20 Years of Wall

Two volunteers who served on the first Wall Award Selection Committee are back for the 20th.

Oct. 10, 2016 — This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Joseph F. Wall '41 Award. Rosenfield Professor H. Wayne Moyer and Mary Brooner '71 both served on the original selection committee and are in the midst of making this year's selection as well.

Established during the College's sesquicentennial celebration in 1996, the Wall Award serves as a tribute to the College's then 150 year tradition of social commitment. It was named after history professor and Dean of the College Joseph F. Wall '41, who is fondly remembered for inspiring an ideal of social responsibility in his students. Each year two alumni are each awarded a $25,000 prize to either jumpstart or complete a project that shows creativity and commitment to making positive social change.

“It's a really humbling experience to serve on the committee,” says Brooner. “You read the passion and dedication of fellow alumni. You read what's really important to them.” Moyer and Brooner agree that the Wall Award is a logical extension of the College's mission. “Grinnell doesn't just celebrate the good deeds of a number of their alums, it's taking the next step — and has done for 20 years — and investing in an alum's passion and mission anywhere in the world,” says Brooner.

“The committee has always brought people back to campus to interview them,” Moyer says. “Our rankings always change when we actually meet the applicants.”

Brooner also stresses the significance of having the finalists for the award return to campus and meet with the selection committee in person. “You just learn things about a person when they present their idea verbally to you,” Brooner says. “The engagement of the alum is an important part of it. The idea is that this project is very important to the alum and needs the alum if it's going to be successful.”

The selection committee narrowed dozens of applications down to five finalists, who were invited to campus during Grinnell Prize Week, Oct. 3–6. The final selection will be announced later this month.