Campus News

Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize

headshot of Luna RanjitAmong the 2016 Grinnell Prize winners is, for the first time, a Grinnell College graduate.

Luna Ranjit ’00 founded Adhikaar in 2005 to promote human rights and effective social justice work in Nepali-speaking communities in New York City and the United States.

Adhikaar works to understand and address the needs of the growing Nepali immigrant communities through community-based participatory action, research and leadership training.

In 2006, Ranjit received the Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Award, which is given to Grinnell College alumni to either jump-start or complete a project that shows creativity and commitment to effecting positive social change. She also won an Alumni Award in 2016.

 Diana Jue and Jackie Stenson co-founded Essmart Global, which works directly with local street vendors in India upon whom the majority of households rely for their consumer needs. Essmart engages local consumers, vendors, and technology users as active decision-makers in their product choices and distribution methods.

Diana Jue and Jackie Stenson in a street vendor stall in IndiaEssmart’s innovative and interdisciplinary, last-mile distribution model is sustainable and gives developing communities decision-making power in their own well-being and economic growth.

“Our prizewinners inspire our students to explore how they may use their liberal arts education to become the next generation of social innovators,” says Susan Leathem Sanning, director of service and social innovation at the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. “Winners have offered numerous internship opportunities for our students, have taught workshops on social entrepreneurship, and are now beginning to collaborate with faculty and students at a curricular level.”

Nominations for the 2017 Grinnell Prize open July 1 and close Oct. 9.

The prizewinners will be on campus for Prize Week during the week of Oct. 3. The awards ceremony will be held Oct. 4.

At the Faulconer Gallery Summer 2016

Sculpture that appears to be a person in two halves, swapped left to right and holding hands

Anders Krisár, Untitled, 2014–15. Acrylic paint on polyester resin, polyurethane, and mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.

Anders Krisár

July 1–September 11, 2016

Swedish artist Anders Krisár was included in the Faulconer Gallery’s spring 2005 exhibition, Scandinavian Photography 1: Sweden. Since then he has turned to sculpture, producing figurative pieces that are uncannily lifelike — cast primarily from members of the artist’s own family — and which explore the impact of familial relationships and sociological structures on our lives as individuals.

Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers

July 1–September 11, 2016

In a global cultural exchange routinely reduced to seconds-long sound bytes and rapid-fire images, we often refer to “shiny objects” as those rare things that focus or capture our attention for a moment or two longer. Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers, an artists’ collaborative in Claremont, Calif., explore this phenomenon in their sculpture, all high-gloss and slick-surfaced, recasting everyday objects and animals in unexpected ways that emphasize the power of packaging and presentation in stoking human desire.

Colorful forms, mostly yellow, black and grey, in a vertical sculpture

Alexander Archipenko, Architectural Figure, 1939–54. Painted terra cotta. Private Collection. Alexander Archipenko ©2016 Estate of Alexander Archipenko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Archipenko: A Modern Legacy

September 30–December 11, 2016

Archipenko: A Modern Legacy is a major retrospective exhibition of the life and work of Alexander Archipenko, a maverick in modern sculpture, whose creations remain as important today as they were when they were initially conceived in the 20th century. Featuring more than 50 sculptures, mixed media reliefs, and works on paper, the exhibition spans Archipenko’s entire career. Drawn from major museum collections as well as private holdings, the exceptional objects chosen for this exhibition will convey the richness of Archipenko’s vision as an innovator of modern art.

Archipenko: A Modern Legacy was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Archipenko Foundation.

Honorary Degrees Conferred

During Commencement 2016, Grinnell College awarded honorary degrees to individuals making major contributions to the fields of literature, politics, music,and education.

Celebrated British novelist Zadie Smith was May’s Commencement speaker. A native of North London and a 1997 graduate of the University of Cambridge, Smith burst onto the literary scene in 2000 with a novel about contemporary multicultural London titled White Teeth. The book won numerous honors, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Smith’s subsequent works received the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction and the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has twice been named among the “Best of Young British Novelists” by Granta magazine. The New York Times called her novel NW one of the 10 Best Books of 2012. A professor of creative writing at New York University, Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. She received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Thomas Cole ’71 has served as U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 4th District since 2002. Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, he is the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House. Cole is one of only two Native Americans now serving in Congress and was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Fred Hersch ’77 is a pianist, composer, and one of the world’s foremost jazz artists. He is described as “one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation” by Downbeat magazine. A member of the jazz studies faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music, Hersch received a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition and numerous Grammy nominations. He was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Claudia Swisher was an English teacher for several decades at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla., where she was admired for going above and beyond in her efforts to connect with students. Swisher is known for her belief that education should be formed around children and their interests rather than having those interests manipulated to conform to education. She received an honorary doctor of social studies degree.

$5 Million Gift Supports Global Grinnell Program

Carolyn “Kay” Swartz Bucksbaum ’51, former chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees and now life trustee, has committed $5 million to support the expansion of the College’s Global Grinnell program.

“The program is close to my heart because of my own global views and experiences,” Bucksbaum says. She adds that her desire to make this commitment was influenced by various aspects of her own life, including having foreign visitors living in her family home, her mother’s world travels, and her own daughter’s involvement in the international arena.

“Kay Bucksbaum’s generosity will enhance Grinnell’s commitment to global engagement by providing increased opportunities for students to develop valuable leadership skills and global experiences throughout their education,” says President Raynard S. Kington. “The development of the Global Grinnell program will continue to set Grinnell apart from our peer institutions.”

“I believe in the leaders of the College and their vision for the future. I want to see Grinnell College increasingly recognized, and measured accordingly, for its leadership among similar colleges in my lifetime.”

— Carolyn “Kay” Swartz Bucksbaum ’51

“This commitment gives us the chance to pursue an integrated and sustainable global strategy,” says Michael E. Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “Our large and diverse international student population, excellent off-campus study opportunities, inquiry-led curriculum, internship programs, alumni network, and external partnerships around the world have made Grinnell a profoundly international institution.”

Bucksbaum’s gift will establish two endowments. The first funds the creation of a chief global officer position to promote and ensure an integrated and innovative approach to building and expanding international education across the College.

The second endowment will create a Global Distinctiveness Fund that will enhance programs and student opportunities, including internships abroad, scholarships for global course work and language studies, and faculty and student research focused on collaborative, international projects exploring global problems and challenges.

Bucksbaum has also agreed to serve as honorary chair as Grinnell College prepares for a comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“We are currently organizing the College fundraising priorities in advance of the launch of a campaign, and Kay’s leadership arrives at a pivotal point in the life of this endeavor,” says Shane Jacobson, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Kay’s generosity links the legacy of our previous campaign with our renewed effort to invest in students, faculty, staff, programs, and facilities.”


Second Annual Giving Challenge Successful

Grinnell’s second annual Scarlet & Give Back Day, held April 7, set a new, one-day record for the number of donors to the College: 3,578, up from 1,922 in 2015.

At 6:08 p.m., donor number 2,000 made a gift that unlocked the $1 million challenge gift from an anonymous donor. A second challenge was issued by the same donor — an additional $100,000 to be released if another 500 donors who had not yet given that day signed up. That challenge was also met.

Total gifts, including the $1.1 million challenge, came to $1,384,553.48.

One technique that worked well last year that was expanded further this year was the use of “celebrity calling,” says Mae Parker, director of annual giving. Grinnell’s celebrity callers this year included past and present College presidents George A. Drake ’56 and Raynard S. Kington. Beloved faculty and staff members including Wayne Moyer, Dee Fairchild, Emily Pfitsch, and Jenny and Luther Erickson also took pledge calls, as did Angela Onwuachi-Willig ’94, Alumni Council president-elect.

New activities on campus included an ice cream social and a person cavorting in a squirrel costume. Aamir Walton ’15, assistant director of annual giving, and Greg Ruzich ’16 both dressed up as Scarlet the squirrel for part of the day and asked Grinnell trivia questions while giving students rides across campus on a golf cart.

One of Walton’s favorite questions: “How many varsity sports teams does Grinnell offer?” The answer: 20 total varsity teams, and they’re split evenly, 10 male and 10 female.

Two people jumping and sharing a high-five

Nicolette Musachio ’19 and Bryce Lew ’19 getting some air.

Walton also “acted like a squirrel,” he says. He’d scamper from behind trees to give out candy and stickers.

“It was playful,” Parker says of the squirrel costume.

The number of student, faculty, and staff donors more than doubled this year compared to last year. Parker attributes the student numbers (381 gifts made) to Michelle Czarnecki, assistant director of student programs. Czarnecki has helped raise the awareness of all elements of philanthropy among students through her work with the Student Alumni Council.

Parker says progress has been made in giving at Grinnell. “We can actively see and touch the results of our efforts,” she says, but adds there is still much they want to do.