GRINNELL, Iowa — Anne F. Harris, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, was today named as Grinnell College’s 14th president. An energetic leader and gifted teacher, Harris spent nearly 20 years at DePauw University, serving as a faculty member and eventually vice president for academic affairs before joining the Grinnell College community in 2019.
Harris, the unanimous selection of the Board of Trustees, has been serving as acting president since July 1, and will assume office immediately. Her appointment follows the successful tenure of Raynard S. Kington, who led the college for a decade before becoming head of school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., earlier this summer.
“Anne Harris is a scholar, a teacher, a leader, and a builder — without question, she is precisely the right president for Grinnell College at this time in our history,” said David Maxwell ’66, chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees. “She is consistently guided by Grinnell’s institutional values of excellence, diversity and social responsibility, dealing gracefully and decisively with hard issues as the College navigates the challenges before it, and recognizes Grinnell as a place where we can experience and investigate, where we can deliberate and discern, and where we can put our values, knowledge and commitment together for the greater good.”
“The Grinnell College community is filled with people who bring passion and brilliance to the work at hand — learning and living in community — and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to deepen my connection and commitment to Grinnell as its 14th president,” said Harris. “I am grateful for the strong foundation President Kington has built and acknowledge the responsibility I have to build upon it as we come together in the face of profound societal challenges to continue to advance educational excellence and serve the common good here in Grinnell and around the world.”
As vice president for academic affairs, Harris worked in partnership with more than 200 faculty members to deliver on Grinnell’s academic mission. In this role, she led a number of initiatives tied to the excellence, health and well-being of the Grinnell community, including directing the academic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting the development and implementation of a First Year Experience, chairing the search for a chief diversity officer, and overseeing the implementation of a $1 million Mellon Foundation Humanities in Action grant.
Presidential Search Committee Co-chair Trish Fitzgibbons Anderson ’80 praised the “deeply collaborative, collegial and diligent search process that led to the appointment of the best president for Grinnell College — Anne Harris. We are grateful for the dedication, commitment and shared purpose that all members of the Presidential Search Committee brought to our work together.” Her fellow trustee and Presidential Search Committee Co-chair George Moose ’66 added, “We are extremely gratified by the expressions of interest in the Grinnell presidency we received from a diverse and exceptionally well-qualified pool of candidates. We wish Anne every success and will work to support her as she assumes the Grinnell presidency.”
Harris holds bachelor’s degrees in art history and classical languages from Agnes Scott College, and master’s and doctoral degrees in art history from the University of Chicago. She is married to Michael Mackenzie and they are the parents of Oliver, Iris, and Marlo.
Harris’ appointment comes after an extensive and rigorous national search which, despite the challenges of the pandemic, yielded expressions of interest from sitting presidents, provosts and deans at peer institutions, as well as non-traditional candidates, and resulted in more than 30 multi-round interviews. The search was conducted by a search committee composed of trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni and assisted by Isaacson, Miller, a nationally recognized executive search firm.
About Grinnell College
Grinnell College, a private liberal arts college in Iowa founded in 1846, provides individually advised learning for intellectually engaged students to produce graduates who are prepared to navigate the world’s complexities and responsibly contribute to the common good. Grinnell enrolls 1,700 students from around the world, who earn B.A. degrees in a range of disciplines across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell’s rigorous academic program and campus life emphasize excellence in education through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas, a diverse community and social responsibility and action. More information about Grinnell College is available at www.grinnell.edu.
Editor’s note: A biography for President Harris is available on the Grinnell College website