Special Campus Memo: Latham Plans for New Opportunity

Dear Grinnellians:

Next year, after five years of exemplary servant-leadership, Dean Michael Latham will be making a career transition that will take him away from Grinnell and back to his home state of Hawai'i. We are fortunate that Mike will continue in his current role until the summer of 2019.

Although we will miss his thoughtful leadership, I am pleased to share that following a national search process it has been announced that Mike will be the next president of Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawai'i. 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 Mike's alma mater, a distinction he shares with President Barack Obama.

In summer 2019, Mike will become the new president of Punahou with responsibility for elevating the school's profile, locally, nationally, and internationally. As president, Mike will lead efforts to strengthen and expand Punahou's financial, intellectual, physical, and programmatic assets.

During his time at Grinnell, Mike has tirelessly advanced our mission by ensuring that faculty members are provided what they need for their work. He has dedicated himself to assuring the best Grinnell College possible: a close-knit intellectual community of people who are eager to engage across differences, to offer lively companionship, and direct their efforts in pursuit of knowledge that will serve the common good.

Mike has been Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College since coming to Grinnell from Fordham University in 2014. He has helped advance the College through several major initiatives and accomplishments as he:

  • Co-chaired the Global Grinnell Task Force, leading to the creation of the College's new Institute for Global Engagement, supported by major gifts to promote international strategic planning, new off-campus study initiatives, advanced foreign language programs, support for international students, and curricular initiatives.
  • Collaborated with our faculty to provide every Grinnell student with the opportunity for a significant research experience, promoting inquiry-led learning and student intellectual and personal growth.
  • Advanced comprehensive student success initiatives in academic advising, multicultural affairs, residential life, wellness, and mental health to raise retention rates and improve the quality of student experiences.
  • Promoted the creation of the Digital Liberal Arts Collective (DLAC) within the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment to advance innovative teaching with technology and data across multiple fields.
  • Created a new partnership between academic affairs and student affairs to improve our support for diversity and inclusion in addition to launching the Residential Learning Task Force to advance goals related to belonging, community, and student life.
  • Collaborated in the work to advance the goals and design of our new interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Studies Center, slated to open in 2020.

His vision, leadership, and contributions to the College have been remarkable. His legacy will be to have made our exceptional commitment to individually advised teaching and learning even stronger.

In sharing news of his future plans, Mike expressed how meaningful his work at Grinnell has been to him, how much he has valued his colleagues and this community, and that Punahou represents a unique opportunity to lead one of the world's foremost independent schools. Mike says returning to his roots and spending more time with family also factored into his decision.

We are fortunate to have time to conduct a thorough national search for Grinnell's next Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. We have engaged Kathryn Barry, Principal, Isaacson Miller, to help direct this process. I will work closely with Mike, our faculty, and senior staff to ensure the success of our search.

Please join me in congratulating Mike on his new role at Punahou. At the appropriate time, we will share plans to thank Mike for his contributions to Grinnell College.

Raynard S. Kington

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