Campus News

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.

Commencement 2016

Shaun Mataire in mortar board and sunglasses

Shaun Mataire, computer science major from Harare, Zimbabwe.

Two people napping on red and white checked picnic blanket

Phineas Schlossberg, computer science major from St. George, Vt., and Rosie Crockett, English major from Towson, Md., at the all-campus picnic.

Zadie Smith at lecturn

Award-winning novelist Zadie Smith was the Commencement speaker. She told the graduating seniors, “Generations are defined by the projects they take on together.”

Graduate with diploma with mortarboard wreathed in flowers

Jeanette W Au, an independent major focused on international affairs, from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Kington and Davis hugging

Dan Davis, a math major and president of the Student Government Association this year, and President Raynard S. Kington.

Students receive congratulations from professors lining the processional path.

Rosie O’Brien (left), a political science and studio art double major from Lawrence, Kansas, and Kit Nika, an English major from Springfield, Ill., during procession.

 

Commencement 2016

Shaun Mataire in mortar board and sunglasses

Shaun Mataire, computer science major from Harare, Zimbabwe.

Two people napping on red and white checked picnic blanket

Phineas Schlossberg, computer science major from St. George, Vt., and Rosie Crockett, English major from Towson, Md., at the all-campus picnic.
Zadie Smith at lecturn

Award-winning novelist Zadie Smith was the Commencement speaker. She told the graduating seniors, “Generations are defined by the projects they take on together.”

Graduate with diploma with mortarboard wreathed in flowers

Jeanette W Au, an independent major focused on international affairs, from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Kington and Davis hugging

Dan Davis, a math major and president of the Student Government Association this year, and President Raynard S. Kington.
Students receive congratulations from professors lining the processional path.

Rosie O’Brien (left), a political science and studio art double major from Lawrence, Kansas, and Kit Nika, an English major from Springfield, Ill., during procession.

 

Artistic Alumni Engagement

Imagine scores of Grinnell Singers from across generations coming together to perform major choral works. While the performance would be amazing, it could be a major challenge to schedule rehearsal and concert dates.

But what if individual parts could be recorded by each singer at home? And what if all those parts could be edited together to create collaborative video performances online?

Then it would be the Grinnell Virtual Choir, and that is exactly what John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music, has launched with the help of the College’s Innovation Fund.

The Innovation Fund was established in 2012 by President Raynard S. Kington to support projects with new approaches to teaching and scholarship. It is open to proposals from faculty, staff, and students that foster a learning liberal arts environment conducive to experimentation and imagination.

“The main goal of the Grinnell Virtual Choir is to create an online platform that facilitates choral performances that are connected virtually,” Rommereim says. “It’s a way to engage and connect alumni in an artistic endeavor so they can actually collaborate with current students and with each other.”

A prototype of the virtual choir was produced this spring that shows seven current students performing a movement from Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil. Alumni who want to contribute vocals to the performance can access the score, a conducting video, and tips for recording and submitting files at Grinnell Virtual Choir.

Basically, it’s as simple as making a video of yourself singing into your phone.
“We want it to be fun and inspiring,” Rommereim says. “We’re hoping it will blossom into a significant artistic endeavor.”

Rommereim says he’s considering ways to incentivize participation in the virtual choir, partly because the follow-up project to All-Night Vigil is much more adventurous.

“Our strategy is to do something ambitious, so the second project will be Thomas Tallis’ Spem in alium, a 40-voice motet with eight choirs of five voices,” Rommereim says. “Grinnell Singers from the ’90s and 2000s sang in it, so the concept is familiar to them.”

Austin Morris ’15, a mathematics major and Grinnell Singers alumnus, is the talent behind the scenes working to clear technological hurdles and develop website aesthetics. Both Rommereim and Morris say audio and video editing challenges have been considerable.

“Once we get the videos from all the people that we contact, it’s my job to put them all together in the final project,” Morris says.

Faithful to Innovation Fund criteria, the project has a number of teaching and learning goals as well, including using videos to better evaluate the parts of individual singers in the chorus. “As we get better at the technology, using it on a regular basis as a pedagogical device will become more feasible,” Rommereim says.

New Athletic Director Named

Andy Hamilton ’85 will become the College’s next director of athletics and recreation, effective July 1. He served as interim director during the 2015–16 school year.

AndyHamilton, who also serves as an associate professor of physical education and head coach of both the men’s and women’s tennis teams, will succeed Greg Wallace, who was on sabbatical this year.

“Andy Hamilton’s deep understanding of Division III athletics, record as a coach, excellence in the classroom, and commitment to the student-athlete ideal make him particularly well suited to this role,” says Michael E. Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “I am very confident he will provide excellent leadership for Grinnell athletics and the department of physical education.”

“I look forward to maintaining Grinnell’s tradition of robust co-curricular programming,” Hamilton says.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate, Hamilton has served as head men’s tennis coach since 1995 and head women’s tennis coach since 2007, leading both teams to multiple Midwest Conference championships. A national search for a tennis coach will be conducted.

During his career Hamilton also coached women’s basketball, was a men’s basketball assistant coach, and assisted with football.

Wallace joined the College 28 years ago and had been athletics director since 2007, men’s golf coach for 15 years, and head football coach for 20 years. He is moving to senior faculty status, focusing on recruiting student-athletes.

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.