Linking the Community of Grinnell Alumni in London

Jeremy Shapiro

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

Share / Discuss