No Longer Anonymous

After leaving the hospital at the age of 29, Steve Ginzbarg ’76 wanted to be treated like everyone else.

When he was hired as collections manager at the University of Alabama herbarium — a job he still holds today — he did not claim a disability.

“Only my best friends, my supervisor, and my doctors knew that I was living with bipolar disorder,” he says. “Now I feel differently about it. I’d like to share my story of bipolar disorder. I want people to know that there’s hope.”

Likewise, Ginzbarg’s philanthropic pursuits with Grinnell College and other organizations had been kept under wraps. He recently decided to shed the anonymity to share his perspective with students struggling with mental illnesses. Things can and will get better, he says.

“I would like everyone at Grinnell — especially those with bipolar disorder or those who have friends or family living with it — to know that, with the help of friends, family and a caring psychiatrist, I have been able to weather the rough times and go on to lead a happy and productive life.”

A biology major at Grinnell, Ginzbarg took a wide range of courses, such as Spanish, theatre, and music, as well as plant physiology and taxonomy with professors Lenore and LaVerne Durkee. Grinnell’s herbarium in the basement of the Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center is named the Durkee Herbarium, thanks to a past gift from Ginzbarg, Robin Chazdon ’78, and Robert Colwell. The herbarium contains a collection of plant species that have been pressed, dried, and glued on heavy paper so they can be handled and studied.

During Ginzbarg’s second year at Grinnell, he had his first manic episode. Marjory K. Daly, assistant dean of students at the time, called his parents. His father flew in from Texas.

“They had to trap me,” Ginzbarg says. “I was admitted to the Iowa City psychiatric hospital.” Ginzbarg says he is grateful to Conney M. Kimbo, then dean of student affairs, for allowing him to return to school. He also credits his roommate, Jerold Stahly ’75, and other friends who lived with him in what was called Random House in the mid-1970s, because it was filled with people with no obvious connection to one another.

“I would never have gotten a job at Alabama if I weren’t allowed back to Grinnell,” Ginzbarg says.

While his 20s were a difficult time with several hospitalizations and an episode following a study abroad trip to Costa Rica, Ginzbarg pressed on, earning a graduate degree in botany at the University of Texas at Austin and eventually landing the job with the herbarium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In 1974, Ginzbarg took a one credit session of Introductory Biology taught by professor Kenneth Christiansen. He still remembers visiting Christiansen in his office. “He showed me his Collembolas and told me about soil traps.”

When Grinnell was building outdoor learning spaces as part of the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) construction, Ginzbarg became interested in making a gift to the cause.

Ginzbarg has made gifts and pledges totaling $700,000 for the Kenneth Christiansen Learning Grove. Prior to the pandemic, classes that normally met inside HSSC and Noyce relocated to the outdoor spaces on nice weather days, and that will continue in the future.

The generosity is another testament to how Ginzbarg has weathered rough times and come through them serving the common good.

“I think that working with your therapist, your friends, in addition to education, is positive,” Ginzbarg says. “What changed in my life, now, is that I have good people to talk with about this. I want other people diagnosed with bipolar disorder to know there is light.”

Supporting Our Students Fund Eases Distance Learning

When Mikayla Kricfalusi ’20’s computer broke at her family’s home in Vista, California, this spring, she had to resort to getting class assignments and discussions via text messages from her classmates.

Kricfalusi, a biochemistry and sociology major, knew that method of distance learning was unsustainable. When she reached out to the College about the problem, Information Technology Services (ITS) quickly shipped her a laptop.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything for any of my classes without this laptop,” she says. “It was essential to continue being a student. I am so grateful.”

“To the alumni, thank you for being so generous and responsive. Community shows up in times of crises, and I am lucky to be a part of Grinnell’s.” — Mikayla Kricfalusi ’20

When the College announced March 10 it would switch to distance learning after spring break in an effort to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of students had concerns about not having the technology at home to access online classes.

The Supporting Our Students (SOS) Fund helped resolve the problem. The donor-generated fund supports immediate and ongoing student needs related to the pandemic. Gifts helped students travel home and were used to supply Wi-Fi for students without internet access at home. A total of 57 students received a laptop, mobile hot spot, or both.

As of mid-May, more than $114,000 had been raised from about 500 donors.

“In a time of great need, it’s heartening to see so many step up and provide resources to those at risk,” says Brad Lindberg, assistant vice president for enrollment. “I’m extraordinarily grateful for the generosity displayed.”

Ashton Aveling ’22 lives in California’s rural San Gorgonio Pass, where it’s not sufficiently profitable for internet service providers to extend high-speed internet access, he says. Aveling, who is studying economics with a concentration in global development studies, missed most of the first week of classes after spring break.

“It took about two hours on my home network to download a course overview document my statistics professor had sent,” he said in an April interview. “Now I have a hot spot and have been catching up. This is a brutally difficult time for everyone. Donors definitely made my life a lot easier by helping to give me and others the tools to finish out this semester. I don’t know what I would have done without the hot spot. All the libraries and coffee shops around here are closed.”

Grinnell’s Financial Aid office coordinated with Division of Student Affairs and ITS to broadcast the availability of laptops and mobile hot spots to students with financial need. Some students were able to pick up the laptops or hot spots before they traveled home. The rest of the equipment was sent through the campus mailroom, says Missy Gansen, ITS marketing and communications program manager.

“We provided instructions for students who received hot spots along with information on how to reach us for assistance,” she says. “There were very few requests for assistance, so we believe the devices were intuitive to use. This initiative is a great example of several campus departments coming together to help instructional continuity.”

Kricfalusi says she was surprised and touched by how much the Grinnell community came together to address the varied and urgent needs of students.

“To the alumni, thank you for being so generous and responsive,” she says. “Community shows up in times of crises, and I am lucky to be a part of Grinnell’s.”

To support the SOS Fund, visit Supporting Our Students.

Filling the Gap in Student Mental Health Care

“I had a wonderful experience at Grinnell in academics, socially, and playing varsity sports, and made life-long friends, but I also had occasional bouts of depression,” says Sheryl Walter ’78, a Board of Trustees member. “It has occurred to me in retrospect that I and likely other classmates could have benefited even more from our Grinnell experiences if there had been ready access to a broad range of mental health and wellness services.”

This realization inspired Walter to establish the Strategic Resource Fund for Health and Counseling Programs at Grinnell in 2017 to students on campus.

Encouraged by the success of the fund, Walter recently announced a planned gift of $1.7 million to help provide students even greater access to mental health and wellness services.

Sheryl Walter ’78 (right) and Edward Senn ’79Edward Senn ’79 and Sheryl Walter ’78 in Greece during the 2014 Grinnell Alumni Study Tour. Photo by Amy Henderson ’94

“I established the fund so that I and others can contribute to make resources available to students who might need them now,” she says. “The goal is to normalize perceptions about mental health and make it even more possible for students to reach out and ask for help if they need it, which in turn will help enhance social and academic experiences for them and the Grinnell community as a whole.”

The fund builds upon efforts of the Student Mental Health Task Force established by President Raynard S. Kington in 2016 to help the College address the mental health needs of students through expanded mental health clinical services, tele-psychiatry, and wellness programming. As a result, Student Health and Counseling Services was renamed Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) to better reflect the mission of the office and its staff, and the position of dean for health and wellness was created to lead those efforts.

Although the efforts that resulted from the work of the Student Mental Health Task Force have had a meaningful impact on campus, Walter recognized that students could benefit from additional resources. Based on her own experiences while a student, she understands what a difference such support can mean. “It is personal for me,” she says.

Walter’s gift will provide significant support that will allow the College to address the task force recommendations, which include continued enhancement of counseling and treatment services geared to the needs of the Grinnell student body, outreach and educational programs, addressing environmental and cultural factors when promoting mental health, and continued assessment of student mental health and wellness needs and evaluation of services meant to address them.

“What I hope to do with my gift is encourage others to give to the Strategic Resource Fund for Health and Counseling Programs in support of SHAW services and build on its successes to ensure there is a comprehensive mental health and wellness system in place to serve students now and in the future,” Walter says. “I also hope to help make it even more acceptable for students to get the help they may need. Making this possible will help every student thrive at Grinnell.”

Walter’s gift contributes to the Campaign for Grinnell College.

Kickstart for Class of 1970 Scholarship

In town early for football practices, Roger Roe ’70 first met his future wife, Paula Speltz Roe ’73, outside Burling Library during Paula’s freshman orientation week at Grinnell. As Roger was going into the library, he stopped, introduced himself, and asked Paula to come watch a Pioneers football game.

A half-century later, the couple still value the ideas and ideals the College taught them. They are showing appreciation through a $150,000 pledge to support an endowed scholarship, the class of 1970’s gift for its 50th Reunion celebration in 2020. The need-based scholarship will be awarded to future students.

“Higher education is a significant shared value in our relationship,” Roger says. “We thought by contributing when we did and the amount that we did, it might help kick-start the class’ efforts and motivate individuals within the class.”

Roger is a member of the 50th Reunion planning committee and served in a similar capacity during the class’s 45th Reunion. Part of his role is fundraising to accumulate sufficient funds for the class gift.

“I admire that Roger takes this on, and I really think it’s indicative of his love for Grinnell,” Paula says. “I think it’s rewarding for him because it renews relationships. He’s genuinely interested in his classmates, and this is a way to connect and catch up with what’s happened over the years since graduation.”

Roger is still close with quite a number of classmates and teammates. He lettered three years in baseball and football and was captain of the baseball team his senior year. The history major was president of East Norris Hall during his junior year.

His Grinnell experiences helped him excel in law school at the University of Minnesota and in his legal career. “Being an attorney was a wonderful, rewarding career. Without that educational foundation, it wouldn’t have happened,” he says.

While Roger was a partner at Rider Bennett and other law firms in Minneapolis, Paula served as executive vice president for compensation and benefits first at Target Stores and then at Norwest Bank, which later merged with Wells Fargo, where she oversaw the pay plans and benefit programs of the nearly 200,000 Wells Fargo employees.

A native of a small town in Minnesota, Paula says her perspective was greatly expanded by her exposure to the diversity and intellectual challenge at Grinnell. Her world was further broadened by participating in an Arts of London and Florence program.

Armed with her Grinnell history degree, Paula headed to the Twin Cities during the 1973 economic recession. Eventually she landed a job at an insurance company in Minneapolis as a contract analyst.

“As uninspiring as that first job was, it quickly led to other jobs with much more opportunity and responsibility,” she says. “There’s no doubt the writing and critical thinking skills I gained at Grinnell were immensely helpful then and throughout my career. Once started, my career accelerated as fast as I could handle — especially considering Rog and I were also parents to two active, interesting, and engrossing daughters.”

The now-retired couple lives parts of the year in Minneapolis, California (where their children and grandchildren live), and Naples, Florida, where they attend the annual January reception with Grinnell swimming and diving student-athletes.

“We’ve met a lot of current students, and they are really impressive,” Roger says. “They are thoughtful, committed, socially conscious, and reflect the values of Grinnell.

“Providing an opportunity for another qualified individual to attend Grinnell is rewarding for both Paula and me and, hopefully, an inspiration to all the members of the class of 1970.”

Team Effort

A simple lunchtime conversation over a ham sandwich is one of the many reasons Luther and Jenny Erickson are beloved by numerous Grinnell College alumni.

“Every now and then, we would come across a student that needed a little bolstering or a pat on the back,” Jenny says. “Luther and I would invite the student to our nearby house to have a ham sandwich. Those situations really endeared us to students, and we enjoyed it. Years later, our doorbell would ring, and there would be those same students. That’s the gravy when you get older — seeing your students doing well.”

The Ericksons came to Grinnell in 1962 when Luther began teaching in the chemistry department; he served as a professor for 41 years, retiring in 2003. Jenny was director of the Forum for 20 years before retiring in 1997. Together they taught, encouraged, mentored, and supported thousands of students while also serving as pillars of the Grinnell community.

A group of more than 35 alumni have joined together to honor the Ericksons by making gifts and commitments to establish the Luther and Jenny Erickson Endowed Professorship of Chemistry. The professorship will play an important, strategic role in the academic life of Grinnell College, serving to both recruit and retain generations of future faculty members who embody the characteristics so well-known and generously shared by the Ericksons.

Leslie Lyons and Luther and Jenny EricksonThe initial professorship will be awarded to chemistry professor Leslie Lyons, whom the Ericksons have known for decades. In fact, the Ericksons and Lyons were next-door neighbors when both lived on College Park Road. Lyons and her husband Lee Sharpe, associate professor of chemistry, even share the same alma mater as the Ericksons — the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Lyons will be formally installed as the Luther and Jenny Erickson Endowed Professor of Chemistry during a public ceremony in 2020.

Grinnell College trustee Edward Senn ’79 — who rang the Ericksons’ doorbell quite a few times — struck up a friendship when he worked for Jenny as a Forum desk attendant. He also had Luther as a professor. Senn sat with them at Herrick Chapel during the College’s last professorship installation. And it got him thinking.

“Luther and Jenny had a tremendous impact on generations of Grinnellians from the very beginning,” Senn says. “It hit me that naming a professorship would be a terrific way to honor them and help the College at the same time.”

Senn was not alone in that sentiment. While most professorships are set up by an individual donor or couple, Senn reached out to Kenneth ’65 and Mary Sue Wilson Coleman ’65 and Joe Oxman ’79 with a novel way of approaching the professorship — crowdsourcing. Oxman introduced the project to a broader audience of chemistry majors from the 1970s and 1980s.

“The chemistry professors there at the time — Luther, Gene Wubbels, and Roger Gurira — had an immense influence on many of us,” Oxman says. “The respect for them is still evident to this day, and there was enthusiasm about what this professorship could do for the chemistry department and student research. Luther and Jenny were inspirations to us. They were semi-parental for many.”

Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, was one of the countless students who benefited from advice and guidance of the Ericksons early in her career. She says it’s uplifting to know their legacy will carry on for future generations of Grinnellians through the professorship.

“So many people were positively touched by their lives,” she says.

As word spread about the professorship, Luther and Jenny’s phone and doorbell began to ring even more.

“Having this professorship in our names is an honor, and we do appreciate it,” Luther says. “It has put us in touch with more of our former students.”

“And it has put them back in touch with each other,” Jenny adds.

Serving Others

During the 1960s, Grinnell’s Program for Practical Political Education (PPPE) flourished, sponsoring elaborate mock political conventions in Darby Gym and bringing to campus a long list of luminaries, including former Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Those early PPPE experiences set the tone for a distinguished public service career for Grinnell College trustee George Moose ’66 and formed the backdrop to the discussion at an informal dinner Moose and his wife Judith R. Kaufmann had in March in Washington, D.C., with 16 Grinnell College students. The students were participating in a tour sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

Moose and Kaufmann, both career public servants with experience in senior policy positions with the U.S. State Department, met while in the Foreign Service. He served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Benin and to the Republic of Senegal. He later served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs and as the U.S. permanent representative to the European office of the United Nations in Geneva.

Kaufmann served as director of the Office of International Health Affairs and is now an independent consultant on diplomacy for global health.

“Our experiences overseas and in Washington, D.C., made us intensely aware of the need to support the development of students who will be our next generation of policymakers and practitioners, and to equip them with the knowledge and understanding to pursue public service within an ethical framework,” Moose says.

Last fall, Moose and Kaufmann made a planned gift commitment of $840,000 to endow the Program for Experiential Learning in Public Policy. Administered by the Rosenfield Program, the gift’s principal purpose is to encourage students to consider careers in public service as well as to help ensure that students can afford to participate in related career development opportunities.

One area of specific support is the reinvigoration of the PPPE. The College plans to establish revised goals for the PPPE that include promoting interest in public service and enhancing the free flow of ideas important for strengthening U.S. democracy.

“It’s especially meaningful to be able to advance PPPE’s programming to celebrate and enhance opportunities for public service,” says Barbara Trish, director of the Rosenfield Program.

While the endowment will be established through their planned gift, Moose and Kaufman also are supporting the fund directly with annual retirement plan distributions during their lifetimes. These gifts are making an immediate impact. 

The fund helped pay for 16 students to travel to Washington, D.C., on the Rosenfield Program’s international affairs study tour. 

The spring break tour included visits and meetings with people in the Pentagon, Swedish Embassy, World Bank, and several other offices that deal with global affairs. 

Kate Goddard Rohrbaugh ’91, a program analyst for the Peace Corps' Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning, hosted a panel of four former Peace Corps volunteers who served in China, Kenya, Albania, and St. Lucia. Antonio DiMarco ’18 hosted a visit to the Cadmus Group, a strategic and technical consulting firm with a portfolio that includes global issues. Greg Thielmann ’72 hosted the group at the Arms Control Association, an educational organization that attempts to ensure bipartisan involvement in arms control. 

For his part, Moose hosted a visit to the United States Institute of Peace, an organization that Congress established in 1984 to promote the prevention and resolution of international conflicts.

“The whole study tour on foreign affairs was in perfect alignment with what George and Judith have accomplished and continue to strive for in their careers,” Trish says. 

She is also directing some gift funds to support professional development awards for Rosenfield summer interns. 

“We know that the commitment to a career in public service sometimes involves sacrifices, so we hope that offering a little financial support toward that end might make the path a little easier,” she says. 

New Biology Chair Created

Guillermo Mendoza served as a pre-med adviser to hundreds of future physicians during his distinguished 34-year teaching career at Grinnell College. 

A gift from his son, Dr. Carlos Mendoza ’72, celebrates Guillermo’s legacy as professor, adviser, and researcher. This planned gift of $4.25 million will create the Dr. Guillermo Mendoza Endowed Chair. The new position in the biology department will be awarded in the future to a faculty member with exceptional academic, scholarly, and teaching achievements. 

Carlos himself was a pre-med/biology major at Grinnell. He recalls vividly his father’s recommendation to take advantage of the wide curriculum choices offered at Grinnell and diversify his intellectual interests. He took that advice, minoring in art history and studying abroad in Florence and London, providing him with flexibility in all pursuits.

“I thought Dad nailed it when he said get the heck out of the science building and educate yourself in different areas so you are not intellectually too focused in your career,” Mendoza says. “He was absolutely right. I think that trend continues 50 years later as Grinnell continues to produce pre-med graduates that are diversified in their education and interests. That advice is as good now as it was back then.”

Born in Mexico City in 1909, Guillermo Mendoza moved with his family to California in 1914 during the Mexican Revolution. He went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees at Northwestern University while working part time for University of Chicago professor Samuel Stevens. It was during this time that he married Olivia Coronado.

Guillermo started teaching zoology at Northwestern in 1940, the same year Stevens became president of Grinnell College. Three years later, Stevens recruited Mendoza to join the faculty.

A zoologist specializing in the study of a variety of freshwater fish unique to central Mexico, Mendoza’s long academic career included research and teaching biology, comparative anatomy, embryology, genetics, histology, and electron microscopy. He published numerous research papers, held offices in professional societies, and served as chairman of the department of biology and the division of natural sciences at Grinnell College. He held the position of Stone Professor of Biology from 1961 until he retired in 1977. 

Carlos attended medical school at the University of California San Diego, which his older brother, Dr. Guillermo R. Mendoza ’68, had also attended. After completing his training, Carlos voluntarily enlisted and served in the Army for three years as a staff cardiologist. Then followed 30 years in private practice. In 2012, he retired from medicine to his 200-acre farm north of Denver, where he remained busy with successful hay and llama-breeding businesses. 

Mendoza made his gift to Grinnell by contributing his farm to a charitable remainder unitrust, which provides him immediate tax benefits as well as lifetime retirement income following the farm’s sale. The remaining value of the trust will eventually establish the Mendoza Endowed Chair.

As long as Carlos can remember, Grinnell College was an important part of his family’s life. 

“We lived on the edge of campus,” he says. “We talked about the College at the family dinner table and attended Grinnell functions. Because the College was a huge part of my life as a kid and a young adult, the decision to give to Grinnell is a logical way to pay back and acknowledge the pivotal role the College played in our lives as a family.” 

If you would like to learn more about supporting Grinnell College with a life income gift, please contact Buddy Boulton, director of planned giving, boultonb[at]grinnell[dot]edu, 641-269-3248.

Learning Outdoors

In many ways, outdoor learning at Grinnell College was already synonymous with celebrated biology professor Kenneth A. Christiansen

“Anything and everything was of interest to him, particularly his research outdoors,” says Anne Spence ’66, a former College Trustee and student of Christiansen’s. 

Anonymous donors to Grinnell College are honoring the memory of Christiansen with a gift of more than $750,000 for outdoor learning spaces adjacent to the new Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC). The learning areas are scheduled to be complete by June.

“The gift of outdoor learning spaces to memorialize Ken Christiansen is perfectly aligned with the teaching and learning focus of the HSSC and the environmental strategy of the College’s landscaping project,” says President Raynard S. Kington. “It is a fitting tribute to Ken’s distinguished teaching and research career at Grinnell, as well as his deeply valued relationships with students and colleagues.”  

In 1955, Christiansen began a storied career at Grinnell. His courses included general biology, zoology, evolution, ecology, sociobiology, invertebrate zoology, insect biology, parasitology, and marine biology. In 1962, he was named the Harry Waldo Norris Professor of Biology and in 1994 he became professor emeritus. Christiansen died in November 2017 at the age of 93.

“He was a biologist and a naturalist,” Spence says. “He could talk about birds, plants, insects, and animals. Along with Ben Graham [professor of biology, deceased], he helped find the spot for the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). Having outdoor and teaching spaces combined is absolutely perfect for him.”

The outdoor learning spaces will be built next to the HSSC South Pavilion, south of the plaza that runs between the HSSC and Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center. Classes regularly meeting inside the HSSC and Noyce will have the option of quickly relocating to outdoor spaces. 

Four outdoor learning areas will accommodate up to four classes at once. The spaces are designed with sound configurations in mind so that audible disruptions will be kept to a minimum. The raised seating and lowered adjoining areas create a cove effect with a walkway running between the coves. The spaces will be accessible and have technological capabilities, thanks to the installation of electrical utilities. 

The outdoor learning area is part of an overall landscaping plan that encompasses the new Admission and Student Financial Services center, as well as areas along Park Street and Mac Field. 

“The outdoor learning spaces perfectly intertwine teaching with our efforts to develop landscaping that provides a strong sense of place and adds to the beauty of our campus,” says Jaci A. Thiede, vice president of development and alumni relations. “It also ties in so well with Professor Christiansen’s passions and interests. We are grateful to the alumni and friends who are honoring him with their philanthropy and in doing so, helping his spirit and love of Grinnell’s learning opportunities benefit generations of Grinnellians in the years ahead.”

Diane Christiansen ’81 expressed the family’s appreciation for the importance and appropriateness of the memorial gift. “It means so much for others to acknowledge my father in a way that illuminates his deep love of the natural world,” she says.

A Leg Up

Since 2010 Grinnell College has partnered with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit organization that connects high-achieving, low-income high school students with educational opportunities. 

“These students are otherwise hard to reach through more traditional recruiting methods like high school visits and college fairs,” says Sarah Fischer, director of admission. 

QuestBridge guides high school students through the whole college search process and helps them prepare a strong college application. Through QuestBridge, qualified high school students apply to and then rank the colleges they would like to attend. In turn, the Grinnell admission team examines which candidates they would like to select for admission. If there’s a match, the student is offered what amounts to binding early admission with a full scholarship. During the past three years, 46 students were matched to the College through QuestBridge. 

“We strive to enroll a class that represents a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and the partnership with QuestBridge has allowed us to attract a lot of outstanding students who come from lower-income backgrounds,” Fischer says.

The College covers 100 percent of the comprehensive fee for QuestBridge Scholars. This currently amounts to more than $260,000 over four years per student. While admission leaders enthusiastically embrace the benefits of QuestBridge, it does come with a financial cost. 

That’s where John Pilgrim ’65 and Anne Young Pilgrim ’65 have stepped up. The Durham, North Carolina, couple created the Pilgrim QuestBridge Scholarship Fund, pledging $65,000 over five years to offset a portion of the expenses.   

“Anne and I feel very committed to doing what we can to make the Grinnell student body today more economically diverse and to assure that all Grinnell students, regardless of their economic circumstances, can take full advantage of all the educational opportunities Grinnell offers,” John Pilgrim says.

By implementing this new type of scholarship fund, the Pilgrims hope to encourage other donors to consider making similar gifts. 

“The national policy is increasingly directed against low-income people and low-income students,” John Pilgrim notes. “This is intensified by the steady, significant rise in income inequality over the last 40 years. QuestBridge is one small step in the opposite direction. It fits our values, it fits Grinnell’s resources, and it’s our pleasure and privilege to make a small dent in the finances.” 

Questbridge participants

“The QuestBridge focus on the identification of talented low-income students from across the United States helps Grinnell realize its three fundamental commitments to academic excellence, diversity, and social responsibility,” says Joe Bagnoli, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid. “We are grateful to John and Anne for their support of these students and look forward to working with other alumni to serve more QuestBridge Scholars.” 

Linking the Community of Grinnell Alumni in London

Everyone has a memory from Grinnell College where they couldn’t stop laughing, says Daniel Malarkey ’08

Maybe the memory is from a time at a dining hall or staying up late after drinking way too much caffeine. It’s a feeling of simple joy.

“I want us to have that sense of joy from being in each other’s presence,” Malarkey says. “Grinnell alumni often have common goals due to our social activism. To reach those goals, there’s more power in having a connection within a community. I want us to come together as a team. We may not agree on everything, and that’s fine. But we all can work together.”

Creating connections in London

In October Malarkey hosted a reception at the Groucho Club in London’s West End with staff visiting from Grinnell’s Institute for Global Engagement and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Faculty, staff, and students in the Grinnell-in-London program attended, along with alumni from across the United Kingdom. Malarkey also hosted a Grinnellian community brunch in December at the David Gill Gallery, where he is the director. The gallery is well known for art and furniture by leading contemporary artists including the late Dame Zaha Hadid and American artist Michele Oka Doner.

Since London is one of most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Malarkey sees great potential in creating more opportunities for Grinnellians to gather via events and speaking engagements by tapping into the great intellectuals, writers, and thinkers in the city. Events also could continue to incorporate the students studying in the Grinnell-in-London program.

“Grinnell is not just a four-year experience,” he says. “It’s a community of people who share something. This community ranges from 18 to 100 years old. To give money is not just about giving back to Grinnell. It’s about creating connections where a global community is working together toward common goals.”

A truly global education

Malarkey knew right off the bat that Grinnell College was serious about global education when he was allowed to defer his admission for a year so he could travel to France. During that year, Malarkey became fluent, which set him up to create an “umbrella plan of study.” His degree was in French, but underneath it he learned about literature, theatre, art, and history.

“I meet individuals in the art world, whether it’s collectors, artists, curators, or museum directors, where things come up in conversation that relate to history, literature, and languages,” he says. “What Grinnell did is give me a platform with super intelligent professors to create a lot of knowledge and ideas, which I use every day.”

Malarkey says understanding French cultural references, cinematic history, and literature allows him to find commonalties with people in the art world with whom he interacts. That global experience has become invaluable and is one of the reasons he has decided to make a yearly gift to support Grinnell’s global initiatives. 

Grinnell students’ cultural proficiency will be deeply affected by their ability to understand the local people and customs, whether it’s in London or a small town in Lithuania, Malarkey says. The Institute can help students get a sense of how different cultures and people operate. 

Malarkey invites Grinnellians living in London to be a part of building a strong College community there. London residents who are interested in connecting with fellow Grinnell alums can email Anna Halpin-Healy ’13, assistant director of alumni relations for regional programs, at halpinhe2[at]grinnell[dot]edu