Campus News

Mellon Foundation Grant

Liz Rodrigues, associate professor and humanities and digital scholarship librarian, will pursue a Mellon New Directions Fellowship, supported by a grant of $220,000 awarded by the Mellon Foundation. The Mellon New Directions program allows mid-career scholars in the humanities to undertake formal training in fields outside their own. Rodrigues’s project, “Computing for Context, Computing as Context,” will examine African American and multiethnic autobiographies of the early 20th century.

The Class of 2023

Above: President Anne Harris and Loyal Terry ’23 shared a moment of celebration as she presented him with the 2023 President’s Medal, awarded to an individual who best embodies the mission and values of a Grinnell education.

The College’s newest alums celebrated in style during the traditional, outdoor Commencement ceremony held May 22. Three hundred and ninety-nine students representing 41 states and 19 countries were awarded degrees in 27 different majors and 15 concentrations.

Ham Serunjogi ’16 delivered the keynote address, encouraging graduates to “do things that matter because they matter, not because success is guaranteed. The world desperately needs Grinnellians to do things that matter, to tackle the hardest problems, not because success is guaranteed but because they are important.”

Serunjogi, the co-founder and CEO of Chipper Cash, who also serves on the College’s Board of Trustees, received his honorary degree citation from President Anne Harris.

Ham Serunjogi shakes hands with Anne Harris. both are in full academic regalia

Honorary degrees were awarded to four individuals who have made significant contributions to their fields of expertise. Pictured left to right: Irma McClaurin ’73, Ham Serunjogi ’16, Peggy Barlett ’69, and William Love.Four people in academic robes smiling at the camera

Read more about Commencement activities and awards and view video from the ceremony.

Change and Renewal

I write to you during the season of change and renewal, between the celebration of the Class of 2023’s accomplishments at Commencement, and the anticipation of the joy sparked by Grinnellians of all generations arriving on campus for their milestone reunions. These experiences are vibrant reminders of how a Grinnell College education changes the trajectory of students’ lives across and through generations.

On campus, we are in the midst of finalizing a new strategic plan to guide the College’s focus and leverage its historical values and distinctive strengths to ensure that Grinnell remains a vibrant leader in higher education. This is truly a plan shaped by the voices of faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni leadership, and community leaders, and I look forward to sharing more about this effort this fall and in a future issue of the magazine.

In this issue, Grinnell Magazine’s authors explore aspects of the College’s identity and purpose and how they impact students on campus and well beyond. As a global institution in a rural setting with a national voice, Grinnellians appreciate the benefits of global citizenship while also finding ways to forge connections, no matter where they are in the world.

Grinnell’s student-run “Going Forth” podcast creates connections between current students and alumni through the medium of informative and entertaining audio content. Read more about the podcast’s evolution and the experience of the student hosts and alumni guests. You’ll be inspired to listen.

As we anticipate how Grinnell can evolve through the strategic plan and the continued relevance of the College’s core values, I invite you to explore current course offerings through “The 60-Second Syllabus” and continue to learn from world-class faculty members who create dozens of creative and timely course offerings each semester. You can learn more about what students have been learning lately and why it matters.

As we prepare to welcome the Class of 2027 this fall, we are filled with anticipation of the tremendous talent and promise that they will bring to the College community. A Grinnell College education continues to be in high demand, and we will welcome a fantastic class from across the United States and around the globe. Before we know it, they will be making connections and become part of the vibrant network of Grinnellians who flag each other down in airports when they see someone in Grinnell gear or generously share their professional paths and expertise with students and fellow alumni.

Thank you for being part of Grinnell’s past, present, and future!

The Secret History of Grinnell Memory Books

The Scarlet & Black captures student perspective on current events that may one day become Grinnell College history, while The Grinnell Magazine adds another layer of reporting and recording. But there’s only one publication — the Grinnell Memory Book — whose sole purpose is to compile the memories of alums in words and pictures, to capture the experience of an entire 50th Reunion class. Although they’re not actually a secret, most Grinnellians don’t hear about memory books until they get close to celebrating that special reunion.

Award-winning journalist and author David Hechler ’72 helped edit the most recent memory book. Motivated by that experience, he has written an article explaining what these books are, how they get created, and the ways they’ve evolved during the nine years they have been produced.

Read Hechler’s story.


Ed Fry ’79 and Jeff Greenberg ’80

What do hands and the heart have in common? Myriad aspects, to be sure, but there is a specific and rather unique Grinnell connection in the Indianapolis medical community. Hand surgeon Jeff Greenberg ’80 and cardiologist Ed Fry ’79 began a parallel journey during their Grinnell years that continues to this day.

Fry and Greenberg are presidents of their respective associations: the American College of Cardiology and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

The doctors first met 44 years ago in James Hall. Greenberg and Fry lived on the same floor when Greenberg was in his first year at Grinnell.

Unbeknownst to one another, Fry and Greenberg later moved to Indianapolis at the same time. A chance encounter brought them together again. “While on our first grocery run, my wife and I literally bumped carts with the Greenbergs, who had also just arrived,” says Fry. Since then, the lives of these two have remained in orbit.

Both doctors have done groundbreaking research over the years, and recently Greenberg cowrote a paper with one of Fry’s partners on a new approach for diagnosing a rare heart condition called amyloidosis.

“It is not hyperbole to say that neither one of us would have had the opportunities we’ve had if it weren’t for Grinnell,” Fry says.

International Student Award Established

A new International Student Leadership Award honors the extraordinary legacy of leadership and service to the international student community by Nancy Schmulbach Maly ’61. The award will recognize international students or U.S. global “nomad students” (U.S. citizens who largely grew up overseas) for their leadership and community engagement both on campus and in the broader Grinnell community. 

Venice Film Festival Premiere

Professor Craig Quintero’s virtual reality film, All That Remains, premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival in September 2022. The surreal, 360-degree immersive film is an extension of the experimental theatre productions he has been staging for the past 24 years as the artistic director of the Taipei-based Riverbed Theatre. A single audience member views the film through an Oculus headset that also includes spatial audio, intensifying the sensation of being fully immersed in the virtual world. 

Images: A scene from All That Remains; right: Craig Quintero at the Venice Film Festival.

Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

Grinnellians are celebrating the $116,000 renewal of a grant that supports the College’s Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. This program is the central component of the Mellon Foundation’s efforts to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning nationwide by supporting students from groups historically excluded from the academy as they pursue doctoral degrees. The grant renewal helps Grinnell continue to support two MMUF cohorts of five students annually with stipends, travel and research funding, faculty mentoring, and other assistance as they pursue academic careers. 


Forbes Recognition

Ham Serunjogi ’16, Grinnell trustee and CEO of Chipper Cash, was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in finance for 2023. The list covers traditional financial services, fintech, crypto, and blockchain. Co-founded in 2018 by Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled ’14, Chipper Cash builds software to enable free cross-border, peer-to-peer money transfers and personal investment, as well as solutions for businesses and merchants to process online and in-store payments. Chipper Cash is widely considered one of the most valuable startups in Africa, with a valuation of more than $2 billion.

2023 Alumni Awards


The Grinnell College Alumni Council selected 14 Grinnellians to receive 2023 Alumni Awards, recognizing individuals who embody the College’s mission of lifetime learning and service. The recipients, who will be celebrated at Reunion 2023, are: Mary Knuth Otto ’63, Lorie Hill ’68, Susie Kaeser ’69, Bob Eckardt ’73, Irma McClaurin ’73, Rod Sinks ’81, Kristin Layng Szakos ’81, Rick Stuck ’82, Cameo Carlson ’93, Kartik Sheth ’93, Suyog Shrestha ’06, Emily Guenther ’07, Cynthia Dominguez ’12, and Joy Sales ’13. Log in to see the awards ceremony starting at 4:30 p.m. CT on June 3.