1,400 alumni and guests returning to Grinnell College for 143rd Reunion weekend

May 24, 2023 — Grinnell alumni from 54 different classes – ranging from 1956 to 2023 – are set to take part in the second largest alumni gathering in the College’s history. 

Grinnell College’s 143rd Alumni Reunion Weekend is taking place June 1-June 4 throughout numerous venues on campus as well as in and around Grinnell. At last count, 1,400 guests have registered to attend (988 alums along with family members, friends of the College, and faculty and staff). 

Reunion 2023 is anticipated to be the second highest attended Reunion, trailing only the 2014 version. Alumni return to the College to rekindle connections with classmates, enjoy lively conversations and events, explore the campus and city of Grinnell, and revisit their past.

Alumni pose for a group picture at the 2022 Pioneer Athletics Reception.
The Pioneer Athletics Reception is one of numerous events taking place during Reunion 2023. The event features current and former Pioneer coaches and athletes.

This year’s Reunion classes celebrating milestone reunions are the classes of 1953, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2013. Alumni from any class are always welcome and some alums attend every Reunion as part of the GRA/EY – Grinnell Reunion Any/Every Year – contingent. This year’s registered attendees are from all 50 states, Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 11 foreign nations: Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland.

“We can’t wait to welcome back about 1,000 alums spanning eight different decades,” says Jayn Bailey Chaney ’05, director of alumni and donor relations and co-interim vice president for alumni and development. “Reunion brings together alumni and friends from all over the country, and even the world, to celebrate the people, places, and principles that make us uniquely Grinnell, so it will be exhilarating to have such a substantial and lively gathering of Grinnellians on campus during these four days.”

As usual, Reunion weekend is brimming full of activities, enlightening sessions, parties, and family fun. In addition to the reuniting and reminiscing that goes on at every reunion, attendees will have a variety of event options to choose from throughout the weekend. 

On opening night, Thursday, June 1, there will be a Multicultural Reception, Music in the Park with the band Marc Janssen ’97 and the Locals, and welcome events for each class or cluster. 

Friday is a full day of activities. Some of the options attendees can take part in include Bike Ride Around Grinnell, a trip to Conard Environmental Research Area, the Pioneer Athletics Reception, and a Grinnell Stories TED-like talks session hosted by the classes of 1967, 1968, and 1969. There will be several open houses around campus including one at the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) that features guided faculty tours and a Science and the Liberal Arts Panel and Poster Session.

The Friday evening Reunion Block Party is back by popular demand after debuting last year. The party includes numerous food trucks, yard games, activities, and entertainment. Class socials, Drag Show, and a midnight bakery run complete the Friday fun. 

Lester Alemán, Alumni Council past president, speaks during Alumni Assembly last year.
Lester Alemán, Alumni Council past president, speaks during Alumni Assembly last year. This year’s Assembly, featuring the presentation of the 2023 Alumni Awards, will take place at 4:30 p.m. June 3 in Herrick Chapel.

Saturday is another chock-full day with 28 activities listed on the Reunion schedule. Highlights include a Real Talk with Grinnell Faculty panel, two events about Edith Renfrow Smith ’37, and Mac Field Chill Time. 

Everyone will come together for the Alumni Assembly at 4:30 p.m. in Herrick Chapel. The event will include an address by President Anne F. Harris, an alumni choir performance, and Alumni Council members will present Alumni Awards. The Council selected 14 recipients this year who have distinguished themselves by their service to their careers, their community, and/or the College.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Mary Knuth Otto ’63
  • Lorie Hill ’68
  • Susie Kaeser ’69
  • Bob Eckardt ’73
  • Irma McClaurin ’73
  • Rod Sinks ’81
  • Kristin Layng Szakos ’81
  • Rick Stuck ’82
  • Cameo Carlson ’93
  • Kartik Sheth ’93
  • Suyog Shrestha ’06
  • Emily Guenther ’07
  • Cynthia Dominguez ’12
  • Joy Sales ’13

Both the Real Talk with Grinnell Faculty panel and Alumni Assembly will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person. 

After Assembly, an all-Reunion BBQ dinner will be held. A Grinnell College Museum of Art reception and a dance party round out Saturday’s events. A farewell brunch and interdenominational worship service Sunday morning close out the weekend.

The planning for Reunion 2023 started more than a year in advance and involved countless hours by 148 Reunion Class Committee volunteers.

“Reunion is a time to gather, reconnect, and help our alums nourish and celebrate their enduring connections to each other and the College,” Chaney says. “We could not do it without the incredible partnership of our Reunion committee volunteers, our terrific student staff, and our faculty and staff partners across campus. We are really looking forward to a meaningful and exciting weekend celebrating our diverse and incredible alumni community.”

While advanced registration for Reunion 2023 is closed, alumni still can register in person at the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center (JRC) during Reunion. A late fee will be applied, and some amenities may not be available.

Alumni who have already registered also should make their first stop the JRC, 1115 8th Ave., to pick up materials. The registration and help desks will open at 8 a.m. on June 1 and be available throughout Reunion.

— by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Curious about who has registered to attend Reunion 2023? See the list of registrants. Attendees also can view the schedule, read a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and stay up-to-date on Reunion news, view photos, and share their experiences on the Reunion 2023 Facebook Event page. A Reunion app is in development and should be available when Reunion gets underway.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.