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News from Campus

Alumni News
Grinnell College Honors Alumnus Who Co-founded Latino Political Network


Robert X. Barron ’02, who co-founded the Latino Political Network, recently received the College’s Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Award. Barron plans to hire a full-time staff member for LPN with the $30,000 award.


A non-partisan organization, LPN strives to educate and empower Latinos to serve at all levels of elected office throughout Iowa. Iowa continues to become more diverse, but the elected leadership does not yet reflect this diversity. LPN is the only group in Iowa committed to the organization and civic empowerment of Latinos, Barron says. He brings extensive political expertise and experience to LPN after working for many years for former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a democrat from Iowa.


The Des Moines Register describes LPN as a “refreshingly grassroots political interlude, focused on the most basic leadership roles that touch our everyday lives. … Instead of the big-picture bluster of the Iowa caucuses presidential horse race, this was a close-up view of its undercurrents: This effort hopes to generate enough momentum for a larger wave that eventually sweeps more Latinos into the Legislature and other higher offices.”


“I am honored by Grinnell College’s faith in me and support of the work of the Latino Political Network,” Barron says. “This award gives the LPN a transformational boost for our work to educate and empower new leaders in Iowa. As a proud alumnus, I am thankful to the faculty, staff, and my fellow students for providing me with a learning environment that was both challenging and nurturing. My work since graduation is a testament to their impact on me.”


In addition to co-founding LPN, Barron is special assistant for government and community relations to Grand View University President Kent Henning. In this role, Barron represents Grand View before elected officials and works to build relationships with the community on behalf of students, faculty and staff. A native and resident of Des Moines, Barron has served on the Des Moines School Board since 2013 and recently was elected to a new four-year term.


As part of its sesquicentennial celebration in 1996, Grinnell College established the Wall Service Award as a tribute to the College’s 150-year tradition of social commitment. The award was named in honor of Joseph Wall ’41, who inspired his students to embrace the ideal of service through his work as a professor of history and longtime dean of the College.







On the Origin of Species, 1st edition, by Charles Darwin


On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life







Special Collections and Archives







Book Talk by Autumn Wilke, Assistant Dean for Disability Resources


Autumn Wilke, Assistant Dean for Disability ResourcesAutumn Wilke, Assistant Dean for Disability Resources at Grinnell College, will speak about the book Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach. Wilke collaborated on the book with three other scholars of education and social justice.


The book talk is free and open to the public. It will begin at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, November 16th, in Burling Library lounge, 1111 Sixth Ave., Grinnell. Copies of Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach will be available for purchase.


Rauscher and McClintock (1997) explained that throughout history ableism has functioned to Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach“create an environment that is often hostile to those whose physical, emotional, cognitive, or sensory abilities fall outside the scope of what is currently defined as socially acceptable” (p. 198). Campbell (2009) added that ableism equates able-bodiedness with normalcy and by contrast, disability is viewed as abnormal, dependent, and deficient. Rather than attempting to “fix” people with disabilities so that they will “fit” into an ableist society, advocates of the social justice model promote addressing the oppressive culture so that all individuals are accepted as they are (Castañeda & Peters, 2000; Nocella, 2009).  A social justice approach explicitly recognizes and challenges the ableism present in society.  A social justice approach enables educators and practitioners in higher education to contribute in an inclusive, respectful, and comprehensive manner to ensure that all students feel that they are welcomed and valued on campus (Aune, 2000; Kalivoda & Totty, 2003).  On November 16, Autumn will discuss systemic manifestations of ableism present on college campuses, impacts on disability identity development, and lessons learned through the writing of Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach. 




Autumn K. Wilke completed her M.Ed. in Higher Education with an emphasis on social justice from Iowa State University and a Master’s certificate in Postsecondary Disability Services from University of Connecticut. Autumn is the co-author of the book, Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Perspective and currently works as the assistant dean for disability resources at Grinnell College. Autumn was the primary author on the chapter "Disability Identity Development and Multiple Aspects of Identity" and is currently the lead investigator on a grant funded research project on identity development and engagement factors for students with disabilities.







Writers@Grinnell: Lynn Powell


Award-winning poet Lynn Powell will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, Nov. 16, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The reading will begin at 8 p.m. in  Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.


In addition, Powell, who teaches in the creative writing program at Oberlin College, will lead a roundtable discussion at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 209. The discussion will focus on teaching imaginative writing, specifically the work of the Oberlin Writers in the Schools program, which Powell directs. This nationally recognized program engages Oberlin students in teaching creative writing in local schools.


Both events are free and open to the public.


Powell is the author of three books of poetry, including Season of the Second Thought, winner of the 2017 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Her poems have been published in many journals, including Poetry, the Georgia Review, and the Paris Review, and anthologized in 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and The Norton Introduction to Literature.


Her book of nonfiction, Framing Innocence, won the Studs and Ida Terkel Award from the New Press. Her other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.







Students, Alumni, and Faculty Present at Central States Anthropological Society in April, 2017


Students, alumni, and faculty presented at Central States Anthropological Society in April, 2017.


Students included:


  • Denise Ruvalcaba ’19: “Parental Gendering Practices for Infants Under Two Years”

  • Tiffany Matzas ’19: “Changing Channels: A Case Study of Subversive Masculinities in Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe”

  • Moya Roarty ’19: “Infant Technology Consumption: Who Supports It and Why?”

  • Misha Laurence ’18: “An Epistemological Comparison Between Two Paradigms of Medical Cannabis Use”

  • Nadia Graese ’17: “Finding a Voice: Speech and Voice Therapy for Female-to-Male Individuals”

Alumni that presented were:


  • Claire Branigan ’11: “Memory and the Ni Una Menos Movement in Argentina”

  • Branigan is getting her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign 

  • Scott Olson ’15: “Configuring Brotherhood: Leather, AIDS, and Memories of Kinship”

  • Olson is getting his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa

Faculty that presented were:


  • Brigittine French: “Remembering Tammy Zywicki: The Specter of Feminicide in the Americas“

  • Shuchi Kapila: “Postmemory and Historical Trauma in the Indian Partition of 1947”






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