Our Truths, Our Humanities

A Message from President Anne F. Harris

Veritas et Humanitas. “Truth and Humanity.” Our seldom-evoked motto is more likely today to prompt critique and conversation than to remain an unquestioned statement. “Whose truth?” we may well ask; “Whose humanity?” we would want to know. Why are these concepts singular? What changes when they become multiple? How do truths change and co-exist? How are numerous humanities honored and championed?

As the College’s website announces, and our students proclaim with their chants of encouragement during games, “Grinnellians ask hard questions and question easy answers.” We ask that of ourselves as well as of the world, and this issue of The Grinnell Magazine invites your inquiry of truth(s) and (the) humanities. Both principles connect readily to experience, and I invite you to think of your experiences, both at and beyond the College, in the narratives and discoveries that await you in these pages.

The Humanities and Social Studies Center presents a generative framework for humanistic inquiry. The HSSC, already affectionately pronounced “husk” by many students, was dedicated on Oct. 1, as one of the very few architectural projects in higher education in the United States focused on the humanities and humanistic social sciences. The teaching and learning experiences of faculty, staff, and students shaped both the community-based process of design and the architectural project of implementation. The concept of “neighborhoods” that foster interactions and exchanges is the dynamic result.

Legal structures, like architectural ones, can change human experiences — especially when different and differing human experiences (in the plural) are acknowledged. Celebrations and the continuing advocacy of Title IX legislation address the inequitable differences of gendered experience, and these pages hold for you some of the stories that are inspiring conversations and realizations on campus in events commemorating Grinnellians’ engagement with this momentous legislation upon its 50th anniversary.

The 2022 Athletics Reunion honored great moments in women’s sports history at Grinnell to mark this anniversary and inducted a new class of Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame honorees. Students and alums connected throughout the events, which is always a joy to behold. This year has also seen the return of many reunion classes, most recently the Golden Reunion classes of 1951, 1954, 1956, 1957, and 1958. Welcome back to all!

Our truths and our humanities thrive through change, and I end my welcome to you with a look towards three bright horizons. This fall, our already outstanding student body joined me in welcoming 437 members of the class of 2026 from 43 states and 37 countries. Twenty-nine percent of the U.S. students enrolling in Grinnell College’s class of 2026 identify as domestic Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, including the largest proportion of Latinx students of any entering class in Grinnell’s history. Consistent with the College’s commitment to social responsibility, the incoming class includes the largest proportion of first-generation students in recent years; 16% are the first in their family to attend college.

The class of 2026 will join with the campus community in our strategic planning process.

Its collective impact approach values everyone’s contribution to knowledge and its multiple truths and humanities. Ten generative sessions this fall will inform further collective deliberation, with eagerly anticipated alumni engagement in the spring of 2023.

I am joined in all of this work, all of this promise, and all of these truths and humanities by the remarkable senior leadership team of the College, and notably Dean Beronda Montgomery, whose transformative leadership has engaged multiple constituents and crucial conversations already, and whose presence on campus in the greater Grinnell community creates connection and discovery at every turn. I wish you both in your readership of her profile and in all of the writings in these pages, as they proclaim multiple truths and vibrant humanities.


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