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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Harvey Wilhelm
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New administrators welcomed to Grinnell

Jason Maher comes to Grinnell after many years spent working in higher education. Photo by Ying Long.

Every beginning of the school calendar brings something new and this year, Grinnell added three high-profile staffers to the campus community: Michael Latham, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, Shane Jacobson, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations and Jason Maher, Registrar of the College. 

Michael Latham: Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.

Dean Michael Latham graduated from Pomona College in 1989 summa cum laude with a degree in History, specializing in U.S. foreign relations in the twentieth century. However, Latham says that the most important piece of information he learned as an undergrad cannot be found in a textbook or primary document about the Cold War. 

“The largest lesson I ever learned [in college] was this: that college is less about finding out what you are good at and much more about discovering what you actually care about, and what truly matters to you,” Latham wrote in an email to the S&B. “That is what the liberal arts are also ultimately about, too.”

After four years at Pomona, where he ran track and cross-country, Latham stayed on the West Coast, earning a Master’s in 1993 and Ph.D. in 1996 from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

In the same year, Latham began working at Fordham University in New York City as a history professor and worked his way up to the position he held until this past summer: Dean of Fordham University’s Fordham College.

The Honolulu native is especially intrigued at the possibilities surrounding progressive educational opportunities, such as student research, interdisciplinary study and the use of digital media in the liberal arts and at Grinnell.

“Grinnell has a truly outstanding faculty, some of the best students in the world and resources that most schools could only dream of,” he wrote.

Latham shared his hopes to increase student retention and link academic and student affairs, as well as taking advantage of the school’s residential campus. He is also an avid cyclist and believes that RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa, is in his future.

 Shane Jacobson: Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

After growing up in Iowa, attending Iowa State University and subsequently working at Iowa State for nearly a decade, Shane Jacobson began working at the University of Vermont as the Vice President for Development and campaign manager in 2011. But after three years in the Northeast, he has back home to Iowa.

Jacobson grew up in Webster City, a town the same size of Grinnell but 100 miles northwest. Jacobson added that he’s happy to be back home.

“Joining one of the nation’s top liberal arts schools, with a mission such as ours, and knowing that it sits in my home state is a dream,” Jacobson wrote in an email to the S&B.

In his career, he has worked in many facets of higher education, including admissions, alumni programming, gifts and campaign management.

“In Vermont, I was recruited to help launch a robust fundraising and alumni engagement model that desperately needed attention,” he wrote. “I learned that building the ship as we row takes the commitment of an entire institution—growing a culture of engagement and philanthropy is a contact sport.”

Jacobson hopes that in his role, he will increase the giving of “time, talent, treasures and ties” from alumni in order to benefit the school.

“I believe investments in Grinnell have a high return because they can forever impact the lives of our students, faculty and staff,” he wrote.

Jason Maher: Registrar of the College

Jason Maher comes to Grinnell after many years spent working in higher education. Photo by Ying Long.
Jason Maher comes to Grinnell after many years spent working in higher education.
Photo by Ying Long.

Jason Maher first started work at the College on Monday, Aug. 25, in the midst of New Student Orientation, a whirlwind of activity for the Registrar’s office with first-year students signing up for classes and the add/drop period following shortly.

“It was a baptism by fire,” Maher recalled.

But if Maher seems comfortable on a college campus, it’s because Grinnell is not his first school. Maher has spent most of his life in higher education and is equipped with extensive experience as Grinnell’s new Registrar. 

Over the course of 12 years, Maher attended Illinois State University, Hunter College in New York City, the University of Minnesota and graduated from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul with a degree in liberal arts, working full-time throughout and taking years off between school. He then went to Hamline University for his Master’s.

Each time he left a college, he was searching for something more. Now, he hopes to bring whatever that is to the College.

Most recently, Maher worked for the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities as Associate Registrar. The association was responsible for linking five colleges in the Twin Cities with each other.

“[My time there] really helped me develop a holistic view of an institution,” he said.

At Grinnell, he will continue to refine the online registration process that the school has adopted and hopes that the Registrar’s office can be a place where students enter with a problem and leave with a solution. 

“I had a mentor that called the registrar the conscience of the institution. And I’ve sort of always stuck by that,” Maher said.

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