President Raynard Kington made Grinnell history Thursday by signing the College’s first-ever partnership with a two-year institution.

Kington and a gaggle of administrators headed to the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Urban Campus to sign the agreement with DMACC President Robert Denson. The partnership will encourage DMACC students to transfer to Grinnell after one or two years of school and eventually earn both Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees.

“Community colleges really are playing, as all of you know, an increasingly vital role in the higher educational system of this country,” Kington said. “We believe that there is a huge need for institutions like Grinnell to connect more with community colleges, and more institutions across the country are doing so.”

This agreement has been in the works for almost two years and is intended to increase access to a Grinnell education. DMACC has similar transfer agreements with several other institutions.

“We’re really proud of this relationship that is starting today,” Kington said. “In many ways, it’s an ideal relationship for us. It recognizes the synergies in the missions of these two institutions that are very different but are very complementary in many ways. It also recognizes our shared status as leaders in education, both in Iowa and nationally.”

To be considered for transfer, DMACC students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, no grades below a B-, math classes up through Calculus I and two English classes (105 and 106). Transfers to Grinnell could happen as soon as next year.

“This is all about students and the additional opportunities we provide for them,” Denson said. “I received an email yesterday from a faculty member who was a Grinnell grad. In his classes, he said, he’s already identified several students this term and last term that would be great candidates for this opportunity.”

Kington foresees this agreement benefitting all Grinnell students, faculty and staff.

“[This partnership] will help us continue our tradition of being a diverse institution with students from many different backgrounds. We see it as an opportunity to strengthen our ties with Des Moines and the state of Iowa,” Kington said. “We think that transfer students can bring a different perspective. We believe that our students don’t get a great education if they only meet and interact with students who look like them and have had experiences just like them.”

More than a dozen DMACC students attended the signing of the agreement, and some expressed interest in transferring to Grinnell. J.J. Hu, a first-year student at DMACC, came to learn more about the program, including asking Kington about Grinnell’s facilities and residential campus.

“[This opportunity] is just more than I imagined,” she said. “It is wonderful… President Kington answered my question perfectly.”

The program is not expected to provide a huge number of students, as Grinnell has low numbers of transfer students in general—usually fewer than 15 per year.

“I would be delighted if we would have two to five coming every year, which would be unprecedented,” Kington said. “I think there are probably few high schools in the whole country where we have that many students coming each year.”

DMACC and Grinnell will also be collaborating on a Preview Program, through which interested students can visit the Grinnell campus, talk to students, staff, and faculty, and attend College events.

“We think this is a great win-win situation. It’ll help our institution and strengthen our institution and we hope that it will provide opportunities for DMACC students,” Kington said. “We know that there are students at DMACC who are good fits with Grinnell and will benefit from the excellent education we provide, just as they’ve benefitted from the excellent education DMACC has provided.”