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Grinnellians you should know (or know about): Adrienne Hardin

Part of an ongoing series about the people who inhabit or have inhabited Grinnell’s campus.

When we think about the people at Grinnell, we tend to think about primarily about three groups: the students, who are the reason Grinnell exists; the faculty, who conduct the primary work of the institution in teaching and mentoring our students and in advancing knowledge; and the staff, who do everything else [1]. Some members of staff are obvious: Students know about the members of student affairs, many administrators, folks at the dining hall, their custodial staff (one hopes), and such. But there are a lot of people who also work behind the scenes to make Grinnell successful. They are usually worth knowing; they also deserve both thanks and respect. One such person is Adrienne Hardin, our Social Media Specialist [2]. I will admit that I don’t know Adrienne nearly as well as I should, so this essay will be less complete or extensive than I would like [4]. Nonetheless, I think you’ll find it a useful introduction.

What does a Social Media Specialist do? I don’t know everything. However, as far as I can tell, Adrienne handles almost all of the public media associated with Grinnell, other than our primary Web presences. So she deals with our Twitter feeds (and monitors lots of feeds to see what’s happening), our Facebook page, and more [5,7]. She’s also working on what looks to be an awesome site [8] that will pull together these various sources. It’s already one of the better ways to tell what is happening on campus.

So, why do I appreciate Adrienne, and why should you? The forthcoming site is one reason; it’s really one of the better things I’ve seen coming out of Grinnell.

More importantly, she’s good (probably great) at what she does. We’ve had a lot of years in which it was clear that Grinnell did not understand social media [9]. I’ve seen problems that range from an inability to build an audience to a complete misunderstanding of intellectual property [10] to some concerning issues with privacy. And, when people [11] complained about these issues, their complaints were met with dismissal, rather than thoughtful discussion.

Of course, none of that explicitly tells you why I think Adrienne is good at what she does. But it implies many reasons. Our social media feeds are more interesting than they’ve been in the past, and often more informative than either or GrinCo. For example, the only place I’ve seen something about the $10 million grant a Grinnell alum got to start a new high school was on our Facebook page [12]. We don’t seem to have the same problems we’ve had in the past with understanding of what is and is not appropriate to reuse. Or, at least, I haven’t heard of problems. And, knowing Adrienne, I’m confident that she would listen thoughtfully to such concerns and would respond appropriately.

Because Adrienne is our social media specialist, I see her at a lot of campus events - convocations, data presentations, whatever. And she’s a great person to talk to. She’s thoughtful about the College and she pays attention to what’s happening in talks (both content and issues of presentation). I’ll admit that I enjoy watching her multitask while doing her job: paying attention to the presentation, watching various social media feeds to see what people are saying about the presentation [14], adding her own commentary on some feeds (well, adding the College’s commentary), and so on and so forth. I’m sure that it doesn’t help to have me sitting next to her, posting snarky Tweets and looking over her shoulder, but she manages.

I think Adrienne succeeds well in her roles not only because she pays attention and multitasks, but because she has a clear personality and is fun and funny to read and listen to. It doesn’t always come out in the Grinnell posts, but it does shine through at times.

I also appreciate that Adrienne has a clear life beyond Grinnell. She has two children [16] who I anticipate seeing in my classroom one day (including one who has already managed to find a way to snag a This is what a Grinnell Computer Scientist looks like t-shirt [17]). She volunteers to help her friends with their plumbing [19]. She’s at school events, listening and contributing. In fact, I think the first time I met Adrienne was at an open School Improvement Advisory Committee meeting, where someone introduced her as our new (or relatively new) Social Media Specialist and I said something clever like You look much too young to have a child in school [20].

Perhaps most importantly, she was willing to wear a LOLcat mask for Narren Brown’s farewell party. Plus, with Narren gone, she’s one of the few people who can keep a certain denizen of Forum Dungeon under control.

Follow Adrienne on Twitter at [@GeniusAndFolly]( and [@GrinnellCollege](

[1] Yes, there are certainly other groups, such as the alums and the Trustees. We’ll leave those as topics for another day.

[2] In our quest for TLAs, we’ll say that she’s an SMS. I wonder if it is intentional that someone who thinks about SMS [3] issues is also an SMS.

[3] Simple Message Service.

[4] Yes, I know that I could ask present and past denizens of the Forum Dungeon about her, but that would take additional effort.

[5] Okay, I’m old. Grinnell probably uses other services, but I’m not sure what people emphasize these days. SnapChat? Reddit? [6] Instagram? Tumblr?

[6] The idea of a Grinnell Reddit channel seems strange, but perhaps there is one.

[7] Does Adrienne have a presence on Plans? I don’t think so. Someone should add that to her job description.

[8] Yes, I’ve seen it. No, I’m not allowed to provide a link to it. Adrienne tells me that it’s too buggy for public release, and was surprised that I found it in the first place.

[9] I’ll admit that I don’t know how to use social media well. But I could still tell that we did a poor job. I think part of the reason is that we didn’t make social media a real priority.

[10] Just because an alum tags a picture with #GrinnellReunion, it doesn’t mean that you can make your own copy and use it to promote the College on a different social media service.

[11] And I’m not using people to mean Sam. I know folks who were seriously upset about having their work repurposed by the College and who complained about it.

[12] Well, I also saw it on the not-yet-public social-media-feed site.

[14] Yes, she really does watch the feeds. After one talk that I brought my class to, she asked me something like So, Sam, which of your students was posting the awesomely snarky messages? [15]

[15] If you are Adrienne’s boss or some other administrator and are reading this, you should know that what she really said was Sam, you are a bad influence. Tell your students to cut out the snark about our talks.

[16] I suck as a friend/colleague. I thought she had one child. She has two. But then lots of people think I have only two sons. (I have three.)

[17] You, too, can have one of these awesome t-shirts. How? The best way is to declare a CS major. The second best way is to show up to the CS reunion on November 18 (yes, you were supposed to register). The third best is to send a large donation to the CS department and put a request for the shirt (with your size) in the more info box. And, I suppose, if you graduated with a CS degree and would like one, you could drop me a note [18].

[18] How did Adrienne’s daughter end up with one? Well, there are other approaches to getting a t-shirt, but I am not at liberty to reveal those methods.

[19] I told you I sit next to her at lots of talks. And you hear lots of things when you sit next to someone.

[20] Thank you, Adrienne, for putting up with me being ageist, sexist, and probably something-else-ist.

Version 1.0.3 of 2017-05-11.