Special Campus Memo: Board of Trustees Leadership Transition

May 06, 2019

During the Grinnell College Board of Trustees annual meeting May 2-4, 2019, David Maxwell ’66 was elected to serve as the new Board Chair.

Currently residing in Asheville, North Carolina, Maxwell served as president of Drake University for 16 years, until his retirement in 2015. At Drake he also held the title of professor of literature. After retiring from Drake, Maxwell became an Association of Governing Boards senior fellow, serving as a thought leader and adviser to AGB and its member institutions. Maxwell also has been president of Whitman College, as well as a faculty member and dean of undergraduate studies at Tufts University for 18 years. Before joining Drake University in 1999, he was director of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to his bachelor's degree from Grinnell, Maxwell holds a master’s degree and doctorate in Slavic languages and literatures from Brown University.

At Grinnell College, Maxwell majored in Russian Area Studies. He participated in a summer program at Columbia University in 1963 (and then again in 1966) and studied at Princeton University in the Critical Languages Program in academic year 1964-65. As a student, he served on House Council, as part of Men's Government, played baseball his first year, and participated in the International Relations Club.

Maxwell has remained active with the College for more than 50 years, engaged in alumni events, College programs, and through financial contributions in support of scholarships, the annual fund, and capital campaigns. He has served on his Class Committee since 2015. He joined the Grinnell Board of Trustees in 2016, and has served on several Board committees, including Academic Affairs (2016-17), Facilities (2016-present), and the Student Life and Enrollment Committee (2017-present). In March, he was appointed to serve on the Board Task Force on Student Financial Support and Success.

Maxwell succeeds outgoing Board Chair Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80, who was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2019. Finkelman was elected a Life Trustee in 2014 and served as Chair from 2015 to 2019.

The Board Chair, who holds the office for two years and serves for no more than two consecutive terms, acts as the chief board officer, and calls and presides at meetings of the Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee. The Chair provides leadership related to Board responsibilities, which among others, include ensuring that the College remains faithful to its mission and values, that there is a clear vision of the College’s future and a plan to realize that vision, as well as fiduciary oversight that encompasses College finances, approval of the budget and management of the College’s endowment. The Board also approves the granting of faculty promotion and tenure and the award of diplomas and degrees upon recommendation by the College administration.

Finkelman, who graduated from Grinnell with a bachelor's degree in economics and received an MBA from Yale School of Management in 1987, is a former health care policy and reimbursement consultant, and remains an active community volunteer in central Ohio.

Under Finkelman’s leadership as Board Chair, the College has maintained its strong financial position while recommitting to the College's policy of need-blind admission for domestic students and to meet 100 percent of the financial need of every Grinnell student. Thanks to careful Board oversight, diversity and inclusion priorities have been advanced; the endowment has increased to more than $1.9 billion; and the College’s reputation as a leader in liberal arts education has grown worldwide.

It merits noting that the College’s ability to fulfill its promise of contributing to the common good is made possible in large measure by the often unseen work of dedicated alumni volunteers such as Patricia Finkelman and David Maxwell. Please congratulate them on their service to Grinnell College.

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