Campus News

$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.