Letters to the Editor

Fall 2022

I read that Twila Thompson ’76 died and wanted to add to her story because it relates to her time at Grinnell. After we graduated, Twila and I took a play I had put together and performed at Grinnell (Dear Mrs. Evans) and improvised and added to it until it was an entirely new show, Sirens. Twila and I formed Woman’s Collage Theater and toured with this two-woman show with artwork and costumes by Judy Hoffman ’76, also a Grinnell graduate. We eventually performed in 23 states, twice returning to Grinnell College to perform Sirens. I was so sad to hear in The Grinnell Magazine of Twila’s death and wanted that aspect of her life honored.Barbara Tholfsen, Michelle Casey and Tom Loddengaard

Left: Twila Thompson’s senior photo. Right: Barbara Tholfsen (left), Michelle Casey, and Tom Loddengaard ’76 working on the set of Dear Mrs. Evans. Photos from the 1976 Cyclone yearbook.


- Barbara Tholfsen ’76

Do you realize that Forbes Magazine (June/July 2022) and The Grinnell Magazine are similar? They both extol Grinnellians and the College.

Ham Serunjogi ’16 from Uganda and Maijid Moujaled ’14 from Ghana, who are still in their 20s, met at Grinnell. The former is CEO and the latter president of Chipper Cash, which enables transnational financial services in Africa. The company has 350 employees, 5 million users, and a valuation of $2.2 billion.

Forbes states that Grinnell is a small liberal arts college in Iowa known for its strong academics. On almost the last page, Grinnell is listed No. 35 among 905 private nonprofit colleges for financial health, with a grade of A.

- Carol Lingle Mark ’57

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Edmund Gilday, professor emeritus of religious studies. We remember attending his job talk as curious students, and he brought new energy to the department when he joined in 1995. Professor Gilday was incredibly generous with students. His door was always open, and he was always willing to talk through concepts that came up in class, map out research ideas, and provide advice.

In particular, we credit him with teaching us how to read academic texts. “Start with the table of contents,” he advised. “This is like an outline. If you can connect the chapter titles together in a coherent argument and relate them to the title of the book, then you have already learned something.

”If the chapters are divided into titled sections, do the same thing at that level. Build an argument in your mind by connecting the titles together. Then you do not need to focus on every word and sentence as you read. Simply pay attention to where the argument diverges from what you have in mind, ask yourself why it diverges, and decide whether that divergence is useful or interesting to you.”

We both continue to use this technique as needed, and J.R. now shares similar advice with his students. Thank you, Professor Gilday.

- J.R. Osborn ’97 (co-author Anthony Scotto ’97 Brooklyn, New York)

Summer 2022

2 page spread from the beginning of the article If These Walls Could TalkI write to assure your editors and readers that those halls glorified in (“If These Walls Could Talk,” Fall 2021) can indeed talk, or at least could talk with eloquence when I attended Grinnell.

In 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbor, Grinnell employed 15 or 20 students to live on campus for the summer and work on various maintenance projects. For this work, living quarters and meals were furnished, plus 25 cents an hour, a small amount of that in cash and the rest applied to tuition fees.

I was assigned to scrub walls of dorm and cottage rooms, day in and day out, all summer, hundreds of rooms.

Could those walls talk? Indeed, they could, not audibly, but in the form of messages, poems, pictures, caricatures, tales of conquests, slander, or praise directed at other students and faculty — enough material to fill a large book and then some.

So, we got our summer reading in and learned that walls can talk.

- George McIntosh ’45

When I entered Grinnell as a young 16-year-old, I didn’t know I had a disability. (Later) I found out I am cross-eyed; the left is weaker and travels. No wonder I had trouble in those difficult history classes trying to read classics and understand civilizations. Alphabet soup in my brain!

I wish I could go back to those classes now that I know what is happening and take them over.

Thanks for the good article (“Innovation, Inclusion, and Accessibility,” Spring 2022) on helping others with various disabilities. Congratulations to Professor Eliza Willis and Assistant Dean Autumn Wilke for making the effort to identify disabilities for what they are and having an office for aiding students with the various disabilities.

- John C. Orsborn ’58

I was saddened to read of the passing of former Grinnell Professor Clifford Reid (Spring 2022).

I met Professor Reid in fall 1974 when he was the professor for my freshman tutorial. I was a conservative-leaning white student from a small town while he was a liberal-leaning Black college professor from an urban background. I took several of his classes, and he became my student adviser. Despite our differences, I couldn’t have had a better adviser and mentor.

He challenged me and kept me on the right track.

Professor Reid showed me that a mentor does not have to be someone who looks like you or thinks like you. A mentor can be anyone who truly cares about you and has your best interest at heart.

From time to time I considered writing to Professor Reid to thank him. I now regret that I never wrote that letter.

Rest in peace, Professor Reid.

- Dave Chroust ’78

Spring 2022

Back in the 1950s, there was a 10:30 evening curfew when we gals were “bed counted.” After which, once in a while, a few of us would jump out a first-floor dorm window and get over to the Indian reservation in Tama — to drink beer. The hitch being you were unable to get back in until 6 a.m. when the loggia doors were unlocked for the milkman. All these years later, my particulars may be a little inaccurate but that excitement still makes me smile.

- Carol J. Wolff Horky ’58

Fall 2021 The Grinnell Magazine

In response to your article, “First-Year Tutorial is the Linchpin” (Fall 2021), I speak as a student who barely missed out on the opportunity. I was a freshman the fall of 1970 when Professor [Beryl] Clotfelter was leading the “no requirement” campaign. My freshmen adviser said “don’t sign up for required courses. We’re about to get rid of them.” I quite frankly thought he was nuts. I had never heard of such a thing. “Get them out of the way” was what I was familiar with. So I knocked out a fine arts and foreign language “requirement.” Those two classes nearly broke me. Thank goodness for pass-fail and a very kind French teacher. And, although the requirements were gone, I still regret the missed opportunity of the freshman tutorial. It was rather sad to hear the incoming freshmen in the remainder of my years at Grinnell speak of their wonderful tutorial experiences.

- Julie Appel Glavin ’74

Bicyclist heading to South Loggia, Main Hall in the backgroundIn 1958 I had back surgery over the holiday break from Northwestern University, where I had started as a freshman in September. I didn’t want to go back … somehow, John Zimdars ’62 heard that message and let me know that there was ONE spot for a freshman female at Grinnell. By some miracle, Dr. Merle Goodman came to interview me, and he approved my admission. I was not your typical freshman: I needed an elevator, someone to carry my books and make my bed, couldn't dance or walk very far, and [had] six months of not bending over. I landed in the perfect place, Main Hall, creaky elevator and all, and women who were amazing caregivers. It was the serendipity of my life — Grinnell was made for me, and I’m looking forward to our 60th reunion.

- Sue Fernald Smith ’62

First-Year Tutorial article cover pagesI read with interest your story about the First-Year Tutorial in the Fall 2021 issue. When I enrolled at Grinnell College in 1972, it was called the freshman tutorial. I did not know until I read the story last fall that the tutorial had begun just a year earlier, in 1971. Fast-forward about 35 years. Despite my liberal arts education, in my early 50s I applied for and was awarded a job managing power plants for a large electric cooperative. Deciding that I needed to know more about power plants, I applied for admission to an online associate degree program in power plant technology at a community college in North Dakota. I submitted my Grinnell College transcript and was exempted from all the general education requirements except one — freshman composition. No such course appeared on my Grinnell College transcript, so I was told I would have to take freshman composition to improve my writing skills, despite my bachelor’s from Grinnell College, my master’s, and various successfully completed career-related writing assignments. After learning of my situation, Margaret Bogie ’76 sent me a copy of the 1971 Grinnell College Catalog page that contained a description of the freshman tutorial. I submitted that page to the community college registrar and was then exempted from freshman composition. I successfully completed the degree and continued to manage power plants until my retirement in 2019. Thank you, Grinnell College freshman tutorial, for getting me exempted from freshman composition 35 years later.

- Rick Lancaster ’76