Diversity and Inclusion: A Renewal of Grinnell’s Promise

Alumni Council News
Angela Onwuachi-Willig ’94, Allison Brinkhorst ’11, and Jeetander T. Dulani ’98

Grinnell’s Alumni Council seeks to facilitate connections among alumni, students, faculty, and staff. This spring, we discussed the need for a more comprehensive and engaged conversation related to diversity and inclusion, two longstanding core values of Grinnell College. We recognized that while the College has made great strides in increasing the diversity of its students and faculty, the College is still striving to meet its own high standards for inclusion. For example, institutional data reveals that meaningful numbers of students of color left Grinnell — graduated, transferred, or dropped out — feeling alienated and unsupported. Data also suggests that Grinnell’s first-generation college students, LGBTQ, disabled, and international students experience similar feelings of isolation. Alumni of marginalized identities have generally been less engaged with the College than Grinnell’s majority alumni community. 

In order to engage and connect alumni in these critical conversations, the council’s Executive Committee proposed creating a new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. At the time of these discussions, we had no information about the College’s plans for a new diversity framework or the decision to withdraw from the Posse program. Even so, the Alumni Council unanimously voted in favor of the proposal.

The new Diversity and Inclusion Committee, co-chaired by Jeetander Dulani ’98 and Allison Brinkhorst ’11, will work closely with Lakesia Johnson, assistant vice president and chief diversity officer; the director of intercultural affairs (once hired) and staff; and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, particularly Jayn Bailey Chaney ’05

One of our first projects will be to connect students of marginalized identities with alumni mentors. We are also committed to keeping alumni informed and engaged in Grinnell’s evolving diversity framework and plan. We are eager to hear from alumni who are interested in serving as mentors for current students or helping advance the College’s core values of diversity and inclusion. 

Today, Grinnell’s student body is more diverse than ever. Domestic students of color comprise more than 25 percent of the student body, and international students make up nearly 20 percent. Thanks to Grinnell’s commitment to meeting the full demonstrated need of every admitted student, the College remains economically diverse and has an increasing number of first-generation college students. In 2014, The New York Times ranked Grinnell second on its “Most Economically Diverse Top Colleges” list. For decades, Grinnell has also earned a reputation as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly campuses in the nation. As time passes, Grinnell’s alumni community becomes more and more diverse. 

The work of Alumni Council, and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee, aims to build on these successes and also broaden and deepen the conversation about what it means to be a Grinnellian. We look forward to continuing these conversations with all of you. 

Contact the Diversity and Inclusion Committee:

Jeetander Dulani ’98 and Allison Brinkhorst ’11

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