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Six professors honored at installation ceremony for endowed chairs and professorships

Maddi Shinall
Photo by Maddi Shinall.

On Thursday, Sept. 30, six professors were honored at the 2021 Installation Ceremony for Endowed Chairs and Professorships. Each of these faculty members were installed in named chairs or professorships which have been established by alumni donation to honor Grinnellians of the past and facilitate support for the faculty to teach the Grinnellians of the future.

Held in the Herrick Chapel, the organ bellowed and light streamed through the stained-glass windows as the professors walked down the center aisle to the stage to begin the ceremony. The ceremony was conducted with an aura of richness and reverence for those being honored and the work they have done.

Anne Harris welcomed an almost full crowd, saying “Today, we are gathered to celebrate several faculty members who are passionate teachers, proven scholars and prodigious contributors to countless academic pursuits that benefit our students, and many disciplines, and communities.”

President Anne Harris emphasized her respect for the faculty recognized in her introductory remarks. Photo by Maddi Shinall.

The six professors honored are: Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant, now the Louise R. Noun Chair in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; John Fennell, now the Wendell F. Miller Professor of Philosophy; Leslie Gregg-Jolly, now the Douglas Johnson `77 Professor of Biology; Leslie Lyons, now the Luther and Jenny Erickson Professor of Chemistry; Elizabeth Prevost, now the Frederick Baumann Professor of History; and Hâle Utar, now the Sidney Meyer Chair in International Economics.

At some colleges and universities, chairs or professorships like these are rotated every couple of years. At Grinnell, however, these titles are to be held by these professors until they retire or leave the College.

For the honorees, this marks a big step in their careers, and each professor expressed a deep gratitude towards the College for their support.

“In truth, [this named professorship] is only the latest in a steady and generous stream of support that Grinnell has given me through the years, and that I hope I can give back to my own students,” said Prevost said in her remarks.

Each professor emphasized their gratitude for the community they said exists at the college.

“Thank you for [introducing] … me to new and interdisciplinary ways of knowing through allowing close connections with faculty from disparate fields. And thank you for the good, smart, curious students you bring to me, and the talented and dedicated staff standing behind me, and holding me up for our students,” said Gregg-Jolly.

Lyons and Beauboef-Lafontant both expressed gratitude at why they view as support for diversity at the College.

“Thank you to the College’s long standing support of diversity, [which] brought me and so many other woman faculty to the college in the early 1990s, in part why so many of today’s honorees are women,” said Lyons.

“I revel in what becomes possible when students can see and hear each other in classrooms, when they coin poignant phrases to name the realities that they’re seeing anew, and yes, when they come to office hours to share aspects of who they are becoming,” said Beauboef-Lafontant.

Elaine Marzluff, the Interim Dean of the College and the Breid-McFarland Professor of Science emceed the ceremony, and concluded by reminding the audience, “Endowed chairs, fundamentally, enrich the institution, not only in the present, but in ways that resonate for generations to come.”

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Maddi Shinall, Visuals Editor
Maddi is a fourth-year political science major from Iowa City, Iowa. She is likely either listening to Taylor Swift or drinking an iced chai (with oat milk) from the Grill at the moment, possibly both.
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