Six professors lauded at joyous installation ceremony

October 15, 2021 — Six Grinnell College faculty members were installed for chairs or professorships at a ceremony Sept. 30 at Herrick Chapel. These endowed positions are both an honor to the named holder of the appointment and an enduring tribute to the storied individuals for whom the professorships or chairs are named.

Please enjoy a selection of images taken during the ceremony.

The six faculty members honored were:

  • Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant, professor of education, the Louise R. Noun Chair in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies
  • John Fennell, professor of philosophy, the Wendell F. Miller Professor of Philosophy
  • Leslie Gregg-Jolly, professor of biology, the Douglas Johnson ’77 Professor of Biology
  • Leslie Lyons, professor of chemistry, the Luther and Jenny Erickson Professor of Chemistry
  • Elizabeth Prevost, professor of history, the Frederick Baumann Professor of History
  • Hâle Utar, associate professor of economics, the Sidney Meyer Chair in International Economics

Please enjoy a recording of the ceremony.

Here’s a look at the origins of each named chair or professorship along with additional information about the recipients:

Louise R. Noun Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies

The Louise R. Noun Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies is named for Louise Frankel Rosenfield Noun ’29. With a lifelong commitment to social justice and feminist activism, Noun authored four books on the history of women and feminism in Iowa in addition to prolific work and service to promote civil liberties and progressive activism. Louise’s brother, Joseph Rosenfield 1925, established an endowment in her name at Grinnell College in 1985.

Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant

Beauboeuf-Lafontant joined Grinnell’s Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies program in 2019. Her teaching includes courses ranging from women’s education to the concept of the mermaid across different cultures. Beauboeuf-Lafontant’s research explores embodied experiences of racialized gender. A recent project examined the educational philosophy of Lucy Diggs Slowe, who was a pioneering leader in student affairs administration.

F. Wendell Miller Professor of Philosophy

The F. Wendell Miller Professor of Philosophy was established in 1949 by F. Wendell Miller 1920. After graduating from Grinnell, Miller went on to Harvard Law School and practiced law in Chicago for the Santa Fe Railroad, eventually returning to Iowa to manage his parents’ farms and practice law in Rockwell City. Miller served as a Trustee of the College from 1949-1952.

John Fennell

Fennell has taught at Grinnell College for the past 19 years. His core teaching area is analytic philosophy. He studies the philosophy of language and specializes in the work of philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Donald Davidson. In 2019, he published a monograph entitled A Critical Introduction to the Philosophy of Language: Central Themes from Locke to Wittgenstein, which provided a historical re-framing of the analytic philosophy of language.

Douglas Johnson Professor of Biology

The Douglas Johnson Professor of Biology was established in 2017 by John Chambers ’77. The classmates bonded during swim team practices and served as co-captains of the 1977 conference championship squad. Johnson majored in biology at Grinnell and was particularly interested in cell and molecular biology. As a lasting tribute to his late friend, Chambers created the professorship to support students like Johnson who wish to pursue careers in medical or health fields.  

Leslie Gregg-Jolly

Gregg-Jolly joined Grinnell’s Biology Department in 1993. A molecular biologist and geneticist who studies DNA damage and repair in bacterial systems, Gregg-Jolly teaches classes in molecular biology as well as interdisciplinary, team-taught courses. She has mentored nearly 40 Grinnell student research assistants, coauthoring papers with many of them.

Luther and Jenny Erickson Professor of Chemistry

Led by Trustee Ed Senn ’79, the Luther and Jenny Erickson Professor of Chemistry was established in 2019 by a group of more than 35 alumni and friends who joined together to honor the Ericksons by making gifts and commitments to establish the professorship. Luther served as a professor of chemistry for 41 years while Jenny was director of the Forum for 20 years. Together they taught, encouraged, mentored, and supported thousands of students while also serving as pillars of the Grinnell community.

Leslie Lyons

Lyons has been on the chemistry faculty at Grinnell since 1989 and was a colleague of Luther’s for 14 years. Her teaching topics have included inorganic chemistry and instrumental analysis as well as courses for the College’s Policy Studies Concentration. Lyons’ research focuses on electrolytes, a class of ion-conducting solutions that are vital to biological, environmental, and industrial processes.

Frederick Baumann Professor of History 

The Frederick Baumann Professor of History endowment was established in 2020 through an estate gift from David Hammer ’51 and Audrey Lowe Hammer ’52. Frederick Baumann served on the Grinnell College faculty from 1927 until his retirement in 1954. He was regarded as a master teacher and scholar in history and this professorship was endowed to carry on that legacy and tradition.

Elizabeth Prevost

Prevost has taught in Grinnell’s History Department since 2004. She specializes in the history of modern Britain and the empire, modern Africa, feminism, and women’s issues. Provost published The Communion of Women, a study of missionary women in Africa during the height of European colonialism. Her current book project explores the global popularity of Agatha Christie’s detective novels and their role in shaping “Britishness” during the 20th century’s decline in the stability and power of the British world order.

Sidney Meyer Chair in International Economics

The Sidney Meyer Chair in International Economics was endowed in 1985 through a gift from the Patricia M. and Emanuel M. Papper Foundation, with the intent to promote the study of international trade and finance at Grinnell College. Patricia Papper ’50 was a Grinnell College Trustee from 1983-2003. She established this chair in honor of her father, Sidney Meyer.

Hâle Utar

Utar joined the Economics Department faculty in 2019. Her teaching focuses on international economics; one of her recent courses was about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on international trade. Utar’s research concerns the microeconomic impacts of globalization and how the larger economic environment and developments in international trade and technology affect businesses, manufacturing, and labor markets.