Featured Events

Team Grinnell RAGBRAI riders


Grinnell College RAGBRAI Dinner
5:30 p.m.
Clear Lake, IA


Dallas Summer Picnic
3 - 6 p.m.
Dallas, TX


Multicultural Alumni Weekend
November 10 - 11
Grinnell, IA

See all events >>

News from Campus

Alumni News
The Black Experience at Grinnell College Through Collected Oral Histories and Documents, 1863-1954

Stuart A. Yeager ’85 was a student at Grinnell College when the 120th anniversary of the admission of the first black student was being celebrated in fall of 1983. Yeager gives the student body a composition that helps them fathom the life of a black student in a time when black Americans were looked at as a menace to society. Over the course of two and a half years to get the information needed for his manuscript, Yeager had personal interviews with black and white alumni of Grinnell College and towns members of Grinnell and got most of his information about the school from the students and going through documents found in the libraries. This project was inspired by him because he wanted to show his appreciation of the legacy left by black students to Grinnell College.

Yeager believes that the history of blacks in Grinnell prior to 1954 can be divided into three periods of time:

  • the ground-breaking era [1863-1913],

  • the inter-war years [1918-1937], and

  • the Hampton period [1947-1954].

During the fall of 1863, the acting principal of Iowa College was faced with a difficult decision of deciding if they were going to admit the institution’s first black student. He wrote to the Trustees for help with the decision; feelings differed between the Trustees but in the end they decided to admit the student. Although the first black student was admitted in 1863, Hannibal Kershaw 1879 became the institution's first black graduate. Today, a dormitory on East Campus is named after Kershaw. Between 1931 and 1937, the institution had only one black student on the campus, and then there was none enrolled between 1937 and 1947. To enhance the amount of black bodies on campus, the institution began the Hampton Exchange Program [1947-1954] which brought in up to three black students each spring semester. The institution enrolled forty-two students during that period. 

We encourage anyone with an interest to drop by Special Collections and look Yeager’s work in person. Special Collections and Archives summer hours are 1–4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment.

Humor, Self Control, and Honeybees Take Psychology Faculty and Students to Regional Conference

Three faculty and six students attended the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) conference in Chicago in April. Janet Gibson, professor of psychology, presented about humor and cognition. Laura Sinnett, professor of psychology, and her Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) student Han Trihn ’17 presented two posters about the construct of self control, academic performance, and the relationships between these, particularly in underrepresented students. Damian Kelty-Stephen, assistant professor of psychology, and his MAP students Jun Taek Lee ’18 and Nicole Carver ’19 presented posters on temporal structure of cognitive activities in humans and honeybees. Three more psychology majors, Alayna Costner-Withee ’19, Annie Galloway ’18, and Christine Hood ’17, were able to attend the conference thanks to donations made by alumni and friends directly to the department. They attended presentations of cutting-edge research and got to meet prominent researchers in psychology, such as Elizabeth Loftus, a world-famous memory researcher.

“The Midwestern Psychological Association Conference was the first conference that I have been to. It was three days of poster sessions, symposia, and lectures while surrounded by peers who appreciate psychology as much as I do,” says Costner-Withee. “Going to the MPA conference was important to me because it introduced me to what is currently going on in psychology. I got to meet and hear from big names in the field, and I also got to see what students like me are working on and presenting. From going to poster sessions and talks, I observed enough to know which ones were well done and which were not. I could take tips I learned and observed on the trip and use them in the future if I ever find myself presenting at a conference.

“I am extremely thankful to the generous donors who made this possible. Not only did I have the opportunity to explore the most relevant topics in my future field, but also seeing so many people present on posters and from PowerPoints makes me eager to be in their shoes one day. Being at the conference helped cement the love I have for my major, and helped keep me inspired to one day contribute to it as I saw there.”

HSSC Construction Powers Forward

The construction of the Humanities and Social Studies Complex (HSSC) continues on schedule.  The foundation and basement structure is nearly complete, with only the northeast corner left to finish. Many utility lines have been placed underneath the basement floor. Two of the four elevator shafts have been constructed. As you might have noticed, there are three cranes on site, requiring the operators to pay close attention to what each is doing in three dimensions.

Steel is being installed to support and form the first floor, and that allows the area around the basement walls to be filled in with gravel and to level the site. Note that we use gravel rather than soil to fill in outside the foundation as there is perforated piping around the base of the foundation and water percolates through the gravel to the pipe and can be drained away, rather than leaking through the foundation or basement walls. Once the steel is installed, metal decking is being attached to it and a concrete slab will be poured onto that deck. The steel beams that will form the above ground structure will be erected over the next few months, and you will be able to get a sense of the mass of the building. Once the steel structure is set, metal studs will be installed around the perimeter, followed by the exterior ‘skin’ (metal panels brick, etc.).

In general, the construction will start at the south and move towards the north. The emergency generator and major air handling equipment will be arriving soon and installed in the basement. In the near future, the Zirkle sculpture will be relocated to outside of the construction area and nearer the Noyce Science Center. The western benches around the sun dial will be removed and the construction fence will be moved a bit east to allow truck traffic around the building, inside the fence.

The geothermal wells, which will provide very energy efficient heating and cooling, have been installed in Mac Field and work is occurring to tie each of the vertical wells together. Once that is completed the field will be graded and grass will be seeded. Since the grass will take a while to become well enough established to withstand foot traffic, Mac Field will remain closed until the late spring or summer of 2018. Large pipes are being installed to connect the wells to HSSC, running underground, below 8th Avenue and into the basement of HSSC. That has been accomplished by lateral boring and not having to dig up 8th Avenue or much of the pathway. 

While construction is underway, we have been finalizing some design details such as the placement of floor boxes for AV functions and convenience power, location of tack boards and other displays, and fine-tuning corridor lighting.

More interesting facts about the construction thus far:

  • We are currently averaging 55-60 workers onsite each day

  • Over 37,000 cubic yards (nearly 400 truckloads) of spoils have been removed

  • The concrete foundation is supported by over 700 rammed aggregate piers

  • Over 2,700 cubic yards (over 270 truckloads) of concrete foundations have been placed to date

  • Over 6900 tons of rock has been delivered for backfill around basement

  • The tower crane has a radius of 230’ feet and is 148’ tall to top of mast

A live webcam showing the construction is now available (click Watch the Transformation).

This fall we will begin looking at and selecting furnishings for classrooms, public spaces, and offices. ITS will also be working with us and our AV consultant to design the AV and computer systems for the classrooms and labs. We are currently selecting a firm to assist with some of the interior, including wayfinding, donor recognition, and neighborhood and other ‘branding’ to help this building be a distinctive humanities and social studies facility.

New Finding Aid System in Special Collections and Archives

Starting July 1, Special Collections and Archives will switch over to a new online finding aid system. Unfortunately, our current system and the server on which it is housed is no longer supported. The new online finding aid is called Access to Memory, or AToM. AToM is an open source system that we believe will serve us well going forward.

We know that this will be an abrupt change for our frequent users, but we will do our best to make this transition as smooth as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the Special Collections staff at archives[at]grinnell[dot]edu or 641-269-3364.

A Sense of Community in and out of the Lab

Students doing summer research in the department of chemistry have lots of opportunities to feel a sense of community. Most of the chemistry summer research students work with at least a couple other students within a lab, even if they are working on different research goals. Each student makes a presentation about their proposed research to the department during three half-day seminars. Faculty host two department picnics at their homes. Students and faculty work together to prepare one of the weekly city community meals during the summer. And at the end of the summer, they don their matching T-shirts for a poster session communicating the results of their ten-week research projects. 

These photographs were taken during the first department picnic at the home of Erick Leggans '05, assistant professor of chemistry. The young son of a faculty member wanders away from the group to admire some bright flowers. Mateusz Pietrusiak '19 takes charge of the grill. There's a break in the conversation while everyone gathers at the picnic tables to enjoy the meal. 


See all news »

Support Grinnell

Seize the opportunity. Make your gift today.

Grinnell College Street Banner