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Harvey Wilhelm
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Three staff members honored with Grand Grinnellians award

Terri Stark, Brenda Strong, and Stephanie Peterson (left to right) were recently awarded the Grand Grinnellians Award for their exemplary performance and dedication.

Staff members Stephanie Peterson, Terri Stark and Brenda Strong recently received the newly created Grand Grinnellians Award.

Staff Council, a committee that advocates for the needs of staff members, was a key proponent in the creation of the award. Erika Jack, a member of the council, said that after a 2016-17 campus climate survey, staff morale was revealed as an issue. In response, she, along with the Staff Council, sought ways to recognize staff and their work to improve morale.

The Staff Council proposed multiple awards programs to Human Resources, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and other offices necessary to the implementation of an award program. Through collaboration, the Staff Council and the other parties created the Grand Grinnellians Award as a program they plan to expand in the future.

The Grand Grinnellians Award, and its prizes of a certificate of the award and an extra day of vacation, was modeled after similar awards given to staff at other institutions.

“Staff work in all corners of campus, as we all know, and this award will help highlight those individuals who do amazing work day in and day out,” said Jack.

The Grand Grinnellians Award will be awarded to three staff members every semester. The staff members must be nominated with rationale provided by a member of either faculty or staff. Members of the Staff Council and those that have received the award in the last two years cannot be nominated.

Staff Council randomly assigns each nominee a reviewer; the nominees are then ranked based on how much they go beyond normal duties in addition to how well they represent the THRIVE principles and the College. Working extra hours or doing extra work is not a requirement to receive this award.

Stephanie Peterson has worked at Grinnell College since 1999. Contributed Photo.

Stephanie Peterson was one of the recipients of the Grand Grinnellians Award. She has worked for Grinnell College since 1999 and is currently a supervisor in the Science Division Office. Peterson’s job involves helping faculty and students with logistical matters such as downloading the latest version of Minitab, reserving hotel rooms for conferences and even printing research posters.

Peterson said that one of the larger projects she has contributed to during her career was the role she played during the last major renovation of the Noyce Science Center. Her role included facilitating the communication between the faculty and staff of the building and those involved in the construction.

When asked about how she felt about receiving the Grand Grinnellians Award, Peterson said she felt honored. “There are great staff mentors and role models all over the College; I hope I can be that for someone, too,” she said.

Terri Stark has worked at the college for 25 years. Contributed Photo.

Terri Stark, administrative assistant to the athletic department, also received the Grand Grinnellians Award. Having worked with the college for 25 years, Stark said she felt surprised when she found out she had won this award.

“It’s very nice to know someone sees and values the work I do,” she said.

Her current position of supporting the Athletic Department also includes working and communicating with other campus departments, the Midwest Conference, student athletes and community members who use Grinnell College athletic facilities. Two of Stark’s goals for the coming year are to help streamline some of the Athletic Department’s processes and fulfill her job in a more effective manner.

Outside of her work, Stark said she enjoys spending time with her five adult children and seven grandchildren and attending her grandchildren’s sporting and school events.

Brenda Strong has worked with Grinnell College for 25 years. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Brenda Strong, associate director of international student compliance, also received the award. Strong has worked with Grinnell College for 25 years and currently works in the Office of International Student Affairs. Outside of her work, she enjoys spending time with her family, consisting of a husband, two adult daughters and two Siberian Husky dogs, camping, boating, playing games and attending sporting events and country concerts.

Strong’s work mostly includes regulatory compliance on the institutional and individual levels. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, her work with international students became more complex. Strong said that the difficulties international students normally faced were doubled, citing different time zones, closed consulates and closed borders as challenges international students needed support in overcoming.

Strong said that she felt honored to receive the Grand Grinnellians Award, and that her goal is to continue teaching international students about regulatory compliance and fostering a sense of belonging for international students at Grinnell.

“I want our international students to know that they are always welcome here and that we are here to support them,” said Strong.

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