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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell struggles with loss of Professor Jackie Brown

By Ingrid Mueleman

On July 25, the Grinnell College Community was deeply shaken by the loss of beloved biology professor Jonathon “Jackie” Brown. While conducting research in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Brown was killed in a car accident. Known for his incredible impact on the Grinnell College biology department and involvement in CERA, Professor Brown touched the lives of many students.

After releasing the news this past July, Grinnell College urged students who may be grieving to seek help. In the initial email sent by the College, contact information for Chaplain Deanna Shorb, SHAW, the Need-to-Talk hotline and the phone number where campus security can be reached was included.

As Chaplain of the College, Shorb is often faced with challenging and heart wrenching situations.

“When someone dies on our faculty [or] staff or [a] student in the student body, we have a response team,” Shorb said. In the aftermath of a crisis, college administration, Student Affairs and other college personnel band together in order to help the community recover.

Professor Brown’s untimely passing, however, has been extremely challenging for both faculty and students.

“I think part of the reason is that it didn’t happen while we were here,” Shorb said about the loss of Professor Brown. “We have not had the sense of community grieving that we usually have when someone passes. But now that we’re back on campus it’s important to respond to that grief. It’s sometimes hard to know whether students need to be reached out to, so the best way that we can think of moving forward is honoring [Brown].”

In honor of Professor Brown’s life and work, Grinnell College will be holding a memorial ceremony in Herrick Chapel at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 21. All are welcome.

“Grief is such a difficult thing,” admits Shorb. “In so many ways, it isn’t fair. It’s not something I think people can get good at. It’s so unexpected. We always have an individual relationship with the person we lost. So, it is true that there’s a community grieving. And then there’s an individual grief. And I think if people give themselves permission to grieve, it’s a much better thing than trying to bury yourself and work or avoid that process. Because I think there’s no way to avoid it. It’s important for individuals to acknowledge it, and it’s important for us as a community to come together and acknowledge it.”

The College provides several resources for those dealing with grief, including Student Health and Counseling Services at (641) 269-3230 or at the Forum Lower Level, Chaplain Deana Shorb via, (641) 269-4981 or after hours via Campus Safety, and Academic Advising at (641) 269-3792 or on the 3rd floor of the Joe Rosenfield Center on the weekdays and Need-to-Talk line at (641) 269-4404 and Dean on-call through calling Campus Safety at (641) 269-4600 on the weekends.

Editor’s Note: During the week of the memorial ceremony, The S&B will be publishing a piece in memory of Professor Jackie Brown. If you would like to speak to Professor Brown’s impact on the Grinnell College community or on you personally, please contact The S&B at [newspapr].

One of Professor Brown’s principal responsibilities was working at CERA, where he interacted with many Grinnell students and community members. Contributed
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  • K

    Kathie GoodaleSep 7, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    My heart goes out to Jackie’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Brown and to his sister, Julia Sutter, my very dear friend.. They were so kind yo me when my husband died. I know many, students, family and friends are all with them now in spirit. Kathie Goodale