What if everyone in the Trinity community were all turned into animals? Enter “Griss and Tutts.”
The idea for “Griss and Tutts” was conceptualized by Katie Storey, Alumni Relations administrator, written by alumna Virginia Barber and illustrated by alumna Erica Missey, who has previously done caricature work for Trinity and illustrated other children’s books.
The two main characters of “Griss and Tutts” are Tutts the tiger, LeeRoy’s nephew, and Griss, the tiger’s rhinoceros friend. In the story, the two animals are visiting Trinity campus with their families during alumni weekend and decide to go exploring. They hike up Cardiac Hill and visit Murchison Tower, Miller fountain, the Magic Stones and Trinity’s radio station, KRTU, where Barber worked while she was a student.
One of the main characters, Griss, is based on Coleen Grissom, professor of English, who began working at Trinity in 1958. She left after three and a half years, but returned two years later as associate dean of students and later went on to become the first female vice president for Student Affairs at Trinity.
“When I retired from the administration in 2000, I held both titles, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, as well as professor of English,” Grissom said. “Without consulting a Trinity catalog, I can’t give you the exact start date. I was dean of students for a long time before I held both titles.”
Grissom was baffled at first when she heard that her character was a rhinoceros.
“I thought it was because of my prominent Grissom nose or tough skin,” Grissom said.
However, Storey requested that Missey create Griss as a rhinoceros because it is her son’s favorite animal. No matter the kind of animal, Barber, Missey and Storey had an important reason for including Grissom in this key role.
“Grissom is considered a staple of the university,” said Storey.
Tutts the tiger was inspired by David Tuttle, current dean of students, who has worked in Residential Life at Trinity since 1987 and has been the dean of students since 1999. Tuttle was honored to be a part of this story alongside Grissom.
“She is a great mentor and friend, one of the most important and influential people in the history of Trinity University,” Tuttle said.
Storey’s work in Alumni Relations focuses on young alumni. Storey observed that young alumni who are parents were struggling to connect with other alumni while also keeping their young children entertained during Alumni Weekend 2017.
This observation inspired her to create Cub Club, a way to keep young children engaged during their parents’ alumni activities. This year is Cub Club’s pilot year, and Alumni Relations expects 100 children from infants to seven-year-olds from the San Antonio to participate.
“Hopefully [this] will give [Alumni Relations] the opportunity to work out the kinks on a smaller level,” Storey said.
In the future, Alumni Relations intends to expand the project. Cub Club is debuting this year with a “Running of the Cubs,” featuring members of the Club dressed up as tigers with LeeRoy at halftime of the football game on Oct. 20 to conclude Future Alumni Week (Oct. 15–19) and Alumni Weekend (Oct. 18–20).
As they are reading, young children are able to explore Trinity culture with their parents, and Cub Club will be a fun way for parents to engage with their children while also connecting with other alumni.