By Solomon Miller
This Wednesday at noon, Herrick Chapel overflowed. Students, faculty and staff burst into applause to welcome Grinnell’s 13th President, Raynard Kington.
Kington, M.D, Ph.D., M.B.A., a career researcher and current Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will assume the role of president of the college in the fall.
The Board of Trustees unanimously voted for Kington. He was chosen, also unanimously, by the Presidential Search Committee from a pool of 200 candidates.
“Never have I been more optimistic about what Grinnell can do in its future,” said Trustee Harold Fuson ’67.
Kington will replace current president Russell K Osgood, who is retiring after 12 years at Grinnell.
“[President Osgood] laid a strong foundation for [Dr. Kington] to do a lot of good at Grinnell,” said Fuson.
Kington stood out because of his administrative and research experience and his commitment to social justice, diversity and higher education, according to Elena Bernal ’94, Vice President of Diversity and Achievement and a member of the Search Committee.
Kington earned a B.S. with distinction and an M.D. from the University of Michigan and a MBA with distinction and Ph.D. in Health Policy and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Early in his career, Kington taught as an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and as a Visiting Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University.
While at UCLA, Kington began working for The RAND Corporation, a government supported think-tank, and eventually earned the rank of Senior Scientist. For more than 10 years, he conducted research focused on race, socioeconomic factors and health. He continued this research at the NIH.
Kington is excited to become an academic administrator. “Higher education is the best investment a people can make,” Kington said. He believes this passion will help him transition to his role as college president.
Kington does have experience that may help him adapt to his job as president. As the Deputy Director of NIH he managed a $2 billion budget. Furthermore, topics he has researched such as race and discrimination often surfaces at Grinnell.
In his introductory speech, Kington emphasized his goal to make Grinnell even more inclusive. Addressing the staff, he said, “I will work to make sure that you know every day that everyone contributes to the College’s mission, and I will work hard to make sure that your contributions are always recognized.” This comment comes at a critical time, as many employees at Grinnell feel disenfranchised, according to the Campus Climate Survey released last semester.
Kington plans to make important decisions based on conversations with members of a broad set of Grinnell constituencies, including extending himself outside of Grinnell College into the Grinnell community, as he touched on in his introductory speech.
To this end, President Osgood asked Kington to rely on the entire community for help adjusting to Grinnell.
“I’m going to tell him not to listen just to me … but to listen to everyone here,” Osgood said.
SGA President Harry Krejsa ’10 is optimistic about Kington’s future relationship with students.
“President Osgood has been very good about meeting with anybody at any time,” Krejsa said, “I’m certain that my successor will have as productive a relationship with Dr. Kington [as I have with President Osgood].”
“This is the time for a leader like [Dr. Kington],” said Bernal.
Kington comes to Grinnell with his partner, Dr. Peter Daniolos, and their two sons: Emerson, 4, and Basil, 10 months.