Featured Events

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D.C. Summer Picnic
1-3 p.m.
Virginia Highlands Park


Reunion 2018
Join us on campus
May 31 - June 3


New York Summer Party
2-4:30 p.m.
Ellington in the Park

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News from Campus

Alumni News
Writers@Grinnell: Jamel Brinkley

Award winning author, Jamel  Brinkley, will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 13, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

In addition, Brinkley will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. September 13, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 209.

Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man: Stories (Graywolf Press/A Public Space Books). His fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Best American Short Stories 2018, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Epiphany, and LitMag. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he was also the 2016-17 Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. His work has received support from Kimbilio Fiction, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Summer Workshop, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Beginning this fall, he will be a 2018-2020 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018

It was great day for the 172nd Commencement of Grinnell College, which began at 10 a.m. on Central Campus on Monday, May 21.

The College celebrated its class of 2018 at this year’s Exercises of Commencement, Monday, May 21. The ceremony, in which approximately 380 seniors received their Bachelor of Arts degree, featured an address by Celina Karp Biniaz ’52 and the awarding of honorary degrees.

About Grinnell’s Commencement

Join us as we celebrate our newest graduates.

You can view schedules, maps, and more  with the Grinnell College Events app, available for iPhone and Android devices.

  • live stream of the commencement ceremony began at 10 a.m. CDT (GMT -05:00). The ceremony is now available on our YouTube channel, and higher quality of the main speeches will be posted in the next few days.

  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter: #Grinnell2018.

  • Share your photos on Instagram: #GrinnellCollege or #Grinnell2018.

  • To view highlights of the day, follow the College on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Snapchat (username: grinnellcollege). 

About Celina Karp Biniaz ’52

Celina Biniaz Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz ’52, the youngest person on Oskar Schindler’s list, gave the commencement address at her alma mater. During the commencement ceremony, Biniaz was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Biniaz, whose story was mirrored in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler's List is a key supporter of Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation. The organization has collected more than 50,000 video testimonies and survivor stories from Nazi Germany’s attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Six million Jewish people perished along with millions of other Europeans.

Two days after the Germans surrendered in 1945, the Soviets liberated Biniaz’s concentration camp: Auschwitz, the most notorious of the death camps, where an estimated 1.1 million inmates were killed. Biniaz, who was 14 and weighed only 70 pounds, hitchhiked to her hometown of Krakow, Poland, with her parents. They fled to Slovakia after Jews were attacked in a pogrom, and Biniaz attended school in a convent there until May 1947, when her family emigrated to the United States.

Her uncle from Des Moines met the family in New York City and drove them to Iowa’s capital city. Biniaz graduated from North High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Grinnell College in 1952.

She continued her studies at Columbia University, where she received a master’s degree in education and met Amir Biniaz. The pair married and moved to Long Island, where Celina Biniaz began her long and distinguished teaching career, retiring in 1992.

Silent about her Holocaust experiences before the release of Schindler’s List in 1993, Biniaz was inspired by the movie to tell her story. Since then she has been sharing her recollections and the lessons she learned. Despite the horrors she witnessed, Biniaz says hate is corrosive and stresses the importance of moving forward in love.

Additional Honorary Degree Recipients

Grinnell College  also conferred honorary degrees upon three other accomplished individuals:

Chase Strangio ‘04 received an honorary Doctor of Laws. A staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and AIDS Project, he is lead counsel for the ACLU team that represents U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Strangio also works on other high-profile transgender rights cases, including that of Virginia high-school student Gavin Grimm, which garnered national headlines.  

James Holbrook ’66 received an honorary Doctor of Laws. Holbrook is honored for his extensive work in negotiation, including mediating civil rights and health care disputes, and teaching mediator and arbitrator skills around the United States and in India. His work has earned him major awards from the Utah Council on Conflict Resolution and the International Academy of Mediators. The longtime trial lawyer currently is a faculty member at the University of Utah.

Tracey Menten, who teaches English and writing at Omaha Central High School in Omaha, Nebraska, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Her students who have gone on to attend Grinnell College describe her as "inspiring," "encouraging" and "dedicated." In 2014, she received the Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award, given to exceptional educators in Omaha public schools.

Writers@Grinnell: Deborah Whaley

Award-winning artist, curator, and author Deborah Whaley will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, April 26, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 4:15 p.m. at the Periodic Table, in the Hotel Grinnell, 925 Park Street, Grinnell. 

Deborah Elizabeth Whaley is currently senior scholar for digital arts and humanities research for the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio (DSPS) and professor of American and African American Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research and teaching fields include the institutional history, theories, and methods of American and transnational American studies, 19th century to the present cultural history, comparative ethnic studies, black cultural studies, popular culture, the visual arts, digital humanities, and critical theory.

Her most recent book is Black Women in Sequence: Reinking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime (University of Washington Press, 2015), which won an award from AAUP for its graphic design and book cover. BWiS explores graphic novel production and comic book fandom, looking in particular at African, African American, and multiethnic women as deployed in television, film, animation, gaming, and print representations of comic book and graphic novel characters.

Winners of the spring writing contests will be announced at this event!

Grinnellians Meet Moles at ACS National Meeting

Every spring, chemistry and biological chemistry students who have done research projects and faculty from Grinnell College attend the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Twenty-four Grinnell students presented their research during poster sessions. There were also opportunities to attend exhibitor fairs, hear a wide variety of technical talks, and network with people (including some alumni) who have chosen careers in chemistry.

The 2018 meeting in New Orleans focused on food, energy, and water.

Renowned Author Stephen Kuusisto to Give Memorial Lecture

The second annual memorial lecture honoring Armando “Mando” Alters Montaño ’12 will feature renowned author Stephen Kuusisto, a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright scholar, whose new book, Have Dog, Will Travel, has just been released by Simon and Schuster.

The lecture on Tuesday, April 10, will honor the memory and spirit of Montaño, a gifted journalist who died at the age of 22 in June 2012 in Mexico City, where he was working as an intern for the Associated Press. His parents, Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño, plan to attend the lecture, which they endowed, again this year.

Kuusisto, who is noted for his creative nonfiction and poetry, will read from his work at 8 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell.

“Stephen Kuusisto is a fiercely intelligent, wildly funny, and incredibly big-hearted writer,” says Dean Bakopoulos, co-director of the Writers@Grinnell series and a former professor of Montaño’s. “His work is a wonderful example of the perceptive, imaginative, and fearless writing that Mando cared about so deeply.”

In addition to Have Dog, Will Travel, Kuusisto has authored two other memoirs, Planet of the Blind (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening. He is also an acclaimed poet, and his poetry collections include Only Bread, Only Light, and Letters to Borges.

A frequent speaker in the United States and abroad, Kuusisto teaches at Syracuse University, where he holds a professorship in the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. He formerly taught at the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, and Hobart and William Smith colleges.

In addition to the lecture, there will be a roundtable discussion about creative nonfiction with Kuusisto and Tessa Cheek ’12, a classmate of Montaño. It will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. Both the discussion and lecture, sponsored by Writers@Grinnell, are free and open to the public.

Cheek is a writer, reporter, and candlestick maker living in Ridgway, Colorado. She holds a master’s of fine arts from Hollins University, where she served as a teaching fellow, graduate assistant, and assistant poetry editor of the Hollins Critic.

She edits copy for the Groundhog Poetry Press and directs social media for political literary magazine Scoundrel Time. She has reported from Colorado’s Capitol and served as news editor for a small-town paper. In 2017, her novel-in-progress won the Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel and her short story, “The Devil’s Terrible Nearness,” was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and a Pushcart Prize.

Armando Montaño ’12

The Armando Alters Montaño ’12 Writers@Grinnell Endowment Fund has been established by the parents of Armando “Mando” Montaño ’12, who died in June 2012 while working as an intern with the Associated Press in Mexico City.

Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño have created the fund through a bequest to Grinnell College. The fund will support the Writers@Grinnell program in memory of their son’s dedication to nonfiction and fiction writing, journalism, and the creative process.

Armando Montano image   Armando Alters Montano image


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