Campus News

At the Faulconer Gallery Winter 2016–17

Joan Linder: Operation Sunshine

January 27–March 19, 2017

The drawings by Joan Linder ’92 in Operation Sunshine are the result of her horror and bewilderment as she investigated the environmental history of brownfields and toxic waste sites near Niagara Falls. She spent many hours parked along the area’s dumping grounds, sketching their chain-link borders in over 80 running feet of accordion-style notebook drawings. Additional pen-and-ink drawings of earth patches are 1-to-1 scale, outlining ground and effectively questioning what lies beneath the ordinary pebbles and weeds that compose our land. Finally, Linder spent weeks in libraries and historical societies, creating more than 70 hand-drawn copies of aerial maps marking radioactive storage sites, memos on human uranium injections, and declassified documents.

Crossing the Line: Selections from the Grinnell College Art Collection

January 27–March 19, 2017

The Grinnell College Art Collection is distinguished by works of social and political commentary historically deployed by artists as weapons against oppression, exploitation, and human folly. Crossing the Line features works from many periods and media, highlighting recent acquisitions that speak to issues at the core of global discourse today: income and racial inequality, migration, incarceration, and public protest in the age of the “war on terror.” The exhibition is offered in conjunction with “Rethinking Global Cultures,” a yearlong seminar and related programs sponsored by the Center for the Humanities. 

Real Foods Coordinator Brings New Perspective

As Grinnell College’s first real foods coordinator, Molly Schintler has a simple goal: “To ensure that the food people have access to is truly nourishing to people and the planet.” 

The new position has been funded for two years by the Grinnell College Innovation Fund. The coordinator is responsible for promoting food sustainability, which can cover anything from food sourcing and recycling to garden initiatives on campus. 

“My job,” Schintler says, “is to unite the administration, staff, faculty, students, and the whole community so they have access to and are engaged with a fair and just food system — a system that nourishes Grinnell’s community.”

Her duties include educating members of the local community about “real food.” Schintler says that real foods are foods that nourish all people and the planet. This not only means selecting locally grown or organic food, but also selecting food based on how it was produced. Fair trade and humane conditions are part of the criteria. 

The position of real foods coordinator came about as a result of the work of Madeline Warnick ’16. In winter 2013 she completed an independent study titled “Tracking ‘Real Food’ in Grinnell College Dining Services.” Her study found that only 7 percent of the food in the dining hall was considered real food, a percentage lower than at peer institutions in the Midwest, which use 20 percent or more real food. 

Dick Williams, director of dining services, estimates 15 percent of the food in the dining hall is now considered real food. The College aims to reach 20 percent as part of the Real Food Challenge, a national initiative to shift $1 billion of existing college and university food budgets away from industrial farms and heavily processed food toward local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources by 2020.

Schintler is optimistic about the future of real food at Grinnell, saying, “Clearly Grinnell College does things very well. I’m a big proponent of doing well, but then always doing better, and going beyond doing good by making things fair and making them just, not just good.”

Student Dining Worker Union Ratifies Contract, Raises Pay

After nearly four months of bargaining, the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) and Grinnell administrators ratified a one-year contract to raise wages for students who work in the College’s Marketplace Dining Hall. The agreement was the first between an undergraduate student union and a private college or university. 

Starting Oct. 1, 2016, student dining hall workers saw their hourly wages increase 9 percent, from $8.50 to $9.25. In addition, students who work in the dining hall for 18 months are now eligible to receive accumulated experience pay, essentially raising their wages to $10 per hour. 

Grinnell’s undergraduate union was created in March 2016 and numbered just five students at the end of the 2015–16 academic year. As of fall 2016, membership is up to 58.

Cory McCartan ’19, union president, explains that the decision to unionize was driven by two related issues. First, students were frustrated by what they saw as an unfair pay discrepancy. From 2009 to 2016, hikes in tuition coupled with stagnant student wages had decreased the relative value of work-study by over 25 percent. Second, the dining hall was chronically understaffed. According to McCartan, almost one in every five shifts had been going unfilled.

 “The solution to both of these problems was to raise student wages,” he continues. “And the best way to do that was to form a union.”

In August 2016, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate research and teaching assistants are entitled to collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act. While its decision focused on graduate students, nothing in the ruling prevents undergraduates from unionizing if they perform work for colleges or universities in exchange for compensation.

The first bargaining unit composed solely of undergraduate students was created in 2015, when peer mentors at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst won approval to join a local union for resident assistants. 

Grinnell students and administrators are both pleased with the resolution reached through the negotiations. A statement released by Kate Walker, vice president for finance and treasurer of the College, said: “This agreement is a win-win for student workers and the College because students will increase their earnings, and the pay raises will help the College to attract new applicants to the dining hall.”

With the contract under its belt, UGSDW is now in the process of training union representatives. “In the spring, we’ll start thinking about the next round of bargaining,” says McCartan, “but until then, our focus is on doing the best we can to represent student workers.”

Carver Grant Will Help Grinnellians Think Big (Data)

Grinnell College recently received a $200,000 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to build a comprehensive curriculum in data science over the next two years. Funds from the grant will allow faculty from multiple disciplines to develop new gateway and capstone courses in data science, while also enriching data science content in existing courses across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

“Working with the support of the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to develop a 21st century curriculum is an honor,” says President Raynard S. Kington. “We are pleased and inspired to be one of the few colleges to receive this kind of support, which will invest in the potential and future of liberal arts education right here in Iowa.”

To address the changing needs in our data-rich society, this major curricular initiative cuts across departmental boundaries to address new technologies. “This initiative will provide opportunities for students to develop mathematical, statistical, and computational approaches to model building, multivariate data visualization, pattern recognition, and interpretation of data grounded in research questions from multiple disciplines,” says Shonda Kuiper, professor of mathematics and statistics.

Grinnellians are already taking note of this emerging trend. Recent years have witnessed unprecedented growth in the popularity of statistics and computer science, two disciplines that are integral to data analytics. Increasingly, this boost in enrollment has been propelled by students with a broad range of majors and academic interests beyond the sciences.

“The Carver Trust’s generous support will enable Grinnell to take transformative steps in bringing data science to the liberal arts,” says Michael E. Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “As our students explore the power, limits, and ethical challenges involved in applying data science to problems ranging from disease control to international finance to elementary education, they will develop vital analytical abilities that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. As a vibrant, interdisciplinary field, data science will become a key component of inquiry-led learning at Grinnell.”

New Alumni Website

Grinnellians have a new connection with the College, the students, and each other with the launch in August of a new web presence for alumni and friends. The Office of Development and Alumni Relations unveiled the site, featuring a seamless look with the College’s overall website and more features for users. It can be found at

“This website is the culmination of nearly two years of evaluation, discovery, and coordination of systems to improve the web experience,” says Shane Jacobson, vice president for development and alumni relations. “We know that Grinnellians are busy and technologically savvy while wanting to stay connected to friends and be engaged with the College.”

The new site offers responsive design that makes it mobile- and tablet-friendly and improves usability. There are more features, including enhanced event registration and better online giving options. 

In addition, the site features Grinnell Connect, a platform that will benefit both alumni and current students and is a cooperative effort with the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. The new platform allows alumni and students to develop mentoring relationships, network with one another, and connect professionally. Alumni can also engage via a job board where members can post and view job opportunities. 

“Whether you are at home or on the go, on your computer or your phone, you can stay connected to Grinnell more easily than ever,” says Jacobson.  “Visit the site to find a classmate or friend, make a gift, or register for an event in your area.” 

Changes to Campus Alcohol Policy

Grinnell College has implemented some changes in its alcohol policy with the 2016–17 academic year. This is partly due to recommendations from the College’s Task Force on Residential Learning, which included faculty, staff, and students, as well as national and Grinnell-specific research and recommendations from experts.

In a memo to campus, President Raynard S. Kington explained why the changes are being implemented: “I strongly believe that the College needs to make proactive changes in our culture of substance use now, instead of in response to student tragedy. Grinnell College has been on the forefront of tackling many vital social issues, but we’re behind the norm here. As we seek to raise the quality of student experience in the residence halls to better match their world-class academic experience, these are necessary first steps.”

Changes to the alcohol policy include the following:

  • Providing substance-free housing for all students who request it. To meet the demand for substance-free housing for first-year students in particular, the College converted Norris Hall to a first-year, substance-free residence hall. 
  • Changing policies related to student alcohol use in public areas of the residence halls. 
  • If alcohol is present in a lounge, a completed alcohol agreement must be in place, and all alcohol at the event must be accounted for in the agreement. 
  • Residence life coordinators and Campus Safety officers will conduct periodic walk-throughs in the residence halls to uphold the community standards in a non-punitive, educational fashion. 
  • Community advisers (student staffers formerly known as resident advisers) will be expected to uphold these policies as well to promote safe environments.
  • Creating a team of paid, trained servers to tend bar at all approved events with alcohol agreements. 
  • Convening a group of student and administrative leaders to revise campus events that center heavily on alcohol consumption, including the annual 10/10 party, a campuswide party started in the early 2000s. Given yearly spikes in the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, sexual misconduct, vandalism, and other infractions on community standards related to that event in particular, the College wants to involve students in finding ways to provide healthier, safer, appealing recreational alternatives.

One element that has not changed is that people of legal drinking age will still be permitted to use alcohol in their own rooms or houses. Additionally, the use of alcohol by any student in academic and athletic buildings will continue to be prohibited.

The Grinnell Magazine Online

The Grinnell Magazine now has its own website: Readers will be  able to access current and archived issues, back to the Fall 2015 issue, when the magazine was redesigned. 

“We wanted to provide another way for our readers to access and share our content,” says Michele Regenold ’89, editor. “It’s an addition to our quarterly print magazine, not a replacement.”

Readers will be able to post comments, follow links to related articles, and interact with visual media. In addition to digitized versions of articles appearing in print, the site will include some online-only content published between print magazine issues. 

According to Sarah Eagan Anderson ’98, director of interactive communications, the decision to go online was motivated by a collective desire to increase access and integration. Not only does an online option introduce The Grinnell Magazine to a broader audience, it also supports increased accessibility for readers with disabilities.

In addition, selected articles will appear on the main College website, to enhance content integration across platforms.

If you’d like to receive an email notification when each new issue goes online, and stop receiving the printed magazine, please email Alumni Relations with “Arlo’s List” in the subject line, and we’ll make the change.

Meet Your Grinnell Trustees

Six Grinnell College trustees are newly elected or otherwise entering into active roles on the board. We wanted you to get to know them through their own words, so we invited them to speak to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to serve on the board?
  • What do you hope to bring to it?

W. Edward Senn ’79

W. Edward Senn ’79A: I want to give back to the educational institution that helped make me the person I am today. My mother — Carolyn Neely Senn, Winthrop College class of 1936 — always said, “Don’t ever forget to support your alma mater!” I’ve worked in the political/public policy space for 35-plus years, and I think I’m a good listener. My professors often said, “Ed, sometimes it is not that you have the right answer; it’s that you have the right question.” I hope to help ask the right questions to secure the future of this amazing institution.

Kathryn Jagow Mohrman ’67

Kathryn Jagow Mohrman ’67A: Like so many alumni, I credit Grinnell for its major influence on the person I’ve become since graduation. I want to make the Grinnell experience available to future generations, but I know I won’t be able to leave millions of dollars to make that happen. Since my career was in higher education, however, I can “give back” through my time and experience. I was thrilled to be on the Board of Trustees in the 1980s and 1990s and equally delighted to start my second stint now that I am retired.

Angela Onwuachi-Willig ’94

Angela Onwuachi-Willig ’94A: I am honored to serve as a voice for Grinnell’s 20,000-plus alumni on the board. In my role as president of the Alumni Council, I look forward to learning from alumni, doing my best to represent their concerns on key issues, and offering perspectives that might otherwise be underrepresented or absent on the board. Personally, I want to serve on the board because Grinnell changed my life, and I have witnessed its impact on so many other lives. Also, I am thrilled to learn from President [Raynard S.] Kington and watch his vision in action. It’s an exciting time for the College!

Charles Gottdiener ’86

Charles Gottdiener ’86A: I feel indebted to Grinnell. It was here that I transitioned from teenager to adult and forged some of my closest relationships — the most important being the one with my wife, Alexa. I’ve had the good fortune of working with the College on a number of philanthropic activities. Joining the board felt like the most logical progression for continuing to serve the school. I bring a passion for Grinnell’s liberal arts education and the diversity of thought it encourages. Experience as a business executive and strategist will allow me to contribute on specific topics around management and governance of the College. 

John H. Kispert ’86

John H. Kispert ’86A: I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to Grinnell in this way. These are exciting times, domestically and globally. Grinnell is not immune to the many changes, yet is uniquely positioned to continue its leadership in preparing students to lead lives of purpose and meaning. My many years as a technology executive have provided me with extensive experience dealing with constant change. I hope to bring to the board this capacity to adapt along with my passion and respect for diversity of thought.

David Maxwell ’66

David Maxwell ’66A: My enthusiasm for serving on Grinnell’s Board of Trustees is driven by two factors. First, I feel indebted to the College for the impact it had on my life. The experience had a powerful influence on my values, my beliefs, and my aspirations to contribute in a significant way to the common good. Second, after 44 years in higher education, I am profoundly aware of the importance of the board in working with the faculty, the president and administration, and students to manage the challenges ahead and to ensure that the College remains vital, vibrant, and relevant. 

View the trustees’ biographical profiles

Work Begins on Humanities and Social Studies Complex Site

Last spring, the Grinnell College Board of Trustees enthusiastically approved EYP Architecture & Engineering’s schematic design for the new Humanities and Social Studies Complex (HSSC). The trustees’ action propelled the project into the design development phase and set building site preparation in motion on the southeast corner of Eighth Avenue and Park Street.

Plans for the 196,000-square-foot complex include renovation and revitalization of Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH) and Carnegie Hall. When the complex is ready for occupancy in fall of 2020, it will include 40 classrooms, 145 faculty offices, team spaces, a redesigned auditorium, and social spaces such as the main atrium and coffee bar.

Classrooms with advanced technology will support the many kinds of pedagogy desired for an inquiry-based approach to learning and facilitate the faculty-student and student-student connections integral to a Grinnell education.

Sustainability and accessibility

The HSSC is being designed to take maximum advantage of natural seasonal light, and a portion of the roof will be a “green roof” that further impacts sustainability. Geothermal well fields will help meet sustainability goals that aim for a modest net change in energy demand given the large increase in building size. 

Key accessibility considerations include bridging of the floor-level differential between the ARH and Carnegie pavilions, placing and pairing of elevators and stairs in and across pavilions, and incorporation of wider halls. 

Admission/Financial Aid Center site chosen

The southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and Park Street, directly across from the new HSSC, was named this summer as the future site for Grinnell’s new Admission/Financial Aid Center. The site was determined after extensive evaluation of multiple sites by design firm Ayers Saint Gross, Inc., with input from a broad base of campus constituents. 

New Leaders On Campus

Mark Christel

Mark Christel

Mark Christel brings an impressive record of leadership and innovation to the Grinnell College Libraries,” says Michael E. Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “His experience in promoting student and faculty research, interdisciplinary digital initiatives, external grants and collaborations, facilities design, and strategic planning makes him well-suited to this role.”

Christel served with distinction in previous positions at Hope College and Vassar College and as former director of libraries since 2008 at the College of Wooster in Ohio. He worked collaboratively with faculty, carefully stewarded collections, and championed technologies to promote open access and scholarship. 

Christel succeeds Julia Bauder, who was named interim director of Grinnell’s libraries in October 2015 after Richard Fyffe, Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian of the College and associate professor, began permanent medical leave. He died on Nov. 5, due to complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“It is very humbling,” Christel says, “to follow in the footsteps of Richard Fyffe, a friend and colleague whom I greatly admired.”

Debra Lukehart

Debra LukehartDebra Lukehart joined the College staff on Sept. 6 as its new vice president for communications. 

“Debra has the experience, expertise, and energy to build on the great work of the Communications team. I am looking forward to her joining Grinnell as part of the senior leadership team,” says President Raynard S. Kington

Lukehart, formerly vice president of communications for Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, has more than 25 years of communications experience, including developing and implementing brand platforms, delivering full-service marketing communications solutions, deploying integrated marketing strategies, and managing oversight of multimedia and interactive programs. She has a bachelor’s in public relations from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Drake University. The Iowa native and her husband Oscar have a daughter, Anna, 10.

David Cook-Martín

David Cook-MartínDavid Cook-Martín, professor of sociology, has been named assistant vice president for global education and senior international officer. He will lead Grinnell’s new Institute for Global Engagement and promote strategic planning for international education and external partnerships. The new institute assumes responsibilities formerly held by the Center for International Studies, which Cook-Martín led.

“We are collectively creating an organizational structure to empower students and faculty to very intentionally connect and engage with the world,” Cook-Martín says. 

The institute’s work will allow Grinnell to hold a distinctive position in global education. This initiative was made possible by the generosity of Carolyn “Kay” Swartz Bucksbaum ’51

Her recent $5 million gift created two endowments, one to create the senior international officer position and another to create a Global Distinctiveness Fund to support students and faculty through scholarships for global courses and language study, research initiatives, internships abroad, and international projects exploring global problems and challenges.