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!