Biography of Maj. Gen. John S. Grinalds (Ret.)
Major General John Southy Grinalds, United States Marine Corps (Retired), is the 18th president of The Citadel. He arrived at the historic military college on August 1, 1997, one year after the first female cadets were admitted. During his first year, General Grinalds announced his intentions to strengthen the communications, admissions and fundraising functions of the college while also focusing on cadet leadership training and the philosophy that leadership means service to others.
His tenure as president has been marked by significant milestones in admissions, fundraising, coeducation and media relations. A less tangible but more far reaching influence, however, has been his advocacy of principled leadership as evidenced by his strong support for integrating leadership and ethics into all aspects of campus life.
Interest in The Citadel has increased significantly under Grinalds' leadership and, in recent years, the college has set admissions records. As applications have increased, recent entering classes have been more competitive and retention has improved. Female enrollment in the Corps of Cadets has gone from four to more than 120 in eight years. The separate fundraising entities of the college are now coordinated under a unified organization - The Citadel Foundation - and donations to the college have grown dramatically.
The Citadel has returned to the national media spotlight several times, this time with positive news. Meanwhile, measures of cadet life such as academic performance, community service, employment upon graduation and military commissions are strong indicators of a healthy, robust institution.
General Grinalds was born on January 5, 1938 in Baltimore, Maryland but spent most of his childhood in Macon, Georgia. By the time he graduated from high school, General Grinalds had become a class officer, an all-state football player, an honor student and colonel of the Junior ROTC unit.
General Grinalds was graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy in 1959, earning a BS degree. He continued his education at Brasenose College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in geography and, once again, graduating with honors. He served as a White House Fellow in 1971 and completed his MBA at Harvard Business School with distinction in 1974.
Serving with the Department of Defense Systems Analysis Office during the late 1960s, General Grinalds became a manpower planning analyst -- a field in which he developed an expertise used throughout his military service. General Grinalds has served abroad in the Mediterranean region, the Panama Canal Zone, Japan, Belgium, and for two tours of duty in Vietnam. During one of those tours, he was awarded a Silver Star for heroism in combat.
From 1982 to 1985, he served as special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, working in delicate negotiations between NATO and the French military. Because of his outstanding service there, French President Fran?ois Mitterand inducted him into the Legion d'Honneur, a rare honor for an American colonel.
In 1986, General Grinalds received the rank of brigadier general before beginning an assignment serving the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was later promoted to major general and, in 1989, became the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, a position he held until his retirement in 1991.
General Grinalds then entered the field of education, becoming the seventh headmaster of Woodberry Forest School, one of the South's most prestigious boys' preparatory schools. He served there until coming to The Citadel in 1997.
General Grinalds married Norwood Dennis, his childhood sweetheart from Macon, in 1962. They have four children.
General Grinalds is active in a number of organizations. He is a member of the Officers' Christian Fellowship, the White House Fellows Association and the Association of American Rhodes Scholars. He is also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and an honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati.
In 2004, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce honored General Grinalds with the Sgt. William Jasper Freedom Award, an annual award given to a South Carolinian who has made significant contributions to preserving freedom, upholds the highest standards of ethics and has a reputation for excellence that earns the respect of South Carolina citizens. The Rotary Club of Charleston, which he has served as a past president, has named him a Paul Harris Fellow.
General Grinalds has also served on the Senior Board of Directors of the Brasenose College Charitable Foundation and the Executive Board of the Coastal Carolina Council, Boy Scouts of America. He has been a trustee of Porter Gaud School in Charleston, Hampden-Sydney College and the Madeira School, both in Virginia. He has served on the Virginia and South Carolina state selection committees for the Rhodes Scholarship Trust.