Campus News

Fulbright U.S. Student Grants

Four Grinnell seniors — Valencia Alvarez ’20, Madeline Nelson ’20, Allie Pearce ’20, Kate Perry ’20 — and two alumni — Ben Binversie ’17 and Sophie Neems ’16 — received Fulbright U.S. Student Grants for research/study and teaching English in 2020–21. For more than 70 years, Fulbright grants have provided future American leaders with opportunities to study, conduct research, and teach abroad.

New chief diversity officer named

Schvalla Rivera was named Grinnell’s chief diversity officer and associate vice president of diversity and inclusion in July. As a member of Grinnell’s senior leadership team, Rivera will work closely with the president on institutional planning, developing short- and long-range strategies, policy development, and problem-solving.

Gateway public art project

A new “Grinnell Crossroads” art project welcomes people to the community by commemorating Grinnell’s history and celebrating its intersecting lives and histories. The piece, designed by artist Walter Hood, features ornate wooden structures that echo the walls of homes and a carriage house that originally stood on the site. The paths in the small park are reminiscent of the walkways on the College campus, where students have crossed paths for generations.

‘We hope that we can bring a little Grinnell to you.’

A student wearing her mortar board cap watched her virtual Commencement on campus at the empty stage.Grinnell’s class of 2020 was scattered around the globe for Commencement ceremonies, but faculty and staff stood on the familiar ground of Central Campus to address new graduates. “We hope that we can bring a little Grinnell to you,” College Chaplain Deanna Shorb said from Grinnell’s Commencement stage. The prerecorded remarks from speakers were delivered in an online event on May 18.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, associate professor of sociology Sharon Quinsaat urged students to become “active agents of transformation,” using the crisis as a way to imagine and create a better world. And Anshul Tambay ’20 reminded his fellow graduates that “this big world needs our small-school love.”

To see the full remarks, including personal messages from graduates, visit Virtual Commencement 2020.

Care Package Project Connects Campus and Alumni Communities

Box with hand printed note that says So much goodness in this little box... just for you!Students flocked to the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center in February to receive alumni care packages. The three-day event was part of a collaboration between the Everyday Class Notes (ECN) alumni Facebook group and the Student Alumni Council (SAC). The annual tradition began in 2014.

Under the guidance of the members of ECN, alumni from all over the world participated, sending goodies and special letters. On the distribution days, alumni joined SAC members at the distribution tables. In total, 1,304 packages were distributed.

To participate in the 2021 project, visit the ECN Care Package Project page on Facebook.

Editor's Note Summer 2020

As this issue’s content was being finalized, George Floyd was killed by a police officer, sparking protests across the country and around the world about racial injustice. To read about Grinnell’s response and plan of action, visit our Racial Justice Response.

Key Stats


Amount awarded to Nicole Eikmeier, assistant professor of computer science, and two colleagues from Bard College in a National Science Foundation grant for their research on COVID-19. The trio will build upon existing models to understand the complexity of social spread within the population. It is the first grant that Grinnell has received as part of the NSF’s Rapid Response Research program, which is designed for urgent research needs.


Students who received a laptop, mobile hot spot, or both to support their distance learning during spring semester as part of the Supporting Our Students Fund.


Faculty members awarded tenure at the Board of Trustees meeting in May. They are: Dean Bakopoulos, philosophy; Leif Brottem, global development studies; Charlotte Christensen, physics; Christopher Jones, special collections; Kirsten Koester, physical education; Mark Laver, music; and Eric Ohrn ’07, economics.

With Remote Learning, Grinnell Is Everywhere

On March 30, Grinnellians across the globe started a new chapter in their undergraduate experience: distance learning. Even under these challenging conditions, Grinnellians and their families found a way to stay connected.

What started as an idea in a Facebook group became an outpouring of support for students. With “remote campus” locations popping up across the country and around the world, Grinnellians were able to find a way to be a community no matter where they were.

Reunion Updates

For updates and details on rescheduled 2020 Reunion events, please visit Reunion.

Anne Harris Named Grinnell President

On July 14, the Board of Trustees announced their unanimous decision that Anne F. Harris would be the 14th president of Grinnell College. Her appointment comes after an extensive and rigorous national search which, despite the challenges of the pandemic, yielded expressions of interest from sitting presidents, provosts and deans at peer institutions, and resulted in more than 30 multi-round interviews.

Harris, who joined Grinnell in 2019 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, has been an important member of the president’s senior team during recent challenging months. Her career in higher education includes more than 20 years in various leadership positions as a faculty member and eventually as vice president for academic affairs at DePauw University, where she was a respected art history scholar, teacher, and mentor.

David Maxwell ’66, chair of Grinnell’s Board of Trustees, notes that Harris brings an inclusive, consensus-building leadership style to her new role. “She has demonstrated not only outstanding leadership, but also a nuanced understanding of and passion for the College’s mission and core values.”

Grinnell Magazine will include more coverage of President Harris in future issues.

Alumni, Students, and Families from China Donate Equipment

When it became clear that personal protective equipment (PPE) would likely be in short supply in Grinnell, students, their families, and alumni from China stepped up. “As part of the Grinnell community, we feel like we have a responsibility to help people in Grinnell who need medical care,” says Zhenzhong “Jack” Xing ’23, who along with Xinya Yang ’20 spearheaded an effort to donate PPE to the College and community. “In China, we have the ability to buy this kind of protective equipment; we are obliged to do this.”

As of mid-April, Xing, Yang, and 150 others had come together to donate more than 13,000 pieces of PPE. They had also raised more than $10,000 to purchase PPE items.

Sarah Smith, the project lead and the College’s director of outreach programs and events, says the effort has highlighted Grinnellians’ desire to take care of others in need. “It’s been really well received by everyone in the community,” she says. “We are very thankful for the donations.”

To read the full story, visit “Alumni and families from China send thousands of face masks to Grinnell.”