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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Kington on Trustee vote

Feburary 23, 2013

To the Editors:

I write to extend my thanks to the entire Grinnell community. Over the past 18 months, we have engaged in an open, thorough and thoughtful conversation about our college’s future. This discussion has dealt with complicated issues, focusing on our fundamental priorities and values—educational excellence, equal access for the most talented students from all backgrounds, and sustaining the college’s ability to remain affordable, not just today, but for generations to come. I am pleased and grateful that so many of you wanted to be part of this important conversation. Your commitment to Grinnell is clear, and your thoughts have profoundly influenced my own thinking and the decisions of the Board.

On Saturday, the Board of Trustees voted on a set of principles that will guide our planning around these issues for the foreseeable future. This weekend’s Board vote sends a two-part message: First, the Board affirmed Grinnell’s strong commitment to need-blind admission and financial aid. Second, the trustees told us that the status quo is unacceptable. If we want to remain need-blind, we have to figure out a way to pay for this commitment without eroding Grinnell’s commitment to provide opportunity to future generations through our endowment and placing the college at long-term risk.

I firmly believe that the Board has made the right decision. They have established a model for college and university boards nationwide, by virtue of the open, thoughtful and analytical process by which they reached their decision.

This weekend’s vote does not represent the end of the conversation; rather, this is just the beginning. It is now incumbent upon the entire Grinnell community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends—to do everything we can to show that we take our roles seriously and can meet the challenge that lies before us.

The Board has given us a clear and unambiguous charge: We must find a way to maintain our twin commitments to excellence and to access while also setting the college on a financial path that is sustainable over the long term. Over the next two years, we will closely monitor a number of factors—including our academic profile, our demographic profile and financial indicators (including Grinnell’s endowment performance, fund-raising and net tuition revenue)—to ensure that we are continuing to fulfill our mission while charting a financial course that is sustainable over the long term. I believe that we are up to the challenge. But if we can’t demonstrate success by 2015, the Board will have the option to instruct the college to pursue more aggressive enrollment management strategies effective with the class enrolling at Grinnell in 2017 and reconsider our need-blind admissions policy at that time. As I have noted many times before, the entire world of higher education is clearly at an important flexion point. We face so many daunting challenges; and yet, the importance of our institutions—as centers of clear, independent thought about what it means to be human, as creators of new knowledge to help us address the important problems of society, as essential incubators in providing opportunities for social and economic mobility—has never been greater.

The conversation that our community has had can serve as an important model for others—both because of what was decided, and because of the process that led to the decision. I am inspired and energized by your commitment to Grinnell, and I look forward to working with all of you on the next part of this conversation.

Raynard S. Kington


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