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Coleen Grissom’s A Novel Approach to Life Now Available
The Collection of Speeches Provokes Thought and Laughter – Much Like Coleen Herself

By Russell Guerrero ’83

A Novel Approach to Life, a collection of speeches given by English professor and former Trinity administrator Coleen Grissom during her academic career, has been published by the Trinity University Press.

The book comes out at the same time Dr. Grissom observes a milestone of sorts.  She first came to Trinity in 1958, and, except for two years in which she left the campus to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Texas, Austin, she has been at the University ever since. In that time she has served as a professor of English, Dean of Students, and vice president for Student Affairs before she left her administrative duties to return to the class room.

A Novel Approach to Life includes speeches given while recruiting students to Trinity, welcoming new students to campus, and offering tributes, toasts, and farewells. It also includes presentations given to faculty and off-campus groups. The book brings to print the sharp thinking and sharper wit of Dr. Grissom:

Speech to Student Association Assembly, 1989.

“When we do find ourselves in adversarial roles, I think this is almost always a direct result of students misunderstanding how universities are structured and making the mistake of believing that universities are democracies.”

Speech at Winter Commencement, 1980

“Now, brace yourselves.  This assurance I’m giving you that your inheritance and environment are parts of you forever and you’d better accept this becomes even more unthinkable.  You need to know that you are going to grow up to be, in many ways, like your parents.”

Speech During Alumni Weekend, 1999

“I almost never read for escape - except in the summer, especially if I go to the beach, where I read trashy paperback mysteries with lines such as, ‘The autopsy revealed that the child's ears had been removed before she was killed.’”

Speech at Gemini Ink Autograph Series, 2007

 “Reading, I believe, helps me be more observant, more attentive to detail, more aware of what engages and interests me – even more analytical – more able to explore ‘whys’ of my life.”

Speech at Student Affairs Convocation, 1981

“If I could push a drug – an addiction – I would push upon all of you a love of the life of the intellect and an awareness of the special advantages of the self-actualized person who is assertive, yet vulnerable; clear in values, yet tolerant of others; turned on to learning and to becoming – if I may paraphrase Thomas Carlyle – all that you were created capable of becoming, destined to stand one day in your full shape and stature, be these what they may.”

Dr.  Grissom will be speaking at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall as part of Alumni Weekend.  She will also be part of an alumni and faculty book signing at 11 a.m. in the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center lobby, where copies of her book will be available for purchase.

A Novel Approach to Life is also available through the Trinity University Press.  The book can be ordered online by going to

Dr. Grissom is donating her sales proceeds to the Trinity University Press and the Scholarship Fund.

© 2008 Trinity University

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