Community Is Our Strength

David Jarvis ’04

I am not from Iowa, but every time I come back to Grinnell, it feels as much home to me as my actual hometown of Portland, Oregon. Probably the biggest part of this feeling is that Grinnell’s greatest strength lies in its community. No one makes it through Grinnell alone. I know I would not have made it through without faculty members like Barb Trish or Don Smith or friends like Alejandro Oyarzabal ’04 or David Creasey ’04. I am sure each of you has similar people who made your success at Grinnell possible. Together we are indeed greater.

At the center of the fall Alumni Council meeting, which took place alongside volunteer weekend, the council met with 120 volunteers, ranging from the classes of 1951 to 2019, to discuss how we can better work together to foster connections between alumni and leverage our skills to best support Grinnell and the work of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR). These skills are particularly important as we enter the public phase of the Campaign for Grinnell College. The volunteers who made their way to Grinnell for volunteer weekend, and those who were unable to attend, will be counted on to help support and attend the campaign events that are being held across the country and in London and Hong Kong in the next year. We encourage all alumni to attend these events as well. See a list at of campaign events.

Elsewhere through the weekend, Alumni Council’s three standing committees, as well as the ad hoc committee on civility, provided updates about their work. Highlights include:

  • Alumni and Student Connections: The goal is to support and promote the externship program, which every year sends students across the country and around the world to job shadow alums for several days during the College’s spring break.
  • Alumni Engagement and Communication: The committee is discussing tools to better engage alumni, especially those who have become disconnected from Grinnell. In addition, it is finding ways to capture the informal connections alumni make every day on Facebook, among groups of friends, or in their communities. The committee also discussed work on the “Event in a Box” program, which provides a tool kit for alums to plan and hold events.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Their work is focused in two areas — first, supporting the second Multicultural Reunion, which saw alums return to campus to celebrate the differences that made our Grinnell experiences unique; second, continuing work to develop the coaching program previously discussed in the Winter 2018 issue of The Grinnell Magazine.
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Civility: This committee, formed to think about how we can all bring our best selves to our volunteer work on behalf of the College, rolled out an initial version of a new alumni volunteer code of leadership to the volunteers present. More details on this will be provided as we further develop this code and present elements of it to the entire Grinnell community over the next several months.

Finally, it was the first Alumni Council meeting for Robert Gehorsam ’76, Bernard Jackson ’86, and Eric Mistry ’14. Find their profiles on the Alumni Council website.

Every day that I get to work on behalf of Grinnell as part of the Alumni Council makes me proud to be a Grinnellian. We get to witness (and participate in) the impressive efforts of alums to support current students, and the efforts of students, faculty, and staff that make Grinnell what it is. Grinnell is a special place, and everyone on the Alumni Council is proud to spend as much time as we do doing whatever work we can to keep it that way.

The Grinnell College Alumni Council supports purposeful, lifelong relationships among Grinnell alumni and between the alumni and College communities.

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