Campus News

Venice Film Festival Premiere

Professor Craig Quintero’s virtual reality film, All That Remains, premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival in September 2022. The surreal, 360-degree immersive film is an extension of the experimental theatre productions he has been staging for the past 24 years as the artistic director of the Taipei-based Riverbed Theatre. A single audience member views the film through an Oculus headset that also includes spatial audio, intensifying the sensation of being fully immersed in the virtual world. 

Images: A scene from All That Remains; right: Craig Quintero at the Venice Film Festival.

Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

Grinnellians are celebrating the $116,000 renewal of a grant that supports the College’s Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. This program is the central component of the Mellon Foundation’s efforts to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning nationwide by supporting students from groups historically excluded from the academy as they pursue doctoral degrees. The grant renewal helps Grinnell continue to support two MMUF cohorts of five students annually with stipends, travel and research funding, faculty mentoring, and other assistance as they pursue academic careers. 


Forbes Recognition

Ham Serunjogi ’16, Grinnell trustee and CEO of Chipper Cash, was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in finance for 2023. The list covers traditional financial services, fintech, crypto, and blockchain. Co-founded in 2018 by Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled ’14, Chipper Cash builds software to enable free cross-border, peer-to-peer money transfers and personal investment, as well as solutions for businesses and merchants to process online and in-store payments. Chipper Cash is widely considered one of the most valuable startups in Africa, with a valuation of more than $2 billion.

2023 Alumni Awards


The Grinnell College Alumni Council selected 14 Grinnellians to receive 2023 Alumni Awards, recognizing individuals who embody the College’s mission of lifetime learning and service. The recipients, who will be celebrated at Reunion 2023, are: Mary Knuth Otto ’63, Lorie Hill ’68, Susie Kaeser ’69, Bob Eckardt ’73, Irma McClaurin ’73, Rod Sinks ’81, Kristin Layng Szakos ’81, Rick Stuck ’82, Cameo Carlson ’93, Kartik Sheth ’93, Suyog Shrestha ’06, Emily Guenther ’07, Cynthia Dominguez ’12, and Joy Sales ’13. Log in to see the awards ceremony starting at 4:30 p.m. CT on June 3. 


2022 Wall Service Awards


Kathryn Railsback ’80, Kimberly L. King-Jupiter ’87, Mamata Pokharel ’07, and Raji Manjari Pokhrel ’08 were selected for 2022 Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Awards. Each year, a committee awards the $40,000 prizes to jump-start or complete projects that show creativity and commitment to effecting positive social change. In the past 26 years, the Wall awards have been presented to 64 individuals who contributed their time and talents to 57 diverse projects throughout the United States and 17 other countries. Grinnell has given out more than $1 million to alumni through the Wall award program. 


Go Forth Grinnellian

The frequent call to action, “Go Forth Grinnellian,” carries deep connotations of how a Grinnell College education leads to a life of meaning and purpose. It encapsulates the distinct nature of the Grinnell education in and outside the classroom. Our commitment to fierce inquiry, a global perspective, a tradition of social responsibility, and connection and community shapes our actions and forges our graduates into people who make a difference.

In this issue, you’ll read our tributes to two true Grinnellians, George Drake ’56 and Edith Renfrow Smith ’37, DHL’19. In their “going forth,” both of their lives demonstrate the impact that their education had on them and — in turn — their impact on their students, peers, families, communities, and broader institutions. Both have been agents of civic trust, through their examples and their leadership.

George Drake’s passing on Oct. 15, 2022, has been felt deeply by the global Grinnell community. Professor Drake served Grinnell College in every way possible, as a student, an athlete, a faculty member, a president, an ambassador, a trustee, and in his daily example of what it means to be Grinnellian. As someone who personally benefited from his knowledge and wisdom, I know how valuable and special he was to people here in Grinnell and around the world. Fittingly, the tribute to Professor Drake in this issue of Grinnell Magazine was authored by his daughter, Melanie Drake ’92.

In December, we announced that the core residential building of the Civic Engagement Quad will be named for Edith Renfrow Smith. In the summer of 2022, a group of faculty, students, and alumni approached me about the possibility of this historic naming. Grinnell’s oldest living and first Black alumna, Mrs. Renfrow Smith has reached the age of 108 and looks back on a life that — as I learned — makes her the absolute right choice for this honor. A Grinnell native, she grew up in town, “recruited herself” to the College, completed her degree while working as a secretary at the College, and went on to an illustrious career of teaching and mentoring in Chicago. Her love of Grinnell and the College acknowledges imperfections and is backed by a fierce determination to do better. I urge you to learn more about her and view the video about her life and legacy.

Today, “Grinnellians Go Forth” into our community, partnering with more than 20 community organizations to serve students in the Grinnell-Newburg school district, initiating community-based projects related to the humanities. Grinnell College students ignite an interest in college by bringing students from preschool through sixth grade to campus for hands-on learning. These are just some of the ways that Grinnellians help Grinnellians — at the College and in our community. This fall, the College awarded $21,274 through the Grinnell College Community Mini-Grant Program to four community-based initiatives. In December, the Pioneer Bookshop donated 10% of sales to support middle- and high-school libraries in the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District. And Build a Better Grinnell received a $200,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge Grant, which is funding its current assessment of community needs.

I continue to be inspired by Grinnell faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends in all the partnerships they create and nurture and all that they make possible in our world. Thank you, each of you, for going forth.

Board of Trustees

Four new trustees have been elected to Grinnell College’s Board of Trustees. They are:

Judge Jon R. Gray (Ret.) ’73 was appointed to the 16th Judicial Circuit of Missouri as a Circuit Judge in 1986 and was retained in office by voters for four additional terms. He retired from the bench in 2007 and began his current position as a partner with the international litigation firm of Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, offering mediation and arbitration services to parties involved in civil disputes.

Graciela Guzmán ’11 is the deputy director/political director for Illinois State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and political director for Senator Omar Aquino.

Bruce Koff ’75 has taught at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and is co-author of the book Something to Tell You: The Road Families Travel When a Child Is Gay. Koff also initiated the first postgraduate certificate program in the nation on clinical practice with LGBTQI+ individuals and families.

Ham Serunjogi ’16 is the CEO of Chipper Cash, a venture capital–backed financial technology company that he co-founded with fellow Grinnell graduate Maijid Moujaled ’14. Their work is motivated by a desire to make a positive impact on their home continent of Africa by leveraging technology and entrepreneurship.

Philanthropic Support Reaches New Heights

Alumni and donor investment in Grinnell’s future continues to gain momentum a year after the College wrapped up its largest fundraising campaign. Total outright gifts, pledges, matching gifts, and planned gifts from July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022, reached $33,916,810. That total is 89% higher than the previous year and the largest annual total since Grinnell’s last campaign began in 2013. Donors’ generous support enables students from different backgrounds to experience Grinnell’s traditions of academic excellence, activism, and personal transformation.

Grinnell Prize

The 2022 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize of $50,000 was awarded to Jai Bharathi, founder and CEO of MOWO Social Initiatives Foundation. An architect and avid motorcyclist turned social innovator, Bharathi is a force for women’s empowerment in India. Her foundation works to address women’s historical lack of access to transportation, which dramatically limited their access to education, economic well-being, health care, and social networks.


2022 Schwab Grant

Lisa Ranahan Andon ’92 is the 2022 recipient of the Lori Ann Schwab ’95 Alumni Grant. She will use the $2,000 award to help build an outdoor cafeteria for Wone Elementary School in the Federated States of Micronesia. Located about 500 miles north of the equator and 3,100 miles east of Hawaii, Micronesia is made up of four island states. Andon served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia after graduation and went on to marry a native islander. Wone Elementary enrolls 194 students, many of whose family members rely on subsistence agriculture and fishing in one of the most remote areas of the island.