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Grinnell College hosts the Inauguration of President Anne F. Harris on May 7

GRINNELL, Iowa — Nearly two years after being named President of Grinnell College, Anne F. Harris was officially inaugurated as the 14th President of the College on Sat., May 7, at 10:30 a.m. on Central Campus. 

Inaugural address – “The Future of a Shared Past” 

In President Harris’ inaugural address, she spoke of what it means to look to the future within a shared past. She shared her three commitments in response to that question. 

The first commitment, a first resolute hope: that the future of a shared past calls on us to both see and safeguard imagination. To recognize it and nurture it, within ourselves and others. To install those structures and places and times and policies and habits that foster imagination. That let us see what is possible in our work: in our ability to trust and to create trust, so as to build enduring foundations and vibrant knowledge for the more just and equitable society to which Grinnell College harkens.

A second commitment, that the future of a shared past calls on us to acknowledge that a shared past is not the same past. That, in the complexity and intersectionality of experiences and identities, events are chronicled one way and remembered another; that the same event can be experienced in distinctly different ways; that pasts are multiple.

Third, the future of a shared past calls on us to steward our dwelling-places.The knowledge we discern, the actions we take, the times we speak up, the initiatives we undertake, the resources we budget, the deliberations we engage, the futures we dream — all shape those of our peers, our colleagues, our friends, our visitors, and our many interlocutors.

Reception and Community Art Project

Following the ceremony, guests gathered at Kington Plaza for a reception and community art event, which included folding origami paper cranes and sharing them throughout the community and the nation. Local students, community members, and Grinnell College students had been folding cranes leading up to this celebration.

Origami paper cranes have long been a symbol of peace, love, hope, and healing during challenging times. They represent positive change and new beginnings. Crane symbolism focuses on the need for balance and living in harmony with others. Following the Inauguration, the cranes will hang throughout the campus, community, and beyond.


With more than 175 years of tradition, Grinnell has a legacy worthy of its past, future, and present. From its abolitionist roots to the incubation of the Social Gospel movement, Grinnell has a deeply meaningful history and a legacy of activism.

The President’s Medallion

When participating in official occasions, the President of Grinnell College wears full academic regalia, which includes the President’s Medallion as the visible symbol of office.

A gift from Harold G. Horn ’33 and Dorothy Salisbury Horn ’34, the medallion was first presented at a special convocation in February 1967, when Robert N. Noyce ’49, chair of the Board of Trustees, invested Glenn Leggett, the eighth president of the College, with the new symbol of office.

The design of the medallion and the heavy chain that surrounds it blend traditional and contemporary elements that reflect Grinnell’s long tradition of excellence and its continuing service on behalf of contemporary educational and social needs. Central to the design is the seal of the College, which is appropriately surrounded by a laurel wreath, the traditional symbol of excellence. The medallion and chain are made primarily of sterling silver, with yellow gold as a complement.

The late Louis Glenn Zirkle, a distinguished American artist and Grinnell College professor of art, designed and crafted the President’s Medallion.

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