Alumni College

Alumni College 2020 has moved to a virtual format that will be made available for participants during the summer and fall of 2020. Head over to the Virtual Alumni College page to learn more.

Alumni College 2021 will be announced in January 2021. At this time, several options are being considered including a possible virtual format or an Alumni College session after Reunion 2021.

What is alumni college?

Alumni College is an immersive, “return to the classroom” experience, occurring the Wednesday and Thursday before Reunion. About 100-125 Grinnellians and guests return to campus to attend Alumni College each year. It provides the chance for participants to re-experience the intellectual stimulation of the classroom with Grinnell College faculty and alumni. The lectures, experiential exercises, and occasional fieldtrips revolve around a theme, which seeks to ground everyone’s experience.

Alumni College begins with breakfast on Wednesday, followed by the opening lecture that morning. The final lecture is on Thursday afternoon culminating with dinner in the Marketplace Dining Hall and the Multicultural Dessert Reception in JRC 209.

Listen to what a few Alumni College participants have to say about their experiences:

“It’s like a mini Elderhostel in a familiar setting, my college!” —Dorothy Mielke Dickinson ’42

“Alumni College is a perfect way to extend my time on campus during Reunion. Being a student again makes it an intellectual, as well as a social, time.” Jane Egan Lloyd ’62

“What a great experience to listen to stimulating lectures and to interact with dynamic professors and bright students, just for the intellectual fun of it – and not to worry about tests and grades!”Jim Randall ’66

“A joy – recapturing the intellectual, emotional, and social discoveries all Grinnellians experience!”Maria Elizabeth Walinski ’92

Plan to come back to Grinnell for a few days before your Reunion to spend time in the classroom. Engage your mind, and those of fellow Grinnellians, as you interact with faculty to discover and challenge the world in which we live. Alumni College is a chance to learn for learning’s sake, amongst friends.

Alumni College is open to alumni, family members, and friends. The cost of Alumni College includes lectures, seminars, and activities. Meals are also included and are selected specifically by the Grinnell College Executive Chef to complement and encourage discussion and add to the atmosphere of intellectual immersion.

Registration opens the first week of February each year.


Previous Alumni College Topics

Alumni College 2019

Newbery Honor winning, American author, Jacqueline Woodson said, “Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.”

In August of 2018, Grinnell College launched its comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion Plan. At Alumni College 2019, participants had the opportunity to take a deep dive into some of the research being generated by our own Grinnell College faculty and study the issues that affect our students, our communities, and our lives. The group focused on connecting with others, learning from each other’s stories, and understanding what it means to truly celebrate diversity. Participants were able to walk away empowered with new knowledge and awareness of these important topics.

Alumni College 2019 Faculty

Leah Allen, assistant professor of gender, women's and sexuality studies
Xavier Escandell, associate professor of anthropology
John Garrison, associate professor of english
Leslie Gregg-Jolly, interim chief diversity officer; professor of biology
Stephanie Jones, assistant professor of education
Kelly Maynard, associate professor of history
Wayne Moyer, professor of political science; rosenfield professor
Gemma Sala, associate professor of political science

Alumni College 2018

Lectures and seminars offered at Alumni College 2018 examined the problem that is truth. We explored the meaning of truth and how it has evolved and changed. And we looked at how truth can be defined in multiple ways and what that means for our lives now and in our future.

Alumni College 2018 Faculty

Dustin Dixon, assistant professor of classics
Harold Kasimow,
professor emeritus of religious studies
Daniel P. Reynolds,
professor of German, Seth Richards Professor in Modern Languages
Lakesia Johnson,
associate professor of gender, women’s and sexuality studies, assistant vice president & chief diversity officer
Karla Erickson, professor of sociology
Sam Rebelsky,
professor of computer Science
John Fennell,
associate professor of philosophy

Alumni College 2017

The outcomes of recent elections illustrate there is an intense difference of opinion on many critical issues facing our country. The way we use language, the way we view and interpret data, and even the way we call ourselves to action can seem worlds apart. Are these differences irreconcilable? How did we get here and where do we go from here? How can we be hopeful and rise above these differences? Alumni College 2017 took a deeper dive into these questions and sought to find answers that create understanding, empower and educate, helped us realize empathy for the “other,” and searched for ways we can bridge the gap.

Alumni College 2017 Faculty

George Drake '56,  president emeritus of the College and professor emeritus of history
William D. Ferguson '75, Gertrude B. Austin Professor of economics
Douglas Hess '91, assistant professor of political science
Barbara A. Trish, professor of political science
Johanna Solomon, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Peace Studies

Alumni College 2016

Food sustains us, it binds us to each other, it provides a foundation for us culturally and intellectually.

Alumni came back to Grinnell and examined food like they probably never had before. They explored food as culture, food as ritual, food as choice. Along the way, they looked with new eyes on the decisions made about food, the way other cultures use food to sustain and identify, and the way our food, and our interaction with it, is changing and evolving.

Alumni College 2016 Faculty

Mark Levandoski, professor of chemistry
Todd Armstrong, professor of Russian
Leslie Lyons, professor of chemistry
Mark Laver, assistant professor of music