2015 Alumni Award Recipients

Marilyn McCool Hampton '44

The Grinnell experience lasts four years. But its impact is designed to last a lifetime.

As a student, this alumna majored in speech and psychology. Outside the classroom, she participated in drama, women’s government, and student council. While at Grinnell, she also met her husband, Kent Hampton '42.

After graduation, she worked at a bookstore. She has two sons, one of whom, Kent Hampton '69, attended Grinnell. She went on to volunteer for many organizations, including the local county historical society, Campfire Girls, and the League of Women Voters.

Grinnell was never far from her mind. In addition to volunteering as a Class Agent, this alumna spent 32 years as a Class Fund Director. She is currently a Class Committee member. And she has been a frequent attendee at Grinnell events both on and off campus.

Her impact on Grinnell will last for generations to come. As an Asa Turner Associate, her bequest to the college will provide resources to future generations of students, whom she hopes will love Grinnell as much as she does.

For a lifetime of dedication and service to her alma mater, and for her commitment to Grinnell’s future students, we are pleased to recognize Marilyn McCool Hampton '44.

Roberta (Bobette) Brown Sanders '45

After Grinnellians graduate, they may scatter like seeds in the wind but they never truly leave Grinnell.

In her 20 years as Class Agent, Bobette has helped Grinnellians feel as close to each other, and to Grinnell, as they were when they were students on campus.

A sociology major at Grinnell, Bobette wrote for the newspaper, worked on the yearbook, and participated in the drama club.

After graduation, she spent five years working as director of training and employment for the Midwest region of the Liggett Drug Company. She spent years focusing on raising her children, then went on to spend nearly 15 years working in sales at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus in New York.

During that time, she also took on many volunteer responsibilities, including work for the American Legion Auxiliary and Congregational church groups.

A longtime supporter of Grinnell and a regular attendee at Reunions, Bobette became even more involved with the College in 1995, when she took on the Class Agent role for her class. Classmates praise her frequent thought-provoking letters and personalized notes. More recently, she has assumed Class Agent duties for the classes of 1944 and 1946.

For helping Grinnellians maintain and strengthen the bonds they developed during their four years on campus, we are proud to honor Roberta “Bobette” Brown Sanders '45.

Thomas K. Marshall '55 (posthumous)

Building a great community—whether it is a college or a town—requires more than just people. It requires a clear vision, thoughtful leadership, and significant resources.

This alumnus has combined all of these elements to help make communities, including Grinnell’s, stronger and more connected.

At Grinnell, this alumnus was an English and journalism major. He was a three-sport athlete and participated in many campus activities.

He spent more than 20 years working at Connecticut General Insurance Corporation. While in Connecticut, he was a member of The Greater Hartford Jaycees and, through this organization, co-chaired the Insurance City Open, a PGA tournament in 1965. He returned to Grinnell in 1982 as a vice president for development. During his 10 years as an employee at Grinnell, he helped strengthen the College through his exceptional fundraising skills and alumni leadership.

This alumnus also built the foundation for a stronger Grinnell community and improved town-gown relations. In 1989, he founded—and served as president of—the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation. Since its inception, the foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support county-related causes, including affordable healthcare, park improvement, and education.

This alumnus has been a committed volunteer and board member for many Grinnell organizations, including the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, Grinnell United Way, and the Grinnell 2000 Foundation.

For his tireless work to build stronger ties among residents of Grinnell and employees, alumni, and students at the college, we are pleased to honor Thomas K. Marshall ’55.

Nancy Norris Ross '56

For many of us, volunteer work is something we pursue only sporadically.

But for this alumna, it has been a full-time, lifelong calling. Her deep and long-lasting connections to volunteer groups have made a profound impact.

As a student, she participated in women's government and sang with The Tanangers. She met her husband, Robert Ross '53 at a Grinnell party in Omaha during her junior year.

She went on to raise a family in Harlan, Iowa, including a son, Scott Ross '81, and daughters Ann Long and Lynn Ross Cope. She became the first woman to serve on Harlan's City Council in 1975, a post she held for five years. She has been a committed volunteer to many organizations, including the Harlan Community Library Board, the Harlan Recycling Center, the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission, and the State Library Commission. She received the Chamber of Commerce's leadership award for service to the community.

Grinnell, too, has been a longtime beneficiary of her volunteer efforts. Over the course of more than 50 years, she served as her class's first Class Agent, a member of the Advisory Council, and a member of the Alumni Board of Directors. She has worked as a Class Committee member and an Admission Representative.

For her lifelong work to make a positive difference in her community, state and for her alma mater, Grinnell is pleased to honor Nancy Norris Ross '56.

Paul H. Patterson, Jr. '65 (posthumous)

Scientific breakthroughs require more than just big ideas. They also demand years-long commitments to testing and building upon bold hypotheses.

This alumnus achieved remarkable successes in the field of neurobiology by pursuing high risk, high payoff science. And his work may prove to be the foundation for understanding and treating conditions including autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

At Grinnell, this alumnus majored in biology. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University.

He spent 10 years working as a professor at Harvard Medical School before becoming a biology professor at the California Institute of Technology. His students and advisees praise his warmth and wise mentorship.

His research was both original and ambitious. Early in his career, he studied cells known as peripheral neurons, and his research showed that these cells’ identities are neither absolute nor genetically determined. This finding was a fundamental discovery in neuroscience.

His later work included studying molecules known as leukemia inhibitory factors. These molecules have important implications for diseases including multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

This alumnus’s body of research has led to advances in our understanding of how the brain develops, and the importance of the connections between the brain and immune system on disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. His colleagues call his work “pioneering,” “audacious” and even "disruptive," since he challenged conventional knowledge in order to bring positive change.

For his strength as a teacher and for his groundbreaking work as a researcher, Grinnell is proud to honor Paul H. Patterson Jr. '65.

Micheal (Mick) W. Hager '65

Powerful teaching doesn’t always happen in the classroom. For this alumnus, educating others about nature and natural history has moved to increasingly larger stages: from classrooms, to museums, to films seen by millions.

After earning a degree in biology from Grinnell and a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Wyoming, this alumnus spent several years as a professor at Augustana College. He went on to become the director at the Museum of the Rockies, a post he held for more than 10 years.

In 1991, he accepted the position of president and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. During his tenure, he pulled the institution out of a financial slump and doubled its size. This alumnus, who jokingly refers to himself as “chief fossil” of the museum, has added nationally recognized programs and boosted the museum’s reputation.

Since 1998, he has also served as president of the educational film production company CinemaCorp of the Californias. He was executive producer of Ocean Oasis, an award-winning film that explores the biology and geology of Baja California. He was senior adviser to Becoming California, a PBS documentary currently being broadcast nationwide. He serves on the boards of organizations including the Elementary Institute of Science and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership.

For helping tell the important stories of our planet to encourage appreciation and conservation, Grinnell is pleased to recognize Michael “Mick” W. Hager '65.

Diane F. Alters '71

Great journalists know that the stories they write are, in some ways, never finished. There is always a way for the story to continue through transformation and change. Through her own exceptional work, and through the profound loss she experienced after the death of her son, this alumna has helped generations of people understand and tell powerful stories.

As a student, this alumna was a history major and a writer for the S&B.

After graduation, she went on to work as a journalist and editor at news organizations across the country, from the Seattle Times to the Boston Globe to the Denver Post. She has helped develop the increasingly important online platforms for newspapers. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder and is currently a lecturer at Colorado College. In 2014, she was a guest editor at the New York Times Student Journalism Institute.

In 2012, this alumna’s son, Mando Montaño ’12, passed away while following in his mother’s journalistic footsteps, working as an intern for the Associated Press in Mexico City. The day before he died, Mando Skyped in to her class to talk to students about the relationship of social media and reporting. In the face of this stunning loss, and through her teaching, this alumna found a powerful way to honor his life. She created the Armando Montaño Memorial Fund. The fund supports the work of alumni journalists who share their talents with S&B staffers in diverse ways.

For her work at the top journalism institutions in the nation, and for her deep generosity that resulted from an unimaginable tragedy, Grinnell is proud to recognize Diane F. Alters '71.

Jean M. Kummerow '71

For centuries, philosophers have tried to help us answer one of life’s essential questions: “Who am I?”

For some of us, part of that answer boils down to just four letters: ENTJ. ISFP. These letters are the essential elements of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, which helps people more deeply understand themselves and how they make decisions. And there is no one who understands these assessments better than this alumna, who is one of the world’s foremost expert on, and teacher of, Myers-Briggs.

This alumna graduated from Grinnell with a degree in sociology, and earned a Ph.D. in counseling and student personnel psychology from the University of Minnesota.

She worked as a counselor at the University of Minnesota and as a consulting psychologist for a private organization before founding her own company in 1990. Her vast expertise in Myers-Briggs, which includes award-winning articles and books, has led to extensive work with the Blandin Foundation’s Community Leadership Program and an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

This alumna does important volunteer work, including teaching classes at Pathways Minneapolis, a health crisis support center and helping GED students learn writing skills. She has also been an active volunteer at Grinnell, serving as a Class Fund Director and on the Alumni Board.

For her world-class expertise on this important psychological tool, and for her efforts to help others learn from it, Grinnell is proud to recognize Jean M. Kummerow '71.

® MBTI is a registered trademark of the Myers & Briggs Foundation in the United States and other countries.

Sam Perlman '90

Good communities thrive, in part, because they have members who are committed to giving back—in many ways—to make them better. This alumnus has been deeply dedicated, through his career and volunteer work, to making his hometown and his alma mater great.

This alumnus majored in music at Grinnell. He wrote record reviews for the newspaper and recorded concerts for the music department. He was a two-term Student Government Association Concerts Chair.

After Grinnell, he worked in sales and marketing in the music business in Chicago and New York before moving to Wisconsin. For the past 11 years, he has served as the economic development manager for the Door County Economic Development Corporation.

In his position, this alumnus has oversight of critical initiatives that ensure the area’s success, including workforce housing, telecommunications infrastructure, and other community development programs. He is a board member or volunteer for numerous local and statewide organizations, including Door Shakespeare, the Wisconsin Economic Development Association, the Door County YMCA, and Door County Habitat for Humanity.

He has been equally devoted to Grinnell. Since graduation, he has served as Grinnell’s Alumni Council President and member of the Board of Trustees. He has volunteered as a Class Agent and is a Class Committee member. He been a strong supporter of Grinnell’s fundraising efforts.

For his consistent work to build great communities in many forms, we are pleased to recognize Samuel B. Perlman '90.

Alison N. Beckman '96

Every year thousands of torture and war trauma survivors from around the world arrive in Minnesota. Because of their beliefs or identity, they have suffered from beatings, rape, and death threats. This alumna has spent her career helping these men and women rebuild their lives.

At Grinnell, this alumna majored in sociology and worked as an intern at Domestic Violence Alternatives. After Grinnell, she earned a master’s in social work from the University of Minnesota.

Over the course of more than a decade working as a psychotherapist and a clinical supervisor for the Center for Victims of Torture, she has worked directly with nearly 400 torture survivors from 20 countries. She was part of a team that set up torture rehabilitation services in refugee camps in Guinea, a project that received the International Humanitarian Award in 2006. Her work, said one client, is about more than healing: it is about “putting the soul back in the body.”

Perhaps even more important, this alumna is working to scale her important work to heal torture survivors. She has trained nearly 2,000 people across the nation, from lawyers to medical professionals, to work effectively with torture survivors. In her current role at the Center for Victims of Torture, she is managing a project testing a model of integrated mental health care for refugee survivors in primary care clinics that could be replicated across the country. She also co-created a manual for social workers and psychologists to replicate the CVT’s 12-week curriculum for survivors.

For her important and often life-saving human rights work, we are pleased to honor Alison N. Beckman '96.