Presidential Transition Update

April 06, 2020

Dear Grinnellians:

As you know, President Raynard S. Kington will be leaving Grinnell College at the conclusion of this academic year in order to become the new head of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He will conclude his decade of remarkable service to Grinnell on June 30. The Board of Trustees is immensely grateful for his leadership throughout his tenure. In addition, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, his background as a medical doctor and a public health researcher have been invaluable in shaping our actions from the early days of this crisis. All of us on the Board are very, very proud of the way our community — administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni — has come together during these difficult times.

While the presidential search process is proceeding well in spite of the current challenges, it is highly likely that Grinnell’s 14th president will not have assumed their duties by the time Raynard concludes his tenure. In order to provide for the most seamless leadership transition possible, on Monday, April 6, the Board convened a special meeting to discuss options and identify an Acting President to serve in the interim.

I am very pleased to announce that Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Anne Harris was the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees. Anne has agreed to assume the duties of Acting President, effective July 1 and continuing until Grinnell’s 14th president is on the job. As you all know Anne has demonstrated not only outstanding leadership and managerial abilities, but also a nuanced understanding of and passion for the College’s mission and core values. Over the past two months as the College has navigated its way through these challenging times, she has demonstrated truly exceptional leadership as a member of the president’s senior team. In addition, Anne’s four years as Vice President for Academic Affairs at DePauw University provided her with considerable and varied experience that will guide her in her new role at Grinnell. We are very grateful to Anne for her willingness to take on this responsibility.

As Anne prepares to assume this leadership role, she will more fully take charge of managing the COVID-19 crisis for Grinnell. That difficult task is made easier by the success of the College’s collective response and the remarkable work of our entire community. In particular, she will be able to build upon the exceptional collaboration she has enjoyed with Chair of the Faculty Todd Armstrong and members of several teams working to coordinate our COVID-19 efforts. The depth of leadership here at Grinnell is a valuable foundation now as we face more immediate needs, as well as when we look forward to an eventual end to this pandemic.

This appointment also will ensure that the Presidential Search Committee has the time needed to complete its work identifying a permanent successor to President Kington. The committee, co-chaired by Board members Trish Fitzgibbons Anderson '80 and George Moose '66, comprises representatives of all College stakeholders. The committee’s work is progressing well, and the Isaacson Miller search firm continues to add new and very promising candidates. The Board and committee members remain quite confident about a successful outcome to the search. Isaacson Miller notes that Grinnell has proved a particularly attractive draw for experienced and talented academic leaders, a tribute to the College’s traditional strengths and to the progress of the last 10 years.

It is a testament to the resiliency of Grinnell College that, even in these unprecedented times, we are able to continue our ongoing work in planning for the College’s future post-crisis. We do so with great confidence, thanks to the talent, commitment, and energy of all who work so hard to ensure that Grinnell’s future is vibrant and vital, and that we continue to keep our promise to our students.

Many, many thanks for all that you have done — and are doing — in that effort. Please stay well and stay safe.

Sincerely yours,

David Maxwell '66
Chair, Grinnell College Board of Trustees

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