Grinnell's new gay president welcomed by small-town Iowans

Sun. November 28, 2010 10:31 AM by News Staff

Grinnell, Ia. - Raynard Kington is like a lot of working dads in Iowa: he splits his time between his two young sons, his partner, and a very demanding new job as president of Grinnell College.

But Kington is gay, and he's black, and his two kids are adopted-- which makes it a little surprising that his family has been so warmly welcomed into small-town Iowa. Grinnell has just 9,100 residents.

"If anything, our experiences to date have reinforced our expectation that Iowa is full of open-minded and fair people," Kington wrote in a recent e-mail to the Des Moines Register.

The newspaper reports that Kington's first visit to Iowa started off as badly as anything could; his family's flight was delayed and their luggage was lost, so he ended up rushing to WalMart at midnight to buy diapers and something appropriate for a job interview.

In spite of the rush, he got the job. His credentials are top-notch: he's got an MBA, a PHD, and he's a medical doctor.

"This guy is just amazing," coffee shop owner and Grinnell alumni Jeff Phelps told the Register. "One of the things we've needed is someone who can help re-establish good relations between the town and the college, and he's really made himself available to the community. He's a great communicator, and he really, truly seems to enjoy being in a small town."