Skip to main content

The 2016 Grinnell Holiday Party

Each year, at the end of fall finals week, the College President and the Dean invite all of the College faculty and staff to dinner in the College marketplace [1,2]. Chef Scott Turley and his awesome staff put on a wonderful spread. It’s also a night that I get to socialize with many colleagues: some for pre-dinner socializing; some while standing in line [3]; some during dinner; some while meandering through the marketplace; some after dinner. It’s a night that I look forward to, partially because of the excellent food, but also because of the excellent company.

For whatever reason, this year’s holiday party and the related socializing felt particularly nice, and reminded me of many reasons I’m happy to work at Grinnell [4]. As I entered the dining hall, President Kington made a joke about not getting any email from me lately [5]. I told him that I haven’t had anything recently to be really upset about, and I think that’s true [6,7]. I don’t think there were nuts in any of the primary foodstuffs [8,9]. The food [10] was awesome. And the company, as always, was great.

But that’s normal. Kington usually makes some joke about our interactions, or talks about a student we know in common. The food is always awesome. And, as I said, the food is always great. However, a few things made today and tonight feel particularly special.

Some things happened before the dinner that contributed. Michelle got a new haircut, and looked especially beautiful. Earlier in the day, I got a nice note from Karla Erickson, thanking me for my end-of-semester reflections, and from one of my favorite students, thanking me for the various things I do [11]. An awesome group of faculty and staff were singing in the foyer, led by the wonderful John Rommereim and including the ever-joyful Kate Walker [12].

There were also many small conversations and interactions that felt special. I can’t remember all of them, but here are a few. Leslie Gregg-Jolly, who has been an awesome colleague throughout my whole career, and whose hard work on HHMI has supported many of the things that help me successful, thanked me for supporting her [14,15]. Andrew Kaufman, whose opinion I respect, and who is notably blunt [16], praised my essays. Jee-Weon Cha shared some Templeton Rye with me, and thanked me again for his tenure gift. I got to do a favor for a few friends, and helping friends in unexpected ways makes me happy.

I know that I’ve left out many interactions. So I’ll just say that I’m so very happy to be able to work with so many wonderful people, and to make a positive difference for some of them.

Happy holidays everyone!

[1] Well, in Dean Latham’s first year, no one told him he was supposed to host the dinner, so I think he was elsewhere.

[2] The marketplace is our dining hall.

[3] The line reaches all the way to JRC 101, and sometimes beyond.

[4] Students are also an incredibly important reason. I just feel fortunate to have these folks as colleagues.

[5] Hmmm … is that a challenge? I could write him a message about faculty lines.

[6] Perhaps I should rephrase that. I haven’t had anything at the College that I’m really upset about.

[7] There are some things that I’m moderately upset about at the College, but I don’t think any of them currently involve President Kington.

[8] I’m allergic to nuts, as ironic as that may be.

[9] One of the desserts had nuts, which is to be expected.

[10] I don’t think I can list everything. There was a really nice kale salad, some braised leeks, some wonderful really small brussels sprouts, purple cauliflower, a potato dish I skipped, portabello mushroom wellington, salmon, and very tender prime rib. But, as I said, I don’t think I can list everything.

[11] Not so surprisingly, that student is one of the reasons I’m currently thankful to be teaching at Grinnell.

[12] I have to admit that there’s no way that Kate Walker, our treasurer, can always be joyful. She works much to hard and much too many hours for her always to be joyful. But she always looks utterly thrilled when she sings, and that joy is contagious.

[14] Leslie: I love that we both feel that the other one supports us well.

[15] In my first year at Grinnell, Leslie and Jim also invited Michelle and me to a post-dinner event. That event made a huge difference in us getting acclimated to Grinnell.

[16] When I was in his studio art course and suggested some improvements to a work, his reaction was Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Version 1.0 of 2016-12-16.