Campus Memo: Grinnell College’s Relationship with the Posse Foundation

April 13, 2016

Grinnell students, faculty, staff, and alumni:

After 14 years of working together, Grinnell College and the Posse Foundation are ending our relationship. Starting with the fall of 2017, no new Posse cohorts will enroll.

Posse has helped us to pursue our goals for diversity and student success and grow as a diverse institution. Posse scholars have brought great energy and student leadership to campus and given us a good sense of what close faculty-student mentoring can achieve. As we plan for the future we will seek to incorporate those ideas into our planning and engage Posse scholars and alumni in it.

I also want to emphasize this: The College’s commitment to our current Posse students from New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., remains steadfast. They are Grinnellians and their continued success remains a priority. Grinnell has enrolled a new Posse from Washington, D.C., and we look forward to welcoming D.C. Posse 12 this fall.

We have several reasons for making this change. One reason is that we are interested in a more comprehensive approach to achieving our goals for diversity and overall student success. Posse’s model dedicates extensive resources toward small cohorts of students. Through the Posse Foundation we have enrolled about 20 scholars per year, which has been a major contribution.

However, Grinnell’s student diversity has grown significantly since we started with Posse — 25% of our current students are domestic students of color, 15% are first-generation, 20% are Pell-grant eligible. In every entering class, we are now enrolling more than 100 students from underrepresented backgrounds. We want to provide and use what we have learned from Posse to enhance our support for this larger cohort as well.

This broader approach is consistent with our comprehensive approach to student retention. Through data analytics and better use of our advising resources on campus, we are moving toward approaches designed to improve retention and success for all Grinnell students. The integration of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs is a major part of that, as is our new diversity structure with Lakesia Johnson as associate dean and chief diversity officer and Leslie Bleichner ’07 as assistant dean for intercultural affairs.

Finally, I want to emphasize that Grinnell’s commitment to diversity is not diminishing — it is actually deepening. We have made great progress in the past decade and are seeking to continue that. We will be increasing our human and financial resources dedicated to diversity, and we will be asking for your help as we work on it. Please send your suggestions to

As we make this transition, I hope you will join me in showing your support for our Posse scholars. They have made Grinnell a better place, and we appreciate all that the Posse Foundation has helped us achieve.

President Raynard S. Kington

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