Campus News

Major Planned Gift Will Support Faculty and Museum of Art

A $13.7 million planned gift from John Betts ’64 and his wife, Jennifer, is the second-largest gift ever committed to Grinnell College. The Betts Faculty Endowment of $12.7 million will focus on interdisciplinary fields and projects that leverage research in biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, computer science, and mathematics. The Betts Museum Endowment of $1 million will be used for museum programs, collection maintenance, teaching and learning opportunities, and to help preserve the Betts Family Art Collection. Betts worked at Aerospace Corp. for 17 years and was a technical fellow at Boeing when he retired in 2009. John and Jennifer reside in Oregon.

The Gift of Gathering

Gathering. Being able to do so again has been a gift: from welcoming the class of 2025 in the fall of 2021 to welcoming back alumni classes in the spring of 2022, this past year has witnessed the Grinnell community gathering on campus once again — and the joy, discovery, and renewal thereof. “Gather” is an old word in the English language, and its medieval origins invite us to think of ancient practices and rejoicings, of how much and why people have gathered over generations.

Ceremonies gather us to mark transitions, to hold space and time to acknowledge that change is happening within the community. The occasion of my inauguration marked the first large-scale gathering on campus since the pandemic and the official investiture of my presidency. To stand before the Grinnell community in order to pledge my dedication and energies to this marvel of a College was a wellspring moment, one that will hold me in good stead as we continue to create our community and fulfill our mission together.

Commencement and alumni reunions were joyous, restorative gatherings — an opportunity to claim and reclaim community. The ceremonies and festivities showed me the resilience and resplendence of Grinnell, and I learned more of what is possible here from the pride Grinnellians hold in each other for all that they accomplish, from the resolve for the work yet to be done (always), and from the laughter and wit and gladness that was shared among so many.

Gathering also pertains to thoughts — to bringing together articulations and realizations — and in this issue you will see a gathering of reasons to love Grinnell. Love is at the vibrant center of complex and fulfilling relationships and gathering around and within an institution is a courageous and kaleidoscopic endeavor; courageous because love takes the energy of being present, and kaleidoscopic because there are so many experiences of love. Embedded in love are hopes and aspiration for our institution as well as memories and fondness, and I see many futures to honor in this gathering.

The last form of gathering you will see in this issue’s pages is mentoring, that marvelous quickening that occurs when individuals are invigorated by a shared passion. The connection between Kathy Clemons-Beasley ’95 and Carlton Segbefia ’21 speaks to the generative nexus that is the Donald and Winifred Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership. I had the honor (and the excitement!) of being a juror for this year’s HackGC event and am grateful that Kathy is a mentor to students who participate in that entrepreneurial endeavor. Robert Gehorsam ’76 counseling Lukas Roscoe ’23 is another example of how mentoring gathers Grinnellians, and I am very much looking forward to Robert’s upcoming leadership of the Alumni Council to invigorate these transformative relationships even further.

Wherever you are this summer, I hope that you are able to gather with people who foster your well-being and gladness, with thoughts that keep you questioning, and with mentors — or people you mentor — who keep you looking to what is possible as you … Go forth, Grinnellians!

Forbes “30 Under 30” Honorees

Three inspiring Grinnellians, Jen Liang ’14, Albert Owusu-Asare ’16, and Ameer Shujjah ’16 made the Forbes 2022 North America “30 Under 30” list. Liang is a portfolio manager at AIG, where she comanages more than $13 billion in emerging market debt. In 2021 Owusu-Asare and Shujjah co-founded Cadana, which helps African workers more readily access their daily wages.

2021 Wall Service Awards

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Awards, four alums have been chosen as the 2021 award winners. Tovah Flygare ’98, Alok Shah ’04, Rachel Vanwiggeren Walman ’06, and Susan Klumpner ’09 will each receive a $40,000 grant to support education, health, and environmental projects around the globe.

Lesley Wright Honored

The Grinnell College Museum of Art Leadership Council established the Wright Fund for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Projects in honor of Lesley Wright, who led the museum since its opening in 1999 and retired in December. Council members committed more than $80,000 to endow the fund, which will provide strategic and flexible projects and programming efforts.

Presidential Inauguration

Plans are underway for President Anne F. Harris' inauguration ceremony on Saturday, May 7, when she will be officially installed as the 14th president in the College's 175-year history. A livestream of the ceremony will be available that day. Visit to find up-to-date information on inauguration news and events.

Grinnell Receives $500,000 Grant

A $500,000 grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation will support two new Grinnell Clare Boothe Luce Professors — one in mathematics and statistics and one in data science. The Luce program is one of the foremost sources of support for women in STEM in higher education.

New Museum Director

Susan Baley is the new director of the Grinnell College Museum of Art. Baley, who was selected after a national search, had been executive director of 108 Contemporary, a nonprofit arts center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


New Dean of the College

Beronda L. Montgomery, an internationally recognized plant biology researcher and expert on mentoring in science, will join Grinnell in July 2022 as the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. Montgomery currently serves as a professor in the departments of biochemistry and molecular biology and microbiology and molecular genetics, as well as assistant vice president for research and innovation at Michigan State University.

Philanthropy: Career Communities Gifts

Penny Bender Sebring ’64 (LL.D ’15) and Charles Ashby Lewis (LL.D ’15) made a $500,000 gift to extend their support of the Education Professions Career Community, and a $500,000 gift from Mike and Linda Bird Powers, both class of 1967, continues funding for the Health Professions Career Community. Career communities provide students with access to specialized advising, tailored programming, skill-building workshops, and pathways to connect with alumni, recruiters, and other professionals.