Campus News

New Vice President for Finance Settles In

Born and raised in the Midwest, Keith Archer already feels comfortable in Grinnell. “It’s a really good fit,” he says. 

Archer, Grinnell’s new vice president for finance and treasurer, began work July 2. He oversees the College’s financial operations, human resources, facilities management, risk management, and auxiliary services. He came from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he served as vice president for finance and administrative services for three years.

Archer’s 35 years of professional experience is diverse. “It helps me to understand my different areas of responsibility,” he says. 

He started his career in retail management at Walmart and later worked in real estate management, manufacturing compliance, and public accounting before moving into higher education in 2005. At DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, he was executive director of finance and controller. He is a certified public accountant.

Archer was a first-generation college student who earned an associate’s degree in chemistry and math and later a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Maryville University in St. Louis. While working on his bachelor’s, he also worked full time and was raising two children with his wife Melissa Archer. 

The liberal arts and being a lifelong learner are things he appreciates. “I saw good things going on here,” he says, “things I wanted to be a part of and support.” 

Commencement 2018

"Whatever path you take, or goals you pursue, please use your knowledge and skills well--to fight for the things you care about, knowing that even one person can make a difference." We couldn't put it better than today's Commencement speaker, Celina Karp Biniaz '52.

Congratulations to the Grinnell College class of 2018! You can view the full 2018 Commencement ceremony online now.

Caps at 2018 commencement
Commencement 2018 crowd
Honorary degree receives award
Chase makes honorary degree speech
Grad celebrates across the stage
Grad takes selfie with President Kington
Commencement crowd celebrating
Grad celebrates with diploma

Young Alumni Win Giving Challenge

As part of the April 5 Scarlet & Give Back Day, Grinnell’s annual 24-hour giving challenge, alumni classes competed against each other for the honor of having an office named after their class in the new Humanities and Social Studies Center. The class of 2012 will receive this recognition, thanks to the 19 percent of class members who made gifts that day. 

April 5 was also National Burrito Day. This coincidence inspired a student-giving challenge. Nearly 20 percent of first-year students made a gift, winning free Chipotle burritos for everyone in the class of 2021.

During the 24-hour period, 2,482 donors made a gift, unlocking a series of challenges. When the number of donors reached 2,018, that clinched a matching gift of $275,000 from an anonymous Grinnell graduate. In total, $503,289 was raised.

Photos of Scarlet and Give Back Day events

Q & A with Eric Ohrn ’07, Assistant Professor of Economics

Eric Ohrn ’07 headshotThe Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) is still under construction, but it has already transformed the look of campus. We asked a few faculty members what they're anticipating about it. Here's one perspective.

Q: How will the HSSC impact the way that you teach/the way your students learn?
A: Just having brand new classrooms is going to be great. I’ve visited a couple of colleges with new buildings and students seem to have more energy when they are in a classroom they can respect.  
I also think the common spaces throughout the building are going to go a long way in promoting student-to-student learning. The fact that many common spaces are adjacent or close to faculty spaces will also help create informal interaction between faculty and students, which I think both parties really enjoy and benefit from.
Q: What part of the new building are you looking forward to the most?
A: In addition to the classrooms and common spaces, I am excited for the new faculty lounge and the formal presentation space. A big goal of the new building is to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research. A great way to accomplish that goal is to create a space where faculty from many different disciplines want to hang out.
The economics department invites between fie and 10 speakers to campus each year. The formal presentation space will be a great space for our students to interact with these world-renowned economic experts and their cutting-edge research.
Q: What part of the new building do you wish more people were talking about? 
A: I think our students don’t realize how great the new DASIL [Data Analysis and Social Inquiry Lab] wspace is going to be.  Imagine a mash-up between a computer lab and a lounge with access to upper-level students to assist you in your data analysis work.  

New Leader for Institutional Research

Catherine Hackett Renner headshotCatherine Hackett Renner joined Grinnell College in early April as associate vice president for analytic support and institutional research. She comes to Grinnell with a strong background in research and planning, and more than 25 years of professional experience in higher education administration, teaching, and health care. 

In her new role, Renner will build upon Grinnell’s strategic emphasis on data-informed decision-making through support of administrative program analyses, teaching and learning outcomes assessment, and enrollment management data research. She will also provide administrative leadership to the staff members in the Office of Analytic Support and Institutional Research (OASIR).

Renner succeeds Randy Stiles as he transitions from his OASIR leadership role to the role of special adviser to the president. Stiles’s primary focus in that capacity will be on the upcoming Higher Learning Commission regional reaccreditation process. 

Prior to her position at Grinnell, Renner served as director of research for UnityPoint Health-Des Moines, assistant vice president for institutional research and planning at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, and director of institutional research at the State University of New York-Geneseo, the liberal arts college of the New York public system.


Sarah Moschenross to Lead Student Affairs

Sarah Moschenross headshotSarah Moschenross, dean of students at Grinnell College since 2015, is being promoted to associate vice president for student affairs at the College this summer. 

Moschenross will oversee all aspects of student affairs including the dean of students, campus safety, international student affairs, intercultural affairs, religious life, residence life, student activities, student assistance, wellness, and student health and counseling services. 

“I am excited to continue my work within our vibrant community to advance the co-curricular experience for Grinnell College students,” says Moschenross. “To do this work alongside a strong team of student affairs educators and engaged student leaders will be especially rewarding.”

Moschenross succeeds Andrea Conner, who will leave Grinnell in June to become vice president and dean of students at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. Conner has served Grinnell since 2009, demonstrating exceptional leadership in enhancing intercultural affairs, campus safety, and student health and counseling. 

Before coming to Grinnell, Moschenross was director of the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. In that role, she mentored, advised, advocated for, and counseled underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation college students. 

Celebrating Watson Fellows

Grinnell College helped celebrate the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship’s 50th anniversary in 2018 by inviting Grinnell’s Watson alumni to campus. One part of the celebration included a “slam” event at Spencer Grill with alumni sharing their Watson journeys in brief presentations.

As of March 2018, 79 Grinnellians have been named Thomas J. Watson Fellows. Established by the Watson Foundation, the fellowship provides $30,000 for one year of postgraduate, “independent, purposeful exploration and travel — in international settings new to them — to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and to foster their effective participation in the world community.”

Congratulations, Faculty!

Promoted to associate professor, with tenure

Michael Guenther, history

Peter Hanson, political science

Cori Jakubiak, education

Eliza Kempton, physics

Carolyn Herbst Lewis, history

Danielle Lussier, political science

Tony Perman, music

Hai-Dang Phan ’03, English

Joshua Sandquist, biology 

Promoted to full professor

Ross Haenfler, sociology

Elizabeth Prevost, history

Lee Running, art and art history

Elizabeth Trimmer, chemistry

Moving to senior faculty status*

David Arseneault, physical education 

George Barlow, English

Faculty becoming emeriti

Jack Mutti, economics

Catherine Rod, library 

Susan Strauber, art and art history

Chuck Sullivan, biology

*Senior faculty status recognizes those faculty members who are released from regular, full-time teaching obligations to pursue scholarly and professional activities associated with the College.

New Model for Research

Mélanie MarcelMélanie Marcel, founder and CEO of SoScience, is the recipient of the 2018 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize. In her work as a laboratory scientist, Marcel realized that researchers most often conduct projects for which they can secure corporate or government funding, rather than projects that address community or environmental needs. 

She founded SoScience to disrupt this system and create a new model for driving research. SoScience’s mission is to “engage scientists in solving societal challenges across the globe by creating collaborations with social entrepreneurs and advocating a research approach focused on social impact.” 

Through her passion for exploring the intersection of science and global impact, Marcel has become a national leader in France and a recognized expert on models for responsible research and innovation. In response to her lobbying efforts, the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development reoriented its research development policy to strengthen societal impact. In addition, the European Commission has asked Marcel to evaluate its research policy. 

During Grinnell Prize Week, Oct. 1–4, 2018, students, faculty, staff, and local residents will interact with Marcel, learning how to facilitate collaboration, build partnerships, and spur systematic change. The award ceremony will be held Tuesday, Oct 2. at the College. 

The $100,000 Grinnell Prize, established in 2011, is the largest given by any U.S. college in recognition of social justice. The prize money will be divided between Marcel and SoScience.

Full schedule of events to come at


Commencement 2018

Celina Karp Biniaz ’52, the youngest Jewish person rescued by Oskar Schindler, a Czech businessman, during the Holocaust, will be Grinnell College’s 2018 Commencement speaker. Alumni Chase Strangio ’04 and James Holbrook ’66 will receive honorary degrees as will Tracey Menten, a teacher from Omaha, on May 21