Campus News

Morrison Etched in Stone

Caesar. Isaiah. Emerson. Darwin. Shakespeare. Dante. Homer. Plato. Michelangelo. Goethe. Galileo.

For 115 years, these names have stood alone in the limestone of Carnegie Library, inscribed as examples of great thinkers who represented the values, aspirations, and identity of a young Grinnell College.

“I remember walking past that building and thinking that it was interesting that these names were so homogenous,” says President Raynard S. Kington. “But I also remember thinking, wouldn’t it be interesting if we could add some names?”

As the Humanities and Social Studies Center was being constructed, Kington seized the opportunity to inscribe a new name on Carnegie’s walls, one that would better and more fully represent the diversity of opinion, thought, and action of the Grinnell community as the College enters a new era.

To Kington, novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor Toni Morrison was the obvious choice. “She was an intellectual who was grounded in real life and could make this link between real life and very deep thoughts,” says Kington. “I think that that is an important message — that you do not have to think of intellectual pursuits as being somehow separate from life.”

Morrison etched on stone plaque embedded in brickwork above large windowA system for nominating additional honorees is in development so that students, staff, faculty, and alumni may select those whose lives and works represent the values of the Grinnell community.

For more information on Toni Morrison and the inscription project, listen to the All Things Grinnell podcast “Written in Stone: Toni Morrison.”

Football Continues at Grinnell

In October, Grinnell College withdrew its football team from competitive play, forfeiting the rest of the season, to protect the health and safety of the student-athletes.

For several years, President Raynard S. Kington and Andy Hamilton ’85, director of athletics and recreation, have been actively evaluating the team’s health and following national trends related to football safety. The decision last fall came as a result of a great deal of scrutiny, including an epidemiological report on team members’ injuries, Hamilton says.

While discussions were happening in the administration, the team was having its own discussions. After the third game of the season, the student-athletes held a team meeting and voted not to finish the season. Too many players were injured. It wouldn’t be safe to continue.

When Hamilton took over the director’s position in 2016, he recognized that Grinnell’s approach to football staffing wouldn’t allow the team to have enough players and have a competitive football program. Within his first year, the administration moved to enhance staffing; another round of enhancements occurred in 2019, both supported by alumni giving.

“We made significant changes again to our staffing in fall 2019 after canceling the season,” Hamilton says. “These changes will allow us to have a larger squad and a safer opportunity for football at Grinnell.” Both the president and Anne Harris, dean of the College, support the changes.

At the end of December, Hamilton announced the hiring of a new head coach, Brent Barnes. “He has experience that touches on most every area of football coaching, which is unusual,” Hamilton says. “He’s very professional, very bright. He showed an ability to relate to a wide variety of people in our department and on campus. He’ll be a good ambassador.”

Barnes started work on recruiting new players the day he signed his paperwork.

Nature, Made: Alumni Invitational

Pamela Crocket, Anchovy DanceApril 3–July 31

What happens when an artist doesn’t just represent the natural world, but makes it anew through a creative lens?

Five alumni artists work with animals, plants, and environments, crafting them into personal expression and commentary on the human impulse to alter the world around us.

The exhibition will include painting, printmaking, sculpture, and drawing by artists Fay Hazelcorn Stanford ’72, Pamela Greenblatt Crockett ’76, Aaron Rothman ’96, Regan Golden ’00, and John Martin Bell ’08.

Change Agents in Education, Arts, and the Environment

Alumni recipients of the 2019 Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Awards have ambitious plans for their $35,000 awards.

Juan Carlos Pérez Borja ’11, who founded Enseña Ecuador (Teach for Ecuador) in 2013, is developing a training program for local teachers.

Juan Castaño ’00, co-founder and executive director of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company in New York City, will use his award to present Monarcas: Stories of Inspired Immigrants, a full-length, professional dance and music performance that will debut in Queens during spring 2021.

Zoé Strecker ’88, an associate professor of art at Transylvania University in Kentucky, has focused on a long-term, social change project called Lavish! The project is a multi-media, sculptural installation on Pine Mountain that invites a deep look into biodiverse, old-growth, temperate-zone forests.

For more information about the winners’ work, see Wall Award Winners 2019.

Sustainability Efforts Employed by the College

With a new utility-scale solar installation expected to be complete by the end of May (see no. 1 below), readers may wonder what other sustainability efforts the College employs. Many are in plain sight while others are literally buried, including four geothermal well fields. This map shows where most efforts take place.Green Map numbered to match text. Same information found in online campus map Sustainibility Tour

  1. Utility-Scale Solar Installation
    The College will purchase renewable electricity from Iowa-based Trusted Energy, which is building a 4-megawatt solar installation on 18 acres of farmland adjacent to campus. It’s expected to supply 30% of campus electricity and reduce the College’s carbon footprint by 18%.
  2. Athletic Field Prairies
    Native prairie plantings are used for wildlife and runoff filtration.
  3. Football Field Irrigation
    Rainwater and HVAC condensation is collected from the Field House and used to irrigate the football field.
  4. Geothermal Well Field
    One of four well fields, this one services the Bear Center natatorium and supplies heating and cooling.
  5. Boiler Plant
    Efficient practices include monitoring exhaust to ensure most efficient combustion and a reverse osmosis machine that removes minerals from city water before entering the steam system.
  6. Residence Hall Renovations (one per summer)
    Renovations typically include all LED lighting, updating control system to set temperature restrictions, water fountains with water bottle fillers, and new windows.
  7. Geothermal Well Field
    The well field beneath Mac Field provides heating and cooling to the Humanities and Social Studies Center and the Admission and Student Financial Services building.
  8. Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center
    Energy practices include CFL and LED lighting, daylight controls, white reflective roof, and a heat recovery system that recovers exhausted heat from HVAC, refrigerators, and coolers and also heats incoming fresh air during the winter. Food waste from the dining hall is collected, processed, and delivered to a local farm.
  9. East Campus Residence Halls
    Built from Iowa limestone, these residence halls were the first to be added to a centralized building automation system, which allows for setting permissible temperature ranges. Window sensors turn off heating and cooling to rooms when windows are open.
  10. Electric Car Charging Station
  11. Solar Photovoltaic and Car Charging Station
    This 17-kilowatt solar array provides power to the electric car charging station and supplies 100% of the electricity for the student house at 1128 East St.
  12. Campus Garden
    The garden provides locally sourced food as a demonstration of self-reliance.
  13. Noyce Science Center
    Energy-saving technologies include heat reclamation, a white reflective roof, and variable frequency sash hoods with occupancy sensors. A rainwater collection system provides irrigation water for the greenhouse.
  14. Humanities and Social Studies Center
    A geothermal system heats and cools the center. All lighting is LED. Extensive occupancy sensors are tied to lighting, heating, and cooling. Rainwater is collected for flushing toilets and irrigation. Excess stormwater is addressed via a bioswale system. A green roof will be installed on a portion of the building.
  15. Admission and Student Financial Services
    A geothermal system heats and cools the building. Most lighting is LED. Bioswales, permeable parking, and a small green roof address stormwater. Visitors can use an electric vehicle charging station.
  16. Zipcar
    This self-service car-sharing is available to students, faculty, staff, and the local community.

The College has several other buildings that are not pictured on the map, such as the Grinnell College Preschool and the Conard Environmental Research Area, which have geothermal well fields and other green attributes.

Many of these enhancements were made possible by the campus Green Fund, which was established in 2015. In discussions related to the Class of 1966’s 50th reunion in 2016, David Imes ’66 suggested a gift go partly toward solar panels. Inspired by that idea, David Miller ’66 encouraged his class to make the Green Fund a priority. An anonymous donor helped fully endow the fund. In part, the money allows Facilities Management staff to respond to students’ sustainability and green suggestions.

Grinnell College National Poll Reveals Dip in Job Approval

More than half of U.S. residents say their feelings towards President Donald Trump have become “more unfavorable” since he took office, according to the newest edition of the Grinnell College National Poll, released Oct. 29, 2019.

The poll, a partnership between Grinnell College and nationally renowned pollster J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Company, showed that 56% felt more negatively about Trump, compared to 39% that feel more favorable about him since January 2017.

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing?

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing?


Excavations: The Prints of Julie Mehretu

Jan. 24–April 4, 2020

Best known for her large-scale paintings and drawings, Mehretu layers maps, urban planning grids, and architectural renderings with whorls of abstract markings and bright, colorful shapes.


Damon Davis

Jan. 24–March 14, 2020

This exhibition of work by St. Louis multimedia artist and activist Damon Davis includes pieces he completed during a month-long residency at Grinnell College during the fall 2019 semester.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Grinnell College a $1 million grant for “The Humanities in Action,” a project that will focus on curricular reform, community engagement, and career development.

“Grinnell recently made a significant investment in humanistic fields by constructing the Humanities and Social Studies Center, a cutting-edge facility for teaching and learning,” says Raynard S. Kington, College president. “We have also expanded our collaborations with our local community. The Mellon grant builds on both of these investments, helping us improve the teaching and learning of humanistic fields inside and outside the classroom.”

2019 Grinnell Prize Winner: Shafiq R. Khan

Shafiq R. Kahn at podiumThe $100,000 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize was awarded to Shafiq R. Khan, founder and CEO of Empower People. Khan and Empower People have been instrumental in the fight to eradicate bride trafficking in North India and in empowering the independence, agency, and leadership of girls and women who have been affected by this issue. He came to campus in October to share his work.

To hear Kahn discuss how he became involved in the fight against bride trafficking, his vision for the organization, what he has learned from working with survivors and other feminist mentors, and the significance of the Grinnell Prize to their mission, listen to episode 2 of season 2 of All Things Grinnell, available wherever you listen to podcasts.