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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

First Year VP gets busy Early

Beth Halloran, the new Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations, has only been on campus for three months, but in that time she has already begun a 30-city tour of the U.S. with President Raynard Kington, joined the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and identified several areas of improvement for the college.

Beth Halloran

“I’m just spending this full year getting to know the alumni, getting to know the college, and getting to know how we can engage the alumni more,” Halloran said.

Halloran’s job responsibilities span two services vital to the continued success of the College. In her capacity as head of Alumni Relations, she is responsible for simply giving Grinnell alumni the chance to engage with the current campus and with each other. As head of Development, she is responsible for soliciting philanthropic donations from those who are willing and able to give. She is careful to distinguish between these two different, albeit related, responsibilities.

“They are siblings to each other, part of the same family, but you would never mistake one for another,” Halloran said.

When looking for a new VP of Development and Alumni Relations, the College reached out to Halloran because she has experience working with the institutional development as well as a commitment to community outreach.

“My undergraduate degree and graduate degree are in social work. … In that role you’re really dealing with people’s needs and finding resources to plug them in,” Halloran said. “I thought it would be interesting to look at the other side of the equation where you have people with resources who are looking to make a difference.

After working in development for Mayo Clinic, where she had been a social worker, Halloran took a position at the University of Michigan to pursue a career in development at an institution known for its fundraising capabilities. When she was approached by Grinnell College last year, she saw a chance to put her skills to use in a community that shared her values.

“I’ve always been a long-distance admirer of Grinnell because of the social justice, social equity background,” Halloran said, “I thought this was a great opportunity [for] fulfillment.”

Halloran plans to work with both Alumni Relations and Development to improve the College’s endowment, which, at this point, survives primarily on investment returns. According to the College’s data, roughly 30 percent of Grinnell alumni choose to give to the college’s endowment. Our peer institutions report roughly 60 percent participation in giving to the college endowment.

“We need to think through why that is,” said Halloran, “I would argue that we haven’t made the case as to why support is important, and we’ve not really engaged our alumni in that conversation. Thus the 30-city tour and my traveling …. and the working group on the strategic plan.”

Halloran is ready to tackle the difficult issue of strengthening the connection between alumni and the College in order to lead Grinnell down a path that will sustain such practices as need-blind admissions and charging students less than it costs to support the College.

“There’s many alumni who don’t know about our need- blind admissions and don’t recognize that 85 percent of our students are on scholarship support,” she said. “Even those [students] who write the full check are receiving a $7,000 discount.”

Halloran hopes that, by reaching out to a group of roughly 20,000 Grinnell alums, the importance of supporting the endowment can be made clear.

“We’ve not done a very good job of engaging in that difficult conversation and I see that as our opportunity,” Halloran said.

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