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The Scarlet & Black

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Jacks rehired

To many students, Marlene Jacks, who formerly worked in the Office of Admissions, was both a high school recruiter and an unofficial full-time mentor at the College. When Jacks was fired from her position at the Office of Admissions late this January, many students were left wondering who would fill her supportive role.

In the past month, Jacks, who proves her dedication to the college by commuting a total of 4 hours each day, was rehired by the College as an Intercultural Affairs Associate in the Office of Diversity and Achievement. Dottie Slick also serves as an associate.

Hired under Vice-President for Diversity and Achievement Elena Bernal, Jacks’ new position will call for her to do much of what she informally did in the Office of Admissions—namely, helping students from various backgrounds transition from high school to life at Grinnell and into their post college careers

“We’re looking at everything from the connection with admissions, and the connection with Alumni Relations and the connection with the Career Development Office,” Bernal said.

“[The Office of Diversity and Achievement] is a really small cohort of colleagues,” Jacks said. “This position will allow me to be very intricately involved from the time when students get here to their whole development, in terms of their whole profile, what they experience at Grinnell and beyond Grinnell.”

To students who raised concern at Jacks seemingly sudden departure months ago, her reappearance has eased anxieties and frustration.
“It’s just a matter, you get the students here, but what can you do to help retain the students, especially from different socioeconomic backgrounds. That was my main concern,” Charisma Montfort ’11 said.

When Jacks was fired, Montfort worked extensively from her position as President of the Concerned Black Students group to petition admissions to find an adequate replacement for her (See: The S&B, 2/19/2010).
Jacks said that in the past she had not been able to make contact with as many students as she would have liked. However, she said her new position will give the time to actively seek out students.

“Now, with my position, I’ll be able to work across campus,” Jacks said, noting that she had already begun work with the International Students Organization, Career Development Office and other groups, both student-run and institution-organized.
Students who have worked with Jacks—from visits to Chicago high schools to their time at Grinnell—agree that she was an essential part of their transition.

“I would not be at Grinnell College if it was not for Marlene Jacks,” wrote Chicagoan Scott Phillips ’11 in an e-mail. “She gave me confidence and instilled in me the motivation to be all I can be. When I’m at Grinnell and I see her on campus, it comforts me, and reminds me of my incredible journey that all started with a simple phone call.”

According the Monfort, Jacks has this effect on many students.

“Marlene is still a huge factor in a lot of people staying here,” Montfort said, attributing it to Jacks’ “open door policy.”
Bernal, Jacks and Montfort all see need for Grinnell expand the role of Jacks’ to broader campus community.

“The mission of educating students and diversifying our campus should not be left up to just one particular office of the college—it’s all of our responsibilities,” Jacks said.

“She was already working with us in many ways because of the emphases she had previously. I think we’re really eyeing an opportunity for her to maximize on her contribution to the community,” Bernal said.

Montfort realizes the burden placed on Jacks could be dispersed throughout the entire campus.

“I don’t feel like Marlene should be the only person on campus in this position, and I feel like everyone should be working towards that goal,” Montfort said.

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