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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Raynard Kington visits campus, talks 2010-2011

President-to-be Raynard Kington, made his much anticipated second visit to campus this past Sunday and Monday. He spoke to students in the JRC 101 at 7 p.m. on Sunday, then to staff at 9:30 a.m. on Monday and finally faculty at 2 p.m., both of which were in the South Lounge.
All three meetings were meant to be Q&A sessions, in which the Grinnell Community could gain a better understanding of who Kington was and what his plans were for the College.

Kington’s last time on campus was Feb. 24, when Chair of the Board of the Trustees David White ’90 announced his presidency to a packed Herrick Chapel. He was received to much fanfare and made appearances across campus throughout the day.
However, as the current Deputy Director at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Kington’s stay was necessarily short. Furthermore, as he has continued to work at the NIH, his contact with campus has been limited.

The session with students felt informal as chairs were arranged in a giant circle, with Kington sitting at one of them, putting him on a level playing field with the rest of the students. Meanwhile, the other two sessions adapted a far more formal feel with him standing at a podium and the audience in rows.

Along the lines of the relationship between students, faculty and staff, the issue of a lack of transparency was raised in all three Q&A sessions.

“All three groups asked to be more transparently integrated into the process for the development of policies and for making decisions in the administration of the College,” Kington said. “All three groups also asked for better communication about how decisions are made and the rationale for final decisions.”

Sociology Professor Kesho Scott asked Kington how he thought his experience as a black man and an administrator who must resolve policy issues will allow him to produce an environment of civility and respect for others.

Kington responded by discussing how if you don’t give everyone the same chance then you will lose out on a lot of valuable minds, and thus it should be a college’s goal to accept students need-blind.

“Dr. Kington answered my question by pointing out that he will draw on his multiple experiences, ‘As always being an outsider,’… to make the kinds of decisions that will help us do our job better and push the mission of the College forward,” Scott said. “I thought it was informative and honest and drawn from his philosophical and operational goals approach to the kind of leadership he intends for the College.”

Gustavo Arambula ’10 asked Kington about how he viewed scholarship programs such as Posse, which provides full scholarships to several dozen students on campus, and whether he would try to promote these even more as President.

“The fact that he spoke about how it’s a waste that all those minds aren’t going to college, he showed a very positive attitude towards it,” Arambula said. “I feel that although he can’t make any definite declarations—as he’s not the president yet—he still showed that he’s really thought a lot about bringing in a more diverse background of students when he is President.”

At the student session, Aurora Quinn-Elmore ’12 started the forum by asking about Kington’s research regarding college drinking and how that would play out in his new role as president.

He stressed that the goal of his past work on issues of alcohol consumption was not to ban drinking from college campuses altogether, but rather find a healthy balance. “Self-governance has been distinctive part of experience here,” Kington said in the student Q&A, adding that he would allow that policy to shape attitudes towards alcohol on campus.

Finally, the President stressed how enthusiastic he was about looking ahead to August and how impressed he is already with Grinnell. “What attracted me to this institution, was one its strong academic quality, but two its social consciousness and its commitment to make this world better.”

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