Campus News

At the Grinnell College Museum of Art

Aug. 23–Dec. 14, 2019

Three pieces from For Campus and Community installed in the corner of the galleryFor more than a century, Grinnell College has been building an art collection, which now includes more than 5,000 objects from antiquity to the present day. In 1999, the opening of Faulconer Gallery at the College facilitated a dramatic expansion of the presence of art on campus, not only in the form of exhibitions of national and international art and artists, but also in an intensified building of the art collection.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary and in keeping with the myriad innovative ways that its collections, exhibitions, and outreach programs have grown beyond a single exhibition space at the heart of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Faulconer Gallery has rededicated itself the Grinnell College Museum of Art. This inaugural exhibition rightly gives pride of place to an extraordinarily diverse and ever-growing collection of works of art spanning both the centuries and the globe, a rich resource for inquiry and inspiration, as well as pure visual delight.

In Recognition of Excellence

Congratulations to faculty granted promotions and tenure in 2019 and to those who are transitioning to senior faculty status* or emeritus faculty.

Promoted to associate professor with tenure

Gwenola Caradec, French

Andrew Graham, chemistry

Cynthia Hansen, linguistics and anthropology

Celeste Miller, dance

Granted tenure

Tamara Beauboeuf, gender, women’s, and sexuality studies; joining the faculty as the Louise R. Noun Chair in Women’s Studies in the fall of 2019

Xavier Escandell, anthropology

John Garrison, English

Promoted to full professor

Shanna Benjamin, English

Timothy Dobe, religious studies 

Transitioned to senior faculty status

Susan Ireland, French

Ellen Mease, theatre and dance

Mark Montgomery, economics

Transitioned to emeritus faculty

William Case, physics

Paul Munyon, economics

Chris Hunter, sociology

* 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.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Edith Renfrow Smith ’37 walking to podium

“Remember, take every opportunity to do your best. And I have done it, I hope.”

Edith Renfrow Smith ’37

Richard Royal Fisher ’61 giving his speech

“At Grinnell soon after [witnessing the northern lights], my interests were transformed into a passion to know more about the connection between the sun and the Earth. And that passion, in fact, has influenced most of the major decisions of my life. It was the result of a very improbable intersection of an independent study, an infrequent natural phenomenon, and the kindness and generosity of … two faculty members.”

­– Richard Royal Fisher ’61

Kristin DeMoss being hooded

“If you reach the top of your field, but do not take the time to show compassion and help others, have you really accomplished anything? At the end of the day, at the end of your life, what is really going to matter?”

Kristin DeMoss, English teacher

Go Forth Grinnellian

"Given that you are independent thinkers, I won’t be giving you any all-encompassing advice, no homilies, or ancient Chinese wisdom. Instead I am going to do what writers do best, and that is to talk about myself."  Amy Tan, novelist

See video of Amy Tan's address as well as speeches by the other honorary degree recipients and President Raynard S. Kington. 

student fixing another student's cap

graduate hugging another graduate

students sitting on the Grinnell College sign

two students standing clapping

students laughing

student carrying his diploma

student smiling

President Kington placing medal on student

student smiling in crowd

Bundles of Joy (and Snacks)

Scott and Laura Cleveland Shepherd, both class of 1982, are on the second floor of Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center behind a folding table piled high with boxes and bags of varying size, shape, and color. They’re busy handing out care packages to students who stand patiently in a line at least 20 people deep — an improvement over the queue yesterday that stretched at times to more than 100.

Alumni from around the world have spent the past year shopping, crafting, and gathering materials to create these care packages, most of which come with a personal note of encouragement, friendly advice, or words of wisdom to the student recipient. 

A tradition now in its sixth year at Grinnell, the care package giveaway began as a grassroots effort by alumni who remain connected through a Facebook group and remember their own time on campus and the positive impact a friendly boost could have during mid-semester studies. 

This is the third year that the Shepherds have made the 500-mile trip from their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to brave Iowa’s frigid temperatures, ice, and snow in February to help hand out the packages and give a kind and encouraging word to students.

“We had so much fun doing this two years ago that we decided we would do it as long as we can,” says Laura. “We brought 80 boxes in the back of our SUV this year. The drive was fine, but we forgot how high the snow gets piled in the parking lot on campus.”

The ShepardsThe Shepherds will remain until every student who wants a care package receives one. They, along with other volunteers, gave out more than 700 packages on the previous day alone. And before they’re done, they will have handed out every one of the 1,380 care packages created for students.

“We spend all year buying things and telling each other through the Facebook group when Target puts things on sale,” says Laura. “It is a lot of fun for everyone. Coming here is a chance to reconnect with students and it’s good to bring a little joy to them.” 

Options for everyone

“It’s all about the surprise,” says one student who quickly steps to the table to grab an unopened box with “This might be the care package for you” written across the top.

Others, like student Linnet Adams ’21, spend considerable time looking over the table, searching for the one package that speaks to them.

“Choosing a major is pretty straightforward,” she tells the Shepherds. “But you come here to pick something, and it’s really tough.”

She eyes the many options before her, bags and boxes of many colors, some with items visible to the naked eye, others sealed. Some state “gluten free,” or “vegetarian” or “gender neutral.” Others are a total crapshoot. She explores the length of the table and starts back at the beginning.

“Maybe I should just be smart and pick something with food, since I’ll be here over break,” she says, looking through a bag with snacks, soups, and chips. But then she recalls last year and how much fun it was to open a bag and find a small coloring book, colored pencils, and a whistle shaped like a pair of lips.

“Oh my God,” she says, finally spotting her package, a glittery, sealed bag labeled as a “Fundle,” short for “Fun Bundle.” 

“It’s a lot of fun and a great distraction from the stress of the semester,” she says. “I love that there are options for everyone, and I love getting a note from the alum who put it together.”

Meaningful connections to Grinnellians

Another pair of students move through the line and make their picks more quickly. Hadley Luker ’19 selects a small bag with hair chalk, suspenders, and a small flag among other things. Zachary Susag ’19 grabs a sealed box with “Packed with love from dual alums” written on top.

“The dual alums thing intrigues me,” he says.

Laura Shepherd hears him and says “Hey, that one is from us!” indicating herself and Scott, excited to see the person who picked their package. 

Susag opens the box and finds several bags of snacks, a box of glowsticks, a stapler, a small amount of cash with a note saying, “Get a snack at the Spencer Grill,” and a trio of small rubber creatures he describes as “Really cute … kind of creepy, but cute.” 

But the absolute favorite thing he finds is the letter from the Shepherds. 

He reads from it to Luker, telling her where the couple met, about their daughter who also attended Grinnell, how they love to come back every year, and other bits of information they shared in the letter.

“That’s Grinnellian right there,” he says. “This really means a lot to me. To get a real letter and such a thoughtful gift and then to see them here and be able to thank them in person is amazing.”

Grinnell College Museum of Art

“For many years now, we have functioned as a museum,” says Lesley Wright, director of the gallery and of the museum. “We have a growing collection. We have exhibitions. We have a deep set of programs. But people don’t think of us as a museum.”

For some, a gallery means a smaller space or a space only for exhibitions; for others, it’s a commercial place to buy artwork. Resolving that confusion was one reason for the name change, Wright says.

Student looking at artworkThe name change also celebrates Faulconer’s 20th anniversary. “This seemed like a ripe opportunity to make a change,” Wright says. “Our new name ties us clearly to the College. When we were founded, Dan [Strong, associate director] and I were asked to use the gallery to expand the reputation of the College through visual arts. We’ve certainly established ourselves, and putting the College’s name on the museum will help connect our success with the significance of Grinnell College in people’s minds.”

The name Faulconer Gallery will be retained for the exhibition space, which honors the intentions of the late Vernon ’61 and Amy Hamamoto ’59 Faulconer when they named it. Amy Faulconer supports the new name.

The Grinnell College Museum of Art name will also be added to the Print and Drawing Study Room, located in Burling Library. The print room was opened in 1983 and houses the College’s collection of works on paper. Faculty and students use the space to study original works of art from the collection in their teaching and learning. The print room has been part of Faulconer Gallery since 1999 and the museum name will signal the connection. 

The Faulconer Gallery logo will be retired this summer. New signs, print materials, and a website will celebrate the new name and look. 

In Honor of Our Deceased Veterans

Grinnell College is planning a new veterans memorial to join and complement the existing monument in Herrick Chapel, which honors the 11 Grinnell College students who lost their lives in the U.S. Civil War. This new plaque will honor all students and alumni who lost their lives defending the United States in the many wars and conflicts since 1865. 

Any student, alumna, or alumnus who died while on active duty serving in one of the U.S. military branches is eligible to have his or her name included on the new memorial. 

The Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) is asking friends, family members, and loved ones of these brave soldiers to submit their names and any details related to their service so they can be honored as part of this new memorial. 

If you know someone whose name should be included, please contact DAR at, by calling 866-850-1846, or by sending a letter to Veterans Project, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA 50112-1690. For the initial installation, please submit names by July 1, 2019.

Thank you for helping us to commemorate these special members of the Grinnell community. 

New Leader for Academic Affairs

Anne F. Harris,  vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College headshotOn July 1, Anne F. Harris takes the reins as Grinnell’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. Harris comes to Grinnell from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where she most recently served as a professor and vice president for academic affairs. Over more than 20 years at DePauw, she has held various faculty and academic administrative appointments.

After five years as Grinnell’s chief academic officer, Michael E. Latham is returning to his home state of Hawaii where, after a national search, he was named president of Punahou School in Honolulu. Punahou is the largest independent K–12 school in the United States on a single campus, with 3,750 students and a global community of more than 30,000 alumni. Punahou is Latham’s alma mater, a distinction he shares with President Barack Obama. (See Latham’s “Strategy Session” column.)

As dean of the College, Harris will ensure that faculty have the support and resources they need to do their work of providing an education in the liberal arts through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas.

She brings a stellar record of pedagogy, research, and administrative experience to help advance the College’s strategic priority as a learning liberal arts college providing highly effective and distinctive education. Her work at DePauw has been marked by leadership in the areas of diversity and inclusion, academic program and community development, and financial stewardship and fundraising.  

Harris holds a bachelor’s in art history and classical languages from Agnes Scott College, where she earned Phi Beta Kappa honors, and master’s and doctorate in art history from the University of Chicago. Beginning with a dissertation about popular reception to the stained glass of Chartres in the medieval and modern eras, her research into the medium and its effects on perception and experience expanded to other media of the Middle Ages, namely ivory, alabaster, manuscripts, and wood. A prolific researcher and author, she has published numerous articles and juried and invited papers. She is a co-author of three articles and a textbook on medieval art history to be published this year.

Over $1 Million

Grinnell College’s 36-hour Scarlet & Give Back Day on April 10–11, 2019, raised more than $1 million to support programs and opportunities for current and future Grinnell students. 

During the 36-hour giving challenge, a total of 1,964 gifts were made. This generosity went even further because an anonymous Grinnell graduate pledged a $2-for-$1 match for every gift up to a total match of $500,000. All of the matching funds will support the new Humanities and Social Studies Center, which is scheduled to be completed in 2020.  

“We are so grateful to everyone who assisted with this 36-hour challenge, including our Development and Alumni Relations team,” says Mae Parker, director of annual giving at the College, “but most importantly, our anonymous alum donor who made such a generous challenge possible.”

To commemorate the fifth year of Scarlet & Give Back Day, an additional 12 hours were added to the traditional 24-hour event. Several interactive activities also were incorporated into the festivities. 

A second challenge was issued by the Grinnell College Board of Trustees. Board members personally pledged gifts of $150,000 if a total of 1,846 gifts were made before the end of Scarlet & Give Back Day at 5 p.m. April 11. Grinnell reached that milestone just before 4 p.m.

Scarlet & Give Back Day was introduced in 2015 to celebrate Grinnell College through philanthropy. In total, Scarlet & Give Back Day has garnered contributions of $3,689,682.

Open for Learning

Spring semester classes in humanities and social studies are taking place in the newly constructed portion of the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC). Faculty and students say they are excited about the new center and all that it makes possible. 

Monessa Cummins, associate professor and chair of classics, teaches Roman Archaeology and Art in the HSSC’s case study classroom (Room N3110). “It is magnificent,” she says. “Students sit in tiered semicircular rows facing two large screens on which different high-resolution images can be projected at the same time. I can lecture in the well of the room or move seamlessly to a discussion in which all the students can see and respond to everyone else. After just one class, I can say this classroom is a pedagogical dream come true.”

Thomas Aldrich ’19, a history and religious studies major from Minneapolis, also expressed excitement about the facility. “The sun-filled atrium reminds you of the history of Grinnell and ARH [Alumni Recitation Hall], seamlessly bringing together new and old.”

Kaylin Kuhn ’21, who’s from Bettendorf, Iowa, and plans to major in mathematics, toured the HSSC with a friend on the first day of classes. “The classrooms look like a perfect learning environment with plenty of natural light,” Kuhn says. “I am very excited to have class here and to spend lots of time exploring and finding new study nooks.”

Jim Swartz, Dack Professor of Chemistry and co-chair of the College’s Building Advisory Committee, also strolled through the center on the first day of classes. “After six years of planning, design, and construction,” Swartz says, “it is thrilling to see our dreams materialized with spectacular new classrooms, students interacting with one another and with faculty members in common spaces, and faculty members interacting across disciplines as they are in neighborhoods mixed together and not siloed into departments.” 

The estimated completion date for the entire HSSC, including renovation and expansion of ARH and Carnegie Hall, is summer 2020.