forward and to respond to the art, to feel your responsibility to student expression, to Black student experience, to the legacy of Mrs. Renfrow Smith.

I will end with the words of Mrs. Renfrow Smith herself on responsibility, as quoted by the website that Feven and professor Beauboeuf have built. Her words resonate with those of James Baldwin and call us forward to each other. “See,” she said, “we, each of us has a responsibility. We have a responsibility. If I can do something today to make you change and feel better about you and about that person, then I have had a good day.”

Mrs. Renfrow Smith, on behalf of Grinnell College and its many constituents, past, present and future, thank you for the enduring grace that you have shown this College, and the brilliant light that you have shone upon its path.

Title slide of President's Convocation 9-2-2021

On Sept. 2, 2021, President Anne Harris led the first convocation of the Scholars' Convocation series. As part of ongoing strategic planning work, President Harris presented her vision for Grinnell College as an agent of civic trust: to move knowledge into action for a more just and equitable society.

 

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