Planned gift will allow more students to have global intellectual exploration

Nov. 22, 2019 — Ask Erica Tarpey ’93 where she’s been lately, and she’ll happily share insights from recent trips around the globe.

“The scenery was otherworldly,” says the Denver-based corporate attorney, when describing a brief trip last year to Reykjavik, Iceland, on her way back from Amsterdam. “It’s a place where the word ‘awesome’ is used in the true sense. Portugal was fantastic too and on my bucket list, although admittedly most places are on my bucket list!”

Erica Tarpey '93
  Erica Tarpey ’93

A French and political science major who spent a semester in Nantes, France, during her third year at Grinnell, Tarpey first traveled abroad at age 7, visiting relatives in England, Ireland, and Scotland. Since then she has visited dozens of nations and has especially appreciated the insights and cultural understanding that travel brings. To that end, Tarpey has established two funds at the College that allow current and future students similar opportunities to explore the world.

Her most recent gift is a bequest that will support the College’s Institute for Global Engagement (IGE). The Institute, established in 2016, works to advance Grinnell’s global learning goals by facilitating collaboration across academic departments, centers, and programs to promote international learning and research. The Institute includes initiatives related to short-term and faculty-led programs abroad, off-campus study, language learning, co-curricular engagement, and strategic partnerships.

The bequest came about when Tarpey decided to start with her estate planning.

“It was always in the back of my head that I needed to do it, but I just never got around to it,” she admits. Then a couple of life events got her on the phone to an estate attorney. “I was traveling to visit Grinnell classmates in the Middle East, and we were near areas that weren’t that stable,” she says. Tarpey also wanted to make sure that a family member with a disability was provided for in her will, in case something happened to her.

“I had to take into consideration how this relative’s disability benefits would be affected, and it became a whole conversation with a fantastic estate lawyer who helped me navigate different decisions. Taking care of family members is of primary importance to me, and I learned that there are plenty of ways to contribute money to schools or charities while also making sure my family is taken care of.

“I was surprised at how easy it is to do and how many options are out there. It was very much for me a way to put all the pieces together and do everything I wanted to do,” Tarpey says.

The bequest to Grinnell is in addition to her gift several years ago that established the Erica Tarpey ’93 Fund for Global Grinnell, which also benefits the IGE.

That five-year gift specifically funds ‘incidentals’ for Grinnell students who study abroad – the things that aren’t covered by financial aid, such as visa application fees, inoculations, and small side trips. “My feeling is that once you travel, if you are limited to the classroom or dorm room and can’t afford to get on the train or bus to see the mountains, beaches or a local restaurant, you are missing out on a fair amount of the experience,” she says.

“I’m immensely grateful for my Grinnell College education and the people and experiences it afforded me,” she says, “I want to give current and future students opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, for education, intellectual exploration, and creativity to prepare them for making a difference in society.”

—by Anne Stein ’84

For your information:

Additional information about the Institute for Global Engagement can be found on their web pages. To learn more about options for planned gifts, contact Buddy Boulton, Grinnell College director of planned giving, at or 641-269-3248.

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